South Africa St Lucia Tours & Attractions - St Lucia Birding
Birding in St Lucia
Lake St Lucia is one of South Africa's most important waterbird breeding areas. Habitats are quite varied from the St Lucia estuary and it's floodplains, to dune forest, sand forest, coastal thickets, mangroves and grassland. All this allows for a wonderful selection of birdlife with over 420 species recorded in the St Lucia Birding area. These sites host a range of endemics such as Neergard’s Sunbird, Rudd’s Apalis, Woodward’s Batis and Lemon-breasted Canary alongside specials such as Western Banded Snake Eagle, Pels Fishing Owl, Livingstone’s Turaco and phenomenal congregations of waterfowl.
St Lucia Birding - The Pels Fishing Owl Just one of the “specials” that can be found in the St Lucia Wetland Park
iGwalaGwala Trail St Lucia Birding on the iGwalaGwala Trail, within walking distance from Zulani Guest House. This short but productive trail is situated on the outskirts of the town and is easily accessible to the visitor on foot. The trail leads through coastal forest, and is adjacent to the St Lucia estuary. A wide variety of species can be seen within an hour, including forest and wetland species. The short path leading down to the estuary can be worthwhile. African Fish Eagle, various kingfishers as well as terns and herons can be seen along the estuary shores.
Estuary Cruise The best way to see water birds is on a cruise of the estuary. Fish Eagles and Goliath Herons can normally be found here as well as big flocks of pelicans and a variety of waders and terns.
The Iphiva trail Departs from the Iphiva base camp, a ten minute drive from Zulani Guest House. It is about a three hour trail that leads through open grassland with flooded pans in places and then through dense areas of coastal thicket and the edge of the coastal dune forest, an excellent area for seeing most forest birds. One of the magic things about this trail is the sightings, at times, of small antelope, zebra and wildebeest.
Cape Vidal A 35 km tarred drive from the St Lucia village. As well as the best places to see a host of different raptors, the drive also gives you opportunities for viewing big game such as White Rhino. Cape Vidal offers two great birding trails, the Iboma Trail, offering many grassland birds and the Imvubu Trail which leads through incredibly beautiful bush with great sea views. Due to the release of Elephants in the St Lucia Wetland park the trails in and around cape Vidal are no longer self guided, a ranger must be booked at the Cape Vidal KZN Office.
A new partnership between the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park Authority and BirdLife South Africa’s Zululand Birding Route was set to develop South Africa’s first World Heritage Site into a top local and global birding destination.
St Lucia Birders in the Wetland Park on the Lookout
Recognising the avi-tourism potential of the area, the Wetlands Park Authority and the Zululand Birding Route will be facilitating the development of a plan to identify facilities and services that will enhance St Lucia birders’ experience of the area whilst also ensuring the long term conservation of the phenomenal avian diversity of the Wetland Park’s Important Birding Areas.
“We are wanting to involve birders to help us to identify practical ways that we can make the Wetland Park, which makes up one third of KZN’s coastline, more accessible and birder friendly for locals and visitors from further afield. Our partnership with the Zululand Birding Route and BirdLifeSA is an important first step towards achieving this” says Andrew Zaloumis, the CEO of the Wetland Park Authority.
Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, Director, BirdLife South Africa adds: ‘’This partnership between the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park Authority and BirdLife SA will protect four important Bird Areas that cover a staggering 220 000 ha of the Wetland Park, create opportunities for local bird guides and add value for tourists, especially birders, who visit the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.”