Just a hop away from the town of Hluhluwe, the Bonamanzi Game Reserve is a brilliant birding destination.
Words and Pictures: Peter Chadwick
Bonamanzi Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Bonamanzi Game Reserve comprises three adjoining eco-systems – coastal grassland, tropical forest, and woodland. Patches of sandforest occur on the reserve and there is a good network of pans and waterways.
African Pygmy Kingfisher
Season and Weather
Summer months are extremely hot and humid and afternoon thundershowers can be expected. Note that this is a malaria area. Winter weather is pleasant with cool temperatures and more stable weather.
Accommodation & Activities
Bonamanzi Game Reserve offers accommodation to suit most needs, from comfortable 3-star chalets at the Lalapanzi camp to the luxury, private Dinizulu camp. There are also the well-known self-catering treehouses. Activities include boating trips, game drives and walking trails.
Take the N2 north from Durban and turn off to the town of Hluhluwe. Drive through the town towards the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. On the outskirts of the town, there is good signage directing you to the nearby game reserve.
For more information visit www.bonamanzi.co.za.
CHECKLIST OF ‘SPECIAL’ BIRDS TO SPOT…
1. The African Jacana (Grootlangtoon) male incubates , raises and carries the young under his wings.
2. Found in dry forest, the Bearded Scrub-Robin (Baardwipstert) is shy. It differs from the Brown Scrub-Robin, with brightly coloured flanks and bolder head markings.
3. A rather dull sunbird, the Eastern Olive Sunbird (Olyfsuikerbekkie) occurs in coastal and mist-belt forest and moist broad-leafed woodland.
4. The diminutive Malachite Kingfisher (Kuifkopvisvanger) is only a centimetre longer than the Pygmy Kingfisher and occurs over most of South Africa apart from the arid west.
5. A common summer visitor, the Violet-backed Starling (Witborsspreeu) builds its nest in the hollow of trees, laying three or four eggs per clutch. Unlike the brightly coloured male, the female is brown with darker speckles.
6. The Crested Guineafowl (Kuifkoptarentaal) only occurs in the extreme north of Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal where it inhabits coastal and riparian forests. During foraging the birds use a soft keet-keet-keet call.
7. The Yellow-throated Longclaw (Geelkeelkalkoentjie) is a common resident in rank grassland close to water. It calls while in flight or when prominently perched.
8. Best found by following its soft see-saw call, the Red-capped Robin-Chat (Nataljanfrederik) is also an excellent mimic and songster.
9. The Ashy Flycatcher (Blougrysvlieëvanger) grabs insects from branches and will often fly groundwards for food. It is a common resident that may be found in loose family parties.
10. The Lesser-striped Swallow (Kleinstreepswael)is easily distinguished from the Greater-striped Swallow by its darker plumage and heavy black stripping on the white underparts.