Saturday, 8 March 2014

South Africa November 2013: Kruger

I visited South Africa with my girlfriend in November 2013 for three weeks, a spectacular trip with some truly memorable highlights. It wasn't a proper birding trip, but we did spend the majority of the time in 'birdy' places or on safari.Having stayed in the Free State studying southern bald ibis for three months on my gap year, my main aim was to get up into the wildlife-rich north-east of the country, and in particular, go on safari. We flew to Jo'burg, picked up a Nissan Micra (which did admirably well, surviving gravelled and heavily potholed roads, as well as several thousand km on the main artery roads, without a blemish) and headed straight up towards Kruger. Our first night was spent just outside Orpen gate, at Mariepskop View, where I managed to see about forty species in a brief walk around the grounds the next morning. Kruger, needless to say, was absolutely incredible, with dozens of rhino, two cheetah, and a single leopard standing out amongst the mammal highlights, as well as constant bird interest. We spent two nights at Letaba, one at Lower Sabie, one at Skukuza and one at Crocodile Bridge. All had their own merits, with different wildlife seen at and within each camp, but given the chance to repeat the trip, I think we would spend more time around Lower Sabie/Satara and less at Letaba, which is surrounded by miles of Mopane woodland, which can be very quiet for game viewing. Below are some of the ornithological highlights from Kruger:

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African Green Pigeon, Letaba camp

Bearded scrub-robin

Black-bellied Bustard

Black-collared Barbet above our restaurant table in Olifants camp

European Bee-eater

Brown-headed Tchagra

Black Sparrowhawk

Bronze Manninkin

A very wet Brown-headed Parrot, Satara restaurant

Burchell's coucal

Cape Glossy Starling, Lower Sabie restaurant

Crested Barbet, Satara camp

Crested Francolin

Cark-capped Bulbul, Skukuza

Giant Kingfisher

Golden-breasted Bunting

Greater Scimitarbill, Satara restaurant

Grey Hornbill, Satara restaurant


Helmeted Goineafowl

Hooded Vulture

Kori Bustard

Lilac-breasted Roller

Lappet-faced Vulture

Masses of Little Swifts, which can be seen at every high-level bridge in the park

Lesser Masked Weaver, Lower Sabie restaurant

Lesser Striped Swallow

Magpie Shrike

Malachite Kingfisher

Martial Eagle

Orange Breasted Bush-shrike

Open-billed Stork

African Palm Swift, Lower Sabie Restaurant

Red-billed Oxpecker

Red-billed Oxpeckers on Impala

Red-billed Quelea in a pre-roost gathering (there was a line of bushes about half a kilometre long all equally full)

Red-breasted Swallow

Red-crested Korhaan

Red-crested Korhaan

Red-headed Weaver

Scarlet-chested Sunbird

Southern Ground Hornbill

Spotted Dikkop

Square-tailed Nightjar on a nightdrive from Letaba

Swainson's Spurfowl

Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill

Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill

Tawny Eagle

Tawny-flanked Prinia, Skukuza

Violet-backed Starling, Skukuza

Wattled Starling

White-browed Robin Chat, Skukuza

White-browed Scrub Robin

White-bellied Sunbird, Skukuza

White-crowned Helmetshrike

White-crowned Lapwing

White-fronted Bee-eater

White-headed Vulture

Yellow-breasted Apalis, Skukuza

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