Parson's Vlei is a wetland opposite (west of) the suburb of Bridgemead. The habitats consist of water and reedbeds. In droughts the water dries up partially and waders and crakes can be seen on the mud.
Parson's Vlei has a huge Barn Swallow roost in summer. Other interesting birds are Baillon's and Black Crake, African Swamphen, African Rail, Little Bittern, African Marsh Harrier, Whiskered Tern and Purple Heron. There is a historical record of Black Heron here.
Little Bittern – Godfrey Lodge
Birds seen on the Bridgemead common include grassland specials like Secretarybirds, Denham's Bustards, Red-winged Francolin, Common Quail and occasionally Grey-winged Francolin. On the quartzite outcrops you can see Sentinel Rock Thrush (a special in the PE area), Long-billed Pipit and once a Ground Woodpecker.
The commonest birds on the flats are African Stonechat, Malachite Sunbird, Cape Longclaw, Grey-backed Cisticola and Cloud Cisticola
It is great for little brown jobs and raptors. Rufous-naped, Red-capped and Cape Clapper Larks, Plain-backed and African Pipits all occur. Cape Penduline Tits are a regular sighting. Orange-breasted Sunbird has been recorded a few times. Cape Buntings are resident. Capped Wheatear is occasionally seen.
Raptors that breed at the area include Black Harriers, African Marsh Harrier (at the vlei), Lanner Falcon, Jackal Buzzard, Rock Kestrel and Secretarybird.
Jackal Buzzard – Keith Joubert
Unfortunately the numbers and diversity of species on the common are very low. So you can often see very little despite the good birds potentially found there -especially during the dry cycle.
How to get there:
To get to Bridgemead drive west from PE on the N2. At Baywest shopping centre turn right. Soon after that, drive across the Old Cape Road and over a railway bridge on a road called Bishop's Way. Parson's Vlei is immediately on the left after the bridge. Park in the vicinity and walk anti-clockwise round the vlei starting on the right below a tall wall.
To access the common, park in the suburb of Bridgemead and walk down on the old tar road at the end of the suburb on the left which leads to the electrical substation. Then walk out on the jeep track directly under the power lines. At a tee junction turn right onto a gravel road that takes you out into the best veld. It is a dodgy area so go in a group. An excellent option is you have a 4 x 4 vehicle is to drive this route. The further you go the more you will see. While driving on this route or walking through the scrub birds like the Red-winged Francolin and Common Quail are sometimes flushed. Both Marsh and African Grass Owls can also be flushed but very rarely.