The Birding Experience

Burchells Coucal

Malala Lodge is a registered member of Birdlife South Africa, a member of the Zululand Birding Route (ZBR) and a registered "Birder Friendly" establishment.

The ZBR is a project of Birdlife South Africa focussed on conserving birds and their habitats by promoting and developing birding tourism in our region.

With over 500 species recorded in the area, and over 30 different birding spots, the Elephant Coast is a birding hotspot. The region provides forest, grassland, wetland, bushveld, mountain, estuarine, coastline and open ocean habitats making it South Africa's most diverse area for birding.

63 Southern African endemic or near-endemic species are present, as well as several rare and threatened species. Specials include: Pink-throated Twinspot, Neergaards Sunbird, Rudds Apalis, Lemon-breasted Canary, Southern-banded Snake Eagle, Pel's Fishing Owl, Woodward’s Batis and African Broadbill.

Birding at Malala

African Jacana

Malala Lodge has a variety of vegetation types, including lowland forest, woodland, grasslands and wetlands (in the form of a dam, and pans, both permanent and temporary) and currently has a recorded birdlist of 246 species. A birdlist for the property is available on request.

Strips of lowland forest and thickets hold a diversity of forest species. Grey (Mouse-coloured) Sunbird is common here, and Purplebanded Sunbird is conspicuous on the fringes. Many species here are elusive, and are best located using their calls.

Scalythroated Honeyguides can be heard calling for long periods, while Gorgeous and Orangebreasted Bush-Shrikes are seldom out of earshot. Crested guineafowls move through the understory, and Bluemantled Crested Flycatcher and Dark-backed Weaver forage higher up. The hoot of Narina Trogons can sometimes be heard. Two sought after species, Green Malkoha and Eastern (Yellow-spotted) Nicator are fairly common in these habitats, but require determination in finding! The localised Rudd's Apalis is common throughout, and Grey Waxbills and White-throated Robin-Chats are easily seen on forest edges. Rarer species found in woodland and on forest edges include Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, Broad-billed Roller, Woodland Kingfisher and Grey Tit-Flycatcher.

Aquatic habitats hold a variety of waterbirds, including several ducks, warblers, herons and storks.

In the grassland and scrubby woodland, several species of swallows (including Grey-rumped) and swifts hawk insects, and various raptors can be seen, including Martial Eagle, Brown and Black-breasted Snake-Eagles and African Cuckoo Hawk. One of the main specials for this area is the Lemon-breasted Canary. Small groups of these special birds can be seen foraging near Acacia and Lala Palm thickets. Black Coucal is another sought after bird and occurs annually in summer, with up to five birds present in rank grassland. Red-winged Pratincole has also been seen in these grasslands, and Black-bellied Bustard is resident.

A number of nightbirds are also found on the property. Some of the special species recorded are Bat Hawk, which has been seen a number of times at dusk, and Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, which is occasionally seen in the camp. In summer, Bronze-winged Coursers may be seen in areas with sparse ground vegetation.

Birding spots

Due to the large diversity of habitats in our region, there are numerous spots worth visiting but some of the better known hotspots include: Mkhuze Game Reserve with over 420 recorded species, Hluhluwe-Imfolosi Game Reserve, False Bay Park, St Lucia and Muzi Pans.