One of the rarest raptors in South
Africa, the Palmnut Vulture is commonly seen in and
around Mtunzini, because of the profusion of Raphia
palms growing in the swamp forests.
Large groups of Woollynecked Storks
are also to be found in and around Mtunzini.
Mtunzini resident and top birder Dr
Hugh Chittenden is a regular guest speaker at birding
events arranged by the
The annual Mtunzini Conservancy Birding
Weekend is a great opportunity to see a vast range
of birds over an intensive few days.
offers several self-guided trails through a variety
of safe unspoilt habitats which makes it an excellent
area for birding. The
main birding spots include the Umlalazi Nature Reserve,
the Raphia Palm Monument and around Twinstreams Environmental
visitors are often most surprised at the rich birdlife
found in their B&B gardens.
The local specials are the Palmnut Vulture - attracted
to the area by the large number of raphia palms planted
in the swamp forests in the town and on surrounding
farms, Green Twinspot, Grey Sunbird, African Cuckoo
Hawk, African Finfoot,
Narina Trogon and the Mangrove Kingfisher during the
Mtunzini is also the feeding habitat of large numbers
of Trumpeter Hornbills and Woolly- necked Storks.
If you are a keen birder and need to push up your
check list with some rare ‘specials’ then
the annual Mtunzini Birding Weekend in June or July
may be your chance to get those all-important ticks!
The popular four-day event gives birding enthusiasts
a chance to find several rare species while exploring
some little-known birding hotspots with top class
Hosted by Mtunzini Conservancy and using the Twinstreams
Environmental Centre as its base, the weekend is limited
to 24 birders who are arranged into smaller groups
and covers a diverse range of habitats including Ongoye
Forest outside Mtunzini, Dlinza Forest in Eshowe,
and the Umlalazi and Amatikulu nature reserves with
guides trained by Birdlife SA.
During winter the specials include the Mangrove Kingfisher,
the Spotted Ground-thrush, the Palmnut Vulture and
the Green Barbet which has only ever been recorded
in South Africa in Ongoye Forest.
Besides the birding, the evening entertainment includes
braais organized by the very sociable staff of Twinstreams
Environmental Centre as well as presentations by some
top local birders, such as local resident and former
Roberts Birds editor, Hugh Chittenden.
During the year, the Mtunzini
Conservancy also hosts Saturday morning walks
which give residents and visitors a pleasant atmosphere
in which to brush up their knowledge of birds and
Check the Mtunzini Conservancy
Newsletter for dates.
nearby birding hotspots:
Twinstreams Environmental Centre
Amatikulu Nature Reserve
Dlinza Forest and Aerial Boardwalk
Isimangaliso Wetland Park
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Park