In birding terms, Swaziland represents a microcosm of eastern South Africa. Falling at the convergence zone of three slightly different bird communities, it actually offers some good birding venues within a relatively small area. The road network is relatively good, and the main birding sites are easily accessible, making it great for a short visit as part of an extended Eastern South Africa trip, or as a stop on a self-drive tour.
High altitude species of South Africa’s escarpment and inland plateau are also present in parts of western Swaziland, where Malalotja Nature Reserve is the prime birding spot. This reserve has a wide altitudinal variation, with heights ranging from 1 800 to less than 800 meters above sea level. Major habitats are montane grassland and montane forest patches. Blue Swallow is the main attraction here, and Malalotja offers good chances of success with this highly endangered species between late September and March. Malalotja also has some wonderful wild flowers in the spring and summer.
Significant Birding Spots: Malalotja Nature Reserve, Phophonyane Nature Reserve, Maguga Dam, Mliliwane Nature Reserve.
A few significant species: Blue Swallow, Buff-streaked Chat, Bokmakierie, Denham’s Bustard, Southern Bald Ibis, Gurney’s Sugarbird, African Wood Owl, Narina Trogon, Ground Woodpecker, Greater Striped Swallow, Red-winged Francolin, Cape Rock-Thrush, Secretarybird and others.
Northern and Eastern Swaziland.
In the north of Swaziland the general savannah species present in the Kruger National Park extend southwards through the country. Swaziland’s main National Park, Hlane, which links up to three other reserves to create a 50 00 hectare (123 500 acre) wildlife refuge, falls into this savannah biome. Eastern Swaziland is also home to a number of typical northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique species, which extend up through Swaziland and into the southern limits of Mpumalanga, but generally not further north than the Crocodile Riverc(though recent observations show that some of these species seem to be found further north than previously thought).
Significant Birding Spots: Hlane Royal National Park, Mlawula Game Reserve, Mbuluzi Game Reserve, Nisela Game Reserve.
A few significant species: Bennett’s and Bearded Woodpeckers, Lilac-breasted Roller, Grey-headed, Orange-breasted and Gorgeous Bush-Shrikes, White-browed Robin-Chat, African Scops Owl, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Martial Eagle, the southern-most breeding colony of Marabou Storks, Rudd’s Apalis, Crested Guineafowl, Pink-throated Twinspot, Grey Sunbird, Black-bellied Starling, Square-tailed Drongo and Purple-banded Sunbird