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Nature on Your Doorstep - Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve Re-Visited

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

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A walk through the coastal forest

A walk through the coastal forest

Blue Duiker coming for a drink

Blue Duiker coming for a drink

Bird Bath!

Bird Bath!

Guinea-fowl with chicks

Guinea-fowl with chicks

The hide entrance

The hide entrance

nature-on-your-doorstep-nahoon-estuary-nature-reserve-re-visited

Nature On Your Doorstep - Nahoon Nature Reserves Re-visited.

With the year that limited our travel in South Africa (and as it has done elsewhere in the world) it is perhaps time to look at places closer to home. Being restricted because of the Covid 19 threat, it has been frustrating for the nature enthusiast not to be able to travel to their favourite game and nature reserves. As restrictions lifted it was possible to resume some travel, but often those places near your home became more important. Living in a coastal city like East London meant we could at least spend some time in the local nature reserves and on the beaches after they reopened later in the year. So a re-visit to the Nahoon Nature Reserve was called for.

The Nahoon River is one of the main rivers that flow into the ocean in the greater Buffalo City area. On either side of the river mouth are nature reserves consisting of sand dunes, coastal bush and river and sea views. The Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve on the northern side of the river has a walkway that meanders for about a kilometre through the bush to the estuary near the mouth. At the entrance to the reserve is a wooden office building that hosts some municipal officials. There is also a really good, two level bird-hide at the side of the building. A couple of bird feeders are placed in strategic places, and a bird bath receives a constant flow of fresh water.

When sitting in this hide it is possible to watch flocks of birds either coming to the feeders for seed that is put out daily, to drink water, or to bathe in the fresh water. At pretty regular intervals the small buck that live in the coastal forest also come for water. During a couple of hours in the hide and a walk to the river estuary it is possible to list more than 15 species of birds.

From the flocks of Bronze Mannekin and Yellow-fronted Canaries, to the much larger Guinea Fowl and Cape-Spurfowl there is almost always something that surprises the keen or beginner bird watcher. In the breeding season it is a real pleasure to see the parent birds leading their chicks, on what is perhaps their first feeding expedition.

The small Blue-duiker that also come to drink here approach the water with great care and spend a lot of time looking around for any approaching danger. Cats from the gardens that border the nature reserve have been known to attack young duiker in the past. The local organization the “Nahooners”, have tried to solve this problem in consultations with the nearby residents. The nature reserve is in a popular residential area of East London.

During the summer months (October to March) the Lagoon is home to a large number of waders and other water birds. The local raptors in the area can, however, often be seen flying over as they patrol the river and its surrounding areas at any time of the year. These include the magnificent Fish-eagle and the equally majestic Crowned Eagle that nests in the cliff overlooking the river on the South Bank. Several species of Kingfisher can be seen also patrolling the water of the Nahoon in search of food. The beautiful Knysna-Turaco is more often heard than seen as this secretive bird inhabits the thick forest areas. In the shallow waters of the estuary different Ibis’s and herons look for food. Occasionally a flock of Spoonbills rest on their journey north or south depending on the season.

On the sand banks in the meanders of the river near its mouth it is common to see Sea-gulls and Oyster-catchers resting. A local Grey Heron wades in the waters here on a regular basis.

On the estuary banks a forest of mangrove trees is developing (the most southern in South Africa) with help from the local university biology department. Perhaps as it develops further it will attract the rare Mangrove Kingfisher, a much sought after bird for any serious birder’s life list. As present one has to travel up the Wild-Coast to be lucky enough to see one.

As one follows the trail along the river towards the river mouth it passes a cliff-face where some of the local Rock Rabbits (Dassies) live. This is also a good place to see some of the other raptors that visit this profitable food source. This walk has been named the “Dassie Trail”.

On the other side of the Nahoon, looking back towards the East London Harbour is the Nahoon Nature Reserve. Here early human footprints have been found in the rock face. In a small museum sponsored by the local motor car producers CDA (Mercedes) some interesting facts about the area are on display. These include some of the surf boards attacked by the Great White Sharks that live in the area. The Nahoon Reef in this area is one of the top surfing spots in South Africa. A restaurant and the local Nature Conservation Offices share the Footprints Building. The walkway over the dunes provides breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean and the Bat’s Cave area where waves crash against the coastline. Dolphins and Whales are often spotted here.

The boardwalks are at present being improved with the help of a group from Oldenburg in Germany and this work is ongoing. The Mangrove Forest is growing fast and spreading down the river in the mud flats.

All in all the Nahoon Nature Reserves are well worth a visit and now that we are advised to stay home as the third wave of Covid 19 threatens our country, perhaps we can put our masks on and slip away for some time in nature; right here on our doorstep.

Comments

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 01, 2021:

I could not help to agree with Linda. What an enjoyable and interesting read. Thaaks

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 01, 2021:

The nature reserve that you describe sounds like a very interesting place to visit. Thank you for sharing the photos and the description. This is an enjoyable article.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 01, 2021:

The The East London Reserve or Nahoon, you described is beautiful. The read is highly interestly and informing. Thanks.

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