Misty Mountain Natural Heritage Site

General Information


Sub-regional IBA (C1)




Fully Protected


70 ha



Additional Info

  • Site description

    This IBA lies 15 km south-west of Sabie and consists of gently undulating grassland slopes between 1 400 and 1 740 m a.s.l. Receiving more than 1 000 mm of rain per year, the high-altitude site lies within the extremely wet South African mist-belt. Its vegetation is predominantly grassland, with thickets along the rivers, scrubbier forest on precipitous slopes and mountain thornveld on less steep slopes. Much of the natural vegetation has been replaced by large, dense stands of tall exotic trees, including wattles, eucalypts, pines and jacarandas. Other habitat types include rocky outcrops, kloofs and open cliff faces that form part of the Mpumalanga escarpment.


    This site previously held small numbers of Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea but breeding was last recorded in 2008. Larger birds such as Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius and Denham's Bustard Neotis denhami occasionally visit the area, but the site is too small to sustain them. Grassland species such as Buff-streaked Chat Campicoloides bifasciata can be found in the IBA.

    IBA trigger species

    The key species is the globally threatened Blue Swallow, which has not been recorded in the IBA in recent years. Buff-streaked Chat is the only biome-restricted species.

    Other biodiversity

    Although none of these species is confirmed, the site may hold berg adder Bitis atropos, black-spotted dwarf gecko Lygodactylus nigropuncatus, spotted dwarf gecko L. ocellatus, giant legless skink Acontias plumbeus, montane dwarf burrowing skink Scelotes mirus, Sekukhune flat lizard Platysaurus orientalis, Swazi rock snake Lamprophis swazicus, plaintive rain frog Breviceps verrucosus and the rare, localised and endemic Natal ghost frog Heleophryne natalensis.

    Conservation issues


    It is not clear why Blue Swallows no longer breed at this site and further investigation is needed to determine the reason. The impact of neighbouring plantations, air pollution and climate change could all play a role.

    Conservation action

    The land is privately owned but the owner has set aside this patch of grassland for the conservation of Blue Swallows. The status of this IBA must be re-evaluated during the next IBA assessment.

    Related webpages



    If you have any information about the IBA, such as a new threat that could impact on it, please send an e-mail to iba@birdlife.org.za or call BirdLife South Africa +27 (11) 789 1122.

    Page last updated

    Monday, 09 February 2015

    Further Reading

    Allan DG. 1988b. The Blue Swallow: in with a chance. Quagga 22: 5–7.

    Allan DG, Gamble K, Johnson DN, Parker V, Tarboton WR, Ward DM. 1987. Report on the Blue Swallow in South Africa and Swaziland. Johannesburg: Blue Swallow Working Group, Endangered Wildlife Trust.

    Allan DG, Harrison JA, Navarro RA, Van Wilgen BW, Thompson MW. 1997. The impact of commercial afforestation on bird populations in Mpumalanga province, South Africa: insights from bird atlas data. Biological Conservation 79: 173–185.

    Evans S. 1996. The Blue Swallow: South Africa’s most endangered bird species. Endangered Wildlife 22: 10–13.

    Evans S. 1997. EWT at work: Blue Swallow Working Group. Endangered Wildlife 25.

    Evans S. 1998. Blue Swallow Working Group. Endangered Wildlife 28: 21.

    Huggett R. 1995. Update on the Blue Swallow. Birding in South Africa 47: 117–118.

    Huggett R. 1996. Blue Swallow Working Group. Endangered Wildlife 23: 21.

    Maclean GL. 1993. The Blue Swallow can be managed. Birding in South Africa 45: 108.

    Snell ML. 1963. A study of the Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea. Bokmakierie 15: 5–7.

    Snell ML. 1969. Notes on the breeding of the Blue Swallow. Ostrich 40: 65–74.

Read 12325 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:11