BeKZN Walks! – Vumbuka Nature Reserve

20 May 2022

Spotted Ground Thrush

On Friday the 20th of May a small group from the club did an outing to Vumbuka Nature Reserve in Southgate Industrial Park in Amanzimtoti.  Due to traffic challenges on the way in, we ended up setting off a few minutes late, but after all the recent challenges that the province faced – we were eager to get some birding in. 

We started by stopping on the road into the reserve that overlooks the small grassland. The area was quieter than usual, so we decided to move on and get into the main part of the reserve. When we parked the cars, I was lucky enough to see a Lesser Honeyguide – sadly it flew away before the rest of the group was able to see it. We spent some time in the hide ever hopeful that something would fly in – there was the normal ‘forest choir’ singing their hearts out all around us – Olive Sunbird, Red-capped Robin Chat, and even the Tambourine Dove making sure his voice was heard. A Malachite Kingfisher provided some visual delight near the pond, until the lady sweeping the leaves on the paths scared it away. 

The reserve is mostly indigenous forest and is often most rewarding in winter months. As with other forested birding destinations, the lists for an outing can be smaller, but there is always the chance of seeing one of KwaZulu Natal’s specials. 

We kept on walking; we saw many of the same species as we wound our way slowly through the reserve. When we got up to the top loop road, we were greeted with the wail of the Golden Tailed Woodpecker and the distant chuckling of the African Fish Eagle. As we wound around the road, we had a quick glimpse of a bird – we had a feeling that we knew what it was – and with some exploring, we managed to confirm we had seen a Spotted Ground Thrush! This was one of the target birds for the day – so we were very excited.  

We started through the paths through the reserve – seeing species such as a White-eared Barbet, Fork-tailed Drongo, Bar-throated Apalis and a Black-throated Wattle-eye. When we came out into the opening, we had a quick, up-close view of a Crowned Eagle.  There is a magical corner in the reserve that always seems to have lots of birds and on the day it didn’t disappoint. Species included Cape White-eye, Southern Black Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Collared Sunbird, and a stunning Black Cuckooshrike. 

We left Vumbuka with the list sitting on 38 species and decided to do a quick stop at the hide at Umbogavango Nature Reserve. We didn’t manage to see the Rufous-bellied Heron but did manage to add some species to the list including, African Pied Wagtail, Long-crested Eagle, Reed Cormorant, Chinspot Batis, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Black Crake, and Black-headed Oriole. 

It was a good morning out with a final list of 56 species seen. 

Written by Adam Cruickshank.

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