North Coast – Nkona Trail (Dlokwane Forest)

About the Birding

Dlokwane Forest is a rare example of climax coastal forest, located immediately to the north of the coastal village of Zinkwazi. The forest is accessed following a trail that runs northwards towards the mouth of the Tugela River and through sugarcane fields, coastal grassland, vleis and along the beach.

In the forest itself, look for Terrestrial Brownbul, Red-capped Robin-chat, Olive and Kurrichane Thrushes, Dark-backed Weaver, Sombre Greenbul, Southern Boubou, Collared Sunbird, Golden-tailed and Olive Woodpeckers, Narina Trogon, both Black and Grey Cuckooshrikes, African Dusky Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, White-eared Barbet, and Purple-crested Turaco. Seeding grasses attract the Grey Waxbill, Red-backed Mannikin, and shy Green Twinspot. The threatened Spotted Ground Thrush is mainly a winter visitor to the area and is best located by its high-pitched contact call and by following rustling noises from within deep leaf litter. This is also one of the nearest sites to Durban where Crested Guineafowl still occur, albeit in small numbers. The shy Green Malkoha is occasional as is best detected by its insect-like call.

In the open coastal grassland, look for Shelley’s Francolin, Natal Spurfowl, Little Bee-eater, Croaking Cisticola, both Fan-tailed and Red-collared Widowbirds, and the Zitting Cisticola. As the track emerges onto the beach, numerous tern species can be seen in a large tern roost. This often includes the Swift (Greater Crested), Lesser Crested (late summer), Little (summer), Caspian, Sandwich and Common Terns.

Key species:

Spotted Ground Thrush, Crested Guineafowl, Shelley’s Francolin, Green Twinspot

About the Birding Site

The North Coast – frequently also referred to as the Dolphin Coast – extends from the city of Durban to the Tugela River mouth, located immediately to the south of Richard’s Bay. With its distinct subtropical climate, pristine and extensive beaches, and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean – the region is extremely popular among holiday makers. In addition to the rich beaches, the area offers diverse cultural attractions, magnificent golf courses, and extensive nature reserves.

Further afield, the north coast (particularly Durban) is the gateway to the rest of KwaZulu-Natal offering easy access to the Drakensburg mountains, temperate midlands, and Zululand. While much of the region has been transformed into extensive sugarcane fields, the route offers several key sites of interest to birders visiting the area and an impressive checklist of birds including several of South Africa’s most sought-after specials. Among these species are the globally threatened Spotted Ground Thrush, Gorgeous Bush-shrike, Buff-spotted Flufftail, African Finfoot, Red-headed Quelea, and Southern Bald Ibis. Wetland sites on the route also play host to rarities on an annual basis, offering exciting prospects for birders. Key sites along the route include the Dlokwane Forest, SAPPI Tranquila, Otimati, and the St. Kitts Wetlands.

Key species:

Spotted Ground Thrush, Crested Guineafowl, Shelley’s Francolin, Green Twinspot

Other Related Information

Directions:
The Dlokwane Forest is located immediately to the south of the Tugela River Mouth. The Nkona Trail passes through the forest as well as areas of the surrounding grassland and cane plantations.

Notable points of interest include the:
Seula Conservancy and the Dlokwane Forest: -29.2401, 31.4727

Access and facilities:
Access to the Dlokwane Forest is only possible with a local guide and requires a vehicle with reasonable clearance.

Other related information:

Recommended accommodation nearby:
Basic accommodation is available in the Seula Conservancy in forest cottages. Accommodation is only for 5 people requiring a minimum of 2-nights stay. For more information, or to make a reservation, please use the contact details listed above.

A number of Birder Friendly Establishments are available within the wider eThekwini Metropolitan Area including Camperdown/Kloof/Pietermaritzburg. Moreover, a number of Birder Friendly Establishments can be found within the nearby towns of Eshowe and Mtunzini.

For more information, view:
http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/kwazulu-natal/
Diverse accommodation options are also available in nearby coastal towns including Shaka’s Rock, Umhlanga, Ballito and within Durban itself.

Local guide information:
The nearest BirdLife Community Guides operate out of Mtunzini and Eshowe. For more information, please visit:
https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/community-bird-guides/

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

Key species:

Spotted Ground Thrush, Crested Guineafowl, Shelley’s Francolin, Green Twinspot

Contact details:

For more information, please contact:

Tel: +27 (0)60 860 6753
Email: stay@seula.co.za
Website: www.seula.co.za

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