St Lucia Guided Walks and Birding Tours 

St Lucia Guided Walks and Birding Tours

Looking for a guided walking adventure while in St Lucia, the area is synonymous for its amazing trails in and around St Lucia. Two incredible trails are available one being the Igwalagwala trail and the Iphiva Trail.

Igwalagwala Birding Trail

This tour takes place within the Igwalagwala Trail and includes part of the St Lucia Estuary. The most ideal area to witness numerous bird species. The area of St Lucia boasts an incredible 530 species of birds year-round. Journey into the bush with an experienced and knowledgeable ranger. 

st lucia birding
waterbuck witnessed while on the iphiva walking trail st lucia

Iphiva Guided Walking Trail

Wildlife, Birdlife, and magnificent scenery. The Iphiva walking trail starts from the crocodile centre, this 2,5-hour walk or hike is a super way to experience varying wildlife on foot. Ideal as either early morning or later afternoon excursion. Your experienced ranger will not only give you insight into the wildlife but show you the basics of tracking. The area utilised for this specific walking trail has no Buffalo, Rhino, Lion nor Elephants. This is truly a family-friendly outing. 

What should I Bring Along

Igwalagwala Birding Trail

  • Binoculars or Camera
  • Please wear comfortable clothing and shoes
  • Ideal for everyone

Iphiva Walking Trail

  • Binoculars or Camera if possible
  • Comfy clothing and shoes
  • Definitely ideal for the whole family

Pricing

Igwalagwala Birding Trail

  • Duration 2,5 hours
  • Included, bottled water
  • Costs R350 p/person
  • Max clients 6

Iphiva Walking Trail

  • Duration 2,5 hours
  • Included, bottled water
  • Cost R350 p/person
  • Max clients 6

st lucia south africa ,safarisHeritage Tours & Safaris was established in 2003 and has since grown into the largest privately owned safari tour operator in the area. Be it in the bush or on the water the company offers a smorgasbord of varying outings both day excursions and overnight safari packages. Please note the above trails may be enjoined by anyone for free. Should you wish to have a guided tour simply complete the form below.

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Some of the Bird Species found in St Lucia

Giant Kingfisher st lucia bird species

Giant kingfisher

The Giant Kingfisher is the largest kingfisher in Africa. The bird is scientifically known as the Megacerlye maxima. Megacerlye is the Greek word for “great kingfisher”, and maxima is a Latin term meaning “the largest”. The lifespan of this large bird is anything between 6 to 14 years.

Physical

This kingfisher is small in comparison to most of its family members. Both the males and females weigh between 255g and 425g and reach a length of 42cm – 46cm. It is characterised by its large shaggy crest, small white speckles on the black upper area of its body, and a big black bill. The differences between the male and female lie in their colouration of the breast band; males have a chestnut or orange coloured one, whereas women have a black breast band with white spots and a belly that is chestnut or orange colour. The best way to tell this difference would be that the male has a chestnut or orange waistcoat, whereas the female has a chestnut or orange skirt.

Diet

The Giant kingfisher is a carnivore. It feeds on animals such as fish, crabs and frogs.

Habitat and distribution

This kingfisher specie is usually found close to water such as near streams, lakes, dams, seashores and coastal lagoons, preferably in areas with overhanging trees that it uses for hunting. It is also found in wooded areas in savannahs and forests. The Giant kingfisher is distributed in the South of the African continent in the Sahara Desert and some of the wetter areas in the West of the continent.  Countries such as Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe are where you can spot this bird.

Social Behaviour

The Giant kingfisher is a diurnal bird and like many others bird-like it, it is often found in solitary as it defends its territory. It has a very interesting hunting technique. It hunts in either a stationary position or it perches over the water. It then proceeds to dive in the water, completely submerged, to catch its prey. Once it has caught it, it will return to the perch and continuously beat its catch to kill it before swallowing it all, head first. After a successful hunting mission, it will move to a new perch within its local range based on aspects like heat and water levels.

Mating and breeding behaviour

The Giant kingfisher is described as a monogamous breeder. Breeding season is between the months of August and March. The mating process begins with male courting the female he desires by showing off through performing aerial flights. The two partners nest together in a long horizontal tunnel that they dig out using their bills and feet. The position of the rest is usually near river banks or cliffs. Between 3-5 eggs are laid and both parents incubate the eggs for around 26 days. They take turns in doing this, exchanging the role amongst themselves 3-4 times a day. The chicks are taken care of for at least 37 days, after this, they are considered to be independent.

Other facts

  • The Giant kingfisher can be identified by a loud “wak wak wak” call that they make
  • They are listed as an animal of least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature database.

fish eagle sighting on birding tour st lucia

African Fish Eagle

The African Fish eagle, scientifically known as the Haliaeetus vocifer, is one of the largest eagle species. It can live to up to 40 years in captivity and between 14 and 20 years in the wild.

Physical

The African Fish eagle is often confused with the Bald eagle as the two have similar features. The two are related but are found on different continents. Like its cousin the Bald eagle, the African Fish eagle has a dark brown body with a white head, breast and chest, and large black wings. Its face is featherless and yellow and it sports yellow hook-shaped beak.  The African Fish eagle has a body length of between 63cm to 75cm. An important physical characteristic is its spiracles which are on their toes. These spiracles allow them to grasp on fish and other slippery prey. The differences in bodies are seen in the weight and wingspan. The female African Fish eagle is heavier than its male counterpart. Females usually weigh between 3.2kg and 3.6kg, whereas males weigh between 2kg and 2.5kgs. Females also have bigger wingspans. The typical size of a female’s wingspan is 2.4 m, whereas men have a wingspan of 2m.

Diet

This carnivorous bird feeds on mainly fish, small turtles, baby crocodiles, frogs, and lizards. It also preys on water-birds such as ducks and flamingos.

Habitat and distribution

This type of eagle is found in open water such as lakes, rivers, reservoirs, near coastlines, or lagoons. They may also be found in grasslands, marshes, fynbos, swamps, tropical rain forests, and desert-boarding coastlines. They are based in countries that form part of Sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in the south of Africa. These countries include South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Malawi, and Mozambique.

Social Behaviour

African fish Eagles are usually found in pairs, even when it is not the breeding season and share kills made with their partners.

It catches its food by diving down into the water from a perch in a tree, snatching its prey from the water, and flying back to the perch to eat. If the fish is too heavy for it to lift, it drags it across the water surface until it reaches the shore. The African Fish eagle is also known as the resident kleptoparasite. It is known to steal the food of other bird species.

Mating and breeding behavior

African fish eagles are monogamous animals. Breeding season happens when the water levels are low, which is usually during the dry season. The male-female pair usually have two or more nest which they use for years, usually only building onto it. The nests are kept in large trees. The female lays anything between one and three eggs. Incubation is approximately 42 to 45 days. The female takes charge of the incubation, the male-only gets involved when the female goes hunting. The young eagles become independent three months after they fledge (develop wing feathers in order to fly) which is when they are around 70 to 75 days old.

Other facts

  • It is the national bird of Zimbabwe and appears on the coat of arms of Zambia, Namibia, and South Sudan
  • It is known as the “voice of Africa” because of the loud, distinct calls it makes.

water thick knee st lucia bird specie

Water Thick-Knee

A water dikkop, as it is known in the South African language Afrikaans, is a bird species belonging to the Thick-Knee family known scientifically as the Burhinidae. The Water Thick-knee (or Burhinus vermiculatus) has a lifespan of up to 15 years in captivity and 10 years in the wild.

Physical

This bird is between 38cm to 41 cm in length and weighs between 293g and 320g. It is characterised by its broad and blunt greyish wings, short tail and a bill that is black with a yellow base. It has a light brown upper body with darker brown streaks down the chest, back and near the wings. The under part of the body (chest) also has a white colour. The Water Knee- Thick bird also has incredible yellow or pale green eyes, yellow-green legs and a small black bill.

Diet

The Water Knee-Thick bird is a carnivore that favours mainly aquatic or marine animals as their food of choice. It feeds on a lot of fish, molluscs, crustaceans and crabs. It also feeds on insects.

Habitat and distribution

The Water Thick-Knee bird finds its home in mangroves, bushes, rivers, sheltered beaches, woodlands, edges of lakes and estuaries. It is widely distributed throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Countries such as Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana and Zimbabwe.

Social Behaviour

Not much is known about the Water Thick-Knee and its social behaviours. It is a nocturnal bird that rests near water during the day and is active once dusk arrives. It hides itself away in either vegetation or amongst rocks, usually found in alone unless it is breeding season.

Mating and breeding behaviour

The dry season or early rainy season is when the Water Thick-knee bird is known to breed. This bird is a monogamous breeder and will keep the same partner throughout its lifetime. Once a male and female have decided to form a union, they build a nest in a sandy or stony ground or hidden in bushes as long as it is near a water source. Two eggs are laid and incubated by both the parents for between 22 to 25 days. Both parents look after the chicks until they reach the age of independence.

Other facts

  • It makes a loud whistle at night. The whistle is a “ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-tee”

There are nine different species belonging to the Knee-Thick family

grey heron st lucia bird specie

Grey Heron

The Grey Heron, also known as the Ardea cinera is a member of one of the predatory bird family, Areidae. Grey Herons’s have an expected life span of between 15 to 23 years however, only a third of young Grey Herons survive their first 5 years in the wild.

Physical

Grey Herons are tall birds standing at an impressive 1m. The large bird also has a wingspan of between 1.5m and 1.9m. Grey Herons weigh between 1kg and 2kg. They sport a white head with a dark stripe and greyish-white neck, while the rest of the body and wings have a grey upperpart and a greyish-white underpart with some black. Their long legs are dark brown in colour. A broad black stripe runs from the eye to the black crest of the bird. Its face is completed by a pinkish-yellow long, pointed beak. The beaks for breeding adults tend to be brighter in colour than other adults and young Grey Herons.

Diet

Grey Herons are carnivores that feed primarily on aquatic animals such as fish, eels, and even ducklings. Lizards, worms, frogs, small mammals, insects, little birds and small snakes are other animals that form part of their diet.

Habitat and distribution

This bird is native to Europe and Asia in countries such as Norway, Sweden and India, and parts of Africa in countries such as South Africa and Algeria. Many of the Grey Herons from the Europe region migrate to the south and end up in Africa. They are found near shallow wet areas such as lakes, rivers, marshes, flooded areas, seashores, coastal lagoons, and ponds. It can also be found in desert areas but this usually when hunting for food such as insects.

Social Behaviour

The feeding behaviour of the Grey Heron has been extensively observed. It adopts different strategies when hunting for its food. It can either stand motionless beside the water while it waits for its prey to come near it, or it moves slowly through the water with its body upright and neck in an “S” shape, once it finds its prey it straightens its neck and strikes quickly. It either drowns, suffocates or snaps the neck of its prey to kill it. It impressively swallows its prey headfirst but if it’s a bigger prey it will tear off its flesh. The bird is mostly active at dawn or dusk. They spend most of their time in trees or on the ground where it is either striding around or standing still in an upright position and on a single leg.

Mating and breeding behaviour

The courtship for a partner begins with a male Grey Heron calling his chosen female partner from his nesting site. Both birds then partake in what is known as a stretching ceremony which involved each bird extending its neck vertically and then bringing it backwards and downwards, this is all done with its legs flexed. They also undergo a snapping ceremony which involves extended the neck forward, lowering the head to the feet and snapping the mandibles together. This ceremony may be repeated between 20-40 times. The Grey Heron is a February to June breeder. They breed in groups or colonies known as “heronries, this usually takes place in the high trees next to large bodies of water. Females lay anything between three and five eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs for approximately 26 days. Both parents are involved in the feeding process that occurs until the bird fledges (gets feathers on its wings) at around 7-8 weeks old.

Other facts

  • Roast Grey Heron used to be a specially prized dish in the 1400s. It is reported that George Neville (Archbishop of York) served 400 herons to his guests.
  • The main call of the Grey Heron is a loud "fraaank"

saddle billed stork st lucia bird specie

Saddle Billed Stork

The Saddle Billed Stork, also known as the Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, is a member of the Stork family known as the Cioniidae. It has a lifespan of 19 years in captivity and 12 years in the wild. The oldest living Saddle Billed Stork was 30 years old.

Physical

Standing at an impressive length of 1.5m in length, the Saddle Billed Stork is the tallest Stork in the world. It has a wingspan of between 2.4m and 2.7m. Most of its body is black in colour, this includes the head, back, wings, tail and neck. The rest of the body and feathers are a cream-white colour. Its legs and feet are black with pink hocks. It has a long-compressed bill that has big red and black stripes, the design of the bill is finished off with a bright yellow leathery skin at the top of the bill. The will can grow to a length of over 30cm. Male and females are distinguished by their size and the colour of their eyes. Males are slightly heavier and weigh between 5kg and 7kg, whereas females typically weigh between 5 and 6kgs. Females have a yellow eye whereas their male counterparts have brown or black eyes.

Diet

The Saddle Billed Stork is a carnivore that mainly feeds on fish, crabs and frogs found in water. It occasionally eats small birds and reptiles.

Habitat and distribution

Open spaces along wetlands and large bodies of water is where one is most likely to find a Saddle Billed Stork living. The bird is distributed mainly in countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa in countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Senegal, Gambia, Chad and South Africa.

Social Behaviour

The Saddle Billed Stork is often found in pairs, but can also live alone. They may sometimes be spotted in groups of 10-12 birds. They are very territorial and would most likely only move if there is a shortage of habitat or food. They are a lot quieter than most birds in their region. They will only communicate through occasionally bill-clattering at the nest. Similar to other storks, they fly with their necks fully stretched out, while their heads droop slightly because of the large bill.

Mating and breeding behaviour

Although Storks are solitary nesters, they do share nests with their partners. The Saddle Billed Stork is monogamous. There is not usually a ceremony or display that the male or female goes through to get a partner. Once they have however found each other, the pair will breed in the same nest that they constructed together every breeding season. The female Saddle Billed Stork will lay between one and five eggs which are incubated by both parents for 30 to 35 days. Once born, the chicks are fed by both parents until they reach fledgeling age which is when they are between 58 and 100 days old.

Other facts

  • The Saddle Billed Stork is listed as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature database
  • The large bird is represented in an Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph. The phonetic value is “ba"

african darter st lucia bird specie

African Darter

The African darter (Anhinga rufa) is a family member of the darter family, known as Anhingidae. It is often referred to as the snakebird. This bird has a lifespan of around 16 years.

Physical

The female and the male African Darter’s have a similar weight, length and wingspan. They weigh between 1kg and 1.5kg, the body length is between 81cm and 97cm, and they have a wingspan that is between 1.2m and 1.3m. Both the female and male have golden coloured eyes and sharp, brown bills which grow to around 80cm long. The differences between the female and the male are evident in their body colour. A female African Darter is brown in colour with faded white streaks, chicks also have a similar colour at birth. Male African Darters are a glossy black colour with white streaks on the face and parts of the body, it also has a neck that has a chestnut colour.

Diet

African Darter’s are big fish eaters, they do occasionally eat other animals such as invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians.

Habitat and distribution

The African Darter is described as a water-bird, that’s why it is no shock that it finds it’s home in fresh, large bodies of water areas that are near or surrounded by fresh vegetation. The perfect homes include shallow lakes, slow-flowing rivers with trees, mangroves, lagoons, reservoirs and reeds. South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are examples of countries were this bird is distributed.

Social Behaviour

The African Darter is one of the most social yet territorial birds. It is able to nest with hundreds of egrets, herons, other darter species and cormorants. Its territorial nature is seen through how aggressive it becomes over food it needs. The African Darter swims with only is neck and head above the water while the rest of its body is very low in the water, that is how it got its other name, snakebird (it looks like a swimming bird). It can dive like this for a long period of time. This ability means that is able to ambush its next prey.  After going for a swim, the African Darter will sit along the waterside with its wings spread out to dry its feathers in the sun and wind. It does this because, during the swim, its feathers become waterlogged (it doesn’t have oil ducts like other birds) which limit its ability to fly hence why it dries its feathers.

Mating and breeding behaviour

African Darters are described as being seasonally monogamous which means they only have one mate for breeding per season. Breeding season is determined by the rain season but can actually occur all day long. The female African Darter builds the nest where the 3-6 eggs are laid. It often nests in colonies, meaning it shares its nest with other birds such as herons. The female and male per take turns in incubating the eggs. The incubation period lasts between 25 and 30 days. The parents take care of the chicks for approximately five to seven weeks, during this time is when the bird will fledge and become independent.

Other facts

  • The African Darter is listed as an animal of least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature page.

The African Darter is a quiet bird but it does make a harsh, jarring croak sound when nesting.