At the top of Inverleith Drive, where Chipping Way melds into Kingfisher Road, one can find Mabukuwene Nature Reserve. This 12 hectare area used to be part of a large farm owned by Thomas Meikle, part of which was left to the National Trust while the rest is still owned by the Meikles Trust.

The area has some very fine indigenous trees, intriguing rock formations amongst some weathered old stone walls, a few Bushmen paintings, other interesting plant specimens and a wealth of bird life. When it’s aloe flowering season, the place is alive with sunbirds and when the various cacti are fruiting, there are all manner of fruit-eating birds pecking away at the ripe, bright pink fruit – Dark-capped Bulbuls, barbets and little Yellow-fronted Tinkerbirds.

Various paths crisscross the area with bird baths along the way, kept clean and full of water which also attract the birds. Yellow-bellied Greenbuls and Terrestrial Bulbuls grumble away in the undergrowth while Groundscraper and Kurrichane Thrushes enjoy dashing around in the cleared spots as African Hoopoes nod along, investigating here and there with their sharp beaks. There are always Chin-spot Batises “three blind micing” close by, Black-headed Orioles adding their melodious voice, Black-backed Puffbacks and Tropical Boubous fossicking about, and the little Brubru also joining in the chorus. During the wet season, European Bee-eaters, along with Little Bee-eaters frequent the place.White-browed and White-throated Robin-chats are very much in evidence along with Red-winged, Greater Blue-eared, Violet-backed and Wattled Starlings. After adventuring along various paths, one can either climb to the top thatched “look out” for a view out over Bulawayo or take a breather at the old kiosk.

A favoured spot, however, is in the small enclosure close to the entrance gate which houses Thomas Meikles grave stone along with other memorial plaques for various members of the Meikle family laid to rest there. It is a delight to sit quietly and watch the Blue Waxbills, House Sparrows, Southern Grey-headed Sparrows, Green-winged Pytilias, Red-billed Firefinches, Yellowed-fronted Canaries and other birds, flocking down to the bird baths, some having a great splashy bath. Glancing up at the rocks behind, you might even catch sight of a dassie having a sunbathe, being yelled at by one of the honeyguides.

Well worth a visit. Contact or any member of Matabeleland Branch committee to check if there are any security concerns.