With over 300 bird species found in the Drakensburg and KwaZulu-Natal Midlands areas, and over 40 of these being endangered or highly endangered, Granny Mouse Country House and Spa is the perfect place for bird lovers to base themselves no matter the time of year. This home away from home is situated in the KZN Midlands amongst rolling green hills and lush vegetation.
The Narina Trogon, found in the area surrounding Granny Mouse is often top of the list for a lot of people, but there are many other rare species to be spotted in the area. One such find is the Southern Ground Hornbill. Due to large-scale clearing of the bird's natural habitat for agriculture, along with its exceedingly slow rate of reproduction, the bird is listed as vulnerable to extinction; in South Africa however, where most of the studies have been done, it is listed as highly endangered.
Winters in the Midlands are comparatively mild and so it's a good time to see non-migratory birds such as the Bush Blackcap which can be very common some years, one might also be likely to see a Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, and have improved chances of spotting Green Twinspot and White-starred Robin. Ancient Yellowwoods close by - estimated to be approximately 1 000 years old - can be the perfect place to spot the Knysna Turaco and Dark-backed Weaver.
Wetland and reed bed
One could also try the Beacon Vlei, situated just down the road from Granny Mouse in Balgowan. This 23ha dam offers a wetland and reed bed with mudflats around the dam, a mist-belt grassland, river and wetland behind the dam wall where birders may spot a Purple Heron, Western Marsh-Harrier or Sedge Warbler.
However, the best month to visit the Midlands is October, although officially the start of summer, it can still be quite mild. All the swifts and swallows are returning home so there is a flurry of activity. For a mist-belt forest and dam home to incredible species including the Cape Parrot and the African Crowned Eagle, head to Caversham Hall. Midmar Dam is another location which plays host to many water birds such as the White-Breasted Cormorant, Goliath Heron, Red-billed Teal and the South African Shelduck. In the grasslands one may even be lucky enough to spot a Denham's Bustard or a Red-Winged Francolin. Raptors abound as well, including majestic species such as the Black-Shouldered Kite and the Long-Crested Eagle.
Three crane species
Granny Mouse Country House and Spa is nestled in the Midlands, a mere 90 minutes from Durban and four and a half hours from Johannesburg meaning it's the perfect place to base oneself when escaping the city in search of birdlife. While in the area be sure to stop off at the Karkloof Crane Information Centre where all three species of crane can be seen. The African Bird of Pray Sanctuary in Camperdown, is home to species of raptor such as the Pels Fishing Owl, African Grass Owl and Taita Falcon.
With a wealth of varying habitats and an abundance of birdlife, the Midlands is the perfect spot for keen birders to get their fix and Granny Mouse Country House and Spa will provide a welcoming environment for this. With expert advice on the best spots to head to, as well as rooms offering panoramic views of the majestic surrounds, one can't go wrong.