3 nights in Kruger Park

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7 years 3 months ago #28151 by nkgray
nkgray created the topic: 3 nights in Kruger Park
Just back from 3 nights in the Kruger, entering at 11am on Monday through Phabeni Gate, working my way north with overnights at Satara, Shingwedzi and Punda Maria, and leaving via Pafuri Gate at 11 am yesterday.

Entering at Phabeni I made a bee-line for the Lake Panic Hide, my favourite hide in Kruger, only to find the car park clogged with well in excess of the maximum 8 vehicles allowed, and definitely no way of getting anywhere near the hide, so with this initial disappointment I carried on towards Satara. At Jones's Dam I was lucky enough to see a Sable, not an everyday sighting in the Kruger, and at Lugmagdam a magnificent male Waterbuck.





It was, however, a very warm day and at this time of day the birds are few and far between anyway, but all the usual suspects were seen - Yellow- and Red-billed Hornbill, Burchell's Starling, Dark-capped Bulbul, Magpie Shrike, Fork-tailed Drongo. I decided to just push on to Satara and leave the birding to Tuesday. A very co-operative Lizard Buzzard near Talamati helped to add to my 2010 photographic list.







Tuesday dawned with a cold front passing through, the temperature plummeting and an at times gale force wind, not usually too conducive to good birding. First birds of the day were the usual early morning road walkers, Crested Francolin and Swainson's and Natal Spurfowl, and a family group, including a juvenile, of Southern Ground Hornbill. A Black-backed Jackal shot across the road approaching the Bangu waterhole, where the bird list was cranked up considerably. There were large mixed flocks foraging on the open ground in front of the waterhole - Namaqua, Laughing and Turtle Doves, Blue Waxbill, Red-billed Firefinch, non-breeding plumage Red-billed Quelea, Sabota Lark and at least one widowbird species. Chinspot Batis, Yellow-fronted Canary and Southern Black Tit were seen in the surrounding bushes.









The low-water bridge at Balule had White-backed and White-headed Vultures, and Cattle Egret wheeling overhead, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, and Blacksmith Lapwing.



At Olifants Camp, the viewpoint was surprisingly empty. Nobody was braving the wind. I had a quick dash out to find that it was like Cape Point out there, hardly able to stay on my feet, though one hardy Greater Blue-eared Starling somehow managed to stay attached to the plant it was feeding on!



At Letaba the area around the cafeteria turned up the always reliable African Mourning Dove, as well as White-bellied Sunbird, Crested Barbet, Dark-capped Bulbul, Grey Go-Away Bird and the not so usual Pied Crow, not a bird I have seen in the Kruger Park too many times.





Wednesday arrived with the weather worse than Tuesday, strong winds, a single digit temperature, and even some squally rain at times. So my hoped for good morning's birding on the Mphongolo Loop from Shingwedzi up to the Babalala picnic site came to nought, though somewhat compensated by views of a magnificent Leopard.



Nothing too special on the birding front, though I continued to add to the trip list with more of the usual suspects - Black Flycatcher, Long-billed Crombec, Tawny Eagle, White-fronted Bee-Eater, African Hoopoe, Burchell's Coucal, Golden-breasted Bunting.







A late afternoon drive around the Mahonie Loop at Punda Maria turned up the highlight of the trip - my 2nd ever and first Kruger sighting of Crowned Eagle. Try as I did manoeuvring the bakkie and doing all sorts of contortions in my seat to get a good shot through the half dozen or so intervening trees, in very poor light and a light drizzle this is the best I could manage - not as good for ID as my 16x50 bino view, but nevertheless one of those sightings that get you back next time!



The weather had improved some for my final morning drive around the Pafuri area, where I added the expected Meve's Starling, the not so expected Crowned Hornbill and one I've not seen for several years, Pale Flycatcher. I had a moment where I thought I might have something very unusual, but when I added a 2x extender to my 300mm lens, I could see that it was in fact just a juvenile Black-heade Oriole. The lack of red bill, black throat and yellow forehead had me going for a while.







All in all a trip somewhat marred by the weather, and I only added 20 to my photographic list for 2010 (now 254 species), but the two crowning successes, Eagle and Hornbill rescued it.

P.S. 24 hours after posting I finally have my database updated and to my surprise find that my trip total was 142 species, which given the weather and time of year is probably not too bad for 3 days :D. I also boosted my Kruger Park total to 358 species.


Neil

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  • gordon
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7 years 3 months ago #28168 by gordon
gordon replied the topic: Re: 3 nights in Kruger Park
Very nice trip and photo's! Love the leopard sighting!!

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  • JGB
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7 years 3 months ago #28183 by JGB
JGB replied the topic: Re: 3 nights in Kruger Park
Some great photos, the leopard in particular is brilliant

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7 years 3 months ago #28187 by arty
arty replied the topic: Re: 3 nights in Kruger Park
great photos as always,i am really excited about the new camera and lens and hope it will bring the quality of my pics to a new level.Am fortunate in that i will spend a week in pafuri in september and am hoping to be ofay with the camera by then.

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7 years 3 months ago #28209 by peter sharland
peter sharland replied the topic: Re: 3 nights in Kruger Park
Great stuff Neil! :mrgreen:

Does the Auto function still work with the extender in place, or do you have to do some fiddling to get the right exposure?

Regards
Peter

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  • nkgray
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7 years 3 months ago #28214 by nkgray
nkgray replied the topic: Re: 3 nights in Kruger Park
Peter,

That is one big plus with this combo. Auto-focus - well auto-everything - still works with the extender attached :D

Neil

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