|Mkhombo Dam Nature Reserve|
|Written by Jacques van Zyl|
|Saturday, 30 August 2008 10:39|
by Rob Geddes
Mkhombo Dam N.R. is situated in the very North western corner of Mapumalanga on the Elands river east of Rust de Winter Dam. It is separated from its sister park Mdala N.R. by a tar road and collectively these parks have a surface area of some 18000 hectares.
Mkhombo, the larger of the two is centralized around the Mkombo dam (formerly Renosterkop dam) and is characterized by extensive stands of thornveld, that vary according to soil type from low scrub Acacia to stands of very mature Acacia erioloba.
The inflow to the dam from the Elands River forms an extensive flood plain with large bare area's and savanna grasslands.
The area around the dam wall is reminiscent of Rust de Winter dam with rocky shorelines and similar broadleaf area with Ozoroa and Combretum the dominant tree species.
Two smaller rivers feed the dam north of the Elands River and create mini floodplains in different soil types with the resultant diversity of birds.
The northern section of the park while still being dominated by thornveld also has smaller area's of sandveld with the resultant tree species being Terminallia, Combretum, Peltophorum and Grewia.
Mkombo N.R. includes a number of small villages on its borders and the locals use the dam and its surrounds for watering and grazing their cattle. This combined with the abundant wildlife in the reserve reminds one of many of the reserves north of our borders.
General access is restricted to two entrances, the main one being north of Allemansdrift village on the dam wall. The second is some 8km's north west of the main one at the Bloedfontein village.
Birding is great throughout the year and although the BLNG Conservation members have only been monitoring the reserve for seven months it would appear to be best from spring until the onset of summer rains and again in late summer- early autumn when the reserve is not totally overgrown and summer temperatures are not at their peak.
The current census being undertaken by the BLNG Conservation group has listed some three hundred and twenty two species for the reserve with a number of common species expected in the area still unrecorded.
Night birds have to date been under monitored with the resultant lack of records for a number of these birds.
Interesting birds recorded to date include: Eurasian Bittern, Redshank, Grey Plover, Black-winged Pratincole, Ringed Plover, Booted Eagle, Marshall Eagle, Osprey, Pallid Harrier, Pale chanting Goshawk, Allen's Gallinule, Lesser Moorhen, Harlequin Quail, Little Buttonquail, Eurasian Oriole, Monotonous Lark, Fawn coloured Lark, Dusky Lark, Common Whitethroat, Olivetree Warbler, Grey Penduline Tit and White crowned Shrike.
There are no overnight facilities in the reserve, but the adjacent Mdala N.R. has an excellent range of accommodation.
Day visitors must bear in mind that due to its remoteness and locality visiting in a single vehicle is not an option and visitors should be safety conscious when birding in Mkhombo.