Located in the beautifully green town of Nelspruit, the 159 hectare Lowveld National Botanical gardens lie in Sour Lowveld Bushveld with typical riverine forest along the Crocodile and Nels Rivers, which converge in the gardens.
The gardens boasts rugged, rocky riverine scenery, with a good mix of habitats and diverse vegetation. These include lush, dense forested areas, aloe-rich hillsides, riverside vegetation and wide expanses of lawns with broad-leaved trees. The gardens have one of the largest collections of South African trees, with over a third of the Lowveld’s species represented.
Almost 250 avian species have been recorded in the gardens. Key species to look out for here include Striped Pipit (winter only), Olive and Purple-banded Sunbird, African Finfoot, Black-bellied Starling, Green Twinspot, Half-collared Kingfisher, Eastern Nicator, African Black Duck, Tambourine Dove and Narina Trogon.
A variety of other colourful and interesting species can be found in the gardens, including African Green Pigeon, White-browed and Red-capped Robin-Chat, Collared and Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Olive Woodpecker, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Purple-crested Turaco, Orange-breasted and Grey-headed Bushshrike, Yellow-rumped and Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Malachite and Giant Kingfisher, Mountain Wagtail, Southern Boubou, Mocking Cliff Chat, African Darter, Striated Heron, Terrestrial Brownbul, Sombre Greenbul, Red-backed and Bronze Mannikin, Holub’s Golden, Red-headed and Spectacled Weaver, Ashy Flycatcher and Red-faced Cisticola.
Raptors are also well represented here with regular sightings of African Goshawk; other predators that can be encountered within or above the gardens are Little Sparrowhawk, Yellow-billed Kite (summer), African Harrier-Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Long-crested Eagle, African Fish Eagle and Common Buzzard (summer) for those who are lucky and observant enough.
The botanical garden is a must-stop for any birder visiting the Nelspruit or Kruger National Park area. A typical walk in the garden should produce a good list of typical Lowveld birds offering a combination of forest and water birds. Overall, a full morning’s birding within the gardens could yield an average of over 100 species in summer and 60-70 in winter, including a number of more localised species not easily seen elsewhere.
To book your expert-guided birding tour in the Kruger Park and surrounding areas, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org