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A Report from

Ndumo Reserve - Kwazulu-Natal (South Africa) Sept. 2000,

Louis Geyer

Visiting Heaven is not something all of us have the privilege to do. I am one that does.

In the North of Kwazulu-Natal (South Africa) is where you can find it. There is a little reserve called Ndumo. It is just over 10,000ha small, but holds the most beautiful place just this side of Heaven. I have seen the Redwood forests of Oregon and California, the Grand Canyon in Arizona and even Chobe game reserve in Botswana, but I still rate this place right up there with the best.

Having just returned from a very short visit of 5 days in the reserve, I can't wait to get back. Seven hours drive from Johannesburg, is well worth the trip. This reserve is home to over 400 bird species and seeing up to 200 in a day is not unimaginable.

We are birders with a lot to learn but this place never leaves you wanting. We arrived at the same time as the local birding club weekend and so I would go around their evening meetings to find out what they saw. With 177 species on the first day between 16 of them we did not feel bad with our 79 between 2 of us, and we are only young in the birding fraternity. We totaled 150 after 5 days, comparable to their 210.

With it not being quiet summer, the migrants had not arrived yet and our list included only 5 raptors. There is enough of every type of bird as the habitats vary from riverine forest, thornveld, grassland, reedbeds/swamp and especially waterbirds are common.

On our list included some of the following: Cuckoo Hawk, African Finfoot, Black Coucal, Narina Trogon, Broadbilled Roller, Yellowspotted Nicator, Rudd's Apalis, Gorgeous Bush Shrike, Spotted Dikkop, White Helmetshrike and Redbilled Helmetshrike, Striped Kingfisher, Grey Penduline Tit, Threestreaked Tchagra and Blackcrowned Tchagra, Heuglin's Robin, Black Crake, Afrcian Jacana. Waders, herons, storks and large numbers of African Fish Eagle are also included.

The vulture restaurant on the way to Nyamithi pan can provide sightings of Whitebacked Vulture, Whiteheaded Vulture and Lappetfaced Vulture and the occasional Palmnut Vulture. Eastern Blackheaded Oriole, Rudd's Apalis, Greyheaded Bush Shrike, Purplebanded Sunbird; Whitetbrowed Robin and Green Twinspot.

There were many more, but we should be watching and not counting. Can you believe that all of this cost us only £100, food travel and camping included. There is much more to tell, but ask and I will I leave the rest for you to find yourself.

Just let me know if I can take you there and I will.. If you promise not to tell anybody else about this best kept secret of our little Ndumo.

Yours in Birding
Louis Geyer (Contact me)

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