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8 birding spots to check out on the KZN South Coast

Oribi Vulture Viewing Hide gives visitors the chance to observe Cape vultures. Picture: Michelle Pearson

Oribi Vulture Viewing Hide gives visitors the chance to observe Cape vultures. Picture: Michelle Pearson

Published Nov 5, 2021

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If birding is something that tickles your fancy, then head to the KZN South Coast.

The chief executive of Ugu South Coast Tourism, Phelisa Mangcu, says the area offers plenty of birdwatching opportunities.

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“The diversity of our natural landscape on the KZN South Coast provides homes for such a wide variety of South African bird species. Birdwatching is a great way to get back into nature and discover a previously unknown world," she said.

South Coast Tourism shares some birding spots to visit:

TC Robertson Nature Reserve

The 60-hectare coastal reserve on the south bank of the Mpambanyoni River near the mouth is named after famed author, ecologist and conservationist Dr Thomas Chalmers Robertson. Visitors can view African fish eagles, terrestrial brownbuls, Barratt’s warbler, yellow-throated longclaws and the green malkoha. Call 062 002 5190.

Crocworld Conservation Centre

There are more than 200 wild bird species at Crocworld Conservation Centre. These include nesting palm nut vultures, the African fish eagle and kingfishers. Within the centre, you can see the African eagle owl, jackal buzzards, Eurasian eagle owls, Harris hawk and even white mute swans. Call 039 976 1103.

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Umdoni Park Trust Golf Club & Nature Reserve

This reserve is a wonderful place to start a birding adventure. There are extensive trail networks where you can see the spotted ground thrush, purple-crested turaco, olive woodpecker, ashy flycatcher, southern tchagra and Narina trogon. Call 039 975 1615.

Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve

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Established in 1973, this coastal reserve is just 13km inland and has beautiful grassland, forest, and wetland habitats. This variety provides shelter for around 300 bird species, including grey-crowned cranes, martial eagles, ground hornbills, the secretary bird, lazy cisticola, lesser honeyguide and short-tailed pipit. Call 039 974 2222.

Lake Eland Game Reserve

Eland Game Reserve's ecosystems consist of bushveld and grassland interspersed with coastal forest and wetland – ideal for birdwatchers. Catch sightings of local birdlife at the picnic or braai sites while enjoying a relaxed game drive, or go hiking or biking through the reserve. Call 039 687 0395.

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Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve

This is one of the most scenic birding spots on the 24km stretch of gorge along the Mzimkulwana River. There have been more than 350 bird species recorded here, with guided tours arranged if required. Be on the lookout for the African broadbill, African finfoot, African wood owl, African pygmy kingfisher and Knysna turaco. Call 039 845 1000.

Oribi Vulture Viewing Hide

Located close to the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve, Oribi Vulture Viewing Hide gives visitors the chance to observe Cape vultures in their natural habitat. Call 072 893 3794.

Weza-Ngele Forest

This is one of the most accessible tracts of this Afromontane mistbelt forest, found 80km inland with a great system of birdwatching trails. There are shorter trails for a quick hike or the half-day circular loop through the upper forest. Visitors can spot orange ground thrush, Cape parrot, bush blackcap, chorister robin chat, Cape batis, African dusky flycatcher and double-collared sunbird. Call 039 553 0600.

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