Pigeon Valley

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Hikers in Pigeon Valley

Pigeon Valley is a Natural Heritage Park and formally declared municipal nature reserve in Durban, South Africa. It is an unusual example of an urban reserve with very high levels of biodiversity. It was established to provide protection for the Natal elm (Celtis mildbraedii) and other forest giants of the coastal climax forest.[1] Another rare tree that occurs here is Natal loquat (Oxyanthus pyriformis) which is endemic to the Durban area and to oNgoye Forest. Pigeon Valley is about 11ha in extent, and is situated on the Berea, overlooking Durban Bay. Its unusual north-south orientation may contribute to the biodiversity, with the south-facing slope covered in canopy forest, while the north-facing slope has thorny thickets. An adjoining reservoir, previously part of the reserve, provides a patch of coastal grassland.

Animals[edit]

Red duiker at Pigeon Valley
Male buff-spotted flufftail in Pigeon Valley, January 2014

The park is home to red duiker and blue duiker. There is a troop of banded mongooses as well as slender and water mongooses. Blue vervet monkeys are constantly present.

Various species of forest birds are found here including; green twinspot, Cape white-eye, southern boubou, spotted ground-thrush, purple-crested turaco and African paradise-flycatcher. The black sparrowhawk breeds here annually. Another bird that is seldom seen but that is generally present is buff-spotted flufftail.[2] Unusual sightings of note in recent years include European nightjar, lemon dove, mountain wagtail, black-throated wattle-eye and black cuckoo. The current bird list for Pigeon Valley includes 152[3] species.

The spotted ground-thrush is of particular note, as Pigeon Valley is one of the places where this endangered bird can be most reliably found in winter. It arrives typically in late March or early April, and is present until August or September; in 2015 it was present until 5 October. Summer migrants include, occasionally, black cuckoo, red-chested cuckoo and red-backed shrike.

Plants[edit]

A Natal elm, showing its extensive buttressing, Pigeon Valley, May 2013

There are over 110 species of trees occurring in Pigeon Valley, almost all of which are locally indigenous.[4] Pigeon Valley is also notable for large stands of Buckweed (Isoglossa woodii) which grow in more open areas under the forest canopy and in forest glades. In recent years there have been a few discoveries of plants not previously identified.

Pigeon Valley is unique in having large numbers of the rare Natal elm, and of Natal loquat. A Cryptocarya specimen found adjacent to the main track has so far not been definitively identified; it may be a species seldom found in the area or alternatively a hybrid.

Public access[edit]

The reserve is open from 07:30 to 16:00 daily throughout the year. The entrance is in Princess Alice Avenue, Glenwood, opposite Rhodes Avenue.

Community[edit]

An active grouping, Friends of Pigeon Valley, undertakes clearing of invasive alien plants, ensuring that the park is unusually free of alien species. There is a Facebook page with that name at https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfPigeonValley?fref=ts

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bodenstein, J. (2009)
  2. ^ Birds in Reserves, ADU
  3. ^ http://birp.adu.org.za/site_summary.php?site=29523059
  4. ^ Hemson, C. (2014)

Bibliography[edit]

  • Pooley, T. and Player, I. (1995). KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife Destinations. ISBN 1-86812-487-8.

Coordinates: 29°51′52″S 30°59′19″E / 29.86444°S 30.98861°E / -29.86444; 30.98861