Nibela Lake Lodge is home to some of the most interesting and diverse bird life on the Elephant Coast. From flocks of Flamingos to the rarely-spotted and the highly sought-after Rosy-throated Longclaw, the banks of the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park are a birders paradise.
Birding at Nibela offers an experience unlike any other in the area, and this is largely due to our secret weapon: Lucky Ngubane. Known affectionately as the bird whisperer, this expert bird guide is without a doubt one of the most knowledgeable men in the area. Able to make almost every bird sound in the book, Lucky will take your birding experience to a new level, and he’ll do it with a smile. Having grown up in the area, and spending much of his childhood surrounded by nature, Lucky knows the forests, wetlands and Hluhulwe birdlife like the back of his hand and his guided bird walks and tours are without a doubt a highlight to any trip to Nibela
We sat down with Lucky to learn a bit more about this incredible man and his extraordinary talent.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and where you grew up.
My name is Lucky Ngubane, and I grew up on the Nibela peninsula. When I was young, I used to follow my father’s cattle around, and began calling to the birds. I learnt a lot from just listening to their replies.
Have you always been passionate about birds? If so, how did your passion for birds began?
Yes, my passion for birds began when I was a young boy. I always spent a lot of time in nature, and I quickly learnt their calls. After finishing matric, I starting working as a tracker, and that’s where I got most of my formal training about birding.
How long have you been working as a guide? And how many of those years have been at Nibela Lake Lodge?
I started working as a guide in 1998, and I have been at Nibela Lake Lodge since 2000. So it’s my seventeenth year at Nibela this year.
What’s your favourite bird, and why?
My favourite bird is the African Broadbill. I like it because it’s always a bit of a challenge to find it.
What’s your favourite bird sound, and why?
My favourite bird sound comes from the Malkoha, because when you call it, it doesn’t respond like other birds.
Where is your favourite place to bird watch, and why?
My favourites place for birding it about two kilometres from the main gate at Nibela. There are more birds there and the vegetation is less dense, so you can see them easily.
What’s the rarest bird you’ve ever spotted?
The rarest bird I’ve ever seen was the Golden Pipit.
Where is your favorite place to be at Nibela?
I really enjoy the view from the entertainment centre looking out over Sobhengu Dam, it is a lovely place for bird watching and relaxing.
Which field guide do you find most useful?
I find that the most useful field guide is the Roberts Birds Guide. I use the app myself when birding.
Do you have any advice for beginner birders?
First of all, birding you always have to be patient. It’s important to learn the bird calls, to make them easier to find. If you don’t learn the calls, you’re going to miss the ones that you’re looking for.