Your best online guide to birding in Mtunzini





11th Annual
Birding Weekend
26-29 June 2014

Bookings now open
Contact Daff
082 270 3064

Mtunzini Conservancy will be hosting their annual Birding Weekend at Twinstreams Environmental Centre at the end of June and it promises the usual sightings of the area's winter 'specials' as well as two highly recommended evening presentations by top birder and photographer Dr Hugh Chittenden.
The Weekend, which offers two outings per day and covers Ongoye Forest, Umlalazi Nature Reserve, Dlinza Forest, Amatikulu Nature Reserve and other birding areas in the district is limited to 24 participants who are divided into smaller groups each with their own birding guides.
The 'specials' at this time of the year are: the Green Barbet, Southern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Cinnamon Dove, Narina Trogon, Green Twinspot, Mangrove Kingfisher, African Finfoot, Palmnut Vulture, Green Malkoha and Orange-breasted Waxbill.
Dr Chittenden will be giving presentations on two of the evenings and these will look at the rarer and more interesting birds of the area and offer insights into the reasons for their restricted distribution.
The cost is R1 950 per person which includes all meals, lunch packs, activities, entry fees and guides. Accommodation is extra and is available at Twinstreams in bungalows or deck cabins (ranging from R100 to R200pp per night) OR at a B&B or self-catering venue in the village of Mtunzini.
Transport and alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost.(BYOB).
For more information contact Daff on email or 035 340 1600 or 081 270 3064.




Palmnut vulture at Umlalazi Nature Reserve
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.
Hugh Chittenden giving a birding talk at the Mtunzini Conservancy Birding Weekend
Mtunzini resident and top birder Dr Hugh Chittenden is a regular guest speaker at birding events arranged by the Mtunzini Conservancy.

The annual Mtunzini Conservancy Birding Weekend is a great opportunity to see a vast range of birds over an intensive few days.

Mtunzini 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 Centre but 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 F
infoot, Narina Trogon and the Mangrove Kingfisher during the winter months.
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 guides.
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 trees.

• Check the Mtunzini Conservancy Newsletter for dates.

More excellent nearby birding hotspots:
Umlalazi Nature Reserve
Twinstreams Environmental Centre
Ongoye Forest
Amatikulu Nature Reserve
Dlinza Forest and Aerial Boardwalk
Ntumeni Forest
Nkandla Forest
Isimangaliso Wetland Park
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Park

Zululand Birding Route
To book overnight accommodation in a three-bedroom hut at the Ongoye Forest Birders' Camp contact 083 225 5960 or email Zululand Birding Route.
Zululand has a spectacular 605 bird species and a wonderful range of destinations where they occur.

It is a treasure trove of 'specials' from the Green Barbet (found only at Ongoye Forest outside Mtunzini), the globally-threatened spotted Ground Thrush in Dlinza Forest, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeons, Crowned Eagles, Green Twinspots, the little known Mangrove Kingfisher (at Umlalazi Nature Reserve) to the magnificent Palmnut Vultures of Mtunzini.

The Zululand Birding Route links the top 70 birding spots in Zululand into 14 local routes in three regions. The routes in the vicinity of Eshowe and Mtunzini form the southern region.

The Zululand Birding Route also offers a network of experienced local guides available for birders to use at very affordable rates.

Not only do these guides assist you with their excellent observation skills and finding the 'specials' but also add great value to any birding outing by providing security and peace of mind when traveling in some more out of the way areas.