Birding at Kenneth Stainbank

Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve is another one of Durban’s gems and it is only 12 or so kms from the city. Este Shearar and I (Penny de Vries) went on a two-person masked walk (our new normal) on yet another glorious July day. From the parking lot, we headed around the corner to walk through the grassland towards the dam. We didn’t get very far. We were stuck at the beginning of the grassland path for about an hour. No, not in the mud; it was very dry. By the birds. There were so many in the trees along the edge of the grassland. Many were calling too. Black-headed Oriole, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Greenbul and the ever present White-eared Barbet. 

We heard a high-pitched sound, looked straight up and there was this cute little African Dusky Flycatcher just above us. A flash of blue – Brown-hooded Kingfisher – and a group of flocking, Black-bellied Starling.

Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Black-bellied Starling

Then amidst the Spectacled Weaver and Purple-crested Turaco calls, we heard tchick, tchick, tchick, scanned the blue, blue sky and there came an African Goshawk. Este managed to capture it even though it flew over so quickly, (photographically of course).

African Goshawk

As we had finally exhausted all the possibilities at the beginning of the path, we headed on down to where zebras were grazing, the wild dagga were showing off and we heard a call that had been going on for a while. Sounded remarkably like someone in distress. Eventually I didn’t, but the penny did (drop, that is). Black Sparrowhawk from the thick forested area. More of the usual suspects as we wended our way towards the dam, with a Black Cuckooshrike top of the hit parade. 

Finally reached the dam, where we saw Reed Cormorant, Black Crake and Little Grebe. Some Crowned Hornbills flew over too. The island in the centre of the dam is no more, so the usual weavers were absent. It’s such a tranquil spot to sit and reflect. 

We dragged ourselves away and headed back to the carpark via the Castle. Great to see Lesser Striped Swallows – a hint of summer. A White-browed Scrub Robin bamboozled me; I could not believe we could not see it. It was so loud coming from the bush directly next to the path but impossible to see. I recorded the call and put it on the club’s friendly BLPN WhatsApp group1 and within a short time, Jenny Norman confirmed the ID. 

Our haul for the day was 40 species, not bad for winter, especially as we weren’t able to stay long enough to do the forest area justice. 

Report by Penny de Vries; Photographs taken by Penny de Vries and Este Shearer.

1Editor’s note: BLPN WhatsApp group – please note that all members are welcome to join this group but it is by request – you are not automatically added as a member you opt in for the service. Please send your cell number by email to or

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