Latest from Kruger Park/Ngwenya Lodge

  • nkgray
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10 years 8 months ago #4155 by nkgray
nkgray created the topic: Latest from Kruger Park/Ngwenya Lodge
I returned last Friday from a few days at Ngwenya with my eldest son who is visiting from the UK with his Estonian girlfriend (Estonia apparently has the most diverse bird population in Europe!). We travelled down via Badplaas, the now defunct Msauli asbestos mine, Josefsdal border post (to Swaziland) and the Saddleback Pass to Barberton. We made three day trips into the Kruger Park and returned via Graskop, God's Window, the Three Rondawels, Lydenburg and Dullstroom.

The Barberton mountainland was more memorable for its spectacular scenery than any birds we saw, although at one point between Msauli and Josefsdal a flock of small birds flew across the road right in front of us, flashing the black tails and unmistakeable bright red rump of the Swee Waxbill, a bird I had only seen before several times at the same place just outside Barberton.

Just as in my trip to the Kruger in January I felt that there were many fewer Spotted Flycatchers around compared to previous years, and conversely the numbers of Amur Falcons seem greatly swelled this year. Woolly-necked Storks were also more in evidence than I have seen for many years.

The veld is incredibly dry for the time of year and I witnessed a major fire to the east of the S28 gravel road north of Crocodile Bridge. Massed just ahead of the fire front were hundreds of Barn Swallow, Cape Glossy and Burchell's Starling, Lilac-breasted and European Roller, and Amur Falcon, all picking off the grasshoppers and smaller flying insects trying to escape the fire. The following morning was even more interesting, as the larger raptors had moved in en masse looking for bigger prey that had not escaped the flames. I ticked off Tawny and Wahlberg's Eagles, Black-chested and Brown Snake-Eagles, Bateleur, Hooded, Lappet-faced, White-headed and White-backed Vultures. Indeed there was one circling mass of exclusively White-headed Vultures, more together in one place than I have probably seen in total, singly and in pairs, over years of Kruger visits.

Another highlight was picking up African Mourning Dove at Tshokwane and at Ngwenya Lodge - a species I have only encountered previously and regularly in Letaba and Satara rest camps. I got good views of an adult African Harrier Hawk circling over the car park at Lower Sabie and a pair of Saddle-billed Stork was present around the Sabie River Bridge on three consecutive days. The Nwatimhiri road turned up a group of 5 Shelley's Francolin, a bird that I only encounter in the Park every 2-3 years.

The highlight of the trip back was a pair of Crowned Hornbill swooping low over the main N4 highway just west of Hectorspruit. I have only ever seen this species in the eastern Soutpansberg and at Sobenghu Lodge on Lake St Lucia. It was an unexpected addition to my Mpumalanga list. I also added Cape Bunting to the Mpumalanga list at the Three Rondawel's viewpoint. Another one of those "always nice to see" birds was a Long-crested Eagle, perching, amost inevitably, on a telephone pole near Dullstroom.

Neil Gray

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  • Paul Tyler
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10 years 8 months ago #4170 by Paul Tyler
Paul Tyler replied the topic:
Hi Neil

Estonia holds the European record for the most amount of birds seen in a 24 hour period, 192 species.

Paul

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