Home Lifestyle & Travel Lifestyle Let’s go birding

Let’s go birding

Bird spotting is a great way to be captivated by nature … and we’re lucky in that KZN’s South Coast is home to a wide variety of bird species.  Here are some of the best local birding paradises.


Crocworld Conservation Centre (Scottburgh)

Dubbed one of the best birding areas in the country, Crocworld is home to more than 200 wild bird species including nesting palm nut vultures, African fish eagle and six species of kingfishers. Within the centre itself, there’s a great variety of bird species including the African eagle owl, jackal buzzards, Eurasian eagle owls, Harris hawk and even white mute swans. Details: 039 976 1103 or crocworld.co.za.

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Umdoni Park Trust Golf Club & Nature Reserve (Pennington)

Named for the water berry tree found along the estate’s water courses and swamp areas, this is a wonderful place to start a birding adventure. There are extensive trail networks, starting from the club house, overnight or parking area, which offer visitors the chance to see the spotted ground thrush, purple-crested turaco, olive woodpecker, ashy flycatcher, southern tchagra and narina trogon. Details: 039 975 1615 or umdonipark.com

River Valley Nature Reserve (Margate)

With walking trails along the river banks into the riverine forest, this smaller reserve (28 hectares) is home to many interesting birds like the green-backed heron, tambourine dove, grey or purple-banded sunbird, grew waxbill and brown scrub robin. Details: [email protected] or rivervalleynaturereserve.co.za


Ventures by Sweetdale (Margate)

Ventures offers 120 hectares of coastal nature where you can bike or hike and enjoy spectacular bird watching. Details: [email protected] or sweetdale.com


TC Robertson Nature Reserve (Scottburgh)

Established in 1989, and named after the famed author, ecologist and conservationist Dr Thomas Chalmers Robertson, the 60-hectare coastal reserve, situated near the mouth of the south bank on the  Mpambanyoni River, boasts African fish eagles, terrestrial brownbuls, Barratt’s warbler, yellow-throated longclaws and the green malkoha. Details: 062 002 5190 or [email protected]

Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve (Umzinto)

Established in 1973, this coastal reserve is just 13 kilometres inland of the sea and boasts beautiful grassland, forest and wetland habitats that provide shelter for around 300 bird species, among them grey crowned cranes, martial eagles, ground hornbills, secretary bird, lazy cisticola, lesser honeyguide and short-tailed pipit. Details: 039 974 2222 or [email protected]


Weza-Ngele Forest (Harding)

Found 80 kilometres inland of the coast with a great system of trails to go birdwatching, Weza-Ngele is one of the most accessible tracts of this Afromontane mistbelt forest. Here you’ll find orange ground thrush, Cape parrot, bush blackcap, chorister robin chat, Cape batis, African dusky flycatcher and double-collared sunbird. Details: 039 553 0600 or anewhotels.com

Skyline Nature Reserve (Uvongo)

Renowned for its incredible collection of indigenous coastal and exotic tree species, Skyline is also home to a really diverse variety of bird species and other local wildlife that can be seen by hiking along the many trails found here. Details: 039 315 0112 or kznwildlife.com


Lake Eland Game Reserve (Oribi Gorge)

For those wanting a bit of birding and wildlife viewing, Lake Eland Game Reserve is a great stop. The ecosystems consist of bushveld and grassland interspersed with coastal forest and wetland. You can spot local birdlife at the picnic or braai sites ,or enjoy a relaxed game drive or go hiking or biking through the reserve. Details:039 687 0395 or lakeeland.co.za


Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve

One of the most scenic birding spots on the 24-kilometre stretch of gorge along the Mzimkulwana River, Oribi Gorge is home to more than 350 bird species including the African broadbill, African finfoot, African wood owl, African pygmy kingfisher and Knysna turaco. Details: 039 845 1000 or kznwildlife.com

Oribi Vulture Viewing Hide

Considered one of the world’s best vulture viewing spots, this site has more than 200 resident Cape vultures and is easily accessible by car and foot. You don’t need to hike or use a 4×4 to witness this spectacle of vultures soaring along ridges, flying overhead and below and just metres from visitors. Tours are held on a Saturday booking is essential. Details: 072 893 3794 or [email protected]


Mpenjati Nature Reserve (Trafalgar)

This beautiful riverine reserve encompasses the Mpenjati River Estuary and is the perfect space for novice or experienced birders to spend a day out. Well laid out walking trails are equipped with boardwalk observation platforms to enjoy views of the river lagoon, wetlands, forests, grassland, coastline and special bird sightings like the half-collared kingfisher, swift tern, African black oystercatcher, Kittlitz’s plover, giant kingfisher and water thick-knee. Details: 039 313 0531 or kznwildlife.com

Red Desert Nature Reserve (Port Edward)

You can tick the world’s smallest desert off your bucket list and bird-watch at the same time at Red Desert Nature Reserve. It’s only 200metres in diameter, but it’s surrounding coastal forest is home to more than 200 great bird species and a range of habitats, including a protected grassland area with more than 480 plant species. Details: 039 695 0460 or [email protected]


Umtamvuna Nature Reserve (Port Edward)

Featuring the beautiful Umtamvuna River, coastal forests, bushveld, cliffs and riverine forests, Umtamvuna has well-developed hiking trails to wander in search of Gurney’s sugarbird, malachite sunbird, pale-crowned cisticola, common cuckoo or rufous-winged cisticola. Details: 039 311 2383 or kznwildlife.com



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