Lake Phobane Goedetrou Dam
15km North of Eshowe, Lake Phobane is the second biggest dam in Kwa-Zulu Natal and is fed by 7 rivers of which 4 flow all year round. The dam is set in the Umhlatuze Valley with Mabelebele Mountains offering a spectacular backdrop. The habitats along the dam vary from dry acacia scrub to tall mixed woodland, riverine forest patches and mountainous areas with cliffs up to 100m high dropping into the water.
Keep an eye open around dry looking areas along the road especially around the areas with a lot of Dichrostachys-type thickets for Long-Tailed Paradise Whydah and Green-Winged Pytilia. When crossing the dam wall Rufous-Naped Larks, Zitting Cisticolas, Rock Martins, White rumped and Little Swifts are often seen. In the summer months Blue-cheeked Bee-Eaters are seen. At the parking area look for Gorgeous and Grey-headed Bush Shrikes as well as Southern Boubou, Common Scimitarbill, Brown-crowned Tchagra and White-browed Scrub-Robin. The areas of mixed woodland and acacia veld along the dam edges often produce birds such as Yellow-breasted Apalis, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Cardinal Woodpecker, Red-billed Firefinch, White-bellied Sunbird, White-crested Helmet-Shrikes and Kurrichane Thrush. Keep an eye open for White-throated Robin-Chat and, in the summer months, Striped Cuckoo. Also seen in the early morning are Grey Waxbills. The riverine forests here have a lot of weeping Boer-Bean Trees (Schotia brachypetia). These flower in spring. The red flowers literally drip with nectar and it is worthwhile watching for the birds and insects attracted. Overhanging trees where the rivers feed the dam normally have a variety of weavers (Village and Lesser Masked Weavers are the most common) breeding in the summer. Spectacled and Masked Weavers are seen fairly regularly. Also seen, waiting to take advantage of unguarded nests, are Klaas' Cuckoo, Diderik Cuckoo and African Harrier-Hawk. Other raptors are Black Sparrowhawk and African Goshawk. Martial Eagle and African Hawk Eagle have been recorded. The cliff faces are home to Mocking Cliff-chat, Striped Pipit Southern and Bald Ibis which breed here in the late winter months. Lanner Falcons (breeding), Peregine Falcon and White-necked Raven also frequent the cliffs. The overhangs are great for Barn Owls to roost. There are currently 5 known breeding pairs of White-backed Night Herons. Goliath and Green-backed Herons are common, both species also breed here. 7 Species of kingfisher can be seen here. Of the aquatic kingfishers, Giant, Pied and Malachite Kingfishers are all common. The Half-collared Kingfishers are best found in the rocky areas where streams flow into the dam. These areas are also good for African Black Duck. African Fish Eagles are easily spotted, Osprey are recorded a few times during summer months and Wire-tailed and White-throated Swallows can be seen here.
From Eshowe head towards Melmoth/Ulundi on the R66. 10km out of Eshowe is a tarred road to your left (Signposted Phobane Lake and Shakaland). Follow this road for 7km and cross the dam wall to find the secure parking area on the northern shore.