07 January 2009
Kruger National Park
Whenever I go to The Kruger National Park, my whole being is recharged,
my senses are keener and I glow with happiness as I embrace another world, an
Eden, Paradise in Africa. As we entered
Crocodile Bridge Gate at 12:30 this afternoon, I went straight into ‘wild’ mode
and drank in the sounds, sights and smells of my favourite place in the
Within the first 10 minutes of entering the park, vultures flying
overhead alerted us to the possibility of a kill and sure enough more gathered
in a nearby tree and a traffic jam of cars marked the spot where a lioness was
guarding her giraffe carcass.
We didn’t stay at the kill long as it was crowded with other observers
and we felt we’d seen enough.
Today two birds of prey caused great excitement
among us. First, a brown snake eagle,
its yellow eyes and yellow legs – un-feathered, makes it not a true eagle in
spite of its name. We continued to see
this bird quite often during the rest of the trip. Then there was the king of prey birds – the
martial eagle, which we found beautifully perched in a tree
Iconic in the park are the woodland’s kingfisher
and lilac breasted roller – both beautiful birds which we never tire of
seeing. The woodland’s call fills the
air, summoning one to find him and giving one great pleasure when one
does. The lilac-breasted roller is a
show-off and poses conspicuously on branches close enough for wonderful
at Biyamati and checked into cottage 12 at lunch time. The yellow-billed and red-billed hornbills
are quite tame, They have discovered that they can peck insects off the
windowpanes. This is cute but annoying if you want some peace and quiet! Other
birds we saw in the camp garden were cinnamon-breasted bunting, grey-headed
sparrow and go away birds
08 January 2009
Early Morning Start
The first exciting sighting was when Heather
spotted Small Buttonquail scurrying along the edge of the road and into the
long grass. It was a real privilege to
see these birds as they are shy and run for cover as soon as they feel
threatened. Some birds are camouflage
experts and I was almost fooled by one doing an impersonation of a stick. As we
crossed the ford where it was lurking I yelled, “stop’, and made Earl reverse.
The stick turned out to be a beautiful Little Bittern.
Another of the highlights of the day was seeing
elephants with babies rolling and spraying each other in a mud puddle. One of
the youngsters was very cheeky and mock charged us. One of the big bulls also looked quite
aggressive and waved his trunk at us.
We stopped at Afsaal, a rather commercialised
picnic site for lunch and Priscilla showed us where they have a resident Scops
Owl in a cordoned off tree. After
lunch, we made our hot way back to camp but stopped frequently to see birds and
09 January 2009
Biyamati to Berg en Dal
The first exciting spot of the morning was a martial eagle. However, this was topped by the cute little
harlequin buttonquail we spotted running along the side of the road. These birds are difficult to spot as they
disappear into the grass so quickly but we got good views of them and were able
to take some reasonable photographs.
In an open clearing near a water hole, I spotted
something in the grass, which I thought might be a korhaan, but turned out to
be an African Wattled Lapwing. Nearby
were some smaller wattled birds and I said, “Hey it’s got babies.” Much to my
embarrassment Earl pointed out that the babies were actually wattled starlings! In the same area, we watched lesser-striped
swallows, red-breasted swallows, lilac breasted rollers and European
bee-eaters. We had quite a feast of
birds all at once.
The bird and animal abundance died down as the day
grew warmer but we did see squirrels, tortoises, steenbok, kudu, elephants and
impala from time to time.
We arrived at Berg en Dal at about 11 o’clock, and
checked into a comfortable if somewhat dark family cottage. At 4o’clock we went
out again and saw elephants, rhino,
purple indigo bird and black fly-catcher.
On our way home we stopped to look for owls in a tree that I thought
would definitely have one but instead we saw a green pigeon!