BeKZN walks…Umdoni Park

9th August 2023

Umdoni Park, situated at Umdoni Park Golf Club in Pennington, is one of the KwaZulu Natal South Coast’s best birding destinations. With potential sought-after species such as Green Malkoha, White-starred Robin, Green Twinspot, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, and lots more, this venue is always well worth a visit.

We met at the guard station at the entrance to the golf course, and while waiting for people to arrive we already started adding species to the list for the day. Cardinal Woodpecker not only made its presence known with its piercing call but also allowed us views of it high in a tree. Golden-tailed Woodpecker would add itself to the list of woodpeckers we would see for the day, along with Little Swift, Red-eyed Dove, Thick-billed Weaver, Tambourine Dove and Crested Barbet.

Once everyone had arrived, we made our way to the Conservation Centre. This is a good place to see Green Twinspot at the birdbath. Sadly, we didn’t see the species during the day, but those that spent extra time at the center during the morning got some close-up views of a Knysna Turaco. As the group made their way out of the cars and gathered for the pre-walk chat, we did manage to record Sombre Greenbul, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Olive Sunbird as well as a few other species.

The two words ‘few species’ is an appropriate choice of words for how the morning started. The morning was cool and overcast, and for the first half an hour of our time together the birding was very slow. However, as soon as the sun peaked through the clouds the birds came alive.

Just before we crossed the first section of the golf course, we heard a Grey-headed Bushshrike calling loudly. At first, we struggled to work out what we were hearing, but after much discussion in the group, and some help from a bird app, we managed to work out what we were hearing.

On the side of the fairway was a tree that was alive with birds. Luckily the golf course was quiet, so we made our way across the fairway and enjoyed a fair amount of time standing near the tree. We spent time slowly ‘sifting’ our way through the species that were moving around in the branches –Collared Sunbird, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, two Ashy Flycatchers, Dark-backed Weavers, Chinspot Batis, Southern Black Tit, Black-backed Puffback, Dusky Flycatcher and a Brown-backed Honeybird. Oh, I better not forget about the Spur-winged Geese that flew overhead like a pair of raptors.

Brown-backed Honeybird – Andre van der Westhuizen
Chinspot Batis – Andre van der Westhuizen

As we headed back onto the path, we got some good visuals of Grey Waxbill showing just how beautiful they are. There was also a flock of Red-backed Mannikin high on a tree.

Ashy Flycatcher – Andre van der Westhuizen
Grey Waxbill – Andre van der Westhuizen
Grey Waxbill – Andre van der Westhuizen

Red-backed Mannikin – Andre van der Westhuizen

As we headed into the more dense section of the path after the golf course, we heard a Lemon Dove calling from deep in the forest. We tried hard but didn’t manage to see it. Some of the group managed some good views of a pair of Green-backed Camaropteras moving low down along the edge of the forest. Again we heard a call that stumped us all. We spent some time trying to find the bird, and eventually, we worked out what we were hearing – an Olive Woodpecker! Luckily, we managed to locate it and got some decent views of it high in a tree.

White-eared Barbet – Andre van der Westhuizen

The next bird may have been the highlight of the day – well not one bird, but two. Moving along the forest floor on the dead leaf ‘carpet’ was a pair of Spotted Ground Thrush. Most of the group managed to get ‘eyes’ on this species which can be very tricky to see.

We took the path to the left, which goes past the small pond and heads towards the Meander Trail. This section was a little quieter, but we did enjoy the view of the beautiful pond. The chairs near the pond allowed some of the group to take a well-earned rest.

Colours of the forest – Heidi Paul

We decided to use the Meander Trail to wind our way back to the Conservation Centre. We were hoping to see White-starred Robin, but sadly the species eluded us on the day. The walk back allowed us to add Crowned Eagle to the list. Although the Meander Path was quiet in terms of species, it was still a breathtaking walk through the habitat that makes up this stunning destination. Just a warning for those that decide to use this path, there is a steep hill that may provide a challenge for some people.

Report by Adam Cruickshank.

Leave a Reply