Birding Dlinza Forest

Gorgeous walkway
Gorgeous walkway

Even though I grew up in Zululand, I’ve never ventured out to Dlinza Forest in Eshowe, which is rather an oversight on my side. This stunning forest is worth spending some time exploring especially if you are a keen birder or nature-lover.

Dlinza is a 250-hectare forest situated on the outskirts of Eshowe and is an easy drive from Durban. With over 65 species of birds, more than 80 species of butterfly, a snail found nowhere else in the world and much more on display, this is a must-see destination in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

 

Eye-level with the canopy
Eye-level with the canopy

As with all birding, it is best to arrive as early as possible. Dlinza is open from 6am in summer (September to April) and 7am in winter (May to August) and it is worth being there as the gates open to see the best of the birds.

There are a number of bird guides on hand who are more than willing to help visitors locate birding specials for a fee. We chose not to use a guide and rather just meandered our way through the forest at our own pace to see what we could find.

Impressive Construction high above the forest floor
Impressive Construction high above the forest floor

 

View from the tower - sunny
View from the tower – sunny

We started on the spectacular aerial boardwalk which has been built about 10 metres above the ground, taking you just below the forest canopy. It’s a great way to see birdlife more closely as the trees in Dlinza are huge! The boardwalk ends with a 20-metre high viewing platform, with breathtaking views over the forest and the surrounding areas. This is apparently one of the best spots to see the Eastern Bronze-naped (Delegorgue’s) Pigeon. Scan the tree-tops and familiarise yourself with its call beforehand which could help you locate it. Unfortunately, we were not so lucky and didn’t find any this time. I was, however, treated to another lifer, the Grey Cuckooshrike so I’m not complaining 🙂

There are 2 trails to explore along the forest floor – Impunzi and Nkonka. They are both fairly easy walks but take your time and look carefully.  Forest birding is never the easiest with birds sticking mostly to the dense canopy or thick undergrowth. We heard the Spotted Ground Thrush but were unable to locate it before it moved deeper into the thickets. We did get great views of a Narina Trogon, Chorister Robin-Chat,  Terrestrial Brownbul and the Purple-crested Turaco. We also heard the Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon but it was too far away to see.

Forest Walk
Forest Walk

The walk through the forest is gorgeous, with age-old trees looming high above the path and a continuous stream of bird calls from start to finish. Both walks are less than 2km and work their way through the forest. It is also worth spending some time birding at the picnic sites around the visitors’ centre and having a look at the small hide here.

Natural Archway
Natural Archway

We left at about 9.30am as it was getting rather warm and humid, after making the most of the cooler morning hours. We only saw 21 species of birds but heard plenty more. I’ll definitely be making more trips out there in future.

Bird species seen:

  • Cape Batis
  • Chinspot Batis
  • Terrestrial Brownbul
  • Grey Cuckooshrike
  • Red-eyed Dove
  • Square-tailed Drongo
  • Sombre Greenbul
  • Yellow-bellied Greenbul
  • Trumpeter Hornbill
  • Black-backed Puffback
  • Chorister Robin-Chat
  • Woolly-necked Stork
  • Collared Sunbird
  • Olive Sunbird
  • Lesser-striped Swallow
  • Southern Black Tit
  • Narina Trogon
  • Purple-crested Turaco
  • Dark-backed Weaver
  • Cape White-eye
  • Golden-tailed Woodpecker

Birds heard:

  • Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
  • Red-fronted Tinkerbird
  • Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon
  • Spotted Ground Thrush
  • Hadeda Ibis
  • Green-backed Camaroptera
  • Olive Bushshrike
  • Southern Boubou

 

For more about Dlinza and how to get there, have a look at the Birdlife Zululand website.

 

The aerial boardwalk
The aerial boardwalk
View - overcast
View – overcast
Huge trees
Huge trees
Bird Hide
Bird Hide
View from the tower - overcast
View from the tower – overcast

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