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Hlatikulu Vlei

Modified: 2008/10/27 14:51 by admin - Categorized as: Kwazulu Natal
The South African Crane Foundation headquarters are situated in this scenic valley between Kamberg and Giant’s Castle Nature Reserves. All three species of crane found in Southern Africa can be seen here, while approximately 80 species can be expected in a full day’s exploration of this reserve and surrounding areas.

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Specials

Blue Crane, Grey Crowned Crane, Wattled Crane, Denham's Bustard, Cape Vulture, Bearded Vulture, Eurasian Bittern, African Marsh-Harrier, Black Harrier, Freckled Nightjar and Cape Eagle-Owl.

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Breeding

1) Park at the crane breeding pens which are about 5km along the access track. Below the breeding pens are several wetlands. Look here for Great Egret, Yellow-billed Egret, Blue Crane, Grey Crowned Crane, African Spoonbill, South African Shelduck, Maccoa Duck, White-backed Duck, Southern Pochard ( commoner in winter), all four species of ibis and Giant Kingfisher. African Rail, Red-chested Flufftail and African Snipe occur in the reedbeds.

3) More extensive reedbeds exist on a larger dam about 3km down this access track (on the right) and here Eurasian Bittern is a regular winter visitor. Prior permission should be obtained and care taken when visiting this area as Wattled Crane nest here. The best site to find Wattled Crane is however at the other end of this dam - pass the turn-off to the foundation and keep driving for a short distance until the dam can be seen again - this is a favourite haunt of a pair of Wattled Crane. African Marsh-Harrier and Black Harrier (winter) quarter over these marshes. Greater Painted-snipe, African Snipe and African Rail also occur in this reedbed. Search the surrounding grasslands for Denham's Bustard and Secretarybird.

4) The main house, past the pens, where the staff reside usually has a resident pair of Greater Double-collared Sunbird in the garden and in winter, Gurney's Sugarbird are often present. The exotic plantation behind the house is home to Brown-backed Honeybird and African Cuckoo Hawk. At night African Wood-Owl call from the trees around the house and Freckled Nightjar can be seen on the roads. Cape Eagle-Owl is fairly common and can be seen along the road on a night drive.

5) A trail beginning behind the house leads to Mount Lebanon. As the trail gains height scan the exposed rocks for Buff-streaked Chat. Plain-backed Pipit and Buffy Pipit occur on the grasslands at this level. Higher up the mountain, look for Red-winged Francolin, Ground Woodpecker, Sentinel Rock-Thrush, and Cape Bunting and Rock Bunting. Malachite Sunbird and Gurney's Sugarbird occur quite commonly on the proteas in this area. Keep a constant look out for raptors - Cape Vulture and Bearded Vulture soar along the cliff line (the latter are more frequently seen in winter when they often fly low over the wetland itself), Verreauxs' Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Peregrine Falcon, Lanner Falcon and Rock Kestrel can all be expected.

6) A large mist belt forest exists on Hlatikulu Mountain - ask the reserve staff for directions. The specialty here is Bush Blackcap which is quite common. Also look for Olive Woodpecker, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin-Chat, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler and Olive Bush-Shrike.

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General

From Rosetta in the Natal Midlands, take the Kamberg turnoff, follow the tar road until it becomes dirt and after 13km, turn left at the Crane Foundation sign. Phone +27 33 263 2737 for further details.

Adam Riley 2001.
Rockjumper Birding Tours,

Rockjumper Website



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