Caravelle Cruising in Kruger October 2011 Day 4`

Wednesday 19 October 2011 Shingwedzi

There was a thunderstorm in the night and this morning it is still overcast with the threat of rain.

We leave camp at 6:00 an our first bird of the day is a marabou stork on top of a tree.

At 7:00 we take one of those little afrits that have a view over the river, is beautifully wooded and gives the opportunity to observe all kinds of beautiful birds.  Four ground hornbills strut along the bank .

Ground Hornbill

Then the party begins and the Cape Town physios, chiropractors and myosiopractitioners are going to be very busy when we return with stiff necks, sore backs, displaced hips and sciatica.   But it will be worth it – we watch the green woodhoepoes scurrying up and down the tree trunks and village weavers brighten up the scene with their brilliant yellow feathers. A cardinal woodpecker pecks busily looking for tasty wood-dwelling morsels and an orange-breasted bushrike appears in his splendor but refuses to sit still for a photo shoot.   Klaas’s Cuckoo calls out tantalizingly and finally Earlybird finds him and we get lovely views.   The light is not condusive to good photography but we don’t mind – just seeing the birds is enough for us.

Further along we are delighted to observe two yellow-billed hornbills apparently preparing a hole in a tree for occupation.  They both collect mud from a nearby puddle, fly to the hole and push the mud in.   Presumably, when the female is ready she will go into the hole and seal herself in, lose all her feather and rely on Dad to bring her nourishment till the chicks fledge.

Y.B. Hornbills preparing nest

At 9 o’clock we are watching yellow witogies, a paradise flycatcher, black-headed oriole, red-collared barbet,  and green woodhoepoes when a car pulls up beside us – Its another Sanparks Forum member and we exchange greetings and discuss sightings.

And then we bump into our cousin and her new baby.

The white-fronted bee-eaters are everywhere and so photogenic.

At 10:50 we arrive at Shanoa Look-out. EEC goes to the loo and returns to say they are in a horrible state.  That’s a pity because we’ve never found the long-drops a problem before – they’re always kept clean and serviced regularly.   Hopefully this is a one-off where for some reason things have become briefly out of control.

We get back to Shingwedzi at midday and decide on a few hours rest time.   We have a snack lunch and Earlybird has a nap while H2, EEC and I sit outside and observe the local wildlife.   We make a good list of birds.   Glossy starlings, brubrus, Go Away birds, Yellow-throated petronias (bathing in a puddle), southern black tit, yellow-billed, red-billed and grey hornbills.

Yellow-throated petronia bathing

The Caravelle departs for the afternoon drive at half past three.  Once again we visit an  area near the river which is well-wooded and green and we find lovely birds.  At Kan Nie Dood Hide we see saddle-billed stork, Goliath Heron, greenshank and yellow-billed storks.  Hippos are wallowing and crocodiles look frightening as they lay on the river bank.

We continue our drive and stop to take wonderful photographs of two brown-headed kingfishers.  Imagine our delight when they kiss each other and then mate right in front of us.

Mating Kingfishers

Before arriving at camp we find a terrapin crossing the road.

Ray and Colette  come for drinks and we spend a very pleasant evening with them.   We chat about our two countries (they’re from New Jersey) and we are thrilled that they enjoy South Africa and our national parks enough to return year after year.   Lovely to meet you Ray and Colette!

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