The Ballito MagazineJanuary 30, 2023

Simbithi Eco-Estate, nestled in Shaka’s Rock, KwaZulu-Natal, is home to a plethora of wildlife, one of many elements that make our Estate a magical place in which to live. As the first ‘eco’ estate in KwaZulu-Natal, we pride ourselves on living harmoniously with the creatures who share our surrounds and curating and maintaining pockets of our environment where they may flourish.

Since the launch of our Simbithi Birding Group, last year, an ensemble of avid birders has taken to documenting sightings of exquisite, feathered residents spotted on our Estate. Recently, we were thrilled to record several incredible sightings on Simbithi, most notably the European Nightjar, one of the world’s most unusual bird species. The medium-sized bird brown-tinged plumage with distinct facial features, soundless flight and a somewhat peculiar call is crepuscular, meaning it is most active in low light conditions. It is an uncommon, nocturnal migrant that comes to South Africa during our summer months.

Our bird is the “C. e. unwini” sub-variant, which means it flew here from Pakistan or India, where it breeds. As the birds are nocturnal, they roost lengthwise on branches during the day. “An appearance by this bird is truly special,” says Environmental Manager Ayanda Duma. “It is very uncommon to see them roosting in the daylight, especially out in the open on a low branch like the one spotted in Simbithi. To see this spectacular bird as closely as we did is an absolute treat.”

The appearance of the European Nightjar was preceded by a few other ‘firsts’ for Simbithi, including the Common Cuckoo, Jacobin’s Cuckoo, Lilac-Breasted Roller, Lesser Moorhen and Bronze-Winged Courser. Several other notable birds have fluttered in for a visit, including the Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Spotted Ground Thrush, African Finfoot, Green Malkoha and the ever-popular Narina Trogon.

To add to all of this, we have also been honoured by a pair of Crowned Eagles which has swooped into the Estate during the last few months, often remaining regally still for just long enough to spot them in
all their splendour.

“Each of these birds is not only exceptional to behold but reminds us how blessed we are to experience this wildlife right on our doorstep. Simbithi is a treasure trove of nature’s wonders, and we are thrilled these birds have chosen to visit us,” Ms. Duma continues. “We now have approximately 300 bird species on Simbithi.”

General Manager, Marc Mc Clure, himself an avid birder, points out that the bird sightings are not only exciting but also very encouraging. “We are passionate about bringing the ‘eco’ in our name to life in our environmental policies and procedures, and these sightings affirm that our efforts to create an environment where all sorts of wildlife may find a home are bearing fruit. This is in line with our Board’s strategic intent and the avenue of Environmental, Social and Governance principles Simbithi is pursuing. A feather in our cap, indeed.”