On arrival at Mavela, I was struck by the cheerful birdsong in and around the camp. What a “nature’s welcome”! The region has recorded over 400 species but it was only after subsequent visits that I learned of this “Twitcher’s Treat”.

LEARNING TO BIRD?

For a novice birder, Mavela Game Lodge is an ideal place to learn and grow one’s bird list. The field guides are helpful and happy to stop and play a recording of a call to help draw birds closer to the vehicle. From raptors to “LBJ’s” (little brown jobs), one is spoilt for choice.

This elusive White-throated Robin Chat was hiding deep in the bush until the sound of its call was played. Territorial in nature, it flew in closer to inspect the intruders but remained camouflaged.

White-throated robin chat at Mavela Game Lodge in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa provides a treat for 'Twitchers'.

The elusive White-throated Robin Chat.

HABITAT

The reserve’s habitat is varied and ranges from beautiful serene riverine forests, rocky hillsides with jagged cliffs, to moist- and dry savannah. Avid bird and wildlife photographers enjoy open-backed safari drives that allow for intimate encounters and opportunities for optimum photography. Whilst the primary focus of most visitors is to the “Big 5”, cheetah, wild dog and hyena, birding interludes are plentiful. When we sat and watched a lion or cheetah kill, I was struck by the African chorus in the background – a Rufous-naped Lark, perched on a branch, singing his heart out!

A Rufous-naped Lark at Mavela Game Lodge in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Rufous-naped Lark

ON SAFARI

Heading out on a safari drive, along the ridge from the camp, it is not uncommon to come across a bird of prey, or two, standing tall on a tree-top scanning the valleys below. It is at Mavela that I learned about the two species of tawny eagles (pale morph and dark) and privileged to see both. Another favourite, that I have viewed closely, on more than one occasion, is the Wahlberg’s eagle. A picture of it is recorded in Mavela’s blog article, Birds Bugs and Beast.

Tawny eagle at Mavela Game Lodge in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Tawny Eagle

Another treat was seeing a Lappet-faced Vulture roosting for the evening. Our guide, Sam, informed us that they are endangered and being monitored at the reserve. It was fun to zoom in our lens to obtain the number and pass it on to the field guide for the active conservation management programme that carries on “behind the safari scenes”.

A tagged Lappet-faced Vulture is a unique 'Twitcher's Treat' at Mavela Game Lodge in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

An endangered Lappet-faced Vulture.

When the game viewer circles a dam slowly, I am struck by the peaceful stillness and quietly observe an African Black Duck and Egyptian Goose glide past. A light movement catches my eye as a Namaqua dove swoops in for an evening drink. The noise of a kingfisher’s shrill clatter pierces the air. This time it is a Striped Kingfisher.

Birding in the late afternoon sun at Mavela Game Lodge in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Birding in the late afternoon sun.

Returning back to camp, in the dark, the night birds abound with the haunting call of a Spotted Thick-knee and a graceful flap of a Spotted Eagle Owl’s wings as it hunts for prey. An intimate early morning encounter is recorded in the Mavela April blog article, Sunrise Surprise – a special Twitcher’s Treat.

BACK AT CAMP

One of my favourite #MavelaMoments is to sit on my tent deck quietly and listen to the sounds of the African bush. The peace and calm this instils is indescribable. Bird baths are positioned in front of each of the five tents and it is amusing to watch which species display a bossy dominance.

Crested Barbet at Mavela Game Lodge in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Crested Barbet

EXPERIENCED BIRDERS

For proficient birders, Mavela is the ideal place for close friends or birding couples to book out the entire camp. There are only five tents at the lodge and you can enjoy a private “Twitcher’s Treat”. This optimises stops on safari drives. As the lodge is an accredited Birder Friendly Establishment with Birdlife South Africa, you can be assured of enjoying a full feast of sightings.

Make sure to check out the latest MAVELA SPECIALS to book now for your own birding treat.

 

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