South Coast – Umdoni Park

About the Birding

Situated under an hour away from Durban central, the Umdoni Park is one of southern KwaZulu-Natal’s best kept secrets. Under the management of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, the park offers outstanding forest birding with a total checklist of over 250 species including an assortment of highly sought-after species. The name ‘Umdoni’ refers to the Waterberry Tree, which grows along water courses in the reserve and in swampy areas.

The best time to visit is during the winter months (April-September) when the resident bird populations are supplemented by a suite of altitudinal and coastal migrants.

As you enter the reserve, the road forks. The track to the left follows the edge of the golf course and leads to the main club house. The road to the right is signposted to the Wildlife and Environmental Society’s parking area. Follow this track through the extensive forest where all key forest specials may be seen. In winter, look for the threatened Spotted Ground Thrush which occurs within the reserve in small numbers. Check the lawns surrounding the cottages at first light, and listen for its soft calls and rustling noises coming from areas of deep leaf litter. The White-starred Robin and Chorister Robin-chat are similarly winter visitors. Other characteristic forest species include the Lemon and Tambourine Doves, Knysna and Purple-crested Turacos, African Emerald Cuckoo (summer), Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Green Malkoha, Narina Trogon, Purple-banded Sunbird, White-eared Barbet, Dark-backed Weaver, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Olive Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Greenbul and Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher. Listen for the rich songs of the Gorgeous and Orange-breasted Bush-shrikes, Southern Tchagra, Red-capped Robin-chat and Brown Scrub-robin; all of which are common within the reserve. Seeding grasses attract the Swee and Grey Waxbills, Green Twinspot, and both the Red-backed and Magpie Mannikins. A pair of Crowned Eagle nests close to the path along the Mkumbane River.

Key species:

Spotted Ground Thrush, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin-chat, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Gorgeous Bush-shrike

About the Birding Site

The South Coast Birding Route in KwaZulu-Natal – spanning from Durban to the southern provincial border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape – comprises a variety of rich sub-tropical habitats ranging from coastal and inland wetlands to extensive grasslands, woodlands and forests. The forest birding to be had in this region is arguably some of the best anywhere in South Africa, featuring an interesting community of birds that is intermediate between the rich afromontane and coastal forests.

It is the only route within KwaZulu-Natal where these two diverse forest assemblages overall and, for this reason, birding in this area is extremely rewarding. Several species reach their northernmost limits within this route including the sought-after Knysna Woodpecker and Knysna Warbler, while other notable highlights include the Magpie Mannikin, Knynsa Turaco, and Red-headed Quelea. Moreover, the route boasts many of KwaZulu-Natal’s most revered birding sites including Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve and the Weza-Ngele Forest among others. Several days are recommended in the area to afford yourself with the best chances of finding the most sought-after species.

Key species:

Spotted Ground Thrush, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin-chat, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Gorgeous Bush-shrike

Other Related Information

Directions:
Travel on the N2 South from Durban towards Port Shepstone and take Exit 93 (Esperenza/Sezela). Turn left onto R102 at the top of the off-ramp and continue approx. 7 km towards Pennington. Turn right into Pennington Drive and after approximately 800 m turn right into Minerva Rd (look out for Umdoni Golf and Birdlife SA signs). Continue straight on to Gravel Road (Don Knight Ave) and through Security Control …

Other related information:

Directions:
… Shortly after passing through the gates of the estate, there is a fork in the road. The road to the left follows the coast along the edge of the golf greens to the golf course clubhouse. Take the road to the right to the picnic site if you wish to do a single day’s birding.

Notable points of interest include the:
Main entrance to Umdoni Park and Golf Club: -30.3924, 30.6892

Access and facilities:
The estate is open from 06h00 to 18h00. Toilet facilities are available at the clubhouse or at Pennington only a few minutes’ drive away. There is an extensive network of trails through Umdoni and these can be started from either the club house, overnight cottages or the Wildlife and Environment Society’s parking area.
No prior arrangements or bookings are necessary for day visitors.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
The nearest Birder Friendly Establishments are in the nearby village of Margate. For more information, please visit:
http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/kwazulu-natal/
Diverse accommodation options are also available in the coastal village of Pennington.

Local guide information:
The nearest BirdLife Community Guide operates out of Umtamvuna Nature Reserve and Oribi Gorge. For more information, please contact: Mpendulo Innocent Mzindle on cell: +27 (0)73 893 0241. Alternatively, please visit:
https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/community-bird-guides/#1527848096692-9dc59238-8787

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

Key species:

Spotted Ground Thrush, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin-chat, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Gorgeous Bush-shrike

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

Umdoni Park Golf Course
Tel: +27 (0)39 975 1320

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