Southern Zululand – Melmoth Wintershoek Farm

About the Birding

This well-established cattle and timber farm has been in the Calverley family for four generations. It straddles the high and low veld providing access to grassland and thornveld birding. The farm has a panoramic view of Emakhosini, the “Valley of the Kings”, stretching from Babanango in the west to Ulundi in the East! Grassland and thornveld birds can be seen here including the Yellow-throated and Cape Longclaws, Violet-backed Starling, Groundscraper Thrush, various weavers, Secretarybird, Southern Ground Hornbill, Crowned Eagle and numerous others.

The near-endemic Buff-streaked Chat occurs in the higher-lying areas where there are rocks. Southern Bald Ibis may also be seen, wandering through grassland habitats from the many nearby breeding sites.

Key species:

Southern Ground Hornbill, Secretarybird, Buff-streaked Chat, Southern Bald Ibis

About the Birding Site

Southern Zululand is perhaps the premier forest birding route in all of KwaZulu-Natal, home to a rich diversity of species in a mix of different habitats. Starting on the warm coast of Zululand, between Mtunzini and Richard’s Bay, the route offers many estuarine swamp forests supporting impressive numbers of threatened species including the Mangrove Kingfisher and Black-throated Wattle-eye. Coastal forests here are equally rich in species and are perhaps the best areas anywhere in South Africa to search for the Spotted Ground Thrush (mainly a winter visitor) and Palm-nut Vulture.

Further inland near the towns of Eshowe, Melmoth, and Nkandla are several Afromontane mistbelt and scarp forests where a number of incredibly range-restricted species may be found including the highly localized endemic race of the Green Barbet, as well as Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon. These areas descend sharply down to dry thornveld habitats in a region that is rich in both Zulu history and culture.

The town of Melmoth, located at the gateway into the picturesque Zulu highlands, was founded in 1888 as a ‘gold rush’ town on a portion of the farm Golden Reef. The town itself is situated at roughly 800m above sea level and is surrounded by areas of good forest, riverine thickets, thornveld and grassland. These areas altogether support in excess of 300 species of bird. Top among these are the Southern Bald Ibis, Orange Ground Thrush, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, and Buff-streaked Chat. Notable sites along this sub-route include Weni Farm, Sappi – Mooiplaas, Wintershoek Farm and the famed Nkandla Forest.

Key species:

Southern Ground Hornbill, Secretarybird, Buff-streaked Chat, Southern Bald Ibis

Other Related Information

From Melmoth travel north on the R66 towards Vryheid for 20 kms and turn left at the “Ntonjaneni Lodge” sign. Continue for 2kms and turn right onto a gravel road marked “Kataza”. Proceed for kms, turn right at the “Wintershoek Farm” sign, follow the farm road for about 2 km to the main house at farm number 22.

Access and facilities:
The farm is within easy access of the Battlefields Route, Itala, Ophathe and Umfolozi Game Reserves, Ulundi, Eshowe and other attractions.

Other related information:

Recommended accommodation nearby:
Wintershoek Farm features a quaint B&B. Numerous Birder Friendly Establishments are available in the town of Eshowe. For more information, please view Birder Friendly Establishments using the following link:

Local guide information:
Several community guides operate within the wider Dlinza/Melmoth/Mtunizini areas. For more information, please use the following link:

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

Key species:

Southern Ground Hornbill, Secretarybird, Buff-streaked Chat, Southern Bald Ibis

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

Gavon and Sandi Calverley
Tel/Fax: +27 (0)35 450 7042