MONDAY 24 OCTOBER 2011 MOPANE
Because of yesterday’s heat we plan to be up very early, go out for a few hours, then return in the heat of the day. But it is only 20 when we leave and the day is so much more pleasant because of it. We leave at quarter to six and our first birds of the day are Little Swifts then a lovely lilac breasted roller posing beautifully as he so often obligingly does. The elegant long-necked giraffe are up early and of course so are the impala.
Every so often we stop to enjoy bird activity and the little finch-type birds are very active this morning.
We pull into one of the afrits and find a car parked with its occupants staring up into the trees. We pass by and park back to back. I look back and spot a yellow ribbon on the driver’s mirror – I catch the attention of the lady in the back seat and call to her – Hi I’m Puppy – what’s your forum name. “I Love Meerkats” Lovely to meet you and hope the rest of you trip went well.
The bird that we hear calling is a striped pipit. Lucky I Love Meerkats for seeing the orange breasted bush-shrike. We don’t find it at all.
Soon after this we find a hyena – pregnant I suspect – walking along the tar road. We follow slowly behind and she turns to look at us then goes off-road into the yellow grass. We keep her in sight and soon she emerges and eventually crosses the road so we manage to get some photographs. Then she investigates a ditch – decides it is not to her liking and moves back onto the road and continues her hike.
We leave her to her duties and turn down the S142.
We are delighted to see a red-crested korhaan call in flight and then curl up into a ball and drop to the ground. He scurries off into the yellow straw-grass and makes photography a bit difficult. While I am trying to capture him on the left, EEC draws our attention to two double banded sandgrouse on the left and these we manage to digitalise before they step off in the opposite direction.
Later we almost see a Roan Antelope – well we see a back view and nothing in photoshop helps me to get him to turn around!
At Fraser’s rest we find a wide open plane and in the distance a waterhole. We are fascinated to find eland which I’ve never seen in Kruger before. They are skittish and the whole herd come down a slope and head for the waterhole. There are giraffe, zebra and impala too and all these creatures together create a lovely African scene.
After visiting the hides at Pioneer’s Dam and the sleepover dam where very little activity is taking place we returnto Mopane. Earlybird stops at reception to update and check the sightings map – and returns with a look that says iit all. “What did we miss?” I ask. “Lion and rhino,” comes the reply. “But it’s only 7km to the water hole – shall we try or not?” It is only 11 o’clock and we figure that now is the time to go as they will probably disappear by the time we try in the late afternoon. So off we go – and I’m so glad because on the way we get tsebe and a kori bustard.
At the waterhole we find one other car – what a pleasure. There are no rhino but a single lion is dealing with a buffalo carcass and the vultures are lined up and waiting. It is quite a distance from the lookout point but with our binoculars we have a spectacular view all to ourselves because the first car leaves soon after our arrival having seen the three other lions before they left.
So that concluded a special morning. On the way back all the things we’d seen were gone.
We go out again in the late afternoon and enjoy some good birding.
The sparrowlarks comourflage well but we manage to get a photo or two.
A Kittlitz plover blends in too.
Near our cottage we find a paradise flycatcher
The sunsets in Kruger are wonderful and we sit contentedly with drink in hand and just chill.