It’s for the birds

2018-01-18 06:01

BIRD watching of the feathered kind has become a significant part of our tourism mix here in the Ugu Dis- trict.

Avi-tourism as it is known in tourism parlance has for years been a growing aspect of our tourism offer and many destinations profile this pastime in their marketing mix.

Our destination is no exception because we are blessed in having an abundance of birdlife at the coast and our lush forested hinterland as well. There are a number of birding guides and experts down here who can show our visitors our choice of over 400 species in some magnificent natural settings.

For example, the new bird hide at Mpenjati on its picturesque lagoon provides binocular and Roberts Bird Guide junkies with an excellent spot to view the comings and goings of endemic and migratory species.

Their view, however, may be distracted by some bathus naturalii, who sometimes soak in the sun near there and do not feature in the guide.

At the precipitous Oribi Gorge, the Cape Vulture colony is a sight to behold which is testimony to the outstanding conservation work done by local farmers and enthusiasts.

Then in our uplands, KZN’s second largest indigenous forest at Ingeli is the habitat of many rare species including the reclusive Cape Parrot.

In between all this, our many conservation areas and other Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife properties such as Vernon Crookes near Scottburgh and Umtamvuna Nature Reserves provide wonderful locations to ramble in nature and click away to one’s heart’s content.

Birding is addictive - a friend from cricketing days who seemed to be very urban-social has now taken to this hobby and now he is on another tangent- no more beer with sports talk but more of where he saw some unpronounceable (Latin) bird in a tucked away place.

To him seeing a bird from his bucket list is like finding treasure on some exotic tropical island.

Avi-tourists are usually people in the 50 plus age group who are professional or retired, have disposable income and travel great distances at any time of year.

So if you see folk in khakis, multi-pocketed flak jackets, cameras with a zoom as long as an elephant’s trunk and binoculars with lenses more expensive than a Kruger rand, you will know birders mean and are the business - great tourism business.

Where better for them to do their sleuthing stuff than here - we are after all a birding paradise.

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