Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve

The reserve is situated just below the Howick Falls on the Umgeni River. Howick lies some 25km north of Pietermaritzburg. From the main street in Howick take the road to Karkloof for about 1km, the entrance is on the right. An entrance fee is payable at reception where one can obtain maps. Accommodation is available in the form of cottages and bush camps. The reserve is open daily and one can drive along the upper grassland areas with access to hiking trails.

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Habitats

A variety of habitats are found within the reserve. Grasslands predominate above the cliff line, boulder strewn slopes below the cliff line provide refuge for aloes stands and in the sheltered parts - forest patches. The valley bottom consists mainly of Acacia savannah and large fig trees extending to the Umgeni River.

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Birding

Red-throated Wryneck can often be found around the office gardens. Zitting Cisticola and Wailing Cisticola can display over the upper grasslands with Croaking Cisticola and Lazy Cisticola preferring the valleys. The forest patches including Shelter Falls area is good for Cape Batis, Southern Boubou, Olive Bush-Shrike, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Forest Canary and if you're lucky Knysna Turaco and Green Twinspot.

In the Shelter Falls gorge a pair of Cape Eagle-Owl have been seen fairly regularly (sit on the edge of the cliff at dusk and wait for the owls to emerge for the evening.) This is also a good place to see Mountain Wagtail. A walk down Indulo Hill may provide Cape Rock-Thrush, Mocking Cliff-Chat and Striped Pipit that inhabit the rocky areas. As you near the bottom look out for Southern Tchagra and Swee Waxbill. This walk continues onto the upper grasslands trail, while still in the wooded parts look for Olive Woodpecker, Dark-backed Weaver, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, African Paradise-Flycatcher and if you're lucky Narina Trogon and Barratt's Warbler.

The cliffs are good for raptors with Lanner Falcon breeding here and Verreauxs' Eagle often soaring along them. Two pairs of African Crowned Eagle breed within the reserve and are frequently seen displaying above their territories.

The acacia woodland harbours many species including Violet-backed Starling and Sharpbilled Honeyguide.

Scarcer birds in the reserve include Short-tailed Pipit in the grasslands, Fairy Flycatcher in the acacia woodland (during winter only) and African Green-Pigeon in the fruiting fig trees.

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General

Contact details Tel: +27 33 330 3931
Fax: +27 33 330 4576
email
website WESSA Website

Guy Gibbon 2008 Dave Hoddinott 1997