Updated: Oct 1
This last Saturday my family and Adam went on an adventure to Mount Park Guest Farm, situated in the idyllic Dargle Valley in KZN. The region consists of farm lands with patches of indigenous mist belt forests.
After arriving, we were greeted to a very friendly welcome by the owners. We were handed a good map of the various trails that one can do on the expansive property. The draw card is of course the hike up the stunning Inhlosane Mountain. Adam and I set off on a hike, while my wife and kid settled in on the beautiful lawns near a small dam and children’s playground.
Soon into our hike, and we were treated to a bit of Robin-Chat frenzy. Both Cape Robin-Chat and Chorister Robin-Chats took turns to hop about on the path in front of us, before flushing to the trees as we were about to take some award winning pics. Luckily we snapped a few decent ones. We also appreciated the well maintained and well-marked trails.
A short while later we came to small dam along the forest edge where we encountered a mixed species bird party. Forest Canaries where bathing in the small mud pools on the edge of the dam, while a Drakensberg Prinia made a brief appearance in a tree alongside. Other birds that were enjoying this area were Thick-billed and Cape Weavers, as well as a Sombre Greenbul.
Now while Adam was racking up new species for the DBN/PMB 150km Birdlasser Challenge (Chorister Robin-Chat, Forest Canary and Olive Thrush), I was feeling a bit peeved as I hadn’t got anything new yet. But my luck was about to change as a short walk farther up the mountain we came upon a little group of Swee Waxbills (A species I have not seen too often). Then it was the turn of a female Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher (another year bird for me). It entertained us with its tail fanning display, but unfortunately it was too distant for photos. Other birds that were common in the forest, as we were walking up the steep slopes were Cape Batis, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, and Bar-throated Apalis. Eventually we exited the forest, and once above the tree line, we could admire both the mountain and cliffs above, as well as the view of the valley below.
We then scanned the cliff and boulders above, and managed to spot a distant and solitary Ground Woodpecker. Instead of proceeding to the summit, we opted for the contour path, which we believed would give us better odds of finding more Ground Woodpeckers and Raptors (And I was way too tired to climb more!). Unfortunately we didn’t see the woodpeckers again, but did manage to spot an African Harrier Hawk and some Cape Crows on the more gentle descent.
Once at the bottom I was greeted by my wife and kid who had been having a great time of their own. I was in desperate need of refreshment, and I hastily directed everyone to the restaurant. We sat down to a delicious meal (we all had the spicy beef pie, gravy and chips), and I washed it down with a Honey and Horlicks Milkshake.
And just when we thought our day couldn’t get any better, after lunch me and Adam went on another short walk, and were treated to the bird of the day, a White-starred Robin.
Whilst my day trip was most enjoyable, Mount Park also offer accommodation, and I can’t wait to stay there over a weekend to explore more of the trails, and to see what additional secrets the forest offer.