Bahati is a privately-owned game farm set in superb bush environment in the heart of Zululand, close to the town of Hluhluwe. The camp sites are nestled in among the trees and boasted a nesting Grey-tit Flycatcher just above us and a very vociferous and elusive Nicator that called all day. Several sites have their own lapas next to them and we were fortunate to have one of these. Mike and I went up on the Wednesday to scout out the area and plan our walks etc as we had not been there before. The weather had other ideas and Thursday dawned wet and cold, so we did our birding from under the shelter of the Lapa plus a couple of forays out into the surrounding bush between showers. Later in the afternoon we did a drive around which proved challenging as part of the property is sticky black mud and we slipped and slid our way around the roughly 5 km boundary fence that encloses Bahati.
There are numerous tracks that one can walk on, distances are not so great, this made for excellent group birding. Our party of campers and hutters arrived over a few days but come Friday afternoon we were a party of 14 and so we had a good crowd assembled. The game farm features a wonderful diversity of vegetation, including sand forest, plenty of open thornveld with Fever trees and the odd Ilala palm scattered around and a wetland area comprising a small water hole and flooded grassland after the recent rains. As can be expected the birding was amazing.
We did a morning walk each day and there was more than enough to keep us with binoculars glued to the eye and cameras clicking away. Some of the highlights of our birding were good sightings of Nicator, Rudd’s Apalis, a great view of Grey Penduline Tit and two species of Eremomelas. Gorgeous Bush-shrike flitted across our path at times and although we though we heard a Twinspot we couldn’t find the bird. There are a variety of animals including Black Impala, rather a strange looking antelope, to keep non-birders entertained.
A wetland was our port of call for a sundowner and there were a small contingent of waders, namely Wood and Common Sandpiper, Greenshank and a pair of Woolly Necked Stork to keep us company as the sun set. We had a braai fire going each evening and Mike entertained us on Friday with a short educational of what to see and listen for the next day. On Saturday I did a short 20 question quiz which caused a lot of hilarity and hopefully was educational. Fiery-necked Nightjar called for most of the night but sadly we didn’t hear even one owl calling.
Saturday the weather was perfect, Sunday dawned windy and cold and despite searching the fence line for the Lemon-breasted Canaries that we had seen on both Thursday and Friday we couldn’t find them for the group to see.
This is a great venue with many birds that seem to be very confiding. I would certainly recommend it for a spell in Zululand, it is close to Hluhluwe and Mkuze so if you have time to spare and want to head that way it is worth checking out. The only negative is the railway line and road which are close to the campsite, the trains do seem to be less frequent over the weekend and the birds certainly don’t seem to be bothered by the traffic on either the road or the rail.
A total of 129 birds were seen. See bird list attached