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Pigeon Valley must surely be one of the best "green" areas to bird in the greater Durban area, and is one of the best-known and most reliable localities for Spotted Ground Thrush, which occurs in winter. The concentration of birds and the number of species in this relatively small area make this spot a must on any visiting birders list.

Specials Special birds include Spotted Ground Thrush in winter, Black Sparrowhawk, Buff-spotted Flufftail in summer, Narina Trogon, White-eared barbet, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Green Twinspot, Red-backed Mannikin.

There are several virtually guaranteed specials that can be seen at any time of the year.

1. There are at least two Black Sparrowhawk nests in the reserve itself, and a walk up the eastern side of the park should yield at least a big female, and probably a juvenile or two. The birds are fairly conspicuous, as are the nests. Caution is recommended as the birds can become agitated and disturbed during their nesting period.

2. A walk up the main path through the middle of the reserve is recommended, as this is where the most birds are seen. The reserve has a high concentration of Red-capped Robin-chats, and you are guaranteed to see them along here. Birds that you should see with a good degree of certainty include Olive Thrush, Kurichane Thrush, White-eared Barbet, Golden-rumped Tinkerbird, Bar-throated Apalis, Sombre Greenbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, African Paradise Flycatcher, Dark-backed Weaver, Diederik Cuckoo, Klaas’ Cuckoo, Southern Boubou, Purple-crested Turaco and Red-backed Mannikin. At least four species of Sunbird occur, namely Collared Sunbird , Grey Sunbird, OliveSunbird and White-bellied Sunbird, and three species of Woodpecker, namely Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Cardinal Woodpecker and Olive Woodpecker. The Olive Woodpecker is usually around in a bird party, whereas the other two are more inclined to be solitary. Orange-breasted Bush-shrike is easy to locate when it is around, and is usually in the mid to upper stratum of a bird party. Narina Trogon is often seen from the main path. Other species that do occur and have been recorded with varying degrees of frequency include Black Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Dusky Flycatcher, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Brown-backed Honeybird, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Spotted Eagle-owl, Spectacled Weaver and African Goshawk. Cape Robin-chat as well as Chorister Robin-chat were also recorded there in winter 2007.

3. The top of the main path is the best spot to locate Green Twinspot as there is some grass beds there that they favour. They are best located by their insect-like call, and are a small and unobtrusive special of the reserve. Due to this fact they are often overlooked. There is a bench at the top of the path that is a great place to sit and watch for them.

4. In winter, the reserve has got to be the best place in Durban to see Spotted Ground Thrush. They are frequently encountered, and it is unusual to make a trip in winter without coming across one. They are extremely confiding, and it is possible to get really close to some of them which bodes well for photographers. The upper reaches of the main path is the best place to look for them.

Access is from Princess Alice Avenue, and the gate times are 7:30 – 4:30. The reserve is fenced and usually has a security guard during opening times.

Jon Cilliers 2007

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