There are quite a few natural gems scattered across Nelspruit. On the edge of town one can visit the Lowveld National Botanical Garden. This is a SANBI run botanical garden, showcasing the exquisite fauna and flora that the Lowveld has to offer.
After entering the boom gates the entrance road winds across the Crocodile River by means of a short, one-way bridge. There is a pedestrian pathway along the bridge. Stopping for a few minutes along the bridge and scanning the river may yield some magical surprises. One bird to look out for would be the African Finfoot. I have scanned this river section a good couple of times, but always came off empty handed. On my last visit I finally struck it lucky. I was fortunate to see not one, but two Finfoot together busy having a scuffle in the water.
The terrain and different sections throughout the botanical garden varies considerably. This diversity promotes a rich bird life while walking along the various walkways. There has been some talk about some out-of-range birds coming to visit the area. One of these birds included the Purple-banded Sunbird. This little bird is usually found on the eastern border, moving through to Mozambique. I decided to keep my eyes open for this small, colorful sunbird and after a long search I finally managed to get a glimpse of one singing its heart out along the river.
Studying various bird calls also helps tremendously in trying to locate birds. This is especially true for the more shy birds, who often move around the thickets. The Red-Capped Robin-Chat is one such bird, but their obvious call easily narrows down the search area. I scanned the forest section vigorously and a glimpse of orange quickly caught my eye. I have seen this bird a few times before, but I have not had the opportunity the get some clear images.
After a good stroll through the garden I headed towards the reception. I heard a bird calling in the distance. It was a call I had only recognized by studying the call beforehand. This got me really excited as I had never seen this bird before. I quickly moved in the direction of the insistent call. I scanned the branches of a few tall trees. Then, as if it came to show off, a Scaly-throated Honeyguide landed close by.
It was another successful birding trip through this beautiful local gem and it is quickly becoming one of my favourite spots to get my nature fix.