Calling all ornithophiles! (The rest of us simply call ourselves birders or bird watchers. Lol) Millions of people watch birds regularly, although less than 20% of South Africans watch birds in some structured manner or formally join bird-watching clubs. All of us enjoy watching birds informally on day drives, weekend getaways and longer “safaris” to relish the joys of fresh air and pristine nature.
Birdwatching is a great way to combat the stresses and strains of city life, providing the perfect opportunity to completely relax the mind without any distractions.
The wonderful thing about birding is that you can do it almost anywhere – in your garden, the nearest botanical gardens, or ideally, out in a nature reserve away from smog and smoke and noise.
Studies have shown that birding is great therapy for seniors and highly beneficial for those living with dementia as it significantly improves health, alertness and memory. It is a great way to remain physically active in a low-impact way and to connect with family and friends.
Do not forget the value to young children. It is a fun way to learn new visual and listening skills. In learning to identify birds, they learn to distinguish colours, shapes, songs and the behaviour of birds, teaching them to attract birds to their gardens for all-year-round enjoyment.
The more they practice, the more attuned their eyes and ears will become, giving them a real sense of achievement as they master the skill of identifying birds.
A perfect spot for viewing the vast range of bird species from close-up in the picturesque Lowveld, is the Eden-like Rocky Drift private nature reserve, nestled in the mountains near Waterval Onder.
The young and agile can clamber rocks or hike to remote bird-spotting areas, while for the less energetic and less mobile, expansive gardens and comfortable seating along the river offer the ideal time for meditation and waiting for the birds and animals to come to you.
Some of the bird species regularly seen at Rocky Drift are the African Green-pigeon, African Finfoot, Tambourine Dove, White-browed Robin-chat, Red-capped Robin-chat, Collared Sunbird, Spectacled Weaver, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, Black eagle, Steppe buzzard and a variety of kites and falcons.
To boot, on one of the marked, self-guided hikes you may be surprised by bushbuck, klipspringer, duiker, steenbok, reedbuck and of course baboon and vervet monkeys. If you are truly lucky, you might spot a leopard, genet or rooikat.
A mere 290 km from Gauteng, you cannot ask for a better weekend break-away with family and friends to let you rest mind, body and soul and dust the binoculars to connect with mother nature.
Situated on 257 hectares in an enclosed valley this private reserve offers breath-taking scenery, with a mountain stream flowing through the centre.
Whatever your preference, Rocky Drift Private Nature Reserve offers accommodation to suit every lifestyle.
From private self-catering cottages to exclusive caravan and tent campsites and luxury bush tents, you can stay overnight on your way to the Kruger National Park or Mozambique; recharge your batteries with a weekend stay; or stay for a month to completely rejuvenate your energies.