Hi KZN Birders!


Dave Rimmer and I would like to start a group for BIRDERS interested in listing as many bird species as possible per annum within the 150km listing region from the Cato Ridge BP Station on the N3 (a kind of halfway point between Durban and Pietermaritzburg). The challenge will take place on an annual basis (keep an annual list for the region).

This will be co-ordinated with the initial guidance of Dewald Swanepoel, Etienne Marais and Kevin Ravno.

Birdlife Sisonke in the SW area, Birdlife Trogons down the south coast, Birdlife KZN Midlands in PMB and Howick, and Birdlife Port Natal in Durban.

Should they wish to, Birdlife Zululand would have to do their own challenge, which should probably be 150km taken from the central point of Hluhluwe Town or Memorial Gate at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi GR. Who in the Richard’s Bay or Hluhluwe region would like to take the initiative on?


It largely comes off the back of the wider Gauteng 100k challenge, and the new initiatives in Nelspruit, Cape Town and Polokwane. So, the challenges are growing, which could lead to some fun competitive birding.

The Wider Gauteng listing in the region has been on the go since at least 2001, when 70 people participated in the first inaugural challenge. In 2013, several birders have recorded over 450 species – a lot higher than totals in previous years.


List all the species you see during the calendar year in the area defined as the 150km radius from the Cato Ridge BP Station on the N3.

The area extends to Port Edward in the south, it covers Underberg and falls just short of Didima and Ladysmith in the west, just covers Ongoye and Umlalazi in the north and 110km out to sea off Durban Bay. I can send a map if you would like, but this will also be posted online.

Only birds that have been seen can be recorded, not only heard.

Due to the subjective nature of birding this fun challenge should never get to intensely competitive and the aim of the group is to provide a forum to share experiences on birding in the region – where and when to find the specials and to keep track of progress!


We will ask Kevin Ravno to help with the list keeping like he does for the Gauteng challenge, which is done out of the goodness of his heart. So, Kevin, there really is no expectation or obligation, and I can do a simple excel spreadsheet as an alternative that is updated and posted on a monthy basis. Kevin is busy setting up a similar system for the Mpumalanga challenge.

But until that has happened, nothing stops each participant from keeping his/her own records and posting the occasional message to your Facebook group like “Hi fellow challengers. I spent the weekend at Underberg to look for a few mountain species for my challenge list and picked up Bearded Vulture and White-necked Raven. This brings my total to 273. I still haven’t seen South African Cliff-Swallow this year, any tips where I can go look for it? How are the rest of you doing?”

We will be compiling a checklist of birds for the defined area, and would appreciate your help. Kevin will need the checklist if he is going to set up a listing system.

We will form a vetting panel, with clear rules, of a few willing and capable birders to vet records of rare birds and vagrants so that we don’t have outlandish birds on our list which have not been subjected to any kind of scrutiny. If you claim a species which is considered a vagrant, you will be asked for supporting arguments and pictures if possible. The vetting panel will then accept or reject the record in a similar style to SABAP2.

We will set up a Facebook page to maintain dialogue, publicity and community. Please do not post general images of birds you have photographed on this forum!

Please provide us with your comments, and let us know who will be keen to participate…

Yours in birding,

Michael Wright

Cell: 083 670 1436


Cumberland Weekend & Sunday Outing

There are still 2 guest rooms available at Cumberland for the birding weekend below if there are any takers. Very reasonably priced – see contact details below.

Weekend Outing. Fri 24th to Sun 26th January.  Cumberland Private Nature Reserve. Only 1.25 hrs from Durban, Cumberland is situated in the Umgeni Valley 10km from Pietermaritzburg. The mixed habitat comprises acacia thorn veldt, riverine forest, cliffs and dams. Directions: N3 to Pietermaritzburg, take the Ohrtmann Road turn-off, turn right over freeway into the Willowton area. At the second traffic light, turn right into Bishopstowe Road. Turn left at the second set of lights (yield sign) signposted Table Mountain. Continue up the hill (this is the old Wartburg Road) until another sign to Table Mountain. Turn right here. After about a kilometre turn left at the huge Cumberland Nature Reserve sign onto the signposted D408. Continue for 7 kms through farmland (eventually citrus) until you reach the entrance to Cumberland. The reserve charges R10 entry – payable at the honesty kiosk.

There is an attractive campsite as well as  limited room accommodation. Book directly with John or Stella Behn 082 3371056;  082 3765600.  info@cumberlandreserve.co.za

Sunday 26th January. This outing will combine with the Weekend Outing to Cumberland with Mike Roseblade and Jane Morris.  For directions read their outing above. The reserve charges R10 entry – payable at the honesty kiosk. Take chairs, tea/coffee, lunch. The meeting time is : 07h00 at the campsite. Please confirm all details with Mike or Jane. Mike – microse@mweb.co.za or Jane – janette@mweb.co.za