Zululand ringing

 Next trip to Zululand, 14-29 March 2020, book now with Birds4Africa !

Zululand comprises the tropical north-eastern part of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It provides some of the highest bird diversity with good accessibility of sites for bird ringing, in southern Africa. Good sites are found around Richards Bay and Mtubatuba, easily reached from Durban airport.


Several wetland sites provide weavers and warblers, as well as a variety of other species in the surrounding tropical bush. A wide selection of weavers are present.

Top species (ringed in wetlands in the area): Yellow Weaver, Lesser Masked-Weaver, Southern Brown-throated Weaver, Village Weaver, and Yellow-fronted Canary.

Some specials (ringed in wetlands in the area): African Palm Swift, Pied Kingfisher, Black Cuckoo-shrike, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Olive Bush-Shrike, White-crested Helmet-Shrike, Purple-banded Sunbird and Scarlet-chested Sunbird.

Purple-banded Sunbird
Stunning male Purple-banded Sunbird


Wetland specials
Some wetland specials



The catch rate in forests is typically less than in other habitats, but with interesting species possible. An African Goshawk was the first bird in the net on one trip!

Top species (ringed in forests in the area): Red-capped Robin-Chat, Olive Sunbird, Tambourine Dove, Green-backed Camaroptera, and Yellow-bellied Bulbul.

Some specials (ringed in forests in the area): African Goshawk, Square-tailed Drongo, Terrestrial Bulbul, Woodwards Batis, Yellowspotted Nicator, Brown Robin, Collared Sunbird, and Grey Sunbird.

African Goshawk
African Goshawk


Terrestrial Bulbul
Terrestrial Bulbul


A private garden in a Sappi plantation attracts birds from the surrounding forest patches, providing relatively easy access to some incredible birds. Birds ringed regularly here include Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Lesser Honeyguide, and Lesser Striped Swallow.

Top species (ringed in garden): Cape White-eye, Village Weaver, Olive Sunbird, Bronze Mannikin, Dark-capped Bulbul, and Red-backed Mannikin.

Some specials (ringed in garden): White-eared Barbet, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Ashy Flycatcher, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Green Twinspot, and Grey Waxbill.

Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird


Black-throated Wattle-eye
Black-throated Wattle-eye

Some previous trips

Here is a list of blogs of some of my many previous ringing trips to Zululand (and Durban), showing a few highlights and species totals that were ringed.

Species totals ringed and recaptured in Zululand

(species ringed by other ringers with me are not included here)

  Sp no.  Species   Latin  Count
  160  African Goshawk   Accipiter tachiro  3
  228  African Jacana   Actophilornis africanus  3
  238  Three-banded Plover   Charadrius tricollaris  1
  314  Red-eyed Dove   Streptopelia semitorquata  6
  319  Tambourine Dove   Turtur tympanistria  12
  321  Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove   Turtur chalcospilos  8
  373  Fiery-necked Nightjar   Caprimulgus pectoralis  1
  385  Little Swift   Apus affinis  1
  387  African Palm-Swift   Cypsiurus parvus  2
  390  Speckled Mousebird   Colius striatus  4
  394  Pied Kingfisher   Ceryle rudis  1
  397  Malachite Kingfisher   Alcedo cristata  3
  398  African Pygmy-Kingfisher   Ispidina picta  2
  402  Brown-hooded Kingfisher   Halcyon albiventris  4
  410  Little Bee-eater   Merops pusillus  1
  431  Black-collared Barbet   Lybius torquatus  2
  432  Acacia Pied Barbet   Tricholaema leucomelas  1
  433  White-eared Barbet   Stactolaema leucotis  1
  436  Red-fronted Tinkerbird   Pogoniulus pusillus  1
  438  Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird   Pogoniulus bilineatus  13
  439  Crested Barbet   Trachyphonus vaillantii  3
  440  Greater Honeyguide   Indicator indicator  1
  441  Scaly-throated Honeyguide   Indicator variegatus  3
  442  Lesser Honeyguide   Indicator minor  23
  447  Golden-tailed Woodpecker   Campethera abingoni  1
  493  Barn Swallow   Hirundo rustica  14
  503  Lesser Striped Swallow   Hirundo abyssinica  17
  509  Brown-throated Martin   Riparia paludicola  1
  513  Black Cuckooshrike   Campephaga flava  2
  517  Fork-tailed Drongo   Dicrurus adsimilis  1
  521  Black-headed Oriole   Oriolus larvatus  1
  545  Dark-capped Bulbul   Pycnonotus tricolor  67
  546  Terrestrial Brownbul   Phyllastrephus terrestris  1
  551  Sombre Greenbul   Andropadus importunus  5
  552  Kurrichane Thrush   Turdus libonyanus  10
  576  African Stonechat   Saxicola torquatus  2
  579  Red-capped Robin-Chat   Cossypha natalensis  26
  581  Cape Robin-Chat   Cossypha caffra  2
  588  White-browed Scrub-Robin   Cercotrichas leucophrys  5
  595  Garden Warbler   Sylvia borin  1
  604  Lesser Swamp-Warbler   Acrocephalus gracilirostris  10
  606  African Reed-Warbler   Acrocephalus baeticatus  14
  607  Marsh Warbler   Acrocephalus palustris  1
  609  Little Rush-Warbler   Bradypterus baboecala  2
  621  Long-billed Crombec   Sylvietta rufescens  2
  625  Yellow-breasted Apalis   Apalis flavida  1
  627  Green-backed Camaroptera   Camaroptera brachyura  14
  642  Rattling Cisticola   Cisticola chiniana  8
  645  Rufous-winged Cisticola   Cisticola galactotes  6
  646  Levaillant’s Cisticola   Cisticola tinniens  1
  649  Tawny-flanked Prinia   Prinia subflava  18
  654  Spotted Flycatcher   Muscicapa striata  2
  655  African Dusky Flycatcher   Muscicapa adusta  3
  656  Ashy Flycatcher   Muscicapa caerulescens  3
  664  Southern Black Flycatcher   Melaenornis pammelaina  2
  665  Fiscal Flycatcher   Sigelus silens  2
  666  Dark-capped Yellow Warbler   Chloropeta natalensis  16
  677  Black-throated Wattle-eye   Platysteira peltata  1
  682  African Paradise-Flycatcher   Terpsiphone viridis  1
  686  Cape Wagtail   Motacilla capensis  2
  704  Yellow-throated Longclaw   Macronyx croceus  1
  709  Southern Boubou   Laniarius ferrugineus  4
  712  Black-backed Puffback   Dryoscopus cubla  1
  717  Olive Bush-Shrike   Telophorus olivaceus  2
  719  Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike   Telophorus sulfureopectus  1
  727  White-crested Helmet-Shrike   Prionops plumatus  2
  745  Red-winged Starling   Onychognathus morio  1
  766  Olive Sunbird   Cyanomitra olivacea  56
  771  Collared Sunbird   Hedydipna collaris  2
  774  Scarlet-chested Sunbird   Chalcomitra senegalensis  8
  784  House Sparrow   Passer domesticus  17
  791  Spectacled Weaver   Ploceus ocularis  30
  792  Lesser Masked-Weaver   Ploceus intermedius  106
  797  Village Weaver   Ploceus cucullatus  109
  799  Cape Weaver   Ploceus capensis  2
  800  Yellow Weaver   Ploceus subaureus  258
  802  Southern Brown-throated Weaver   Ploceus xanthopterus  51
  804  Thick-billed Weaver   Amblyospiza albifrons  9
  805  Red-billed Quelea   Quelea quelea  1
  806  Red-headed Quelea   Quelea erythrops  9
  808  Southern Red Bishop   Euplectes orix  10
  816  Fan-tailed Widowbird   Euplectes axillaris  5
  823  Bronze Mannikin   Spermestes cucullatus  46
  824  Red-backed Mannikin   Spermestes bicolor  34
  827  Green Twinspot   Mandingoa nitidula  17
  833  African Firefinch   Lagonosticta rubricata  8
  837  Red-billed Firefinch   Lagonosticta senegala  2
  842  Grey Waxbill   Estrilda perreini  1
  843  Common Waxbill   Estrilda astrild  26
  846  Pin-tailed Whydah   Vidua macroura  2
  859  Yellow-fronted Canary   Crithagra mozambicus  66
  863  Brimstone Canary   Crithagra sulphuratus  1
  1172  Cape White-eye   Zosterops virens  212

Research articles from my Zululand ringing

Cape Weaver
Cape Weaver records in Zululand (R=ringing, grids=SABAP)

Oschadleus HD & Underhill LG. 2006. Breeding seasonality and primary moult in weavers in eastern South Africa. Durban Museum Novitates 31: 24-31 (pdf).

Oschadleus HD. 2015. Ringing birds in a Sappi forest garden. KZN Birds 44:12-13.

Oschadleus D. 2015. The Cape Weaver in eastern Zululand. KZN Birds 46:23-25.

Oschadleus HD. 2016. Oldest Southern Red Bishop recorded in KZN. KZN Birds 49:22.


 Book your ringing trip to Zululand with Birds4Africa ! You will be picked up at Durban airport, and a 2 hour drive takes us to Richards Bay. Accommodation is in comfortable bnbs in Richards Bay and later near Mtubatuba, to be near different ringing sites. Durban and Pietermaritzburg ringing sites can also be added to the itinerary, depending on interest. A typical expedition lasts 10 days, but this can be extended.

To make a booking (or enquiry), send an email to Dieter at dieter@birds4africa.org