Autumn - the migrants leave March - April
Simply one of the ten best birding areas in South Africa at any time of the year!
The Underberg/Himeville/Creighton/Sani Pass area is key to the southern
African birding experience for foreign and local birders. More than a thousand
birders visit annually, but while the Sani Pass is the principal focus, birders
seldom realise the diversity of the special birds.
Autumn is the time to scrounge the last of the migrants, because it is in March
that the last records of many migrants are made. But four great birds still occur:
Drakensberg Rockjumper, Drakensberg Siskin, Gurney’s Sugarbird and Bearded
Vulture are available, and you might be lucky to get one of the last records of
Birding is made trickier by the transitional plumage of many juvenile birds and
moulting. But as always, there is a great deal of interest for the birder on the
Sani Pass. Look for Ground Woodpecker, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Red-
throated Wryneck, Brown-backed Honeybird, Buff-streaked Chat, Cape Rock-
thrush, Swee Waxbill, Drakensberg Prinia and Grey-winged Francolin. In the
high ground of the Lesotho plateau, the following birds are still present
although their numbers may be reduced: Southern Bald Ibis, Layard’s Warbler,
Fairy Flycatcher, Southern Grey Tit, Sickle-winged Chat, Large-billed Lark,
Sentinel Rock-thrush, Karoo Prinia and Yellow Canary.
The lower-lying grasslands, wetlands and mist-belt forests still offer
opportunities: all three cranes species (Blue, Grey Crowned and Wattled),
Denham’s Bustard (never easy), African Marsh Harrier and perhaps with luck, a
vagrant Black Harrier. Whenever crossing river and streams, keep a watch for
African Black Duck and Half-collared Kingfisher, birds often difficult to detect.
Typical species of the forest such as Cape Batis, Bar-throated Apalis, Grey
Cuckoo-Shrike, Knysna Turaco, White-starred Robin, Olive Bushshrike, Yellow-
throated Woodland Warbler, Crowned Hornbill, Olive Woodpecker, Southern
Double-collared Sunbird and Forest Canary
For local birders, it is a time where one can see the typical high ground birds
with limited distributions in KwaZulu-Natal: South African Shelduck,
Bokmakierie, Ant-eating Chat and Cape Bunting.