Fickland Pan

One of the oldest farms in the area, Fickland has a marvellous pan that hosts a massive number of water birds. In addition, the surrounding grassland is home to some of the grassland “specials”. It is indeed a birders’ paradise, where visitors are sure to be able to tick off at least a couple of birds required for their life list!

      There was a time when the access road to the old farm house went past the pan and there was a bit of a pull off spot with a great view of the pan. This had for many, many years been used with great enjoyment by local and visiting birders.  However, when the road was no longer available for access, the Wakkerstroom Natural Heritage Association approached the new owners of the part of the farm nearest the provincial road with the proposal that people wishing to bird around there and the pan could pay an entrance fee to the community, which money would be used by them for expenses such as fencing, burning fire breaks and the like.  It was originally under the control of a wonderful old woman who had her finger on the pulse of things and there was a good working relationship with her and WNHA.  Unfortunately, she passed on and, although her old husband has carried on with it all, there is not the same control and signs that had been erected have disappeared. As a sad result, visitors have at times driven all over the grassland in search of specials.  The biggest problem with this, besides the tracks being unsightly, is that grassland birds nest in grasslands! Many nests are small and very well hidden in grass tufts and driving, even walking, can very easily destroy these nests with their eggs or young.

      Internationally known Wakkerstroom bird guide, David Nkosi, was very concerned about this problem and the impact it could have on the likes of Yellow-breasted Pipits and Botha’s and Rudd’s Larks nesting there and he approached me about the problem.  Agreeing with him, and as it had always been a WNHA project, I approached WNHA and it was agreed they would have a signboard made which, in July, David and I erected at the entrance gate.

      It is hoped that birders will take cognisance of the notice and will have respect for the area.

      It also came to our attention that many visitors do not go to the kraal to pay the nominal entrance fee which is very disappointing as this has been such a great way to encourage local people with an asset such as that pan to allow it to be used and make a bit of money for the maintenance of their property.

      We can but hope that visitors will be more thoughtful and honest in future.

      Thanks to the WNHA for getting the new sign printed and made up; to Glenn for supplying the board, to BirdLife for donating the poles, to Kevin Twomey for putting it together and to David for bringing the situation to our attention, doing all the talking with the farm people and for erecting the board.