Birding in Underberg and Himeville
Dr Aldo Berruti
Cell: 072 545 1753 Tel: 033 701 2311
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 principle 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 Mountain Pipit.
Birding is made trickier by the transitional plumage of many juvenile birds, and by moulting. But as always, there is a great deal of interest for the birder on the Sani Pass. Look out for Ground Woodpecker, Greater Double-Collared Sunbird, Red Throated Wryneck, Brown-backed Honey Bird, 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 Wabler, Fairy Flycatcher, Southern Grey Tit, Sickle-winged Chat, Large-billed Lark, Sentinal Rock Thrush, Karoo Prinia and Yellow Canary.
The lower lying grasslands, wetlands and mist-belt forests still offer opportunities: all three crane species (Blue, Grey Crowned and Wattled), Denham's Bustard (never easy), African Marsh Harrier and perhaps with luck, a vagrant Black Harrier. Whenever crossing rivers 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 Bush Shrike, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Crowned Hornbill, Olive Woodpecker, Southern Double-collared Sunbird and Forest Canary can be seen.
For local birders, it is a time when one can see the typical high ground birds with limited distributions in KwaZulu-Natal: South African Shelduck, Bokmakierie, Ant-eating Chat and Cape Bunting
Places to see
What to do