Birding on the Umzimkulu River


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Birding on the Umzimkulu River

Birding on the Umzimkulu River: for me, the day I turned 50, I became a birder. It was like some biological function within me was suddenly activated. Before that, all I could do was shake my head in wonder at the cars and busses parked at the side of the road (Kruger Park), every occupant with binoculars and staring intently into a tree or bush.

I am now a Twitcher. I even have a list!

Estuary Birding

Birding on the water gives advantages. You can see for miles. And you are not conspicuously traipsing through the jungle. Making a racket. And where you could easily stand on an angry adder or slip or something.

The benthic zone here is full of nutrients. That becomes food for the birds that hang out here. The area is rich in diversity and biological function.

There are many species for you to tick through. And a long food chain for you to observe. From a safe distance.

Sea Birding

Just over the Sandspit at the estuary mouth, is the vast expanse of the wild and captivating Indian Ocean. You won’t find many Cowboys or Indians in it, but you will find a host of eager seabirds. That work the beaches and the surf zone.

If you are real lucky, and the conditions are so, you may even get your binoculars onto a circling Skua!

The Boat

When we can wrestle the boat back from the wagtails (who think they own it), it’s a big catamaran cruiser that can comfortably take a crowd. Benches down each side. Tables. And a roof!

There is also a kayak option.

Other Attractions

Include the resident families of otters. Two different species so far. Plus the turtles that use the river for careening periodically. They can set up camp for a week or more sometimes. The freshwater kills the parasites that stick onto their shells and slow them down.

Big monitor lizards sunbath. As they avoid…Zambezi sharks! If we are really lucky one of us might get bitten by a real Zambezi shark haha but yes we did encounter a half a monitor lizard freshly bleeding out. The sharks use the estuary for their entire life cycles. Hunting. Breeding. Hunting. Breeding…

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