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Eshowe Route - Zululand Birding Route

Eshowe Route

Eshowe is centrally positioned in an area surrounded by scarp forest and linked to other neighbouring forests by pockets of indigenous bush and grassland, which make it an excellent base for birding in Eshowe and the Zululand forests.

Dlinza Forest, a bird watching mecca in Zululand, is in the heart of Eshowe, hosts birds like the elusive Spotted Ground- Thrush which can be seen scratching for earthworms in the forest leaf litter, while above in the forest canopy Delegorgue's Pigeons can be heard throughout the summer months making their loud ascending then descending call. To the west of Eshowe at a higher elevation, is the Entumeni Nature Reserve, which has a forest superficially similar to Dlinza forest but hosting different birds like Yellow-streaked Bulbuls and African Broadbill which do not occur in Dlinza. A trail established by local cane growers meanders through farms and links the two reserves. This is the Prince Dabulamanzi Trail, named after one of the Zulu King Cetshwayo's great generals.
 
About 15 km north of Eshowe is Lake Phobane, nestled in a valley, which was once the heart of King Shaka's Kingdom. This is a unique birding area and because of the wide range of different habitats in close proximity, a great variety of bird species are to be found here.
 

Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk

Dlinza Forest is situated on the south-western side of Eshowe. This beautiful piece of forest covers an area of 250ha and is one of southern Africa's prime forest birding spots. Access if through the town of Eshowe, to get to the main picnic area and boardwalk head down Kangella Road towards Nkandela, just after the school turn left at the Dlinza Forest signboard.
 
Specials
Probably best known for providing birders with the opportunity to view the Spotted Ground-Thrush, the forest also offers Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Green Malkoha, Olive Woodpecker and Green Twinspot, the last for which a hide has been erected. Other species such as African Crowned Eagle, Narina Trogon, African Crowned Eagle, Narina Trogon, Trumpeter Hornbill, Crowned Hornbill, Chorister Robin-Chat, Terrestrial Brownbul and Lemon Dove.
 
Habitats
The entire forest consists of beautiful climax coastal scarp forest.
 
Facilities
Self-guided trail, ablutions, picnic tables and braai facilities can be found at the Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk off Kangella Road. 
 
Birding
The two main birding areas are the self-guided trail which starts at and returns to the Dlinza Forest picnic site, and the dirt road (royal Drive) which runs through the southern end of the forest. One requires about three hours, preferably in the early morning, to see a good proportion of the forest birds. An average morning should provide about 35 good quality birding species. Species such as Olive Sunbird, Collared Sunbird, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Cape Batis, Square-tailed Drongo, Dark-backed Weaver and Purple-crested Turaco are common here. Also listen out for Green Malkoha in the thicker areas and keep a look out in the more open areas of the forest floor for Spotted Ground-Thrush. Birders are advised to obtain further information From the Zululand Birding Route.
 
General
Visitors to the area are advised to obtain further information on birding, guides and accommodation from the Zululand Birding Route on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Entumeni Area

Situated about 15 km to the south of Eshowe on the Nkandla Road lies the 750 ha Entumeni Forest. This forest includes a number of large grasslands and lies within a large gorge at the base of which flows a river. Situated at a slightly higher altitude than the Dlinza Forest, Entumeni offers a few more species. As this area consists largely of steep slopes, it would be recommended for the fit. Allow about four hours for this forest and begin, if possible even before dawn where in summer the Buff-spotted Flufftail and African Wood-Owl will still be calling. The dawn chorus in the forest is a worthwhile experience.
 
Species
In addition to all the species mentioned for the Dlinza Forest, the Entumeni Forest offers Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Brown Scrub-Robin, African Broadbill, Black Cuckoo and Lazy Cisticola, the latter of which occur in the road side grasslands. Mountain Wagtail occurs on the river which can be reached by taking the long trail.
 
Habitats
The entire forest consists of beautiful climax coastal scarp forest.
 
Facilities
Two trails which start from the picnic site in the forest. One trail takes about 1.5 hours to walk and the other 3 - 4 hours; both are over rather steep terrain.
 
Birding
As for Dlinza Forest but in addition to the forest specials mentioned, the grasslands provide Red-backed Mannikin, Croaking Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird and African Firefinch.
 
General

The Zululand Birding Route will also be able to help with details of guides, accommodation and birding spots..

Lake Pobane

15km North of Eshowe, Lake Phobane is the second biggest dam in Kwa-Zulu Natal and is fed by 7 rivers of which 4 flow all year round. The dam is set in the Umhlatuze Valley with Mabelebele Mountains offering a spectacular backdrop. The habitats along the dam vary from dry acacia scrub to tall mixed woodland, riverine forest patches and mountainous areas with cliffs up to 100m high dropping into the water.
 
Keep an eye open around dry looking areas along the road especially around the areas with a lot of Dichrostachys-type thickets for Long-Tailed Paradise Whydah and Green-Winged Pytilia. When crossing the dam wall Rufous-Naped Larks, Zitting Cisticolas, Rock Martins, White rumped and Little Swifts are often seen. In the summer months Blue-cheeked Bee-Eaters are seen. At the parking area look for Gorgeous and Grey-headed Bush Shrikes as well as Southern Boubou, Common Scimitarbill, Brown-crowned Tchagra and White-browed Scrub-Robin. The areas of mixed woodland and acacia veld along the dam edges often produce birds such as Yellow-breasted Apalis, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Cardinal Woodpecker, Red-billed Firefinch, White-bellied Sunbird, White-crested Helmet-Shrikes and Kurrichane Thrush. Keep an eye open for White-throated Robin-Chat and, in the summer months, Striped Cuckoo. Also seen in the early morning are Grey Waxbills. The riverine forests here have a lot of weeping Boer-Bean Trees (Schotia brachypetia). These flower in spring. The red flowers literally drip with nectar and it is worthwhile watching for the birds and insects attracted. Overhanging trees where the rivers feed the dam normally have a variety of weavers (Village and Lesser Masked Weavers are the most common) breeding in the summer. Spectacled and Masked Weavers are seen fairly regularly. Also seen, waiting to take advantage of unguarded nests, are Klaas' Cuckoo, Diderik Cuckoo and African Harrier-Hawk. Other raptors are Black Sparrowhawk and African Goshawk. Martial Eagle and African Hawk Eagle have been recorded. The cliff faces are home to Mocking Cliff-chat, Striped Pipit Southern and Bald Ibis which breed here in the late winter months. Lanner Falcons (breeding), Peregine Falcon and White-necked Raven also frequent the cliffs. The overhangs are great for Barn Owls to roost. There are currently 5 known breeding pairs of White-backed Night Herons. Goliath and Green-backed Herons are common, both species also breed here. 7 Species of kingfisher can be seen here. Of the aquatic kingfishers, Giant, Pied and Malachite Kingfishers are all common. The Half-collared Kingfishers are best found in the rocky areas where streams flow into the dam. These areas are also good for African Black Duck. African Fish Eagles are easily spotted, Osprey are recorded a few times during summer months and Wire-tailed and White-throated Swallows can be seen here.
 
Directions
From Eshowe head towards Melmoth/Ulundi on the R66. 10km out of Eshowe is a tarred road to your left (Signposted Phobane Lake and Shakaland). Follow this road for 7km and cross the dam wall to find the secure parking area on the northern shore..

Birding Elephant Coast

Birding South Zululand

Birding (Inland) Zululand

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