St. Lucia is a small coastal town that lies at the southernmost tip of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The Park is a renowned World Heritage Site, stretching from Kosi Bay in the north to Mapelane in the south of Zululand. St. Lucia is known for its ancient lush dune forests, warm Indian ocean, large hippo and crocodile population, diverse fauna and flora and ofcourse being a hotspot for birders and naturalist to tick off and photograph rare bird species!
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park covers over 328 000 hectares comprising of many different habitats. Within this area Lake St . Lucia covers about 30000 hectares and is home to many different bird species. These habitats include; mangrove swamps, grasslands, natural wetlands, coastal dune forests and the beach. It is through these prestine habitats that bird lovers and naturalist can enjoy spending time watching, identifying and snapping away at the sheer beauty of what St. Lucia has to offer!
Walking the streets of St. Lucia on any given morning you are bound to find something interesting on your explorations. Listen and look out for the the Livingstone's and Purple-crested Turacos, White-eared Barbets, Green Malkhoha's , Trumpeter and Crowned Hornbills as thes birds are bold, have distinctive calls that are striking to the ear! The wetland and estuarine ecosystems make suitable areas for large flocks of birds like Lesser/Greater Flamingo's and other small waders to feed, whilst Pink-backed/Great White Pelican's catch fish.
The iGwalagwala trail is a short walk that takes you through some coastal dune forest. Here you are able to find the Red-capped Robin-Chat, Green-backed Camoroptera, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, African Crowned Eagle, Narina Trogon, African Goshawk and the Rudd's Apalis. Most of these species are secretive making photography slightly difficult at times. Also look out for leopard tracks and scat as these large cats are interested in preyin on Bushbuck, Red Duiker or even a tiny Suni! You will also find that there are paths that have been made by hippos that are making their way from the estuary and back. Be careful as these large animals may be on the path and have not returned to the water yet!
The boardwalk that takes you to the beach offers another great birding opportunity especially early in the morning and late afternoon. Bird parties can include, Black-bellied Starlings, Dark-backed Weavers, Olive, Grey, Collared and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds to name a few. Keep an eye out for any African Fish Eagles, Caspian Terns and sometimes even Western Ospreys that hang around the mouth of the Estaury in search of food. Large crocodiles and hippos are often seen on the sand banks basking or lazying about in the water.
Canoeing is another opportunity to get closer to the hippos and crocodiles and to paddle across the estaury to get to the mangrove swamps. There is always a chance of finding a leopard in the mangrove forest and maybe, just maybe you look up and there sits the striking Mangrove Kingfisher! If this doesn't tickle your fancy then enjoy a walk on the beach, watch ghost crabs as they hurry into their holes, whales breaching, White-fronted Plovers scuttling across the beach and Common Wimbrels and Black Oystercatches feeding on what the tides bring in.
Hi there! My name is Paul and I am the new specialist guide for Tailor Made Safaris! On this blog I will keep you all updated with trip reports and interesting stories about the African Bush!
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