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Ferncliffe is a small patch of degraded forest overlooking Pietermaritzburg, the remnant of what was known as Town bush, a once vast tract of mist belt forest that once revealed several new species to science. A morning’s birding here is still worthwhile, and the area should produce approximately 40 species on a winter morning and up to 60 in summer.



Residents include a pair of African Crowned Eagle which are most easily found soaring over the forest as the temperature rises, African Goshawk, Chorister Robin-Chat, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher and the dashing Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler.

Winter brings in numbers of Bush Blackcap which can in some years be very common, plus Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, improved chances for Green Twinspot (along the more open paths with grassy borders), and White-starred Robin.

In summer, the chances of bumping into a calling Narina Trogon are not remote. African Emerald Cuckoo abound and Buff-spotted Flufftail hoot well into misty mornings. They are often glimpsed dashing across paths but more patient observers can obtain intimate views by sitting still and taping them in. Barratt's Warbler call from the lantana thickets especially near the waterfall.

Allerton swamp is passed on the way to Ferncliffe, just after the turnoff to Cascades Shopping Centre. This small reedbed holds good populations of Red-chested Flufftail and African Rail. The natal Midlands Bird Club has constructed boardwalks and a bird hide. Contact Mike Spain on +27 33 347 2797 for access details.



Follow Town bush Road past grey’s Hospital until it forks. Follow the right fork until a picnic area is reached. Trails begin from here and cover the entire area. All trails produce similar birds and can take from 1/2 hour to all day upon choice.

Director: Parks & Recreation Telephone: +27 33 342 2970

Adam Riley 2001.
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