Intaka ('bird' in Xhosa), is a sprawling series of wetlands covering 16 ha in the heart of Century City and beside the Canal Walk shopping mall. It contains four permanent wetlands and one seasonal wetland with marked trails and two hides. Close up viewing and photography of breeding waterbirds is possible. This is a wonderful example of a rehabilitated urban wetlands where nature lovers can just get away from busy city life.
Bird checklists, brochures and maps are available at reception for birders wanting to follow a self-guided trail on a route that is wheelchair- and pram-friendly. The circular path of 2 km takes one around the constructed wetland and ephemeral pans, while the shorter route of 1 km takes one around the constructed wetland with lookout points over the pans. Intaka Island offers excellently trained and experienced field rangers who can be hired for guided trails ¬ booking is essential.
More leisurely birders can choose to bird from the Century City Ferry. Call +27 (0)21 552 6889 or email email@example.com for reservations. The centre also features an outstanding environmental education programme – ensure that note is taken of all the practical hints on recycling that are on display as part of the exhibits. Likewise, the rehabilitation and maintenance programmes implemented here are fascinating, besides being a major conservation achievement. The field rangers can relate this process to visitors.
Little Bittern (Richard Masson - 2)
Birdwatching at Intaka Island is great as it hosts more than 120 bird species in a relatively small area. Birding starts at reception where a wooden deck with comfortable tables and chairs allow viewing of reed beds and part of a pond. RED BISHOP, RED-KNOBBED COOT, COMMON MOORHEN, LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER and several heron species are usually very active here. It is recommended that the trail be followed in a clock-wise fashion. There is a large wooden deck where the reception area is exited ¬ be on the lookout for LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA, YELLOW-BILLED DUCK, COMMON WAXBILL CAPE WEAVER, CAPE WHITE-EYE and (unfortunately) MALLARD.
Further on one can turn left to a natural pond where terrestrial birds such as canaries, doves and pigeons, mousebirds and sparrows may be found. Also listen for the distinctive call of LITTLE RUSH-WARBLERS in this area.
A number of birds make use of the man-made heronries on Intaka Island for breeding and roosting and these can be seen from the viewing gazebo. These heronries have been recognized internationally for both their simple construction and success at attracting birds. REED and WHITE-BREASTED CORMORANTS, AFRICAN DARTER, LITTLE GREBE, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, gulls, AFRICAN SPOONBILL, CAPE TEAL and SPOTTED and WATER THICK-KNEES are found in this area regularly.
Common Moorhen with chick
Intaka Island's main attraction, however, is the Kingfisher hide. GLOSSY IBIS, PIED KINGFISHER, AFRICAN SNIPE, CAPE SHOVELER and RED-BILLED TEAL are often on view. Adult LITTLE BITTERNS and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS and their young are often photographed with great success. MALACHITE KINGFISHER remains a firm favourite and is often photographed with ease from the hide. CAPE and YELLOW CANARIES, KLAAS'S CUCKOO, BROWN-THROATED and ROCK MARTINS also feature, as do BARN, GREATER STRIPED and WHITE-THROATED SWALLOWS in summer. There is another hide just next to main hide offering views of the previous pond.
Birds of Prey that are recorded here fairly regularly include JACKAL BUZZARD, PEREGRINE FALCON, AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK, AFRICAN MARSH-HARRIER, BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE and BLACK and RUFOUS-CHESTED SPARROWHAWKS. Birds that are often regarded as being fairly difficult to find in the Cape and that have been recorded at Intaka include FULVOUS, MACCOA, WHITE-BACKED and WHITE-FACED DUCKS, HOBBY FALCON, SQUACCO HERON, GREATER PAINTED SNIPE, COMMON QUAIL and HOTTENTOT TEAL. A BAILLON’S CRAKE caused quite a stir in Western Cape birding circles when recorded at Intaka early in 2013.
Black Crake (Richard Masson)
DIRECTIONS: Take the SABLE ROAD off-ramp from the N1, that becomes RATANGA ROAD. Turn right into CENTURY BOULEVARD at the third set of traffic lights. From here follow the road signs to INTAKA ISLAND. The first traffic circle is exited on the Cape Town side and then turn almost immediately left into PARK LANE. The Intaka Island parking area is at the end of this lane.
GPS: 33°88'80.15”S 18°51'30.04”E
PHYSICAL ADDRESS: 6 Park Lane, Century City
PHONE: +27 (0)21 552 6889
TWO LOCAL BIRD GUIDES ARE AVAILABLE
A small entry fee applies.