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Fort Nottingham NR is a small reserve slightly west of the village of Nottingham Road, and well worth a visit. The reserve consists of evergreen forest, grassland and a wetland. It is an easy area in which to walk, and there is a trail that passes through the grassland, alongside and across the wetland, and up into the forest. To walk the whole area should not take more than about two hours. There is a picnic site (no toilets) near the wetland, and entrance is free.

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Birding

Early morning birding is best, and summer is more productive than winter.

A walk around the grassland can turn up Cape Grassbird, Cloud Cisticola, Pale-crowned Cisticola, Wailing Cisticola, Levaillant's Cisticola and Orange-breasted Waxbill. Cape Longclaw and African Stonechat are common, and Plain-backed Pipit is a regular visitor. Don't forget to occasionally look up for Martial Eagle, African Black Swift, Alpine Swift, Jackal Buzzard and (in summer) Steppe Buzzard.

The wetland harbours Yellow-billed Duck, Red-chested Flufftail, African Jacana, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler and Little Rush-Warbler, and an assortment of Weavers. In summer the males of Southern Red Bishop, Fan-tailed Widowbird and Red-collared Widowbird are seen at their finest. Long-crested Eagle is often perched nearby.

On the edge of the forest Swee Waxbill move about quietly, Drakensberg Prinia not so quietly, Forest Buzzard sit motionless, and if you are very early or on a misty day you should hear Buff-spotted Flufftail. Keep ears and eyes open for African Crowned Eagle. In the forest, amongst others, are African Emerald Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Olive Woodpecker, White-starred Robin, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Cape Batis, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, Olive Bush-Shrike, Southern Double-collared Sunbird and Forest Canary. Samango monkeys haunt the forest and will be heard scolding you, and with a bit of luck you may see this attractive primate in the tree canopies.

The drive to the reserve through the rolling countryside, apart from its scenic beauty, is also rich in birds. Look for all three crane species, Cape Vulture, Bearded Vulture, Amur Falcon (mid summer), Southern Bald Ibis, Bokmakierie, Denham's Bustard, Ground Woodpecker and Buff-streaked Chat on rocky outcrops, and Pied Starling.

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Directions

From the N3 take the Nottingham Road/Mount West off-ramp. Proceed to Nottingham Road village. Pass under the railway bridge and take the first turn left, sign posted to Fort Nottingham (a tiny village and not a fort). Follow the signs to Fort Nottingham. The reserve is on the right just before you reach the village. The drive from Pietermaritzburg to the nature reserve takes approximately one hour. Although there are no facilities in the reserve, the museum in the town does provide toilets.

Open Wed-Sun, 10am - 4pm.
Closed Mon – Tues.
Telephone: +27-33-3307097
Website: www.kznwildlife.com

Athol and Les Marchant 2007.






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