KwaZulu Natal Game and Nature ReservesThe Bisley Valley Nature Reserve
One of the lesser-known reserves around Pietermaritzburg, even to the locals, Bisley Valley Nature Reserve is a beautiful spot to which to retreat from the world for a picnic, or a morning of bird-spotting.
The Bisley Valley reserve is 350 hectares of thornveld and grassland perfect for those who want to enjoy their space in nature close to home.
Lying just 7 km from Pietermaritzburg on Gladys Manzi Road in the direction of Mkondeni, Bisley Valley NR does not ask an entrance fee, has a number of picnic sites available, and a couple of trails aimed particularly at bird lovers as the reserve is on the Midlands sub-route of the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Birding Route.
The reserve is easy to walk and has a list of bushveld birds that reads like the who's who of the bird world. So close to town, this is boon for bird lovers.
Two bird hides overlook wetland and grassland. At the Pamela Reed Hide expect to see spotted thick-knee, green wood hoopoe, southern black flycatchers and fan tailed widowbirds, whilst in the thicker woodlands around the dam and river listen out for gorgeous bush shrike, African emerald cuckoo, and the southern boubou.
The bottom dam also attracts a range of birds like the African black duck, little grebe, little rush warbler and thick-billed weaver. Summer, in particular, attracts six different types of cuckoo, four types of honeyguides, widow finches and whydahs. But it is the specials at Bisley that are the stars: southern tchagra, dwarf bittern, corncrakes and booted eagles.
For those visiting Bisley not interested in birds there are also giraffe, impala and zebra, safe parking for up to 15 cars, and marked walking trails. The reserve is run by the Mzunduzi municipality.
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