It's a Great Day to Bird

Durban to Richard’s Bay – South Africa

We decided to go to Pigeon Valley one more time before heading north.  We are glad we did.  This site has proved to be quite productive for birding despite it’s low rating (one check) in the “Where to Find Birds in Southern Africa” book I purchased for the trip.    The nature park was located less than 1/4 mile from our B&B so we decided to leave our car in a secure location (although they did have person who watches the car and you give him a small stipend for doing so – we learned 5 Rand is the going rate, which is about 50 cents).

On the way to Pigeon Valley Nature Park we walked adjacent to the park and had some of our best birding.  We did better there than when we actually got into the park.


Hadeda Ibis – these are VERY noisy birds. You hear them flying around Durban a lot. These birds were on the roadway and adjoining grassy areas.


Even the dogs are behind bars.


Lots of pretty flowers in yards and the wild. This one was in the B&B yard.


Golden-tailed Woodpecker


Vervet Monkey


Red-capped Robin-chat


Pretty Flower – about the size of a large grapefruit

After birding Pigeon Valley Nature Park we bid our host (Edith and Leon, and their dogs Lilly and Bentley) good-bye.  We really had a lovely stay at the Upper Room B&B in Durban and would recommend it to anyone visiting this city.  One thing we learned so far, is there are a lot of gated communities – each house has its own gate.

Next stop was Eshowe and the Dlinza Forest.  We arrived around 2:00 pm, and after unpacking our bags, got started birding in the forest.  Dlinza Forest has an aerial walkway and tower, and a bird hide (bird blind for us Americans).  We walked the aerial walkway first and noted a few birds.  We then stopped in at the hide and waited for the birds to come to eat and drink before settling in for the night.  We were rewarded with a African (blue-billed) Firefinch (sorry no good photo).  A life bird for us.  It was getting late and we were in the hide so my photos are so-so.  We were hoping for a Green Twinspot, but one didn’t show.


Bird Hide (aka Bird Blind) view


Olive Thrush




View from blind


Red-backed Mannikin


Eastern Bronze-Naped Pigeon


Woolly-necked Stork. This stork was hanging out in someone’s yard.

We stayed two nights at the Dlinza Forest Accommodations.  A great self-catering cabin that we would highly recommend.


Two – two side-by-side cabins


The bed is to the left when you walk into the cabin


Small kitchen and living area to the right. Very nice.

The next morning we got up early to first check out the bird hide and then the aerial walkway and tower.  At the bird hide we were rewarded with two Green Twinspots already feeding.  Both were juveniles that were subsequently joined by their mother.  Later in the day we saw the male.   Was fun to sit and watch all the birds that came into eat, drink, and bath.


Male Green Twinspot


Female Green Twinspot.

We then headed off for the aerial walkway and tower.  No new birds, but did see some of the usual suspects.  Yes, we already have those birds that keep reappearing everywhere we go – like the White-browed Barbet and the Yellow-bellied Greenbul.  We went in search of the Narina Trogon, walking a 1.9 km trail.  It wasn’t until almost the end of the trail that I spotted the trogon as we were watching several other birds moving about.  Jack didn’t get on the trogon so we continued on the trail only to have me re-find the bird about 100 yards later and with better views.  We were both very happy campers.


Jack at the top of the viewing platform


This is the view


And so was this Trumpeter Hornbill


And this White-browed Barbet (they are plentyful)


And this Cape White-eye.


Heading down the stairs.


Narina Trogon


Blue Duiker


Not sure what this is but it has strange eyes.

After lunch we ventured out to a reservoir called Lake Probane.  In the “Where to Find Birds in Southern Africa” book, this reservoir hosts all six species of Kingfishers.  Well maybe at one time, but not while we were there.  We did see several songbirds, the Egyptian Goose, and African Darter.  And on the way out we passed a field with about 27 Wholly-necked Storks and a Grey Heron.


Woolly-necked Storks waiting for the soccer game to start


Grey Heron


Lake Probane. The reservoir levels are low. South Africa is experiencing a drought.


Egyptian Geese

To get to the reservoir we had to drive a short distance on a pretty rough road.  Hard to miss some of the potholes.  Just glad we didn’t hurt the rental car.

After another night at the Dlinza Forest Accommodations we decided we wanted to see if we could see the Palm Nut Vulture.  Since South Africa is experiencing a drought, we aren’t sure where the vultures are, because they weren’t at Mtunzini.  We paid the 40R (rand – about $4.00 USA) entrance fee and checked out a mangrove trail (lots of Vervet monkeys, but no birds) and the Siyaya trail.  This trail is a loop trail or you can go to the beach.  We decided to check out the beach.  On the trail to the beach we heard and then found three Purple-crested Turaco.  Woohoo!!! What a great find, and the opportunity for some decent photos.


African Pied Wagtatil. Yard birds.


Road to the Palm Nut Vulture Boardwalk


Jack on the Palm Nut Vulture Boardwalk


Mangrove Boardwalk with Vervet Monkeys


African Darter


Not sure what kind of crab, but these guys are good sized – about the size of a tangerine.


Crab holes – lots of them in the mangrove swamps


Siyaya Trail


Purple-crested Turaco


Purple-crested Turaco


Trail sign


Hmmm – no Shark Nets???


The boardwalk


Siyaya River

As for the beach the only life we saw were a few cattle.  Why the cattle were on the beach I have no idea.


Cattle on the beach

Our next stop was Richard’s Bay, which according to the “Where to Find Birds in Southern Africa” book, is a great place to find waterbirds.  Well we had a hard time finding the several places listed in the book for viewing birds.  We did end up on a dirt road and found a few great birds – a Malachite Kingfisher and a Little Bee-eater.


Little Bee-eater


Malachite Kingfisher


Richard’s Bay is an industrial city – largest bay in South Africa



We then headed to our hotel which was in a subdivision.  We were the only guests at this B&B and the staff left at night leaving just Jack and I in the house.  Weird.  I don’t think I would come back, even though the staff were quite professional and very nice.


Did wake up to four Hadeda Ibis on the roof of the adjoining house. These two must know each other.

Next stop – St Lucia and the large wetland complex in the area.  I love wetlands….. Until then “It’s A Great Day to Bird”.


  1. Betty

    It’s wonderful to see South Africa again through your eyes and lens. I love the photos.

  2. jacqueline delu

    Thank you for a heads up on what to look for when we arrive in S. Africa. We are staying north of Durban at Zulu Nyala Preserve and hope to see some of these birds. Your photos are very good! jackie

    • alaskabirder

      Have fun in South Africa.

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