Updated: Oct 1, 2020
With leisure travel officially opened on an intra-provincial basis, I decided to take the family on a holiday to an area in KZN that I had yet to discover. King’s Grant Country Retreat is near the southern KZN town of Ixopo. The thing that really puts it on the map in terms of birding of course is that it’s in the fragile mistbelt grasslands, the home of arguably Africa’s most endangered bird, the Blue Swallow. However, the Blue Swallows are summer migrants, so I had no chance of seeing them unfortunately.
I arrived at King’s Grant at 9am (I had arranged an early check in, something you should always strive to achieve). The check in staff were friendly, and I was informed of the restaurant meal times, as well as the wifi code (I can’t survive without wifi). The room I checked into was called “The Monks Recreation Room” (There is a lot of history to the place, which you can read more about on their website if you are so inclined). The room was very spacious, with a beautiful balcony, and the bathroom featured an enormous Victorian styled bath.
After relaxing for a while, I set off with my binos and camera to explore the property. I was soon to discover that it was a haven for canaries, particularly Forest Canaries. They were ever present throughout the retreat gorging themselves on the plentiful seeding grasses. They were also joined by their cousins the Cape and Yellow-fronted Canaries. Other birds to be found in the park-like gardens were Cape Robin-Chat, Terrestrial Brownbul, Southern Boubou, and Black-headed Orioles.