RT Week 2013: Table Bay Nature Reserve

The Table Bay Nature Reserve consists of seven parts: Rietvlei Wetlands, Milnerton Lagoon, Milnerton Beach, Milnerton Racecourse, Zoarvlei Wetlands, Diep River and the Parklands Fynbos Corridor.

This 880 hectare reserve comprises a variety of permanent and seasonal wetlands, and is surrounded by Cape Flats dune strandveld and Cape Flats sand fynbos vegetation.

The reserve protects 412 plant species, 31 mammals, 196 birds, 33 reptiles, nine amphibians, and 14 fish species. It also supports important but as of yet unlisted insect, invertebrate and planktonic communities. Two species are listed vulnerable, and 14 are near threatened.

The Rietvlei Wetland part is a large wetland in the floodplain of the Diep River between Milnerton and Table View that drains into Table Bay via the Milnerton Lagoon. The wetland consists of a variety of habitats, including a permanent freshwater lake, shallow marshes that flood in winter, reed beds, a river, and an estuarine lagoon with salt marshes that is open to the sea. A strip of coastal dunes connects the reserve with the Table Bay coastline.

This is a birder’s paradise, especially in spring and summer, when migrant birds arrive from the northern hemisphere. Some 196 bird species are listed, including pelicans, flamingos, ducks, sandpipers, terns, herons, plovers, weavers and swallows.

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There are two bird hides that offer views of the southern water body and the large seasonal pan.

Four times a year, a water bird census is taken, and often thousands of birds are counted. SANCCOB – the coastal bird rehabilitation centre, where oiled penguins and gannets are cleaned – is adjacent to the reserve. Many small mammals, reptiles and insects live here, along with several frog species. The lagoon acts as a nursery to several coastal fish, such as harder and mullet which occur in safety alongside freshwater fish. From the coastal dunes, dolphins and whales are visible in season. The Milnerton Aquatic Club promotes water sports at Rietvlei’ s northern deepwater lake.

Challenges

Water pollution and invasive alien plants, especially Port Jackson (Acacia saligna), rooikrans (Acacia cyclops) and kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum), are a challenge. People who live nearby can help by planting indigenous gardens, removing kikuyu grass, and preventing oil, poison and fertiliser from running into the natural environment.

Key information – Table Bay Nature Reserve

Address Main entrance is at the Corner of Sandpiper Crescent and Grey Avenue, Table View (Rietvlei Section)
Opening hours 07:30-17:30 (daily); water sports hours 10:00-17:00 (weekdays), 09:00-17:00 (weekends)
Size 880 hectares
Public transport Taxi or bus (including MyCiTi bus service)
Activities and facilities Boating, sailing, picnic and braai areas, fishing, hiking and two bird hides
Environmental education Rietvlei Education Centre
Contact Tel 021 444 0315; Fax 021 444 7226
E-mail TableBay.NatureReserve@capetown.gov.za