Ringing – the setting

Our Fynbos bird ringing / bird banding site is set within the Cape Floral Kingdom, a region described as the hottest of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. This region is home to 9,600 plant species (70% of which are endemic), more than three times the tally of its closest rival, South American rain forest. Our site lies within this region, specifically in the Fynbos Biome, and within that biome, in the West Coast Renosterveld Bioregion. The landscape in this area is dominated by the Paardeberg Mountain – a granite pluton or intrusion. The lowlands below were historically Renosterveld, but are now largely an agriculturally-dominated landscape. At higher elevations, such as on the Paardeberg, the Renosterveld transitions to Fynbos.

Our primary bird ringing / bird banding site for the Fynbos Expedition is located on private property that extends from the lowland agricultural landscape up to the top of the wild Paardeberg. The lower-lying parts of the property form part of a working wine and olive farm, with beautiful olive orchards and vineyards. A winery on the farm crafts its own small-batch wines. The upper reaches of the property are conserved as a formal Nature Reserve that covers part of the threatened Renosterveld habitat and the incredibly bio-diverse Fynbos habitat at the top of the mountain. Our other ringing sites are located on similar properties around the granite mountain, covering a wide variety of habitats that maximise the diversity of birds we are able to catch and ring.

Our Bushveld bird ringing / bird banding site is set within the Savanna Biome and the Central Bushveld Bioregion. This area forms the southernmost extension of the most widespread biome in Africa. This area is dominated by thorn trees (such as the knobthorn, Acacia nigrescens), bushwillows (such as the red bushwillow, Combretum apiculatum), and cluster-leafs (such as purple-pod cluster-leaf, Terminalia prunoides). Along the rivers, riparian forest is made up of leadwoods (Combretum imberbe), and apple leafs (Philenoptera violacea). Baobab trees (Adansonia digitata) also dot the landscape.

Our bird ringing / bird banding site is on a 4000 ha private game reserve, which has a full compliment of plains game, ranging from the smallest antelope such as steenbok, right up to the largest antelope, eland. There are also zebra, giraffe, baboons, and vervet monkeys. The property only has one of the Big Five (leopard) and is thus safe for walking and conducting ringing activities. Key features in this area include a bushveld river, with attendant Nile crocodiles, and the Dwarsberg Mountain, which has quartzite cliff faces rising 300 m above the surrounding landscape.

Birdlife in this area is diverse and includes Savanna species from both xeric (drier) and mesic (wetter) habitats because the site lies in the transition zone between the two.

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