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Rare Eurasian Oystercatchers now a regular sighting at Umdloti

Seasoned twitcher impressed by Umdloti's rich birdlife.

Returning to Umdloti after 17 years in St Lucia, safari guide Paul van de Wall was blown away by the abundant birdlife.

Leading bird watching tours in northern Zululand, Van der Wall said he was nervous about what he would come home to as far as birdlife was concerned.

But he was so impressed, he is considering launching bird watching tours on the North Coast. He has already talked to the Umdloti Coastal Conservancy about what could be a major tourist asset to the town.

“On my first day on the beach with my camera, my wife Sharon and I discovered not one, but two Eurasian Oystercatchers on the rocks in the ‘no take’ zone,” he said.

He said the species was a rare Palearctic migrant, and usually has twitchers from all over the country hurry to our beaches to tick off this unusual visitor.

“If we’re lucky, December to March are the months we might encounter them here,” he said.

In November, the Courier reported the return of a single Eurasian Oystercatcher, after the species was first seen here during the Covid-19 lockdown.

In February we announced the arrival of a second bird.

Lunchtime for this Eurasian Oystercatcher – a tasty mussel.
Photo: Paul van de Wall

Van de Wall also captured a striking image of an African Oyster catcher clutching a mussel in its beak. He shared it on the Umdloti Conservancy WhatsApp group under the headline “come to Umdloti and show us your mussels”.

He praised the Umdloti Coastal Conservancy for their conservation efforts.

“It’s so rewarding to see its efforts baring fruit, er, birds!” he said.

The Sibaya Conservation Trust (SCT), as part of the Sibaya Coastal Precinct, has also made a tangible contribution to the birders gem that Umdloti has become.

Through various conservation programmes, the SCT manages the Sibaya Coastal Forest Reserve which includes a 300ha indigenous forest bordering the beaches.

They also have a dedicated team who cleans that stretch of beach and provide top notch security, making it a safe beach for long walks.

The Sibaya Coastal Forest Reserve is one of the last bio-systems of its kind in KwaZulu-Natal. The SCT does everything in its power to rehabilitate and protect the forest while still allowing people to appreciate its beauty, learn about its diversity and responsibly enjoy activities such as birding, hiking and running.

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