Bonamanzi Game Reserve, Hluhluwe
4th to 6th November 2022
Leaving Nyalazi we entered Umfolozi and then drove through the Hluhluwe part of the Park to the N2. Turning right onto the freeway we headed south towards the petrol station with all the lights lining the freeway at its entrance. Just before reaching the lights there is a bridge over the freeway and we took the exit to the bridge. Turn left at the top and drive 4 kilometres along the dirt road to a T junction, turn left and immediately right to the entrance of Bonamanzi Game Park.
The Bonamanzi Game Park was empty. We were one of a very few not only campers but also chalet guests. We set up camp on our own in campsite 21 on the opposite side to the swimming pool. Between reception and the campsite we recorded 3 specials and another at the campsite – all heard. They were the Gorgeous Bushshrike, the Bananabird – Green Malkoha – the Eastern Nicator and then the Narina Trogon in camp. Quite a start for our bird list. We went on to see all of them except the Eastern Nicator but only fortunate enough to photograph one of them.
Bonamanzi has opened up all its roads to its guests for which there is a compulsory conservation levy of R150 per vehicle per day once off charge, definitely worth it as you are able to explore both the Game Area and Wetland Areas on your own and the numerous tracks as well.
A Bearded Scrub-Robin enjoyed the campsite with us.
Making use of our first afternoon there we headed to the Wetland Area. Fortunately, despite all the rain the tracks were doable. The floodplain area is very extensive and runs probably 2 kilometres alongside the canal.
That afternoon we had many waterbird sightings and some pretty unexpected birds too – one in particular in numbers.
Here are some of the birds we sort of expected to see.
Unexpectedly we saw several Brown-throated Weavers.
And then among all the Southern Red Bishops all along the wetland area by the canal were Red-headed Queleas.
At the Reception area and bungalows there is a dam with a comfortable overlooking hide. It was a good spot to sit and watch the birds especially when the rain appeared.
However, the surprise was not a waterbird but a Tambourine Dove seen walking on the lawn by the bungalows.
Here are photos of some of the other birds seen while driving around.
The highlight of our time there was to capture photos and videos of a very special bird – one that we had heard on arrival. On our first morning we took a walk along the road back towards the pool and nearby campsite. Sites 7-10. Chasing around following a number of birds we heard a strange call but suspected that it could be very special. Then we saw a female fly across the campsite – Narina Trogon. Then the male appeared at the place where the female had flown from. Shots taken for record, then can we get closer, closer still, will it let us? It did and sat chortling away not 10 metres from us. Totally unconcerned. I moved around and took videos and it stayed put. It only flew off after we left. Lovely sighting.
And so ended our couple of wet weeks in Zululand.
Please click on the following link to see our bird lists for each of the 4 areas we visited in Zululand.
In total we identified 215 different bird species.
Sally and Paul Bartho