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Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, Umzinto area

Afrikaans name: Vernon Crookes Natuur Reservaat

One of the dams in Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve

Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert


Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve is situated on some hills inland from Scottburgh and Park Rynie. The nearest town is Umzinto. Vernon Crookes is surrounded by fields of sugar cane.

The reserve is popular venue for bird-watchers and over 300 species of birds have been sighted over the years. Here is a bird checklist.

The main mammal species that you are likely to encounter are Burchell's Zebra, Blue Wildebeest and Blesbok but with luck you may find others.

Apparently Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve is home to the worlds largest earth worms which may grow up to 2.6 metres in length (they sound like snakes to me!).

The reserve is a great place for a picnic and is less than an hours drive from Durban. There is some accommodation available in the reserve.

Southern Crowned Cranes breed in Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve has an impressive checklist of birds. One of the benefits of this reserve is that you can get out of your car.

Above - Crowned Cranes photographed near the large communications mast. They breed regularly in this area.

Below - a Lesser Honeyguide photographed at the main picnic site. The clump of trees in the middle of the picnic site is quite a good birding area.
Lesser Honeyguide at Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

Some things to look for:

Blue Wildebeest



Mountain Reedbuck



Blue Duiker

Burchell's Zebra

Black-backed Jackal

Checklist of some of the birds to be seen at Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve

Natal Spurfowl

Spur-winged Goose

African Black Duck

Yellow-billed Duck

Lesser Honeyguide

Red-throated Wryneck

Cardinal Woodpecker

Black-collared Barbet

Trumpeter Hornbill

Narina Trogon

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Little Bee-eater

Speckled Mousebird

Knysna Turaco

Purple-crested Turaco

Red-eyed Dove

Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove

Tambourine Dove

Grey Crowned Crane

Common Moorhen

Red-knobbed Coot

Black Kite

African Harrier-Hawk

African Goshawk

Black Sparrowhawk

Steppe Buzzard

Martial Eagle

Long-crested Eagle

Lanner Falcon

Little Grebe

Black-headed Heron


Hadeda Ibis

Black-headed Oriole

Square-tailed Drongo

Fork-tailed Drongo

African Paradise-Flycatcher

Black-backed Puffback

Southern Boubou

Chinspot Batis

White-necked Raven

Common Fiscal

Grey Cuckooshrike

Southern Black Tit

Barn Swallow

Lesser Striped Swallow

Dark-capped Bulbul

Sombre Greenbul

Yellow-bellied Greenbul

Cape White-eye

Levaillant's Cisticola

Rufous-naped Lark

Olive Thrush

Southern Black Flycatcher

African Dusky Flycatcher

Red-capped Robin-Chat

White-browed Scrub-Robin

African Stonechat

Mocking Cliff-Chat

Red-winged Starling

Black-bellied Starling

Cape Glossy Starling

Olive Sunbird

Grey Sunbird

Amethyst Sunbird

Collared Sunbird

White-bellied Sunbird

Spectacled Weaver

Village Weaver

Fan-tailed Widowbird

Thick-billed Weaver

Common Waxbill

Bronze Mannikin

Red-backed Mannikin

Pin-tailed Whydah

House Sparrow

Cape Wagtail

Yellow-throated Longclaw

Cape Longclaw

Yellow-fronted Canary



Chris and Tilde Stuart's Guide to Southern African Game and Nature Reserves - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Year Published: 1989 - Page: 153

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southern Africa - 2nd edi - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 163

The Pictorial Motoring Atlas of South Africa - Author: Maxwell Leigh - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 115

Top Birding Spots in Southern Africa - Author: Hugh Chittenden - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 306

Where to see Birds in KwaZulu-Natal - Author: Bennett and Herbert - Year Published: 1995 - Page: 58

Wild Issue 35 - Author: - Year Published: 2016 - Page: 40

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