Lowveld – Mbombela Nature Reserve

About the Birding

Entering from the Impala Street gate, spend some time sitting on one of the benches and listen for Lemon Dove. This is one of the few places in Mbombela where it can be found. Other forest specials found near the gate include Green Twinspot, Terrestrial Brownbul, African Firefinch, Olive Bush-shrike, African Wood Owl, Collared Sunbird, Ashy Flycatcher, Purple-crested Turaco, Tambourine Dove, Cape Batis, Marsh Warbler, Red-chested Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Lesser Honeyguide, Olive Woodpecker and Buff- spotted Flufftail. A number of local rarities have been recorded in the Reserve over the years including Narina Trogon, Chorister Robin-chat, Swee Waxbill, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, African Cuckoo Hawk and Garden Warbler. Look out for raptors overhead such as African Goshawk, Little Sparrowhawk and Black Sparrowhawk.

Continue down the path where a number of robins can be found, including White-browed Robin-chat, Red-capped Robin-chat, Cape Robin-chat, White-throated Robin-chat and White-browed Scrub-Robin. Shrikes are also very well represented, and a good morning can produce Southern Boubou, Gorgeous Bushshrike, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, Olive Bush-shrike, Grey-headed Bush-shrike, Black-backed Puffback and Black-crowned Tchagra. Half-collared Kingfisher and Mountain Wagtail are sometimes found at the first stream crossing but can be seen anywhere along the stream.

A relatively recent arrival in this section of the Reserve is Eastern Nicator whose bubbling call is heard only in summer. Small flocks of Crowned Hornbill have also recently been recorded from the reserve and adjacent residential areas.

The deciduous broad-leaved woodlands away from the forested stream hold Brimstone Canary, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Grey Penduline-tit, Brown-backed Honeybird, Southern Black Tit, Long-billed Crombec, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Black Cuckooshrike and Violet-backed Starling. Look around the rocky outcrops for Lazy Cisticola, Striped Pipit and Mocking Cliff Chat. Freckled Nightjar is very vocal at dawn and dusk in the warmer months and occurs in the surrounding residential areas as well.

The wetland area near the Trim Park supports many seedeaters such as African (Holub’s) Golden Weaver, White-winged Widowbird and Common Waxbill. Red-chested Flufftail has also been heard here in the past. Red-faced Cisticola is particularly vocal and, in the wetter months, so too is Burchell’s Coucal.

About the Birding Site

The Mbombela Nature Reserve is a prime birdwatching spot situated in the centre of the city. The Reserve supports a diversity of habitats including riverine forest and thicket, woodland, rocky outcrops and wetland areas. There are a number of walking trails available, which are best accessed from the Trim Park parking area off Andries Pretorius Street in the north or from Impala Street in the south. Due to the unfenced nature and open access of the reserve safety has become an issue, especially from the Trim Park (north) access, and we do recommend birding in groups or concentrating on the Impala Street side. Please if in a small group access the reserve from Impala Street.

Other Related Information

There is no entry fee charged to bird this area. Access the gardens off of Impala street, a small suburb of Nelspruit.

GPS: -25.492, 30.984

Text prepared by:

Extracted from Birds of Mbombela – A Comparative Study by Duncan McKenzie and Peter Lawson. Published by BirdLife Lowveld (2019).

Key species:

Lemon Dove, Green Twinspot, Olive Bushshrike, African Wood Owl, Cape Batis, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Mountain Wagtail, Half-collared Kingfisher