projects wattled cranes

The Midlands Birding Route is the most Northern component of the Southern KZN Birding Route. Starting in the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site at the location of the world famous Giants Castle Vulture Hide, the route finds its way down from the sandstones cliffs, basalt precipices and buttresses, through the foothills of the Drakensberg and into the picturesque rolling hillsides of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Another fascinating attraction on the Midlands Birding Route is the Karkloof Crane Information Centre. The beauty of the centre's location is truly something to behold and birders have the opportunity to see all three Crane species in one outing. Other key Midlands birding attractions include some of the most reliable sites for Cape Parrots and Blue Swallows.

Cathedral Peak Hotel


This exclusive mountain resort, set amidst the spectacular Drakensberg mountains is a bird watchers paradise. The resort offers superb cuisine and a variety of luxurious birder-friendly accommodation to suit all budgets. Guests can enjoy daily guided hikes, horse riding, bowls, heated & cold swimming pools, gym, vitality centre and a 9 hole golf course.

Specials found at the site include Bush Blackcap, Bearded Vulture, Cape Vulture and Ground Woodpecker which can be seen in the hotel's beautiful gardens and the surrounding Drakensberg mountains. Guests are encouraged to explore the grounds, noting their records on the hotel's bird life. Early morning river-side ambles are ideal for the beginner bird enthusiast, and hides have been constructed in the hotel's immediate vicinity. These walks include bushman painting sites.

Directions

From Johannesburg

Follow the N3 from JHB to Harrismith. Remain on N3 (by-passing Harrismith), pass the Engen "Bergview" One Stop (there is a Nando's & other curio shops at Bergview). + 5km from the Engen One Stop, you will see the off-ramp for Bloemtonetein/Phuthaditjiaba (N5). Take this off-ramp and head towards Bethlehem. Follow this road until you see a left turn off "Bergville/Phutaditjiaba (R712). Turn left onto the R712 and follow the road until you turn left at the Bergville (R74) turnoff. This road takes you past Sterkfontein Dam, down Oliviershoek Pass, to Bergville. +1kmpast Bergville, turn right at the Cathedral Peak sign. There will be another right turn marked Cathedral Peak (+15km from Bergville). This road leads to Cathedral Peak Hotel (30km) – note the last 20km of this road is very windy & slow speed is recommended.

From Durban

Follow the N3 from DBN heading towards JHB. Go through the Mooi Plaza toll gate. Once you have passed Eskort Shell Ultra City, you will see a Cathedral Peak Hotel 66km sign on your left. Take the left turn at the Bergville/Colenso turn off and turn left towards Bergville/Winterton (R74). Drive until you enter Winterton (20 km from turn off), and take the left turn marked "Central Berg" (opposite the Engen petrol station). Go over the railway tracks and +1km, turn right at the "Cathedral Peak" sign. This road leads you to a T-junction where you turn right towards Bergville. After 500m the first left turn is sign posted Cathedral Peak. This road leads to Cathedral Peak Hotel (30km) – note the last 20km of this road is very windy & slow speed is recommended

Additional Information

One of the hotel's experienced guides, Moses Mdhluli, recently completed training with Bird Life South Africa, and is available on request for guided trails. Horse and pony riding as well as trout fishing are available on the property. Stunning mountain bike trails of varying difficulty (own bikes required), tennis, mini adventure golf (floodlit), volley-ball, bowls, badminton, trampoline, heated & cold swimming pools, and paddling pool for children are available outdoors and squash, pool, darts and table tennis are available indoors.

Contact

Tel: +27(0) 36 488 1888
E-Mail: info@cathedralpeak.co.za
Web: www.cathedralpeak.co.za

Giants Castle Nature Reserve


skznbr bs-giants castleThis spectacular reserve forms part of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Site. The reserve offers birders very rewarding birding via several mountainous trails in a pristine natural setting. The reserve is also home to the world-famous vulture viewing hide.

Specials found at the site include Bearded Vulture, Verreauxs' Eagle, Cape Vulture, Ground Woodpecker, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Broad-tailed Warbler, Cape Grassbird, Drakensberg Prinia, Fairy Flycatcher, Red-winged Francolin, Blue Crane, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Sickle-winged Chat, Bush Blackcap, Drakensberg Rock-jumper, Layard's Tit-Babbler and Drakensberg Siskin.

Directions

From Durban

From the N3, just before the toll plaza take the Mooi River off ramp, at the Engen Garage turn right and follow the signs to Giants Castle . The distance from Mooi River is approximately 64kms. Motorists are advised to take care as there are potholes on this road.

Alternatively, take the Nottingham Road/Mount West off ramp, travel through Nottingham Road to Rosetta and take the Kamberg turn off (on the left). Travel straight along this road to Giants Castle.

From Johannesburg

From the N3 take the Estcourt North/Central Berg Resorts off ramp. Turn LEFT NB LEFT, to Estcourt. In Estcourt take the Ntabamhlope Road - which starts at the robot intersection of Connor and Lorne streets. Follow the signs to Giants Castle. The reserve is 65km from town.

Additional Information

There is a very well equipped rest camp, a small shop, campsite, hiking trails and the vulture hide. One can also view rock art and guided walks are offered. There is a restaurant on site.

Habitats: mountain streams, gorges and ravines lined with indigenous bush & forest, wetlands, grasslands, sandstones cliffs, basalt precipices and buttresses, protea savanna and Afro alpine heath land

Contact

Tel: +27(0) 33 845 1000 (bookings) or +27(0)36 353 3718 (vulture hide reservations).
Fax: +27 (0)33 845 1001
E-Mail: bookings@kznwildlife.com
Web: http://www.nature-reserve.co.za/giants-castle-game-preserve.html

Hlatikulu Vlei


skznbr bs-hlatikuluHlatikulu Vlei is home to all three species of crane found in Southern Africa. The reserve is also home to approximately 80 other bird species. Some of the specials found at Hlatikulu Vlei are Blue Crane, Grey Crowned Crane, Wattled Crane, Denham's Bustard, Cape Vulture, Bearded Vulture, Little Bittern, African Marsh-Harrier, Black Harrier, Freckled Nightjar, African Rail & Cape Eagle-Owl.

Directions

Take the R103 to Rosetta. At Rosetta take the Kamberg turnoff and follow this road for approximately 13km, at which point it becomes dirt. Turn left at the Entabeni sign and follow the road signage to the vlei.

Additional Information

Besides for birding around Hlatikulu Vlei it is highly recommended that birders walk the trail up Mount Lebanon . The mist belt forest that exists behind Hlatikulu Mountain is a great place to see Bush Blackcap.

Habitats: consist of crane breeding pens, wetlands, reedbeds, several dams, grasslands.

Hlatikulu Nature Reserve is a IBA (SA072). Please see http://birdlife.org.za/conservation/important-bird-areas/iba-directory/item/213-sa072-hlatikulu-nature-reserve for more information.

Contact

Entebeni Communications

Tel: +27 (0)33 263 2441
Fax: +27 (0)33 263 2737
Email: entebeni@enviroed.co.za

Bramleigh Manor


skznbr bs-bramleighA huge show garden offers excellent birding as well as the outskirts of the indigenous forest. There are walks through the forest with labelled trees. Walks onto the grasslands will take you either through the forest or past the dam.

Directions

From the N3 take the Nottingham Rd off ramp and turn right towards Nottingham Rd village. Pass the "Junction" and turn right under the railway bridge towards R103 Rosetta/ Mooi River . Pass the petrol station on the left and continue on the R103. First left towards Sani Pass /Himeville, Lower Lotheni for 17 km. Turn left into D544 which is a dirt road for another 4,5 km. Turn left at the sign " Bramleigh Manor" and follow the drive all along to the house.

GPS Co-ordinates

Location Latitude Longitude
Bramleigh Manor S 29° 25' 9.06" E 29° 52' 49.20"

Additional Information

The site is accessible by appointment and a nominal entrance fee is charged. There are lovely trails through the mist-belt forest, in which certain trees have been labelled. There is safe parking for cars and toilet facilities are available. At the discretion of the owners food can be prepared on site so long as a reasonable amount of notice is given.

Habitats: Mist-belt forest and grassland, a beautiful garden bordered by indigenous forest & bubbling streams.

Contact

Bettina and Roger Kauerauf

Tel: +27 (0)33 266 6903
E-mail: bramleigh@bundunet.com
Web: www.bramleigh-manor.com

Beacon Vlei


skznbr bs-beacon vlei 1Beacon Vlei 's beautiful 23 hectare dam and the surrounding wetland area are home to many beautiful bird species. The dam, wetland and reedbed area are home to species such as the Grey Crowned Crane, Purple Heron, Western Marsh-Harrier, Sedge Warbler, African Jacana, African Marsh-Harrier and Half-collared Kingfisher. Occasionally a Goliath Heron is sighted. Situated behind the farm buildings is an 11 hectare mist-belt grassland area is full of beautiful wildflower varieties.

Specials found at the site include Purple Heron, Goliath Heron, Grey Crowned Crane, Olive Woodpecker, Black Crake, African Fish-eagle, African Marsh-harrier, Western Marsh-harrier, Forest Buzzard, Half-collared Kingfisher, African Jacana and Sedge Warbler.

Directions

Directions from Durban

From Durban , take the N3 ( Toll Road ) to Johannesburg . After Pietermaritzburg and after Hilton there are 2/3 turn-offs to Howick. Take the "HOWICK(NORTH)/TWEEDIE" off-ramp. At the top of the off-ramp turn LEFT. You go under a railway bridge, up a hill and come to a T junction. At the T junction go RIGHT. You will now be on the R103. You will shortly see a sign BALGOWAN 19km. (Balgowan is where you wish to get to.)

After 19 km you will see a sign "Currys Post 12km". Turn RIGHT here up a dirt road and Beacon Vlei is 300m up the dirt road on your Left. There is a Beacon Vlei board.

Directions from Johannesburg

skznbr bs-beacon vlei 2From Johannesburg , take the N3 ( Toll Road ) to Durban . Shortly after the Mooi River Toll-Gate there is an off-ramp to " Nottingham Road ". Take this off-ramp. At the top of this off-ramp go RIGHT to Nottingham Road . Follow the road for 8km into Nottingham Road . At Nottingham Road the road stay on the R103 as it bends left (do not turn right under the bridge). Stay on the road you are on (R103) and follow the sign to "Balgowan" (Balgowan is where you wish to get to.)

10 Km after Nottingham Road you will pass Michaelhouse School on your Right. Immediately after the school is a sign "Currys Post 12 Km".

Turn Left here onto the D144 and Beacon Vlei is 300m up the dirt road on your Left. There is a Beacon Vlei sign board.

NB: There is more than 1 road sign to Currys Post. Be sure only to take the turn at the sign "Currys Post 12 km" sign.

You have arrived. The Manor House and the Boat House are at the bottom of the drive which is about 800m long.

GPS Co-ordinates

Location Latitude Longitude
Bramleigh Manor                     S 29° 25' 9.06"            E 29° 52' 49.20"       

Additional Information

Beacon Vlei is accessible by appointment and a nominal entrance fee is charged. Jetties on dam, picnic sites and marked trails. B&B and self-catering guests need not leave the farm to enjoy fly fishing, boating or a picnic after a leisurely walk around beautiful Beacon Vlei . There is safe parking for up to ten cars. Restaurants can be found nearby.

Habitats: 23 hectare dam, wetland and reedbed, mudflats around the dam, mist-belt grassland, river and wetland behind the dam wall

Contact

Beacon Vlei Farm - C.R.Cliffe Trust

Tel: +27 (0)33 234 4486
Fax: +27 (0)33 234 4367
E-mail: stay@beaconvlei.co.za
Website: www.beaconvlei.co.za

Caversham Hall

skznbr bs-caversham hallCaversham Hall is one of the most beautiful places in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Conveniently located on the Midlands Meander, KwaZulu-Natal's most famous Arts and Crafts route, it lies only 4 hours from Johannesburg and 1.5 hours from Durban. Caversham Hall offers a variety of birding habitat from a beautiful dam to pristine indigenous mist-belt forest and the plethora of birds found in these environments is an absolute birding treat. Commonly sighted birds include Knysna Turaco, Olive Woodpecker, Narina Trogon, White-starred Robin and Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler and occasional sightings of the African Crowned Eagle.

Specials that can be sites here include Half-collared Kingfisher, Knysna Turaco, African Crowned Eagle, Cape Parrot, Narina Trogon, Olive Woodpecker, White-starred Robin and Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler.

Directions

N3 - Johannesburg to Durban

Take the Balgowan/ Curry's Post off-ramp. Go right at the top of the off-ramp and follow the gravel road for approx 3 km. After 3km, road forks - keep left on Caversham Valley Road (D133) for another 4km. Caversham Hall is on the left (opposite La Lampara Restaurant - 7 km from N3)

N3 - Durban to Johannesburg

Take the Balgowan/ Curry's Post off-ramp. Go left at the top of the off-ramp and follow the gravel road for approx 3 km. After 3km, road forks - keep left on Caversham Valley Road (D133) for another 4km. Caversham Hall is on the left (opposite La Lampara Restaurant - 7 km from N3)

From Nottingham Road

Take R103 past Rawdon's Hotel and 5 km after Michaelhouse, turn left onto D182. Road forks after 1km. Keep left. Caversham Hall is on your right opposite La Lampara Restaurant (Total 15km from main road)

Additional Information

The site is accessible by appointment and a nominal entrance fee is charged. There are cleared & marked pathways around the dam and through the indigenous forest which allow views into the forest from ground to canopy level. There is safe parking for up to 5 cars and there are toilet facilities available. Some very good restaurants can be found nearby.

Habitats: Mist-belt forest and a dam.

Contact

Ivor and Yvonne Thompson

Tel: +27(0)33 234 4091
Fax: +27(0)33 234 4091

Terlings Farm


Terlings Farm is set on 150 hectares and offers birders a magnificent view into the canopy of some pristine indigenous mist belt forest. The farm is home to over 150 species of birds including the Cape Parrot, Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon, Grey Cuckoo Shrike, Olive Bush – Shrike, African Grass Owl and Olive Woodpecker. Located in the heart of the Midlands Meander, KwaZulu-Natal's most famous Arts and Crafts route, the farm is about 4 hours from Johannesburg and 1.5 hours from Durban.

Specials that can be sited here include Cape Parrot, Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon, African Grass-Owl, Olive Woodpecker, Grey Cuckooshrike and Olive Bush-Shrike.

Directions

From Johannesburg

Take the Balgowan/ Curry's Post off-ramp. Go right at the top of the off-ramp and go over the highway. Follow the gravel road for 4km. At the T junction bear left. Keep a look out for the District road 533 on your left. Go left onto the D533. Terlings is the last farm on the D533.

From Durban

Take the Balgowan/ Curry's Post off-ramp. Go left at the top of the off-ramp. Follow the gravel road for 4km. At the T junction bear left. Keep a look out for District road 533 on your left. Go left onto the D533. Terlings is the last farm on the D533.

Additional Information

  • Terlings is accessible to day visitors by appointment and a nominal entrance fee is charged.
  • Trails lead around the fringes and through the indigenous forest.
  • There is safe parking for up to 10 cars and toilet facilities are available. There are restaurants nearby such as La Lampara, Woodridge Country Estate, Rawdons, Granny Mouse Country House and Caversham Mill.
  • Habitats: Mist-belt forest.

Contact

Marilyn and Ivan Revesz
Managers

Tel: +27 (0)33 234 4319
Cell: +27(0)82 427 3365
Fax: +27 (0)33 234 4077
E-mail: challenges@nitrosoft.co.za

Gartmore Farm / Karkloof Conservation Centre


skznbr bs-gartmoreThe Karkloof Conservation Centre is located at the entrance to Gartmore Farm in the Karkloof Valley. The Karkloof Conservation Centre is in the heart of the Karkloof Valley with the Karkloof Range of Hills and the largely unspoilt natural bush that adorns it, as the backdrop.

A rich diversity of birdlife abounds on the farm where Agriculture and Dairying are practised in harmony with birds, antelope and many other species. Numerous oxbow lakes are perfect sites for weavers and waterfowl. The Karkloof and Yarrow rivers meet on the property. The farm boasts some of the most fertile farmland in KwaZulu-Natal and is on the flood plains of the two rivers.

All three species of Crane are regularly seen here. Scarcer visitors include Denham's Bustard and Southern Ground-Hornbill. The marshes and pans in this area support Red-chested Flufftail, African Rail, Baillon's Crake and in wetter years, Lesser Jacana.

Gartmore and Loskop farms are proud to be the home of the Karkloof Conservation Centre and two world class bird hides. These facilities will provide birders with an additional insight into the lives of these beautiful birds as well as the many other grassland and wetland species on the farm.

Specials that can be sited here include Blue Crane, Grey Crowned Crane, Wattled Crane, Southern Bald Ibis, African Spoonbill, Buff-spotted and Red-chested Flufftail, Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, African Fish-Eagle, African Grass-Owl, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Denham's Bustard, Southern Ground-Hornbill, Baillon's Crake and in wetter years, Lesser Jacana.

Directions

From The North

Take the Howick North off ramp from the N3 at Tweedie and come on into Howick through three sets of traffic lights. At the fourth set of lights where the main street turns away to the right....Take the KARKLOOF / RIETVLEI Road . From the SUPA QUICK tyre shop at the beginning of that road, measure 15½ Kms. At this point you will see an avenue of Plane Trees lining the drive into the farm.

There is a clear sign indicating that you have arrived at the Karkloof Conservation Centre. Please park in the designated area right in front of the Centre.

From The South

Take the Howick South/Merrievale off ramp from the N3, proceed through Merrivale and on into Howick. Cross the uMngeni River and into the Main Street of Howick through two sets of traffic lights. At third set of lights where the main street turns at right angles to the left, turn right....Take the KARKLOOF / RIETVLEI road to the left at the SUPA QUICK . From the SUPA QUICK tyre shop at the beginning of that road, measure 15½ Kms. At this point you will see an avenue of Plane Trees lining the drive into the farm.

There is a clear sign indicating that you have arrived at the Karkloof Conservation Centre. Please park in the designated area right in front of the Centre.

From Greytown and Mooi River

Take the Karkloof road down the pass and into the valley (about 25km from the start of the Karkloof road) on the left hand side you will see signs indicating "Karkloof Conservation Centre" the centre is located at the entrance of gartmore Farm.

Additional Information

  • Purchase your entrance ticket from the Conservation Centre office.
  • The terrain is flat and sometimes boggy, but trails and paths have been established to ensure access to a complete birding experience. There is a six seater golf cart on site for people with ambulatory problems. There is also a trained guide on site and a site map can be obtained on request. There is safe parking for up to 6 cars, a picnic site, 2 beautiful bird hides and toilet facilities are available. Restaurants can be found nearby.
  • Habitats: grassland, wetland, agricultural land, two perennial rivers, oxbow lakes and a dam.

Contact

Karkloof Conservation Centre and Hides

Tel/Fax: +27(0)33 330 2992
E-mail:karkloofcentre@telkomsa.net 
Website: http://karkloofconservation.org.za/what-we-do/karkloof-conservation-centre/ 

 

Karkloof Nature Reserve / Rockwood Forest


skznbr bs-karkloofThe greater Karkloof area has been identified as having significant value due to its biodiversity and has been earmarked for conservation by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. Currently, the reserve consists of about 60% mist belt forest and 40% mist belt grassland, and ranges from 1000m to 1767 m above sea level. This results in a significant number of endemic and near-endemic species of fauna and flora, including the Karkloof Blue butterfly (Orachrysops ariadne), and an isolated, endemic sub-species of Crested Guineafowl.

There are also a number of waterfalls within the reserve which are accessed by means of various self-guided walking trails. These include Horseshoe Falls, Rockwood Falls 1 and 2, Godwinwi Falls and Joan's Falls. On the property, there is also a well-stocked dam for fishing.

Specials that can be sited here include Cape Parrot, Narina Trogon, Verreauxs' Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Orange Ground-Thrush, Knysna Turaco, Crested Guineafowl, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Olive Bush-Shrike and Swee Waxbill.

Directions

N3 to Howick from Durban or Johannesburg

  • From Durban , take Exit 103, Howick/Midmar and head into Howick central
  • From Johannesburg take Exit 107, Howick (North)/ Tweedie and head into Howick central
  • Take Karkloof/Rietvlei road from centre of Howick (near the BP)
  • After 13 kms, turn left to Currys Post
  • After 3.5 kms, right along D815. Follow signs to Rockwood Forest Lodge.
  • After 4.3 kms, take left fork and cross drift
  • After 2.3 kms, take right fork
  • Carry on for 1.5 kms
  • If gate is chained/locked, combination is "315"
  • To get to Karkloof Canopy Tour, return to tar road and turn left. Follow signs. (About 20 min.)
  • Alternatively, Durban International is about 1 hr 15 minutes by road. Airport transfers can be arranged on request.

Additional Information

  • The site is currently only accessible to guests of Rockwood Forest Lodge.
  • The roads through the reserve can be difficult to negotiate and it is advised that visitors use vehicles with high ground clearance and in wet conditions use four wheel drive vehicles. There are trails leading through the reserve and there is also a well-stocked trout dam. There is safe parking for cars and toilet facilities are available. Restaurants can be found nearby.
  • Karkloof Nature Reserve is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA SA074). For more information please see: http://birdlife.org.za/conservation/important-bird-areas/iba-directory/item/215-sa074-karkloof-nature-reserve
  • Habitats: Waterfalls, mist-belt forest, mist-belt grassland and a dam

Contact

Tom Hancock

Tel: +27 (0)31 303 5162
E-mail: info@rockwood.co.za
Website: www.rockwood.co.za

Benvie Farm


skznbr bs-benvieBenvie Garden was established approximately 125 years ago and is well known throughout South Africa in both gardening and to lesser extent birding circles. The garden consists mainly of large conifers, azaleas and rhododendrons and is in extent ± 30 hectares and borders on indigenous forest.

There is a sign-posted walk around the garden of approximately 2km and along the walk one is likely to see Orange Ground-Thrush, Knysna Turaco, Chorister Robin-Chat, Olive Woodpecker, Grey Cuckooshrike, White-starred Robin and Cape Parrot which also nest on the property. During early summer various migrants arrive, mainly in the Cuckoo family and Red-chested, Black, African Emerald and Klaas's as well as Diderick are found in reasonable numbers. Regular sightings of Forest Buzzard and Narina Trogon are also experienced.

As an alternative there is a picturesque out and back easy walk of 2km along a forest stream within the indigenous forest where good sightings of Mountain Wagtail, Chorister Robin-Chat, Narina Trogon, Knysna Turaco, Orange Ground-Thrush and Grey Cuckooshrike can be had as well as most other mist belt birds. During the breeding season (October to December) a number of active Orange Ground-Thrush nests will be observed on this walk.

The site is not within walking distance of the Benvie Garden and it would be recommended that one of the resident guides be used. The site is a short drive from the Garden and it would be better to do this walk in dry weather.

Specials that can be sited here include Cape Parrot, Orange Ground-Thrush, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin-Chat, Knysna Turaco, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Olive Woodpecker, Grey Cuckooshrike, Narina Trogon, Forest Buzzard, Bush Blackcap, Buff-spotted Flufftail and Lemon Dove.

Directions

  • From Howick, take the Karkloof/Rietvlei Road . Travel for 33kms.
  • Turn right onto the York/New Hanover Road . Down the hill ±3kms.
  • Then onto D583 on your left and Benvie entrance is ahead of you and follow the Birding Signs.

Additional Information

  • Benvie is accessible by appointment and a nominal entrance fee is charged. There are marked trails and secure parking is available in the Garden as well as toilet facilities and two guides. Restaurants can also be found nearby.
  • Habitats: Mist-belt forest, streams, small dams and a 125 year old garden. Benvie is also a Cape Parrot & Orange Ground Thrush nesting site.

Contact

The Geekie Family

Tel: +27(0)33 502 9090
E-mail: tomrob@mweb.co.za

Dargle valley

The beautiful Dargle valley, stretched out beneath Inhlosane, is home to many important ecosystems, including wetlands, grassland and mist-belt forests which provide habitats for endangered species and inspiration to local artists and crafters. The mission of the Dargle Conservancy in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is actively to conserve the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Dargle area for the benefit of present and future generations, by stimulating interest and awareness of conservation issues within the community as a whole, through education and community involvement. Working closely with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife's (EKZNW) Biodiversity Stewardship Programme the Dargle Conservancy embarked on an ambitious plan in 2008 to have a substantial area of the Dargle and Lidgetton Valleys as far as Balgowan, encompassing indigenous forests and moist mist-belt grasslands, formally proclaimed as a provincial nature reserve, equal in status to the provinces flagship Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park.

Birds that occur in this area includes Blue Crane, Grey Crowned Crane, Wattled Crane, European Honey Buzzard, Crowned Eagle, Jackal Buzzard, Long-crested Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Secretarybird, Red-chested Flufftail, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Red-necked Spurfowl, African Rail, Little Rush-Warbler, African Reed-Warbler, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Barratt's Warbler, Red-throated Wryneck, Drakensberg Prinia, African Stonechat, Cape Grassbird, African Fish Eagle, African Spoonbill, Amur Falcon, Cape parrots, Southern Ground Hornbills, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Bokmakierie, Greater Honeyguide, Giant, Brown-hooded & Malachite Kingfishers, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Zitting Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Black-headed Heron, Wailing Cisticola, Common Quail, Red-chested Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Black-headed Oriole, Sombre Greenbul, Black-backed Puffback, African Emerald Cuckoo, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Longclaw, Terrestrial Brownbul, Speckled Pigeon, Cape Batis. For more information on Dargle Valley please visit the following websites: http://darglelocalliving.wordpress.com/, http://dargleconservancy.org.za/ or http://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/tag/birds/

Dargle Cottages is one of KwaZulu-Natal's oldest working farms, the three gardens flow into one large area full of very old, interesting trees and abundant bird life. This area attracts many forest birds and at certain times of the year these include Cape Parrot, Narina Trogon, Knysna Turaco and Dark-backed Weaver. Other special birds on this site include Buff-spotted Flufftail, Southern Black Flycatcher, Cape Batis, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Cape Eagle-Owl and Ground Woodpecker.

Directions

From Durban

skznbr bs-dargleOn the N3, take the off-ramp R103 Howick/ Midmar. Go left at the top of the off-ramp and then right onto the R103 (Midmar and dam wall will be on your left).

From Johannesburg

On the N3, take the Howick North/ Tweedie off-ramp. Go right over the highway to the T junction. Go right onto the R103.

Proceed to Lions River, staying on the R103 until you reach the Dargle/ Impendle turnoff on your left hand side. Turn left here and proceed 14.7km and then turn right onto the Dargle Cottages farm road (you will see a sign - Dargle Cottage, Farm No 29). You have 2km to travel on the farm road before reaching Dargle Cottages. Park in the car park.

Additional Information

  • The site is accessible by appointment and a nominal entrance fee is charged.
  • A cleared trail leads through the indigenous forest.
  • There is safe parking for up to 10 cars and toilet facilities are available. Restaurants can be found nearby.
  • Habitats: Ancient Yellowwoods - estimated to be approx 1000 years old, mist-belt forest and grassland.

Contact

Griffin family

Tel: +27 (0)33 234 4446
Fax: +27 (0)33 234 4467
E-mail: gravic@nitrosoft.co.za

Lemonwood is in the heart of the peaceful Dargle valley and conservancy area in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. It is conveniently situated for the crafts of the Midlands Meander and day trips to the Drakensberg. Those in need of a less active stay, can just relax by the pool, take in the spectacular views and breathe in the beauty of the Dargle. Listen to the eerie sound of the rare Tree Hyrax (Dassie) at night, take a picnic to some of the oldest Yellowwoods in KwaZulu-Natal, walk around the dam and watch the dancing Grey Crowned-Cranes. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded on the farm. The Knysna Lourie is a permanent resident. We also have the Cape Parrot, Narina trogon and Martial Eagle. The shy Samango monkey can be heard and often seen in the canopy around the cottages or stealing fruit from the abundant garden. You may go to sleep (or not) to the alarming and hysterical shriek of the Tree Dassie. Reedbuck and bushbuck are often seen. We have also seen a 45 strong herd of Blesbok and a group of the rare Oribi on the top veldt. The serval cat is also often seen strolling around the farm.

Close by is a dam and wetland area which has many varieties of birds including crowned cranes and spur winged geese. Enjoy a relaxing stroll around the farm with your dogs or children, relax by the solar heated swimming pool or sip a sundowner on your cottage veranda overlooking fantastic views of the valley and surrounding hills and listen to the sounds of Africa and the bush. For those who like to be more energetic, there are several self-guided trails through the forest lasting from half an hour to half a day, look out for the tree identification labels along the way.

Directions

Travelling from Durban

  • Take the N3 to Pietermaritzburg / Johannesburg.
  • Pass Pietermaritzburg and the Midmar Dam further along.
  • Take the 3rd Howick turn-off (Howick / Tweedie).
  • At the offramp turn left, and at the T-junction turn right onto the R103 in the direction of Nottingham Road.
  • Shortly after the Nelson Mandela Monument, turn left on the Dargle / Impendle Road.
  • Lemonwood is 10 kilometres along this tarred road on the right hand side.

Travelling from Johannesburg

  • Take the N3 to Durban.
  • Take the Howick North/Tweedie off-ramp.
  • At the offramp turn right back over the highway and at the T-Junction turn right onto the R103 in the direction of Nottingham Road.
  • Shortly after the Nelson Mandela Monument, turn left on the Dargle / Impendle Road.
  • Lemonwood is 10 kilometres along this tarred road on the right hand side.

Contact

Tel: +27(0)82 052 6072
Email: bookings@lemonwood.co.za
Web: http://www.lemonwood.co.za/

Thurlow Park at Midmar Game Reserve


A 1000 ha game park is open to visitors. Red hartebeest, Black Wildebeest, Blesbok, Common Reedbuck, Oribi and Plains Zebra can be viewed from vehicles, cycles or on foot. Scarce mammals occasionally recorded are Aardvark, Porcupine, White-tailed Mongoose, Black-backed Jackal, Slender Mongoose and Serval. Driving around the reserve you may see a variety of waterbirds including White-breasted Cormorant, Goliath Heron, Red-billed Teal, Spur-winged Goose and occasionally South African Shelduck.

Grassland species are numerous with Denham's Bustard, Red-winged Francolin, Black-winged and Crowned Lapwings, Red-capped Lark, Wing-snapping, Cloud, Pale-crowned and Croaking Cisticolas, African Pipit, Cape Longclaw and Long-tailed and Fan-tailed Widowbird. Raptors are numerous and may include Black-shouldered Kite, Long-crested Eagle, Jackal and Common Buzzard, African Fish-Eagle, Black Sparrowhawk and African Marsh-Harrier. Spotted Eagle, Barn, African Grass and African Marsh Owl are regular nocturnal hunters. Other species to watch out for are Red-necked Spurfowl, Bokmakierie and Red-throated Wryneck.

Specials to look out for are Blue Crane, Grey-crowned Crane, Denham's Bustard, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Red-winged Francolin, Red-necked Spurfowl, Marsh Owl, Black-winged Lapwing, African Crake, African Marsh-Harrier, African Grass-Owl, Cuckoo Finch and Orange-breasted Waxbill.

Directions

Midmar Nature Reserve is situated off the N3, 24 km from Pietermaritzburg, and 7 km from Howick. NB: Entrance fee is payable at the main entrance (R103) you then have to drive to the Nature Reserve via the Thurlow Gate (situated 4.5km west on the Underberg/Bulwer Road).

Additional Information

Contact

KZN Wildlife (Midmar Nature Reserve)

Tel: +27 (0)33 502 9090
E-mail: info@kznwildlife.co.za
Web: http://www.nature-reserve.co.za/albert-falls-nature-preserve.html

Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve


This 650 ha reserve borders the Umgeni River in Howick, and is run by WESSA. WESSA members are given free access, whilst non-members are required to pay an entrance fee. Please note that no dogs are allowed. The Reserve consists of grassland, cliffs, indigenous 'coastal like' forest, Acacia woodland, and river frontage. There are four bush camps in the Reserve, used mainly by Schools and educational groups, and three cottages. There is one dirt road through the Reserve, and numerous walking trails. Zebra, Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Nyala, Common Bushbuck, Blesbok, Southern Reedbuck and Warthog can usually be seen, whilst the list of trees, flowers, butterflies etc. is almost endless.

This reserve is a prime birding destination as it boasts a list of over 250 species. Verreauxs' Eagle nests along the cliffs just outside the Reserve, whilst the African Crowned Eagle nests within it. Birds one can usually see on walks - according to the season - would include: African Black Duck, Black (Yellow-billed) Kite which breeds in the Reserve, Steppe Buzzard, Lanner Falcon , Natal Spurfowl , African Olive-Pigeon, Emerald-spotted and Tambourine Doves and African Green-Pigeon. Red-chested, Black, African Emerald, Klaas' and Diderik cuckoos are more often heard than seen. Narina Trogon is often seen, whilst the Trumpeter Hornbill is usually present in numbers. Greater, Scaly-throated and Lesser Honeyguides and Brown-backed Honeybird occur in small numbers. Red-throated Wryneck occurs near the main office. The Sombre Greenbul is always around, whilst the Terrestrial Brownbul is secretive. The Cape Rock-Thrush and the Mocking Cliff-Chat seem to reside close together and prefer the rock faces. Striped Pipit is a less common resident of the rock faces. The Chorister Robin-Chat and the White-browed Scrub-Robin are both in the Reserve, as are the Bar-throated and Yellow-breasted Apalis, although the latter is usually found during the winter months.

Wailing and Croaking Cisticolas are found in the grasslands, and can easily identified by their calls. Broad-tailed Warbler is less common but resident and enigmatic Short-tailed Pipit has been recorded. The Cape Batis and Chinspot Batis are both seen in similar habitats all the year round. The Mountain Wagtail has a preference for one of the streams running into the Umgeni River , where a pair are usually present. The Cape and Yellow-throated Longclaws are both resident, whilst the Southern Tchagra occurs but as always is tough to observe. The Grey Sunbird is only seen during the winter months down near the River, but the White-bellied, Amethyst and Collared Sunbirds are around all the time. Dark-backed Weavers are resident and breed in the riverine forests. Other forest species include Knysna Turaco , Olive Woodpecker, Barratt's Warbler , Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, Olive Bush-Shrike , Lesser and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds , Swee Waxbill and Green Twinspot. Cape and Spotted Eagle-Owl occur in Shelter Falls kloof.

Specials to look out for are African Black Duck, African Emerald Cuckoo, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Brown-backed Honeybird , Verreauxs' Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Cape and Spotted Eagle-Owl, Narina Trogon, Knysna Turaco, Cape Rock-Thrush, Southern Tchagra and Olive Bush-Shrike.

Directions

From the N3 take the Howick offramp and head through the town until you get to the Karkloof road. Take a right along this road and the reserve is well sign posted from here.

Additional Information

  • The reserve is accessible to day visitors and a nominal entrance fee is charged for visitors who are not WESSA members.
  • Umgeni Vlei Nature Reserve (SA075) is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. Please see: http://birdlife.org.za/conservation/important-bird-areas/iba-directory/item/216-sa075-umgeni-vlei-nature-reserve for more information.
  • There are self-guided trails.
  • There is safe parking for cars and there are also toilet facilities available. Restaurants can be found nearby.
  • Habitats: Grassland, cliffs, indigenous 'coastal like' forest, Acacia woodland & river frontage

Contact

KZN Wildlife (Midmar Nature Reserve)

WESSA
Tel: +27 (0)33 330 3931
Fax: +27 (0)33 330 4576
E-mail: info@wessa.co.za or umgenivalley@wessa.co.za
Website: www.wessa.org.za or http://umgenivalley.co.za/

Albert Falls Nature Reserve


This reserve is particularly good for several endemics including Acacia Pied Barbet, Fiscal Flycatcher and Cape Grassbird . Other interesting species seen include Coqui Francolin, Black-winged Lapwing, Brown-backed Honeybird, Red-throated Wryneck and African Pygmy-Kingfisher (Oct-Mar). There are several extremely unusual records from this reserve including Namaqua Sandgrouse, Sooty Falcon, Black Harrier and Pennant-winged Nightjar.

Much of the birding in this reserve can be done from the comfort of your vehicle. It is not difficult to record eighty species in a day in this reserve. For best results it is recommended to visit in the early morning before it gets too hot. Birding is often good around the various picnic sites especially near good patches of bushveld.

Specials to look out for are Acacia Pied Barbet , Fiscal Flycatcher , Cape Grassbird , Coqui Francolin , Black-winged Lapwing , Brown-backed Honeybird , Red-throated Wryneck and African Pygmy-Kingfisher (Oct-Mar).

Directions

Travelling along the N3 take the Greytown offramp in Pietermaritzburg. From here on the reserve is well signposted and proceed for about 18km to the reserve entrance.

Additional Information

  • Albert Falls Nature Reserve is accessible by day visitors. There is a small entrance fee.
  • There is also safe parking and toilet facilities are available. Restaurants can be found nearby.
  • Habitats: Grassland Albert Falls Dam and Rich Acacia savannah.

Contact

Msinsi Holdings

Tel: +27 (0)33 569 1202
Fax: +27 (0)33 569 1371
Website: www.msinsi.co.za

Boston View Farm


skznbr bs-boston viewBoston View Farm is an absolute birding hotspot, offering a variety of habitats and an abundance of special birdlife. Situated in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, 1500m above sea level, on the edge of a beautiful dam. 45km from Pietermaritzburg and an hour and a half from Durban . The crystal clear water is well stocked with Rainbow Trout. There are lovely walks in the mist-belt forest bordering one side of the dam, which is home to a large variety of bird and indigenous plant life. Dr. Penny Lloyd spent 2 weeks on Boston View Farm in 1999 and amongst many other species she sighted Wattled and Blue Crane, Verreauxs' Eagle, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Southern Ground-Hornbill, Blue Swallow and Yellow-breasted Pipit.

Specials to look out for are Cape Parrot, Secretarybird, Verreauxs' Eagle, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Wattled Crane, Blue Crane, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon, Southern Ground-Hornbill, Ground Woodpecker, Blue Swallow, Red-throated Wryneck, Buff-streaked Chat, Barratt's Warbler, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Pipit and Swee Waxbill.

Directions

From Johannesburg and Durban on the N3 highway

Take the Underberg turnoff. Head towards Boston and Bulwer on the R617. Continue along the R617 until you reach Boston Village. Just past the Boston petrol station keep a look out for the Dargle Road on your right hand side. Turn right onto the Dargle Road. Bobogaan Lodge and Boston View Farm will come up on your right hand side.

Additional Information

  • The site is accessible by appointment and a nominal entrance fee is charged.
  • There are trails leading through the mist-belt forest. Bird list and specials compiled by Dr. Penn Lloyd in 1999 - Dr. Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. There is safe parking for up to 10 cars and toilet facilities are available. Restaurants can be found nearby.
  • Habitats: Mist-belt forest & grassland, rocky mountain outcrops and a dam.

Contact

Bev. Geldart
Tel: +27 (0)33 997 0717

Bisley Valley Nature Reserve


skznbr bs-bisley valleyBisley Valley Nature Reserve is a 350ha Thornveld and Grassland habitat situated just 7km from the centre of Pietermaritzburg. The Reserve has marked trails and 2 hides, both overlooking wetland/water. It is home to a variety of large mammals including Giraffe and Red Hartebeest. The picnic site adjacent to the parking has been mown under the trees but the edges where it meets the acacia woodland/scrub can be highly profitable. The thicker scrub hosts Green-backed Camaroptera, Cape Robin-Chat, White-browed Scrub-Robin and African Firefinch.

On the first trail, down to the Pamela Reed Hide, as you head through the more open woodland, look out for Spotted Thick-knee, Common Scimitarbill, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Chinspot Batis, Southern Black Flycatcher, Cardinal Woodpecker, Black-crowned Tchagra, and in summer, Diderick Cuckoo, Klaas's Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Red-collared and Fan-tailed Widowbird. In the thicker woodland surrounding the dam and river, Bar-throated Apalis, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, African Emerald Cuckoo, Red-chested Cuckoo and Southern Boubou occur.

In and around the bottom dam, look for African Black Duck, Little Grebe, Little Rush Warbler, Village Weaver, African Yellow Weaver, Cape Weaver, Lesser Masked-Weaver, Thick-billed Weaver and Tawny-flanked Prinia. At times up to six weaver species can be seen within a 20 m radius! Back at the picnic site, the road leading alongside the stables will eventually bring you to the environmental centre. On the lawns under the big Acacia sieberana look for Golden-breasted Bunting, Bronze Mannikin, Brown-hooded Kingfisher and Kurrichane Thrush. Another trail leads you to the top hide, which in summer is also rich in weavers and widows.

In summer brood parasites abound with 6 cuckoos, 4 honeyguides, widowfinches and whydahs abounding. Specials at Bisley include Southern Tchagra (seen regularly) and Dwarf Bittern (seen in 5 of the last 6 summers from the Pamela Reed Hide), Corncrake (netted in the grassland!), Icterine Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Booted Eagle and Tawny Eagle.

Specials to look out for are Southern Tchagra , Olive & Grey-headed Bush-Shrikes, Common Scimitarbill, Greater, Lesser & Sharp-billed Honeyguides, Shelley's Francolin, Dwarf Bittern (rare in summer), Corncrake (rare in summer), Nesting site for Thick-billed, Village, African Yellow and Lesser Masked Weavers.

Directions

Leave N3 Highway at Market Road (Exit 74), go past the market and bear left on to R103 to Cleland. At next lights, go right into Murray Road (Gladys Manzi). Proceed for 2.3km and go left through gate at Canterbury Stables. Parking and entrance to Reserve are 100m on right.

Additional Information

  • The site is accessible by day visitors and there is safe parking for up to 15 cars. Toilet facilities are also available. Restaurants can be found nearby in the city of Pietermaritzburg .
  • Facilities include two hides overlooking wetland and grassland, picnic sites, a site map and marked trails.
  • Habitats: Grassland, thornveld, wetlands and dams.

Contact

Mzunduzi Municipality/City Parks Dept.

Chris Metherell
Tel: +27(0)33 392 3242 or +27 (0)33 392 3241
Fax: +27(0)33 342 7107
E-mail: chrismetherell@msunduzi.gov

Darvill Resources Park


skznbr bs-darvillDarvill Resources Park is 100 ha of mixed wetlands, scrub and grassland habitat centred around disused maturation ponds. Specials to look out for are Baillon's Crake, African Rail, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Golden Weaver, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Lesser Moorhen, Brown-backed Honeybird, Red-throated Wryneck, Red Phalarope (during 2005) and Spotted Crake (during 2005).

Directions

To get to Darvill from Pietermaritzburg, take the Scottsville/ New England turn-off from the N3 and head east along New England Road . Bear left at the service station and continue until you reach the entrance gate, which is about 2 km beyond the golf course.

Additional Information

  • The site is accessible to day visitors and a nominal entrance fee is charged. There are marked trails and 3 hides.
  • Habitats: Mixed wetlands, scrub grassland & maturation ponds.

Contact

Umgeni Water/Msinsi Holdings

Tel: Information can be obtained from Mike Spain - +27 (0)82 442 5016

African Bird of Prey Sanctuary


The sanctuary is found in a breathtaking bushveld setting and is home to the widest selection of captive indigenous birds of prey in Southern Africa. All the raptors to be viewed at the sanctuary are either captive bred or non-releaseable rehabilitation birds whose injuries are permanent and therefore need a permanent home. Visitors can see the aerial predators in action during daily interactive flying displays and witness the voracious antics of the vultures at feeding times.

Rare or endangered species on view: Grass Owl, Pels Fishing Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Cape Griffon, White–backed Vulture. Coming on view soon: The big five eagles species, White-headed and Palmnut vultures, Pearl-spotted, Scops and White-faced Scops Owls and Pygmy Falcons.

Directions

Take exit 65 (Lynnfield Park) off the N3 Highway (between PMB ad Durban) and travel 4km down the Lion Park Road. The Sanctuary is signposted and located on the right side of the road.

GPS Co-ordinates

Location Latitude Longitude
African Bird of Prey Sanctuary S 29° 40' 35.80"  E 30° 30' 50.10"

Additional Information

  • Open Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 4pm.
  • The sanctuary contains at least twenty micro-habitats in which the raptors can be viewed.
  • For kids, there is also a playground and bunny feeding enclosure.
  • A café with light refreshments and an art and curio shop rounds off you visiting pleasure. Picnicking is permitted, but there are no braai facilities on site.
  • Flying Displays Take place Tuesday to Friday at 10:30am. On weekends and public holidays there is a second afternoon show at 3pm. (Weather permitting)

Contact

Ben & Shannon Hoffman

Tel: +27 (0)3 785 2981
Mobile: +27 (0)82 925 3023
E-mail: onair@africanraptor.co.za
Website: www.africanraptor.co.za

Matatiele Commonage


Matatiele lies roughly 70 km's west of Kokstad, nestled in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains relatively close to the Lesotho border. Covering an area of 5 000 ha, Matatiele commonage lies south of the town and incorporates high altitude grassland, rocky gorges, a large dam and associated wetlands, as well as the iconic Matatiele Mountain – the drive from town to the top of the mountain takes you from 1 200m to 2 000 m along a 12 km stretch. Together with Sani Pass and Wakkerstroom, Matatiele commonage offers some of South Africa's best high altitude birding, and on a good day in summer you can expect to see 50 - 60 species!

Matatiele commonage has been rated as an IBA as it supports significant global populations of Southern bald ibis, Black harrier, Blue crane, Rudd's lark, Yellow-breasted & Mountain pipit, Drakensberg rock-jumper and Buff-streaked chat. As you drive up the mountain scan the rocky slopes on the left for African rock pipit, Buff-streaked chat, Ground woodpecker and look carefully for Gurney's sugarbird and Malachite sunbird in any Protea stands. Cape eagle-owl occur here but can be difficult to find, so carefully scan any rocky ledges and cliffs. The level grassland further along on the right of the road is excellent habitat for Short-tailed pipit. After you reach the plateau look for Yellow-breasted, African rock & Mountain pipit as well as Rudd's lark in the grazed grasslands. Other grassland birds to look for include Red-necked Spurfowl, Grey-winged francolin, Denham's bustard, Black-winged lapwing and Black harrier (winter). As the road winds up to 2 000 m (3 km along the road) Drakensberg rock-jumper and Buff-streaked chat inhabit the rocky gorge on the left. Keep an eye overhead for Bearded & Cape vulture.

Facilities

  • There are no ablution or picnic site facilities on Matatiele Mountain.
  • During bad weather the road up the mountain can be difficult, but is usually accessible with a 2-wheel drive vehicle, although high clearance is recommended.

Directions

As you enter Matatiele on the R56 from Kokstad the road becomes Main Road. From Main Road turn left into Jagger Street and travel just over 500m down Jagger Street before taking a right onto a gravel road. Continue along the gravel road up the mountain to the radio mast at the top of the plateau.

GPS Co-ordinates

Location Latitude Longitude
Turn-off up Matatiele Mountain 30° 20'49.63"S 28° 48'16.68"E

Additional Information

Entry Fee: Vehicle R0
Day visitors: Adults R0
Gate opening and closing times: N/A

Birder Friendly Establishments in this area:
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