Durban and surrounds – Umbogavango Nature Reserve

About the Birding

The Umbogavango Nature Reserve was established at the site of the storm water trap dams, servicing the AECI industrial site at Umbogintwini. These dams collect storm water and run off from the factory site to prevent any pollution of the Amazintoti River and, given the high nutrient supply, have subsequently become a haven for waterfowl – especially in the summer months when resident populations are augmented by Palearctic and intra-African migrants.

Two trails are provided through the coastal forest where numerous species can be seen. The longer of the two follows the dam system northwards and passes through a large plantation of exotic trees in which raptors such as Long-crested Eagle and Black Sparrowhawk occasionally nest. The trail crosses a road where a hide overlooking one of the small dams is provided. The dams themselves support small numbers of waterfowl including Cape Shoveler, Yellow-billed Duck, Southern Pochard, and occasionally both White-faced and Fulvous Whistling Ducks. The reedbeds here are rich in species including the African, Black and Baillon’s Crakes, Common Moorhen, African Yellow and Lesser Swamp Warblers, as well as a small colony of Southern Brown-throated Weavers. Two hides overlook the dams and, water-levels dependant, the second hide affords the birder with ample opportunities to study waders in the summer months. The surrounding gardens support Black-throated Wattle-eye, White-eared Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, and Grey Waxbill.

Key species:

Baillon’s Crake, African Yellow Warbler, Southern Brown-throated Weaver, Grey Waxbill

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:

Baillon’s Crake, African Yellow Warbler, Southern Brown-throated Weaver, Grey Waxbill

Other Related Information

The reserve is reached from Moss Kolnik Drive off the N2 heading South of Umbogintwini. Turn right over the N2 and, about 1km further, turn right into the AECI factory entrance.

Access and facilities:
Note that prior permission must be attained from security in advance of your visit and an indemnity form must be signed at the security entrance. Two trails lead through the property and provide access to three bird hides, which overlook the small dams. Safe parking and toilet facilities are available, and numerous restaurants can be found nearby.

Other related information:

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:
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:

Baillon’s Crake, African Yellow Warbler, Southern Brown-throated Weaver, Grey Waxbill

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

AECI Industrial Security
Tel: +27 (0)31 949 2111