Lowveld – Peglar’s Bush
About the Birding
The Indigenous forest of Peddlars Bush and the scenic mountain views above Barberton offer the birder some attractive birding. Proceed slowly up the Saddleback Pass, stopping at various intervals where the road allows, scanning the rock-strewn, Protea-rich hillsides for specials such as Gurney’s Sugarbird- an endemic species to Southern Africa, and one of two members of the Sugarbird family endemic to South Africa. Other great birds to watch out for along the boulder-strewn hillside include: Cape Rock Thrush, Red-winged Francolin, Buff-streaked Chat, Malachite Sunbird, Wailing Cisticola, Rock Kestrel, White-necked Raven, Jackal Buzzard, Drakensberg Prinia and Alpine Swift. Southern Tchagra is also found here and is easily located on its call.
About the Birding Site
The small 60-hectare oasis of indigenous woodland known as Peglar’s Bush, set amongst the pine plantations outside Barberton, is a bird lover’s paradise. Peglar’s Bush behind Barberton in the Makhonjwa Mountains- a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a small spot of indigenous forest located in the Twelo Bosbou area above Barberton, being particularly good for forest birds. Here you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the elusive Orange Ground-thrush or Bush Blackcap, as well as some of the 350+ other species of birds found in the area. The route described is a very pleasant morning outing from Nelspruit, but it is advisable to check weather conditions with people in Barberton first, as this area is often closed with mist and light drizzle. There are no ablution facilities available and no camping or fire making is allowed either.
Other Related Information
Peddlar’s Bush is located on the dirt road leading to Shiyalongubo Dam. To get there you take the R40 out of Barberton and head towards Swaziland. At the top of Saddleback pass you will see a sign for Shiyalongubo Dam to the left. Follow it for 10km and you have reached Peddlar’s Bush where the plantation gives way to indigenous woodland (Latitude -25.800315 & Longitude 31.141424). From here stop, get out and spend time listening and looking out for birds. The road is a public road and one can bird the road and area at free will.
Text prepared by:
Marc Cronje- Nature Travel Birding