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An Hour at the Bird Hide -Nahoon Nature Reserve

Wild life enthusiast and keen birder.Travelled extensively in the USA and Southern Africa.


With South Africa moving to level two on the lock-down grading recently, the nature reserves and beaches have opened up and the bird hide in the Nahoon Nature Reserve in East London was calling. So I unpacked my camera and binoculars and spent a pleasant hour at the bird hide on a rather cool spring morning. This is a good place to enjoy the birds and small buck that inhabit the coastal bush along the Nahoon River.

On arrival there was nothing around and so I checked the bird feeders for seed and found them full. The water fountain was flowing into the bird bath and everything looked good. A nature reserve also has great vegetation and so I stopped to take a couple of photos of a Clivia plant that was blooming. Soon the birds began to arrive and also a rather pregnant looking duiker. The beautiful small antelope approached nervously to drink some water. By this time several species of bids had started to arrive to feed on the seed in the feeders and also enjoyed a drink in the bird bath. Others made full use of the clean flowing water to have their morning wash.

Birds use either water or dust to clean their wings and other feathers, getting rid of any small insects that may invade them. Watching the birds splash in the water is always amusing and can provide interesting photographic opportunities. Some of the larger birds that inhabit this coastal bush area also made a careful approach for a morning drink or a splash.

By then my bird list had grown to over ten different types of birds and I then also added a few birds that were calling in the distance. As a birder this is permitted as you list the bird population in a specific area. Many so called “citizen scientists” compose regular bird lists that are sent in to the S.A. Bird Life co-ordinators who then use this data to study information about where particular birds are found. These are then also used by those who put out guide books to show the distribution areas for every species. South Africa has a bird list of over 900 species and here in the semi-tropical Easter Cape about 350 are to be found. On a good day, a knowledgeable group of birders in some of the areas along the coast can list over 100 different species.

A bird hide that is well situated and designed makes a pleasant place to learn about how to identify different species of birds. The bird hide at Nahoon Nature Reserve is no exception. The poster provided in the hide, showing many of the local species, helps the beginner to do that. A walk along the pathway that leads to the river is also an excellent place to view some of the water birds that frequent this area. Many so called waders feed in the shallows along the banks, some perennial while others are seasonal. I was excited to find a family of Pied Wagtails feeding along the bank, a much rarer species than the more common Cape Wagtails found in this area.

As a Crowned Eagle called out from the sky nearby, the birds scattered into the bush. We have been lucky enough to see a Crowned Eagle flying towards its nest in the nearby cliff face with a Rock Rabbit in its claws. Today I only heard its call. Sometimes the Fish Eagle is also seen and heard along the river looking for a meal.

A flock of Sacred Ibis is often seen frequenting the shallow mud banks near the Mangrove Forest. This forest is said to be the one that is further south than any other in South Africa. On the sandbanks in the Nahoon River a variety of Terns and Gulls are spotted occasionally. Today I saw a couple of Common Terns doing a slow flypast and a Wood Sandpiper wading in the shallows.

All in all this beautiful coastal reserve in East London is a treasure that needs to be guarded carefully for nature lovers to enjoy. I returned home after a very enjoyable time spent in this peaceful environment with a list of over 20 birds and a few more memories to add to my memory bank. I also have a few more photos to add to my file on the Nahoon Nature Reserve.


Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on September 28, 2020:

I enjoyed going down memory lane and seeing images of some of the many creatures I used to see regularly in South Africa. I also remember Nahoon very well, having once lived in Gonubie.