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Lowveld Botanical Gardens

One of the better birding spots in and around Nelsprint, along with the Nelsprint Nature Reserve and Nelspruit Golf Course. An early morning walk in the garden should produce a good list of Lowveld birds and due to the open nature of the layout with wide lawns good views can be gained of such species as Red-capped Robin-Chat, White-browed Robin-Chat, Cape Robin-Chat and (and maybe White-throated Robin-Chat), Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Tambourine Dove and Purple-crested Turaco. Red-headed Weaver may also be found. Listen for Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird short call and compare it to that of the Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, very common here. Winter is a good time for Sunbirds, including Collared Sunbird and Scarlet-chested Sunbird, in the aloe section. Striped Pipit is also most commonly encountered at that time of year.

1. On the way in to the gardens, you cross the low-level Grace Hall Memorial Bridge over the Crocodile river. Scan each side carefully as African Finfoot and African Black Duck can sometimes be seen in the quieter stretches of the river. The entrance gate is some 150 metres along on the left. Within the garden, visitors have the option of three main routes to walk:

2. The main path through the garden, mostly brick-paved and easily negotiated. An excellent birding route and a lookout point midway gives views of the confluence of the Crocodile and Nel's Rivers, from here one may see Mocking Cliff-Chat on the opposite granite bank in the uncultivated section of the garden. The elusive Gorgeous Bush-Shrike is most likely to be found in this region.

3. The river Route, more strenuous and rocky, allows for river-level views of the gorge formed by the main waterfall but is sometimes less rewarding bird wise. (Allow 2 hours).

4. The newest route, along the boardwalk, constructed recently as part of the African Rainforest area. Very new and it remains to be seen if new species are attracted to this altered habitat.

5. A frequent glance to the skies can produce a variety of raptors with African Goshawk, Long-crested Eagle (which seems to be on the increase in the Newsprint area) and African Harrier-Hawk the most likely sightings whilst Little Sparrowhawk may be seen dashing through the bush. Migrant time may yield Steppe Buzzard, Wahlberg's Eagle, Yellowbilled kite etc. To reach the gardens, turn right at the robot along the Newsprint-White River Road, opposite the turnoff signposted Lydenberg, just some 3 kilometers after leaving the main shopping area. The garden is open from 8h00 - 16h00 from October to April and 08h00 - 17h15 from May to September. A small entrance fee is payable. Maps and other brochures are available at the gate and a small restaurant is in operation inside the garden.

Duncan McKenzie 2008
Brian Guerin 1997.


Nelspruit Nature Reserve

The Nelspuit Nature Reserve is situated in the suburb of Sonpark, close to Nelspruit Primary School and adjacent to the Trim Park. The Reserve includes riverine bush, woodland and vlei area. There are three walks available, which are best accessed from the Trim Park parking area:

1. The Matumi trail. Walk southwards and follow the path along the river. Look out for African Black Duck and Mountain Wagtail close to the water. The bush along the circular walk is rich in birds with Bar-throated Apalis, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Cape Batis, Purple-crested Turaco, Hadeda Ibis and Gorgeous Bush-Shrike being especially vocal. Green Twinspot has been recorded in this area. The walk takes about one hour and a path leading off to the right of the track to the highest point of the trail, takes one to a Tamil Lingam (a sacred area) discovered in 1983 by Dr C Hromnik. Refuse bins and benches are provided along the walk.

2. Cross the Park going northwards and walk under the culvert. Turn right and follow the dirt path along the vlei. About 200 metres further, turn left at the first path crossing the vlei. This is a circular walk that takes one around the vlei to Piet Retief Street and then back again to the Trim Park parking lot. The vlei is particularly rich in birds with Golden Weaver, Thick-billed Weaver and Village Weaver, Southern Red Bishop, Red-collared Widowbird, White-winged Widowbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Common Waxbill and Bronze Mannikin being particularly plentiful. Burchell's Coucal, Red-faced Cisticola and Little Rush-Warbler are usually heard calling. Both Red-chested Flufftail and Buff-spotted Flufftail have been recorded in this area. The walk takes about one hour to complete.

3. After crossing the Trim Park and walking under the culvert as in Walk 2, follow the footpath along the vlei, but do not turn off to the left. This path takes one all the way up to the Impala Street entrance and has a wide variety of habitats including vlei, riverine, bush and woodland. This walk is particularly rich in robin species, with White-browed Robin-Chat, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Cape Robin-Chat, White-throated Robin-Chat and White-browed Scrub-Robin being common throughout. Shrikes too are plentiful, with Southern Boubou, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Olive Bush-Shrike, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Black-backed Puffback, Black-crowned Tchagra and Brown-crowned Tchagra all being seen and heard regularly. Raptor species seen commonly include African Goshawk, Little Sparrowhawk and African Cuckoo Hawk. In the late evening Fiery-necked Nightjar and Freckled Nightjar are commonly heard, so too are African Wood-Owl and Spotted Eagle-Owl. The walk to the Impala Street entrance and back to the Trim Park takes about three hours. This can however be shortened if one starts at the Trim Park and gets picked up at the Impala Street entrance. During the summer months, this area in Newsprint can be extremely hot, so it is advisable to do these walks in the early morning and have refreshments waiting in your car for afterwards. There are two entrances to the reserve, one off Andries Pretorius Street and the other off Impala Street. Toilet facilities are available at the Trim Park entrance only. The Reserve is open at all hours from the Trim Park side, although the gate at the Impala side is occasionally locked.



Lowveld Botanical Gardens

Contact Numbers
Tel: +27-13-7525531
Fax: +27-13-7526216

Opening times
08h00 to 18h00 (September to March)
08h00 to 17h00 (April to August)

Entrance Fee
A nominal entrance fee is charged.

Botanical Gardens Wensite

Duncan McKenzie 2008
Duncan Christie 1997

Copyright © 2008 SA Birding cc