Durban and surrounds – New Germany Nature Reserve

About the Birding

New Germany Nature Reserve forms a part of the extensive New Germany Commonage, which has a long and chequered history, starting with the establishment of the farm Claremont. There has been much discussion about the status of various sections of the area and this resulted in the formation of the New Germany Nature Research in 1986, consisting of two main sections: the Nature Park on the north side of Mountain Ridge Road, and the Nature Reserve on the south side.

The Nature Reserve is less developed but has a long trail across the south-facing slope, passing through short grassland, a large patch of forest, and through a stand of Silver Protea.

The grassland parts of the reserve are well-managed and attract and interesting diversity of bird species. The uncommon Shelley’s Francolin occurs and is best detected by its loud call. In summer, Zitting Cisticolas display prominently, while the Gurney’s Sugarbird is mainly a winter visitor when proteas come to flower. Other interesting species include the Plain-backed and African Pipits, Cape Grassbird, and Yellow-throated Longclaw. The forested sections support an interesting selection of sunbirds, owing to the numerous nectar producing plants such as Tree Fuschia and Wild Banana. The deep leaflitter on the forest floor holds the vocal Red-capped Robin-chat, Terrestrial Brownbul, and Spotted Ground Thrush as a winter visitor. Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher keeps to the low thickets, while Purple-crested Turaco and Olive Bush-shrike remain in the forest canopy.

Key species:

Shelley’s Francolin, Plain-backed Pipit, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Yellow-throated Longclaw

About the Birding Site

The eThekwini Metropolitan Area (Durban) is a major harbour city situated on the east coast of South Africa. It serves as the most accessible port of entry into the KwaZulu-Natal province with daily flights to all other major cities in South Africa, and further afield (e.g. Mauritius, Dubai). The city and surrounding towns are popular among holidaymakers, given the sub-tropical climate and extensive beaches along the rich waters of the Indian Ocean. Moreover, the city falls within a global biodiversity hotspot – the Maputaland-Pondolona-Albany (MPA) Hotspot.

This region is home to more than 7000 species of plant, more than 25% of which are found nowhere else on Earth. The variety of landforms and sub-tropical climatic conditions, combined with its unique biogeographical position, have resulted in a range of aquatic (wetlands, rivers, estuaries) and terrestrial (mainly forests and coastal grasslands) environments which additionally support a plethora of interesting bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species. The eThekwini area contains three of South Africa’s eight biomes (namely savanna, forest and grasslands), and supports more than 2000 plant species, 82 terrestrial mammals, 69 reptiles, 25 endemic invertebrates and well over 500 bird species – making it South Africa’s most biodiverse city, by far. To be expected then, the region offers a variety of prime birding spots featuring a number of South Africa’s most sought-after bird species. Top among these are the Spotted Ground Thrush, Mangrove Kingfisher, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Green Malkoha, and Knysna Woodpecker. Durban is also well known for its variety of waders and marine species, often turning up rarities such as the Lesser Black-backed Gull. Key sites within the eThekwini Metropolitan Area include Tala Game Reserve, Pigeon Valley and Krantzkloof Nature Reserves, Durban Bay Head and the Durban National Botanical Gardens.

In addition, as a further attraction to this rich region, the eThewkini Natural Science Museum has world-class ornithological displays and collections.

Key species:

Shelley’s Francolin, Plain-backed Pipit, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Yellow-throated Longclaw

Other Related Information

From the N3 west out of Durban, take the glide-off towards the M13 to Pinetown and shortly thereafter the Stapleton Road off-ramp. Turn right at the traffic lights and follow Stapleton Road through another set of traffic lights and down the hill. At the bottom, turn right into Mountain Ridge Road, where New Germany Nature Reserve is signposted. Follow this road up a steep hill and turn left at the top to get to the gate. Both parts of the reserve are controlled by the Borough of New Germany and are open during normal office hours (07:30 to 17:00).

Other related information:

Notable points of interest include the:
Main entrance: -29.8109, 30.8925

Access and facilities:
The Nature Park is entered through the Interpretative Centre, featuring a large aviary which houses a selection of indigenous birds. There is a clear trail system that takes one through patches of coastal and riverine forest in the valleys, and through bush clumps and grassland on the hillsides. There are two small dams, one of which can be viewed through a small bird hide. Other facilities include picnic sites, an indigenous snake park, safe parking and toilets.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
A number of Birder Friendly Establishments are available within the wider eThekwini Metropolitan Area including Camperdown/Kloof/Pietermaritzburg.

For more information, view:

Local guide information:
A limited number of bird guides are available through the Interpretative Centre upon request. No community bird guides are currently available within the wider eThekwini Metropolitan Area.

Text prepared by:
Daniel Keith Danckwerts (Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Tours)

Key species:

Shelley’s Francolin, Plain-backed Pipit, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Yellow-throated Longclaw

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

eThekwini Municipality
Tel: +27 (0)31 262 8239