Lower Drakensburg Foothills – Sutherland Farm

About the Birding

Sutherland Farm near Jolivet is a functioning dairy farm featuring swathes of grassland, indigenous forest, and a staggering eleven dams. The two pristine garden areas surrounding the main farmhouse host an abundance of birdlife including the striking African Green Pigeon, Violet-backed Starling (mainly in summer), Southern and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds, and the vocal Red-throated Wryneck. The nearby kikuyu paddocks and pastures support Black-headed Heron, Blacksmith Lapwing, and occasionally the immense Southern Ground Hornbill.

The dams teem with waterfowl including South African Shelduck, Southern Pochard, Maccoa Duck, Blue-billed and Red-billed Teals, Yellow-billed Duck, and Grey Crowned Crane while the African Marsh Harrier is usually seen quartering overhead. African Snipe may be flushed from muddy edges while the extensive reedbeds support Black Crane, African Rail and Red-chested Flufftail. Natural forest features African Green Pigeon, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Collared Sunbird, Kurrichane Thrush and both Knysna and Purple-crested Turacos.

Key species:

Grey Crowned Crane, Knysna and Purple-crested Turacos, Southern Ground Hornbill

About the Birding Site

The Lower Drakensberg Foothills Birding Route lies inland and to the south-west of the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Birding Route and is easily accessible from both Durban and Pietermaritzburg, the two nearest points of entry. The source of this route is found in the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site at the majestic Sani Pass where birders get the unique opportunity to view birds in a rugged and stunningly beautiful environment, consisting of five different habitats and ranging in height from 1600m to 3200m.

However, the heart of this route lies in the lowlands below the Sani Pass where numerous beautiful nature reserves and large tracts of pristine mist belt forest and grassland are to be found supporting a plethora of interesting species including several of South Africa’s most sought-after birds. Top specials within this birding route include the critically endangered Blue Swallow, Drakensburg Rockjumper, Cape Parrot, Drakensburg Siskin, Bearded and Cape Vultures, Orange Ground Thrush and Gurney’s Sugarbird among others. Several days are recommended in the area to do the route proper justice and summer visits (September-April) are optimal to ensure that all target species are present and that all sites will be accessible.

Key species:

Grey Crowned Crane, Knysna and Purple-crested Turacos, Southern Ground Hornbill

Other Related Information

From M2 take Park Rynie/Umzinto turnoff (R612) turn right and travel about 48 km, turn left onto D20 at Jolivet (gravel road). Travel for 5km to Barry’s house. From Pietermaritzburg travel to Ixopo on R56 turn left onto R612 travel for 45km to Jolivet turn right onto D20 and travel 5km.

Access and facilities:
Sutherland Farm is accessible by appointment. Safe parking and toilet facilities are available.

Other related information:

Recommended accommodation nearby:
The nearest Birder Friendly Establishments are in the nearby towns of Ixopo and Pietermaritzburg. For more information, please visit:

Local guide information:
No BirdLife Community Guides are currently available for this region of KwaZulu-Natal.

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

Key species:

Grey Crowned Crane, Knysna and Purple-crested Turacos, Southern Ground Hornbill

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

Barry Cole - Owner
Tel: +27 (0)39 835 9302/13
Mobile: +27 (0)82 600 5628/9
E-mail: 1dungay1@scottburgh.co.za