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Ken Borland

Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve 0

Posted on January 19, 2018 by Ken


Blue Duiker

Blue Duiker














Amidst the suburban bustle of East London, the Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve is a small oasis in which majestic Crowned Eagles can be spotted side-by-side with the more prosaic Hadeda Ibis.

In fact, when I visited the reserve in Beacon Bay, I was fortunate enough to see a Crowned Eagle, flying majestically low over the coastal forest, although it was seemingly being chased by a Hadeda, which was following right behind it!

Considering that Hadedas are actually amongst the Crowned Eagle’s favourite avian prey, it is way more likely that it was just an illusion of perspective and the Ibis would have been keeping its distance from the powerful raptor.

The favourite prey of the Crowned Eagle is Dassies and Blue Duiker, and there were lots of the little antelope around, easily spotted on the various paths through the forest.

The 77km long Nahoon River is the centrepiece of the reserve and an excellent boardwalk allows one to explore the tidal flats as well as Africa’s southern-most mangrove forest.

The river bank no doubt provides breeding sites for Black Saw-Wing Swallow, and a pair of these summer visitors were sailing above a clearing in the coastal forest, along with Lesser Striped Swallows. Forktailed Drongos stand guard on prominent perches, one of them having a weird double tail moult.

Forktailed Drongo with double tail-moult

Forktailed Drongo with double tail-moult

Whitebreasted Cormorant fly over along the estuary, with Tawnyflanked Prinia in bushes on the flats, Spottedbacked Weavers in the reeds and Goliath Heron and Little Egret patrolling the water’s edge.

There are rocky areas as well, while pristine forest is tightly packed on the dunes bordering the river and the Indian Ocean. Trails criss-cross this enticing habitat and a pair of Greenbacked Camaropteras were jumping around next to the path, while Terrestrial Bulbul kept to themselves in the thicker stuff.

Where is the Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve?


Sightings list

Blue Duiker

Sombre Bulbul

Bronze Mannikin

Whitebreasted Cormorant

Forktailed Drongo

Laughing Dove

Redeyed Dove

Tawnyflanked Prinia

Black Saw-Wing Swallow

Crowned Eagle

Hadeda Ibis

Goliath Heron

Little Egret

Greenbacked Camaroptera

Terrestrial Bulbul

Lesser Striped Swallow

Spottedbacked Weaver

Cape White-Eye

Cape White-Eyes having a bath

Cape White-Eyes having a bath


Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve 0

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Ken


Nestled between the rampant development of Umhlanga Rocks is a little 26 ha sanctuary of coastal bush, a refuge for birds and small mammals amidst all the hotels and holiday homes that are mushrooming along the coast north of Durban.

The Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, with its coastal dune forest, reed beds, ponds and the Ohlange River’s lagoon and mouth, provides an ideal getaway for the public to spend a few hours reconnecting with nature, and there are plenty of interesting birds waiting to be discovered.

The Eastern Olive Sunbird is largely restricted to these coastal forests and it disappears readily into the thick foliage, it’s dark olive plumage lacking any of the metallic shininess of the other sunbirds.

But it makes up for this unobtrusive behaviour by being amongst the most vocal of all sunbirds, and, in a couple of hours spent in the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, I managed to find four different individuals singing little “whit-peep” songs from inside the trees.

As charming as the reserve is though, one cannot help but be dismayed by the pace of development squeezing it from all sides; the difference between my January 2014 visit and my previous foray to Umhlanga in 2003 was stark.

A Purplecrested Lourie flew into a bare tree above the forest and seemed to look around anxiously, seemingly perplexed by all the development going on around the oasis of green.

Nevertheless, three species of Weaver can be found in the reserve, including nesting Yellow Weavers, and there were fleeting glimpses of Tawnyflanked Prinia, as well as a Slender Mongoose scampering away into the reedbeds, just proving the wide range of habitats these carnivores can inhabit.

Common Sandpiper and Pied Kingfisher are prominent along the lagoon, while there always seems to be a Goliath Heron around.

Thickbilled Weaver can either be found nesting in the reeds or foraging on the way back through the forest.

Sightings list

Cape Wagtail

Spottedbacked Weaver

Blackeyed Bulbul

Yellow Weaver

Tawnyflanked Prinia

Purplecrested Lourie

Eastern Olive Sunbird

Cape White-Eye

Sombre Bulbul

Southern Red Bishop

Slender Mongoose

Common Sandpiper

Pied Kingfisher

Blackheaded Heron

Goliath Heron

Hadeda Ibis

Bronze Mannikin

Thickbilled Weaver


Sabie River 0

Posted on May 13, 2015 by Ken


The S3 Sabie River Road between the Paul Kruger and Phabeni Gates of Kruger National Park takes you through some dense woodland alongside the acacia thickets and grassveld that characterise the south-central parts of the reserve, and is ideal habitat for the Gabar Goshawk, a typical small raptor of the well-treed regions.

Although the road is along the river, there aren’t too many vantage points to look at the water, but there is nevertheless plenty of life to be seen thanks to the gallery forest that fringes the Sabie.

Apart from the Gabar Goshawk hunting from a perch within the trees, other raptors seen on a grey, rainy morning were Whitebacked Vulture and Gymnogene, while the proximity to the water and ample food meant Elephant, Impala, Bushbuck, Giraffe, Warthog and Waterbuck were common along the gently ascending road.

The Bearded Robin is generally uncommon in Kruger Park, but the Sabie River is one of the best places to see it, hopping around in the undergrowth.

Typical woodland birds like the Emeraldspotted Wood Dove, Arrowmarked Babbler, Southern Black Tit, Scimitarbill and African Hoopoe are easily seen, while Whitefaced Duck were spotted flying above the river.

The other side of the Sabie River is less untouched wilderness and more human development, which does at least provide better access to the river, allowing Hippopotamus, Water Dikkop, Blacksmith Plover, African Pied Wagtail, Greenbacked Heron and Pied Kingfisher to be viewed.

The woodlands around the Sabie River are also great for Brownhooded Kingfisher and Blackbacked Puffback.

Sightings list


Little Swift

Water Dikkop

Blacksmith Plover

Glossy Starling

Emeraldspotted Wood Dove

Helmeted Guineafowl

Rattling Cisticola


Forktailed Drongo


Arrowmarked Babbler

Blackeyed Bulbul

Southern Black Tit



Cape Turtle Dove


African Hoopoe

Goldenbreasted Bunting

Grey Heron


Gabar Goshawk

Whitebacked Vulture



Whitefaced Duck

Bearded Robin

African Pied Wagtail

Greenbacked Heron

Hadeda Ibis

Pied Kingfisher

Brownhooded Kingfisher

Blackbacked Puffback

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