TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT
Wednesday 20 October Saturday 6 November 2004
Mark & Jean Caulton
We arrived at Johannesburg to find no luggage waiting for three of us. The forms were duly filled in and we went panic shopping for clothes. We squeezed onto the little plane for Phalaborwa and flew over the Kruger and the Drakensberg scarp. Near our destination we saw a huge copper mine, a gigantic hole in the landscape.
Mark and Jean were there to meet us at the tiny airport and we went to claim our baggage and there were the missing bags. For some unknown reason they had checked some bags right through and not others. We were soon also reunited with Barry and Phyl at Lourie Lodge, a delightful guesthouse that they were forced to stay in by going out a day early as our flight was full. It turned out that they had had an excellent day and were already twenty or thirty species ahead of us.
We had a light lunch and were off in the heat of the day. Within minutes we had reached the famed Kruger Park with its scrub savannah, in this area consisting of almost leafless Mopani trees. There on the first corner are our first Impala, the first of well over a hundred of this very common antelope. Soon a fine male Kudu is seen and several Giraffe made us feel that we had really arrived in Africa. A short stop at a rather plush sleepover hide with pull-down bunk beds (must tell the RSPB) gave us our fist Fish-Eagles and Blacksmith Plovers. Two immature Saddle-billed Storks were there too.
As we continued in the heat Bateleurs soared overhead. We had soon seen our first Yellow-billed Hornbills, Violet-breasted Rollers and a fine Red-billed Oxpecker on an Impala. Zebras grazed by the roadside, and suddenly Mark had found our first good bird, superb Kori Bustard that stayed within a few yards of the road for all to see. Further on there was a herd of Buffalo in the shade and then our first Elephant calmly browsing; we were to see about twenty Elephants during the drive. A Red-crested Korhaan also performed well. The sun dropped as we arrived at the thatched and well appointed cabins of Mopani Camp in a wonderful setting by a lake complete with Crocodile and Hippos grunting from the water below.
Mark attracted birds to breakfast on the veranda at 5.00 am, and as it became light we had stunning views of Crested Barbet, Grey Lourie and Yellow billed-Hornbill.
We set off at 5.30 into the park and we got lucky at our first stop by a small pool with a Painted Snipe, an elusive bird at the best of times showing well. We stopped to watch an old male Elephant chewing the bark it had stripped from the bushes and a striking flock of Plum-coloured Starlings. But round the corner and off in the distance on a short grass area was another of the big five, a White Rhino. We drove down a sidetrack to get closer views of this amazing prehistoric looking beast. As we watched, three Tsessebe Antelope cantered into view.
We had just got back to the main road when another antelope came into view. From Marks quiet gasps of astonishment and Jean get here quickly on the walkie-talkies we knew it was something good: a superb Roan Antelope, exceedingly rare in the Kruger, and the first Mark had seen here for twenty years. Just further along was an impressive herd of about two hundred Buffalo steaming in the early morning sunshine.
Next came our first two Ostriches, a pair apparently guarding a nest, followed by a fine flock of Helmeted Guineafowl by the roadside. We were heading for a more open area that Mark thought might have some good mammals, but in fact gave us a splendid male Pallid Harrier. Heading back we soon saw more mammals though: three male Kudu, a fine pair of Reedbuck, as well as a group of Elephant, one with superb tusks that nearly reached the ground.
We stopped at a picnic site with White-fronted Bee-eaters and, from a picnic shelter overlooking a creek Malachite Kingfisher, Water Thick-knee and a superb Grey-headed Bush-Shrike showing well. By this time it was clouding over slightly with a pleasant breeze and we headed back to the camp for tea that was interrupted with views of a pair of Golden-tailed Woodpecker and superb Paradise Flycatchers from the veranda. Mark took us for a walk down to the lakeside where, protected by the camp fence, we could watch Buffalo graze and Hippos wallow.
The camp grounds were also producing some good small birds with Mocking Cliff-Chat and White-throated Robin Chat, two stunning examples. Then a break for lunch when birds appeared on the veranda again with Lesser Masked Weavers perching on our cameras and scopes. The light cloud had increased for our afternoon drive and almost immediately we saw one bird we had missed this morning, a Black Crake in the small roadside pool. Further on European Bee-eaters, somewhat faded from the gaudy birds we see on their breeding grounds, were hawking over the savannah. We drove through thick Mopani scrub without much success but admired the termite mounds that Mark told us could be up to five hundred years old. We stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn for a group photo and then headed back. A pair of black and white Raptors on a tree top were identified as African Hawk Eagles, a superb sight, but shortly afterwards Jean found us a write-in Yellow-billed Oxpecker: there were two adults and a young bird in a tree-top near some Giraffe. Finally a Hammerkop gave good views again in the small roadside pool. We headed back for a sumptuous dinner prepared by Jean on the veranda at which Jamie decided two large puddings would do instead of the usual three!
Another pre-dawn start and a Pouched Mouse was seen scuttling around the veranda before breakfast. It was overcast as we set off with an African-Hawk Eagle, a good start to the day perched on the tree above us. At the picnic site we saw Puffbacks puffing but no sign of owls. Further on two Saddle-billed Storks, adults this time, showed well in a stream near the road. An Elephant let us past and a Giraffe made a fine sight as it browsed close to the road. In a burnt area a Black-headed Heron perched on the roadside while a little further on a Black-bellied Korhaan gave great views.
We stopped at a bridge and could get out of the vehicles to have a look round. Hadeda Ibis and White-fronted Plover were visible. Along the river towards Letaba Camp a purple patch produced Bearded Woodpecker, Brubu Shrike, and Black- collared Barbet in quick succession with a group of morose looking Marabou Storks in the river bed.
A walk round Letaba Camp was very productive for small birds. The river held Jacanas, African Spoonbills and Purple Heron, and we had excellent views of Water Thick-knee in addition. A picnic lunch was enlivened by very close encounters with the Bushbucks that frequented the camp.
After lunch we drove to Olifants, stopping at a freshly killed Buffalo carcass but with no Lions in attendance. At a rocky bluff a raptor being mobbed by a Yellow-billed Kite and a Bateleur turned out to be a juvenile Martial Eagle giving wonderful views. By the Olifants River we saw our first Giant Kingfishers and Yellow-billed Storks. A stop at a high viewpoint gave us fine views of Hippos, Crocodiles, Buffalo and Goliath Heron in the river below, and the best bird here White-crowned Plover. Further on at the Olifants Bridge we saw another White-crowned Plover and no less than six Saddle-billed Storks.
We reached Olifants Camp in its superb setting high above the river valley in mid afternoon, with time for a rest before a late walk around the camp produced Klaass Cuckoo, a Hobby over the river chasing Little Swifts and a Baboon troupe feeding below us. The wonderful evening light made a splendid end to the day.
We awoke to light rain. The roaring sounds everyone heard in the night were definitely Hippos and not, as it was rumoured, Jamie snoring, as he was on the other side of the camp!
Right outside the gate we saw our first Leopard Tortoise on the road. The scrub here was much more open but rain made viewing very difficult. A causeway over a marsh was a good viewpoint with Goliath and Green-backed Herons next to each other for a good contrast in size. We also saw a Black Crake with chicks and a Malachite Kingfisher.
As we drove we seemed to see raptors perched all over the place: a Harrier Hawk, Lappet-faced Vulture, a superb adult Martial Eagle, both adult and young Bateleur, Black-chested Snake Eagle and White-headed Vulture amongst others. A roadside creek gave us point-blank views of Painted Snipe. Mammals were making themselves scarce in the rain but as it cleared we were soon admiring our first Wildebeest together with Zebras, Giraffes, Impalas and Steenbok. We did well for Bustards too with several roadside Korhaans and a superb huge male Kori Bustard strutting his stuff through long grass.
We reached Satara Camp for a mid-morning break sand headed back down the main road. We had heard of some Lions seen earlier here. Sadly they had gone but we did see a Slender Mongoose and a male Ostrich with eleven beautifully patterned chicks. Jean spotted a small bird by the side of the road and we stopped to have great views of Small Button-quail, or Andalusian Hemipode as we know it in Europe. Despite being the third most abundant bird (by weight!) in the park, they are exceedingly hard to see and we were very lucky. The other bus had views of Warthog and Four-banded Sandgrouse, the only one we were to see the whole trip.
We took a short final break at a picnic site with more tame Bushbuck before heading back to Satara for lunch. The camp itself was great for bird feeding outside the chalets and Blue-headed Tree Agamas caused much amazement.
We set off again at 3.30 for the afternoon. The sun had come out and the light was much better for viewing and photography. We saw a Vervet Monkey eating the fallen fruits of a fig while Green Pigeons fed on the fruits overhead. We looked at the muddy water-hole without anything new and headed back along a rough road but it wasnt until we regained the main road that we started seeing things in the evening light, three warthog, a Giraffe with young and a superb Bateleur perched in a roadside tree. We just made it back to the camp before the gates closed at 6.00 and headed to our chalets where Little Swifts were trilling at their nests in the dusk.
After dark we joined Mark and Jean for a splendid barbecue at their chalet and went back to our chalets in the moonlight, stuffed with good food ready for the morrow.
An overcast start as we queued up for the park gate to open at dawn; and a quiet start too with just a few Vervet Monkeys eating figs and an Emerald-spotted Wood Dove in the road. Some galloping Wildebeest enlivened things though as did a couple of Mosque Swallows south of their usual range.
Superb views of Yellow-throated Longclaw were topped when Mark stopped under a shaded gully and pointed upwards. There was a magnificent Verreauxs Eagle-Owl staring back down at us and continuing to preen, a wonderful stroke of luck. A stop at a small lake gave our first wate birds and Hippos of the day with three fine male Kudu and a foraging Baboon not far beyond. There were plenty of Impala this morning and we watched the Red-billed Oxpeckers clinging to their legs with their specialised claws.
At another river crossing we had to wait for a family of Crakes to get off the road before we splashed through the ford. It was getting towards breakfast time. At our pre-ordained picnic site we climbed to a viewpoint while Mark and Jean started cooking on the barbeques; a lovely scent of bacon was soon wafting up to where we were watching Open-billed Storks, baby crocodiles and a fine Mocking Cliff-Chat. A superb cooked breakfast was followed by views of Southern Boubou and our first Yellow-bellied Greenbul.
We then drove a short distance to a hide where a couple pointed out a Night Heron roosting deep in the reeds which turned out to be a White-backed Night Heron, a real rarity here. We also had excellent views of a White-faced Whistling Duck and more Hippos and Open-Bills. We then drove to a water hole with a telltale white mark surrounding it, showing that the water was full of salts - as well as a salt encrusted crocodile. This told us it would be very attractive to wildlife, and indeed it was soon bustling with Wildebeest, Impala and Zebra, all coming for a dose of mineral soup: a superb classic African spectacle.
On the way back we stopped for fine views of Giraffe and Buffalo before returning to camp for lunch. After lunch a few of us had a wander round seeing Brown-headed Parrots and Green Woodhoopoes, but it was a bit hot for birding.
At 5.00 pm we set off on our night drive. The light was excellent as we stopped for views of many of the mammals we had seen before. We were taking the same road as this morning which meant that we were primed and ready as we got to the owl spot. The Verreauxs Eagle Owl was there again, this time showing well at ground level.
It was only a few yards beyond this that we came across Lions in the road. The pride of seven young males walked alongside us for a while, and looked up at us as they strolled alongside the open-sided vehicle almost within touching distance, a thrilling encounter.
By now it was totally dark except for a pale moon and we turned back and put the spotlights on. The first eyes to be picked out in the darkness belonged to a Black-backed Jackal, while next was a Genet half way up a bush. We couldnt see it well enough to tell which kind it was, but the Civet was a different matter. Having spotted it we pulled off the road for a close look at this mongoose-like animal with superb patterning as it tried to hide and then eventually padded away through the long grass. Along the road we saw several Scrub Hares and Mozambique Nightjars, and the guide picked out a Flap-neck Chameleon and Green Tree Snake in nearby bushes. Finally a Marsh Owl showed well on the road near the camp area before we headed back for a late supper and bed.
The day started well with a Giraffe through the fence right outside our chalet. We set off at dawn to drive south, but were soon stopped by a superb group of three Ground Hornbills.
We stopped at various water holes seeing Saddle-billed Storks, some (unusually for the park Cattle Egrets and waders including Kittlitzs Plover. A Baboon troupe spread out across the road and made entertaining viewing, especially the females carrying young.
At our comfort stop Jamie was escorted to the Ladies loo to see Palm Swifts nesting in the roof, and a Tree Frog inside one of the cubicles.
We continued to the Orpen Dam for excellent views across the park and both Open-bill and Woolly-necked Storks. At the next water hole a group of Namaqua Doves showed well, but there was also the grisly sight of a Crocodile eating a freshly killed Impala in the water.
It was getting really hot now, up to 107_F on the minibus thermometer; most animals were taking to the shade including another four superb Ground Hornbills and a Purple-crested Lourie in dense foliage.
There wasnt a cloud in the sky as we headed for lunch at Skakusa where we found shade under a canopy, watched Diederik Cuckoo and Yellowed-breasted Apalis in the trees nearby. But after lunch the cloud was starting to build and we drove to the curiously named Lake Panic. Here we spent a wonderful hour entertained by Goliath Heron, Water Monitor Lizard, Bushbuck, Paradise Flycatchers, Malachite Kingfishers, a Water Thicknee with chicks, Emerald Spotted Wood Dove, a flock of Helmeted Guineafowl flying laboriously into feed and a Crocodile chasing fish in the water below us.
As we left we heard distant rumbles of thunder, and just a few minutes down the road it began to rain. As we drove towards the park gate we ran right into the storm, with torrential rain seemingly enjoyed by the many Impala and Leopard Tortoises on the road. It was great to experience the coming of the rains in such a dramatic fashion. We left the park and were soon climbing into the green forested hills of the highveld, an amazing contrast to the dry thorn-bush of Kruger.
It was raining again when we reached Misty Mountain, but good to experience its refreshing coolness and luxurious rooms after the heat of the Kruger.
The coming of the rains does have its drawbacks: Misty Mountain was living up to its name, but we had rain as well as mist and it was cold. What a contrast to yesterday and only within one hundred kilometres or so. We decided to give it half an hour to clear, but it didnt, so we went birdwatching in the grounds; here were several new species including a variety of sunbirds, and we had a sight of the usually skulking Red-chested Cuckoo. After a good breakfast we decided not to walk up into the mist for Blue Swallows but stayed in the garden a little longer.
We set off in the rain for the long drive south to Wakkerstroom, and were soon heading through the grasslands of the former Transvaal. It was a landscape strangely reminiscent of the Yorkshire Dales at times. There were huge vistas sometimes, reminding us of the scale of the country. Fiscal Shrikes were frequent on the roadside wires and we began to see increasing numbers of Long-tailed Widow-birds, the male trailing their huge unwieldy black tails in flight. A message suddenly came through Marks mini-bus up ahead to pull off the road where they were watching thirteen Southern Bald Ibises. We gratefully watched these strange looking birds through our telescopes also seeing the Greater Striped Swallows on the fence besides us.
As we headed on we saw the odd Blesbok in the fields alongside the cows and the sheep. It was still cloudy and the wind was making it very cold as we stopped for lunch in Ermelo. As we continued south we saw a few new roadside birds, but the best was just before Volksrust where both mini-buses spotted the Secretary Bird at the same time; a great sighting of this peculiar raptor, and one that we had missed in the Kruger (to Jamies consternation as he had chosen it as the illustration for both the brochure and the check list!).
It was still cold when we arrived at our cottages in Wakkerstroom overlooking a huge reedbed and close to the wetlands. We are hoping for better weather tomorrow.
P.S. Just after this was written it started to thunder and bucket down with rain, so Jamies washing got another good rinse on the line. Then the power cut out, but we still had an excellent supper in the dark at a newly opened restaurant in town, all by candlelight.
It was a lovely clear morning as we emerged to the raucous calls of Hadeda Ibises. As we assembled in the mini-bus a Red-throated Wryneck sang from wires right outside one of the cottages. We said hello to our local guides David and Lucky and set off for the highveld grasslands.
Just outside the village a Meerkat stuck its head up from a mound. Further on a similar-looking animal also watched from a mound; this time it was a Yellow Mongoose. We stopped to admire Orange-throated Longclaws and then turned off down a side road with a vast panorama of grassland and flat topped hills before us. It was somewhere in this huge area that David and Lucky were to try and locate two rare larks for us, but at the pre-ordained stop it was a larger species that immediately caught our attention: a flock of fourteen fabulous Blue Cranes flying past. Later another flock of eleven settled on the ground so we could admire their elegant plumes through our scopes.
David and Lucky had soon found us the first crucial lark, Bothas Lark, near to the road but the second one, Rudds Lark, was a bit harder. It took a hundred yards walk from the road to find this critically endangered stripy bird. We saw four distant and then four much closer Blue Korhaans and while watching these noticed a line of six Meerkats looking back from a fence line. More Meerkats and Yellow Mongooses were seen on the way back: an excellent pre-breakfast run.
After breakfast we drove just down the road to a bridge over the main wetland. It was teeming with Red-knobbed Coots, Yellow-billed Duck and African Spoonbill, with Sacred Ibises dotted about and a few African Snipe probing the shallows. Mark beckoned us across the road to see a superb young Spotted Eagle Owl in a willow tree and its fluffier sibling on a lower branch. Further scanning produced Intermediate Egret and brief views of African Reed Warbler.
We then headed back to the edge of the village where Jean had found two splendid Grey Crowned Cranes patrolling a marshy field, together with a Black-headed Heron. We continued around the far side of the marsh where we saw Wattled Lapwings and White-throated Swallows before heading to the Bird Life Centre. Here a walk to the hide produced views of Levaillants Cisticola and African Marsh Harrier before we headed back to the cottages for a relaxed lunch.
We set out again in sunshine in the afternoon getting good views of both Cliff Swallow and Banded Martin along the roadside and a Bokmakierie high in a bush. Both mini-buses simultaneously found superb male Sentinel Rock-Thrushes, a high altitude bird, in a short grass pasture, while further on nine Southern Bald Ibises were feeding giving much closer views than yesterday.
We headed down to the Slang River Bridge where Rock Hyraxes bounded about on the boulders on the cliffs. We were hoping for more highland specialities here and were not disappointed. Buff-streaked Chat and Mountain Wheatear were soon to be seen and Mark called us across the bridge to see a wonderful family of five Ground Woodpeckers giving excellent views. We also found Drakensberg Prinia but were more spellbound watching Rosemary indulging in some white-knuckle botany, picking a way along a steep slope to see a spectacular Scadoxus puniceus, a blood lily. A female Malachite Sunbird also visited the flowers, but we caught up with the superb brilliant green male on a roadside fence later, along with a spectacular male Pin-tailed Wydah. It had been a superb afternoons birding.
Another lovely clear morning with dew on the lawn as we set out after breakfast to walk to the wetland hide.
We could hear four Southern Crowned Cranes calling and saw them across the marsh from the bungalows. Over the road swifts were circling including at least a few Horus Swifts with over a hundred White-rumped Swifts wheeling round by the bridge where we admired the mud nests. From the hide we saw the usual array of birds and then picked out three Marsh Sandpipers and two South African Shelduck, both new for the trip. Also new on the way back is a Cape Reed Warbler cheeping from a reed.
We then drove down the clear roads off the highveld into Zululand, with its densely packed small villages, and were soon into the sugarcane plantations of KwaZulu Natal. At one point the road ran along the Swaziland border and Mark told us tales of the King of Swaziland.
We had the air-conditioning on by now, and as we reached Mkuze at lunch time it was baking hot, in complete contrast to this morning. We drove slowly through the park after lunch but saw little till we reached the camp where numerous Baboons and Nyala Antelope greeted us from around the cottages: this time we were in an unfenced camp.
After a long and hot siesta we set off for an evening drive at 4.30 with the mini-bus thermometer reaching a record for this trip, 113_F. We soon saw our first White Rhino, a rather somnolent individual. Nyala were seen amongst the many Impala en route while new birds included Pale Flycatcher, Little Bee-eater, a Square-tailed Drongo and Crested Guineafowl. Four superb and much more active White Rhino made a superb end to the drive. As darkness fell Impala crowded the campsite around the cottages. Cliff, who was in one of the safari tents on the other side of the camp, was told by Jean not to worry about Baboons as he was walking back
as the Leopards tend to keep them away at night. Cliff was also told to listen out for Leopards coughing in the night outside his tent. I hope he got plenty of sleep that night. After supper a strong wind suddenly blew up and lightning played about the distant hills.
The wind has rattled our doors and windows all night and it is much cooler this morning. We go for a walk around the extensive campsite grounds seeing Golden-breasted Bunting, Lead-coloured Flycatcher and a fine Red-fronted Tinkerbird. Here are also both Red and Grey Duikers and Scarlet-chested Sunbird.
After breakfast the drive starts brilliantly with a immature African Baza giving superb close-range views, and just beyond four active White Rhino. We drive through an area of Fever Trees and note Leopard claw marks. Crested Guineafowl give good views further on and we reach the Nsumo Pan with hundreds of marsh terns (White-winged in winter plumage and Whiskered in breeding plumage) dipping over the windswept water. At the sheltered car park we see Rudds Apalis before heading down to the waters edge. Here it is much too windy to do more than appreciate that there are lots of birds here. We try the hide but it isnt any more sheltered. We do get close views of Marsh and Curlew Sandpipers though. The mini-bus is the best place to watch from with good views of the terns.
We drive back through sand forest scrub getting excellent views of Red and Grey Duikers and noting huge Red-winged Grasshoppers flying across the road. We (in Marks mini-bus) were just admiring a Leopard Tortoise when we heard Jean frantically hooting at us in the mini-bus behind. Mark then remembered to turn on his walkie-talkie and we were told to follow me!!! for a Leopard. We raced back to the spot and -what luck - the Leopard was still there under a bush about ten metres from the road. It was breathtaking to watch this superbly-patterned predator peering back through the branches at us, calmly licking its paws. It remained for about ten minutes before strolling away into the thicket. Cliff had spotted the Leopard, if thats the right term, just two metres from the road and we apparently had just driven past it. Anyway, we all now had the big five under the belt.
We then headed for the Kumasinga hide built out over a waterhole. It was mid morning and the waterhole was packed out with thirsty wildlife. The dozens of Impala, Wildebeest and Nyala and small numbers of Zebra and Warthog made a superb spectacle coming to drink at the waters edge just a few yards from our clicking cameras. The wildlife wasnt just outside the hide though; a number of Sundervalls Leaf-nosed Bats (identified later!) were hanging from the roof beams. Other wildlife in the pool included Pale-hinged Terrapins and Foam-nest Frogs, while birds included Purple-throated Lourie and Tambourine Dove.
The afternoon drive was quieter, but we did see a fabulous Gorgeous Bush-Shrike flying and perching above in the Acacias and our first Scimitarbills, while one mini-bus (the one with Cliff in it needless to say) saw a Hyena.
A clear and calm start to the day with Willow Warblers singing around the camp to give it a strangely English-summer feel.
We drove down to Nsumo Pan again with little en route except more Crested Guineafowl. The pan was very different from yesterday in calm conditions. The terns had almost all gone but we could now watch the myriads of waders and waterfowl in ideal conditions. We had excellent views of Pink-backed Pelicans and a group of Great White Pelicans co-operatively fishing. Forest Weaver overhead was new and we had great views of Golden-tailed Woodpecker. On the way back we had good views of two White Rhino in the sun, but this was nothing compared with what was to come.
Back at the Kumasinga waterhole we immediately were confronted with a White Rhino about fifty metres away from the waters edge. As we watched the throng of Impala and Nyala the rhino eventually plucked up the courage to come and drink at the waterhole. Suddenly this huge beast was less than ten metres from us. We watched spellbound and reels of film and megabytes of memory were used up. It was there for about fifteen minutes before it calmly walked away.
Zebra were followed by Wildebeest, and it then it was the turn of the primates. Baboons and Green Vervet Monkeys approached, the Baboons settling and giving us a thoroughly entertaining half -hour of watching their antics and social behaviour. A Purple-crested Lourie almost went unnoticed beside the hide with all the mammal activity.
We returned to the camp for lunch before setting off for the coast, breaking our journey at Ilala Weavers, a co-operative Zulu venture, to buy souvenirs. Jamie was persuaded by Mark and Jean (honestly) not to post his enormous Zulu basket but to put it in the back of the mini-bus where it took up an embarrassing proportion of back shelf.
We arrived at the pleasant seaside resort of St. Lucia in the late afternoon with a cool sea breeze wafting through the palms of our hotel before going to a fresh fish restaurant (with English beer) across the road.
A cool clear and sunny start with little wind. We drove just down the road to an area of primary forest seeing a Striped Mongoose sharply exiting from a rubbish bag and a Red Sun Squirrel in a roadside tree.
The birdwatching was hard and we needed tapes to attract many of the canopy birds, but had views of some of the coal specialities, including Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird and Livingstones Turaco. The shoreline was easier with Yellow Weaver in the reeds and a Black Saw-winged Swallow over the forest.
After breakfast we drove north into the park seeing Ashy Flycatcher at the gates. Further on an African Crowned Eagle flew over the recently-felled eucalyptus plantations while we watched a Dung Beetle struggling to roll his dung ball across the road. This park has recently been declared a World Heritage Site to protect the dune forest from mining, but they are also turning the forest plantations into savannah and re-introducing several large mammals, including two White Rhino that we soon saw. Mark thought that the Dung Beetles had increased a lot since the Rhinos came, and indeed we saw a heap of Rhino dung crawling with beetles a bit further on.
We walked up to a viewpoint with a Red Duiker showing well in the car park. The view over the grassland savannah and estuary was superb and we could see plenty of large mammals, including more Rhino, as well as the beginnings of a bush fire. Some interesting flora included yellow orchids along the road.
We then headed for a rocky beach where Cliff spotted a pod of ten to twenty Bottled-nosed Dolphins offshore, and some anglers showed us a Green Turtle, an unusual sight here offshore in the surf. We continued onto Cape Vidal where over a dozen Banded Mongoose scurried across the car park as we arrived,and the Samango Monkeys, the local speciality, also greeted us. A walk across a windy beach with much sand blowing wasnt very productive, with just Sanderling, White-fronted Plover and two terns settled on the beach that we identified eventually as Arctic Terns. But it did give Godfrey a chance to fulfil his ambition to paddle in the Indian Ocean.
We were again joined by the monkeys for lunch but the Samangos soon pushed off to be replaced by Vervet Monkeys all itching to steal our food. Mark watched the barbecuing sausages very carefully while Jean prepared and guarded the salad and fruit. She had only turned her back for what must have been five seconds when, in an impressively planned and swiftly executed manoeuvre, a Vervet Monkey swung down from the trees, grabbed a green apple from the back of the mini-bus, and was back up into the trees before you could blink.
On the way back it was evident that the bush fire was well out of control with a huge mass of grey smoke rising like a storm cloud over us. It was thick and extensive enough to turn the sun red and cast an eerie light over the trees and grassland. We stopped to watch two Rhino with a calf, with the flames and smoke visible in the distance behind them.
Back at St. Lucia we headed for the estuary, but apart from some huge Crocodiles and a few Hippos saw little new.
A cool clear start to a hot day and there were a few birds in the hotel garden first thing, including Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Red-crowned Robin-chat and a familiar European Starling.
We headed down to the estuary and soon caught up with Crested and Caspian Terns that we had missed yesterday, and also second looks at Livingstones Turaco and Black Saw-wing as well as a mass of Yellow-billed Storks and White-faced Ducks.
We set off at 8.00am, soon seeing a fabulous Long-crested Hawk- Eagle in the roadside eucalypts and a Palm-nut Vulture en route.
We stopped for lunch in Pietermaritzburg, in the headquarters of the KZN Wildlife Conservation, a park with plenty of shade. Here we saw Chorister Robinchat and Dusky Flycatcher amongst others. After that we continued inland soon turning off onto the Drakensberg road and climbing up amongst the Zulu hill villages. The scenery became increasingly spectacular around the Umkomaas Valley with the jagged silhouette of the Drakensberg Mountains in the distance.
We arrived at Briar Lea, our farmhouse accommodation set amid superb surroundings of rolling green pastures with the mountains as a backdrop in mid afternoon. After tea we went for a local walk seeing a Cape Batis, Rameron Pigeon and a couple of Mountain Reedbuck. There were Quail calling from the fields and we saw a couple in flight. Gathering thunderclouds brought lots of swifts low over the fields behind the farm with many Alpine Swifts outnumbering African Black Swifts.
We went to a superb restaurant in Heimville for supper, returning to starry skies full of promise of good weather for the ascent of the Sani Pass tomorrow.
Hazy and calm at dawn promising a good day up the Pass. Jane wanted to be well prepared for the trip and asked Jean to find out the Lesotho word for W.C. The Lesotho cook was summoned and told Jean that the magic word was Lava Tree.
We headed down to Charley Majors, the four-wheel drive company in Heimville, to meet our drivers and compact but comfy four-wheel drive vehicles. Grant was to take the birders with Mark while Matty, who had lived most of his life in Lesotho and could converse fluently in the local language, took the botanical and cultural group.
We headed up to Sani Pass together rattling along to the South African checkpoint quickly, then stopping en route for superlative views in the sunshine, with the majestic crags rising above us. Mark told us that J.R.R. Tolkein had spent the early part of his life just down the road in Heimville, and it was thought that these mountains may well have formed the inspiration for Lord of the Rings.
There were many flowers about and we saw our first Gurneys Sugarbirds in the Protea belt. Half way up we stopped amidst countless orange and pink spikes of Watsonia gladioli with bright Green Malachite Sunbirds feeding amongst them: a wonderful sight.
We bumped our way up the final section and reached the summit with fantastic views into the vast open spaces of Lesotho as we showed our passports at the border checkpoint. At the Sani Top Pub, Cape Sparrows and Drakensberg Siskins fed outside. Orange-breasted Rockjumpers performed on rocks and a Lammergeier flew along the distant hill crest.
The two vehicles split up at this point and continued on the Lesotho Plateau stopping for various bird specialities, including Mountain Pipit, a species only recognised as recently as l994. The other group went to visit a sheep-shearing shed and to look inside of the many round, thatched shepherds huts that dotted the moorland-like hillsides. At our highest point, over ten thousand feet, we succeeded in seeing Fairy Flycatcher and Layards Tit-Babbler amongst others.
Thunder clouds were starting to build with the first few drops of rain and lightning over the nearby peaks. We decided to head for lunch at the pub where many of us indulged in a gluwein, after time spent watching Jackal Buzzards, Drakensberg Crag Lizards and the famous Sloggets Ice-Rat by the pub.
We started our descent as the rain cleared away. On the way down we saw Ground Woodpeckers, two Rheboks, the antelope that gave its name to the footwear, and various other birds. While in the valley we stopped at a lake for Southern Pochard and Cape Shovelers. We got back tired from our day at altitude and somewhat shaken by the rough road, but very well satisfied with our visit to Lesotho and stupendous scenery at the Sani Pass.
A fine and sunny start with lots of haze which promised a hot day. Quail called from the fields below and a gigantic black and red pyrgomorphid grasshopper was found in the garden.
We set off to look at the local wetlands at 8.00 am after breakfast. Many Clouded Yellow butterflies were on the wing over the green fields and grassy verges. We stopped for a look at some fields, getting distant views of a pair of Blue Cranes with two chicks. At one of the roadside dams or small lakes we found masses of birds including our first White-backed Ducks and a small colony of nesting African Spoonbills and Great White Egrets. One of the Spoonbill nests had a colony of Cape Weavers nests hanging below it. Little Grebe trilled from the lake, perhaps to remind us we going home tomorrow. At the next dam a few Whiskered Tern in breeding plumage gave good views.
We headed for Underberg where we visited an excellent bookshop and stopped for coffee as it was getting too hot for birding before heading back to the farmhouse at Briar Lea. Here thunder clouds were building and we watched raptors soaring away from the gathering storms. Then it was time to head to Scottburgh on the coast.
We stopped for a few Southern Crowned Cranes, and at a small church above a rocky gorge, where we saw soaring Harrier-hawks and Jackal Buzzard., with Vervet Monkeys on the cliff face.
We arrived at our guesthouse in a humid Scottburgh, overlooking the Indian Ocean, shortly after 4, for a rest and some repacking for the flight tomorrow.
In the evening we held elections for the Bird, Mammal, and Moment of the trip. Winner of Bird of the Trip was Long-tailed Widowbirds, with other votes for Ground Hornbill, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, malachite Kingfisher, Green Woodhoopoe, Pink-backed pelican, Southern Crowned Crane, Verreauxs Eagle Owl and Hadeda Ibis. Mammal of the Trip was a tie between leopard and White Rhino, with other votes for Elephant, Civet, Warthog, Hyena and Giraffe. For Moment of the Trip, the water hole at Mkuze swept the board, but other votes included seeing a young girl with a teddy in Lesotho!
It was a humid, overcast day as we awoke once again to the calls of Hadedas in the garden.
After breakfast on the verandah we set off for Vernon Crookes Reserve, a small area of forest and grassland reclaimed from the sugar cane plantations. There were some introduced mammals here, but the birds were of probably greater interest, with Martial Eagle perhaps the best of the first stop. The flowers were also impressive amongst the grassland, as were the giant earthworm casts.
A walk along a forested valley produced our final hornbill of the trip - Crowned Hornbill - while back on the grassland we had our best views of Quail, as one ran from the roadside right next to the vehicle.
Soon it was time to go back to Scottburgh for lunch, and then the drive to Durban airport where we said our goodbyes and thanks to Mark and Jean.
Ostrich Struthio camelus A total of six adults seen in Kruger included a male with a dozen chicks.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Noted on small wetlands throughout. Max 20+ Drakensberg.
African Darter Anhinga rufa A few on wetlands throughout.
White-breasted Cormorant Phalacrocorax lucidus Singles in Kruger and Drakensberg, with two at Wakkerstroom.
Reed (Long-tailed) Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus Seen most days throughout, max 20+ per day in Kruger.
(Great) White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus Up to 6 per day St. Lucia and Mkuze.
Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens Up to 6 per day St. Lucia and Mkuze.
HERONS & BITTERNS Ardeidae
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Up to 10 per day noted daily.
Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala Mainly seen in drier areas. Up to 4 per day noted Kruger, Wakkerstroom, Drakensberg.
Goliath Heron Ardea goliath Up to two per day Kruger, Mkuze and St. Lucia.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis A few inside Kruger; many with cattle during the rest of the tour.
Great White Egret Egretta alba Noted six days; over 10/day in Kruger and Drakensberg.
Yellow-billed (Intermediate) Egret Egretta intermedia Only positively identified at Wakkerstroom and Drakensberg.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta Noted Olifants River (Kruger) and Nsumo Pan (Mkuze).
Green-backed (Striated) Heron Butorides striatus Up to five per day in Kruger.
White-backed Night-Heron Gorsachius leuconotus One from a hide in S. Kruger was an excellent local rarity.
Hamerkop Scopus umbretta Up to 4 per day in Kruger.
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber Sixty seen distantly on a highveld lake en route to Wakkerstroom.
Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis Up to 75/day in Kruger, and 60/day at St. Lucia and Mkuze.
African Openbill Stork Anastomus lamelligerus Up to 12/day in S. Kruger, and a few Mkuze.
Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus Two singles in Kruger, with six seen Mkuze/St. Lucia
Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis An excellent series of sightings, with two immatures and ten adults Kruger (mainly Olifants river), and a single St. Lucia.
Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus Up to 20/day Kruger
IBISES & SPOONBILLS Threskiornithidae
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus Seen 8 days. All outside Kruger, max 10+ St. Lucia.
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus Seen on three days in highveld. Max 13 en route to Wakkerstroom.
Hadeda Ibis Bostrychia hagedash The wonderfully evocative calls of these characterful and widespread birds was a memorable feature of the trip. Noted just two days within Kruger, then daily.
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus Up to 5 day in Wakkerstroom.
African Spoonbill Platalea alba Noted six days, with max 10 Nsumo Pan.
White-faced Whistling-duck Dendrocygna viduata Noted seven days. Max 135 at St. Lucia.
White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus Nine in Drakensberg dams.
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus Common. Noted daily.
South African Shelduck Tadorna cana Just one pair seen at Wakkerstroom.
Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis Up to 10 noted most days outside Kruger.
Comb (Knob-billed) Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos Just three at waterhole in S. Kruger.
Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata Up to 50/day noted in the highveld and St. Lucia.
Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhynchos Noted in Kruger (max 20/day) and Wakkerstroom and St. Lucia.
Hottentot Teal Anas hottentota Single in Kruger. Mainly Wakkerstroom and St. Lucia (max 5/day)
Cape Shoveler Anas smithii Three on Drakensberg dam.
Southern Pochard Netta erythrophthalma Up to 10/day noted on Drakensberg dams.
African Cuckoo-hawk (Baza) Aviceda cuculoides An immature seen in Mkuze, 30th.
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus Up to 20/day seen daily in Kruger and highveld
Yellow-billed Kite Milvus parasiticus Seen almost daily, max 20+ on driving days through Zululand.
African Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer Up to 6/day seen Kruger and Mkuze.
Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus One seen well, perched in Kruger, 24th.
White-headed Vulture Trindonoceps occipitalis One seen next to the previous species, Kruger.
Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus Four records, Kruger.
Cape (Griffon) Vulture Gyps coprotheres Single in Kruger. 9 records in Drakensberg.
African White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus Three in Kruger. Up to 8/day in Mkuze.
Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus One distantly in Drakensberg, top of Sani Pass
Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis Single en route north of Durban, 2nd.
Brown Snake-Eagle Circaetus cinerius Singles in Kruger and Mkuze.
Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus Up to 20/day in Kruger. Three records in Mkuze.
Gabar Goshawk Meliterax gabar Pairs seen twice in Kruger
African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene) Polyboroides radiatus Singles in Kruger and the highveld, with two en route to the coast, 4th.
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus Males seen on two days in the Kruger.
African Marsh Harrier Circus ranivorus Up to 3/day in Wakkerstroom.
African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro One in the forest, St. Lucia, 1st.
Black Sparrowhawk (Goshawk) Accipiter melanoleucus Single in Kruger, 26th.
Steppe Buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus Up to five per day from the highveld southwards
Jackal Buzzard Buteo rufofuscus Up to six per day in St. Lucia and Drakensberg.
Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax Single identified in Kruger.
Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis Single identified in Kruger, but several eagles of either this or the previous species seen.
Wahlberg's Eagle Aquila wahlbergi Up to three per day in Kruger, with a single on a nest seen in Mkuze.
African Hawk-Eagle Hieraeetus spilogaster Noted two days in Kruger superb views of three birds perched on 22nd.
Martial Eagle Poliomaetus bellicosus Singles seen two days in Kruger an immature and adult giving good perched views. One flying distantly at Vernon Crookes, 5th.
Long-crested (Hawk-)Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis Four records in the coastal eucalypt forests.
African Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus One seen in St. Lucia wetland park, 1st.
SECRETARY BIRD Sagittariidae
Secretary Bird Sagittarius serpentarius One in the highveld, 27th.
Rock Kestrel Falco rupicolis Two at the top of the Sani Pass, 3rd.
(Eurasian) Hobby Falco subbuteo One over Olifants River from the camp, 23rd.
Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus One en route to coast, 4th; two at Vernon Crookes, 5th.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus One in the highveld on a pylon, 27th.
PHEASANTS & Partridges Phasianidae
Natal Francolin Francolinus natelensis Common in Kruger; noted especially around the camps.
Swainson's Spurfowl Francolinus swainsonii Common in Kruger, and seen daily there, the highveld and Mkuze.
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix Two records in Kruger. Several calling from Drakensberg farms. Seen in flight there, and superb views on the ground at Vernon Crookes.
Crested Francolin Francolinus sephaena Noted most days in Kruger and Mkuze.
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris Up to 20/day Kruger, with over 100/day in the highveld. A few in Drakensberg.
Crested Guineafowl Guttera edouardi Up to 8/day in Mkuze.
Small (Common) Button-quail Turnix sylvatica Better-known in the European guides as Andalucian Hemipode, one gave superb views on the ground in Kruger, 24th.
Blue Crane Grus paradisea Two flocks in the highveld on 28th, with a pair plus two chicks in Drakensberg.
Grey (Southern) Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum Up to 10/day round Wakkerstroom, with a few in Drakensberg lowlands.
RAILS & COOTS Rallidae
Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostris A few seen daily in Kruger, with one record from highveld.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Noted Kruger, Wakkerstroom and Drakensberg.
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata Hundreds at both Wakkerstroom and Drakensberg lowland.
Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori Three records in Kruger included a superb male.
Red-crested Korhaan Eupodotis ruficrista Up to 10/daily in Kruger.
Blue Korhaan Eupodotis caerulescens Eight seen in highveld.
Black-bellied Bustard (Korhaan) Eupodotis melanogaster One or two noted most days Kruger and Mkuze with splendid views of a displaying male at dusk at Mkuze.
African Jacana Actophilornis africanus Seen in several Kruger wetlands and Nsumo Pan.
(Greater) Painted-Snipe Rostratula benghalensis One or two seen well on four days in Kruger.
AVOCETS AND STILTS Recurvirostridae
Black-winged (Pied) Stilt Himantopus himantopus C10 in Kruger, with most at Nsumo Pan, where C20.
(Pied) Avocet Recurvirostra avocetta C20 seen per day at Nsumo Pan and St. Lucia.
Water Thick-knee (Dikkop) Burhinus vermiculatus Noted, daily in Kruger, max 10 on 26th included 2 chicks at Lake Panic.
White-crowned Lapwing (Plover) Vanellus albiceps Two at Letaba Bridge, Kruger on 23rd.
Crowned Lapwing (Plover) Vanellus coronatus A few in Kruger were followed by 4 at Wakkerstroom.
African (Senegal) Wattled Lapwing (Plover) Vanellus senegallus Eight records at Wakkerstroom.
Blacksmith Lapwing (Plover) Vanellus armatus Widespread; noted nearly every day of the trip.
Grey (Black-bellied) Plover Pluvialis squatarola Up to 20/day at Nsumo Pan and St. Lucia.
Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius Two by waterhole in the southern Kruger, 26th.
Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris Noted daily in Kruger (up to 10/day), with records at Mkuze and St. Lucia
White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus Single Letaba Bridge, Kruger. Seven at St Lucia.
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis Three at Wakkerstroom, then up to 20/dat at Nsumo Pan and St. Lucia.
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia Up to 5/day. Noted Kruger, Mkuze and St. Lucia.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola Widespread. Up to 20/day noted on most wetlands.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos Up to 10/day; noted Kruger, Mkuze and St. Lucia.
African (Ethiopian) Snipe Gallinago nigripennis C20 in Wakkerstroom wetlands; 20 at St. Lucia.
Sanderling Calidris alba 20 at St. Lucia.
Little Stint Calidris minuta Four records in Kruger; many (hundreds) at Nsumo Pan.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea Hundreds (min 400) Nsumo Pan and St. Lucia.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax Noted Kruger, Wakkerstroom and Nsumo Pan, where max 50+/day.
Kelp (Dominican) Gull Larus dominicanus One at St. Lucia, 2nd.
Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus One at St. Lucia, 1st.
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus Hundreds at Nsumo Pan (min 200) on 30th. Five over Drakensberg dams. Mostly in breeding plumage.
White-winged (Black) Tern Chlidonias leucoptera Over 100 at Nsumo Pan on 30th, with 6 there the next day. All in winter plumage.
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia One at St. Lucia, 2nd.
Swift (Crested) Tern Sterna bergii Eight at St. Lucia, 2nd.
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea Two on the beach at St. Lucia, 1st.
Double-banded Sandgrouse Pterocles bicinctus Five seen in Kruger, 24th.
PIGEONS & DOVES Columbidae
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia Noted at Durban airport.
Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea Noted at Wakkerstroom with max 30/day in Drakensberg.
African Olive (Rameron) Pigeon Columba arquatrix A few seen flying over the farmhouse, Drakensberg.
African Mourning Dove Streptopelia decipiens Noted daily in Kruger.
Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata Noted most days of the trip.
Cape Turtle (Ring-necked) Dove Streptopelia capicola Noted most days, its drink lager call a characteristic sound of the trip.
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis Noted most days.
Emerald-spotted Wood (Green-spotted) Dove Turtur chalcospilos Five seen in Kruger; up to 20/day Mkuze.
Tambourine Dove Turtur tympanistria Up to 8/day in Mkuze.
Namaqua Dove Oena capensis Singles on two days Mkuze; 15 at a water hole, southern Kruger.
African Green Pigeon Treron calva Up to 4/day in southern Kruger; two in Mkuze
Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus Up to 3/day in Kruger. Best views at Satara Camp.
Grey Go-away Bird (Lourie) Corythaixoides concolor c10/ day in Kruger.
Purple-crested Turaco (Lourie) Musophaga porphyreolopha Two in southern Kruger; up to 5/day in Mkuze.
Livingstone's Turaco (Lourie) Tauraco livingstonii Up to 4/day at St. Lucia.
OLD WORLD Cuckoos Cuculidae
Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius More often heard than seen, but good views on several occasions. All records outside Kruger.
Black Cuckoo Cuculus clamosus One in southern Kruger, 2nd.
Klaas's Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas A male seen well at Olifants Camp.
Diderick (Diederik) Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius One at Skukuza, 26th.
Burchell's Coucal Centropus burchelli Up to 10/day in Kruger, with singles Mkuze and Vernon Crookes.
TYPICAL OWLS Strigidae
African Scops Owl Otus senegalensis Heard at Satara Camp.
Spotted Eagle-owl Bubo africanus Two juvs at Wakkerstroom.
Verreaux's (Milky/Giant) Eagle-owl Bubo lacteus Superb views of a sub adult near Satara Camp both in the morning and on the night drive, 25th.
Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium perlatum Three sightings in the Kruger.
(African) Marsh Owl Asio capensis One seen on the night drive, 25th.
Square-tailed (Mozambique) Nightjar Caprimulgus fossii Noted three days in Kruger, with 8 seen on the night-drive. One in Mkuze camp.
Alpine Swift Apus melba Single in highveld, 27th; 50-100 seen each day in Drakensberg.
African Black Swift Apus barbatus Up to 20/day in Drakensberg.
Little Swift Apus affinis Common, noted daily. Nesting on our chalets at Satara camp.
White-rumped Swift Apus caffer Noted two days in Kruger. Max 100 nesting under road bridge, Wakkerstroom.
African Palm-swift Cypsiurus parvus Noted in Kruger and St. Lucia.
Horus Swift Apus horus Seen Wakkerstroom and Mkuze.
Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus Widespread noted most days.
Red-faced Mousebird Colius indicus Up to 20/day Kruger and Mkuze.
GIANT KINGFISHERS Cerylidae
Giant Kingfisher Ceryle maxima Four sightings in Kruger and one in the Sani Pass.
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis Noted daily in Kruger, with a few Mkuze and one Drakensberg.
Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata Up to 4 seen daily in Kruger. One a St. Lucia and one at Drakensberg dams.
Brown-hooded Kingfisher Halcyon albiventris Up to4/day noted Kruger, Mkuze and St. Lucia.
Striped Kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti One at Mkuze, 29th.
White-fronted Bee-eater Merops bullockoides Up to 10/day in Kruger; one at Mkuze.
Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus Three at Mkuze; four at Vernon Crookes.
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster Up to 10/day Kruger, with odd singles Mkuze.
Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudata c20/day Kruger.
Purple (Rufous-crowned) Roller Coracias naevia One two/day in Kruger.
African Hoopoe Upupa africana One or two daily in Kruger. Odd singles Mkuze.
Green (Red-billed) Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus Up to 8/day in Kruger, with others in Mkuze and at Scottburgh.
Common (Greater) Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas Two in Mkuze, 30th,
Crowned Hornbill Tockus alboterminatus One at Vernon Crookes
African Grey Hornbill Tokus nasutus Seen daily Kruger.
Red-billed Hornbill Tokus erythrorhynchus Seen daily Kruger.
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus leucomelas Seen daily Kruger.
Trumpeter Hornbill Bycanistes bucinator Two Olifants; two Mkuze; two Vernon Crookes.
Southern Ground Hornbill Bucorvus cafer (leadbeateri) A group of three followed by a group of four of this hugely impressive species, southern Kruger, 26th.
AFRICAN BARBETS &TINKERBIRDS Lybiidae
White-eared Barbet Stactolaema leucotis Three St. Lucia, 1st.
Red-fronted Tinkerbird Pogoniulus pusillus Three records at Mkuze camp.
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird Pogoniulus chrysoconus Two at St. Lucia.
Black-collared Barbet Lybius torquatus Noted 6 days Kruger, Mkuze and St. Lucia.
Crested Barbet Trachyphonus vaillantii Up to 5/day in Kruger; often very tame and coming to food.
Scaly-throated Honeyguide Indicator variegatus Heard at St.Lucia.
Greater (Black-throated) Honeyguide Indicator indicator Glimpse in southern Kruger
Red-throated Wryneck Jynx ruficollis A male calling on telegraph wires outside the cottages at Wakkerstroom.
Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni Two at Mopani, 23rd. Singles Mkuze on 30th and 31st.
Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus Excellent views of this highland species at Slang River, Wakkerstroom and in Drakensberg. Total of 8 seen.
Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscens Five records from Kruger and Mkuze.
Bearded Woodpecker Dendropicos namaquus Two at Letaba, 23rd.
Rufous-naped Lark Mirafra africana Three records, Kruger; four at Vernon Crookes.
Large-billed Lark Galerida magnirostris Two in Drakensberg highlands
Sabota Lark Mirafra sabota Up to 20/day in Kruger.
Rudd's Lark Heteromirafra ruddi Two of this endangered endemic seen in Wakkerstroom highveld.
Spike-heeled Lark Chersomanes albofasciata Five in Wakkerstroom highveld.
Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea Two seen in the highveld.
Botha's Lark Spizocorys fringillaris Two of this rare endemic seen in Wakkerstroom highveld.
SWALLOWS & MARTINS Hirundinidae
Brown-throated (Plain) Sand Martin Riparia paludicola One in Kruger, three Drakensberg lowlands.
Banded (African) Martin Riparia cincta Two in the highveld.
Grey-rumped Swallow Hirundo griseopyga Two at Letaba River, Kruger.
(African) Rock Martin Hirundo fuligula C6 in Drakensberg highlands.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Seen daily in lowland areas. Common.
White-throated Swallow Hirundo albigularis Up to six/day seen highveld and Drakensberg.
Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii Up to 3/day in Kruger.
Greater Striped Swallow Hirundo cucullata Up to 20/day highveld and Drakensberg.
Lesser Striped Swallow Hirundo abyssinica Up to 10/day in lowland areas.
Red-breasted (Rufous-chested) Swallow Hirundo semirufa Up to 10/day in Kruger.
Mosque Swallow Hirundo senegalensis Three in Kruger, 25th.
South African Cliff-swallow Hirundo pyrrhonota 10 at Wakkerstroom; two Drakensberg.
Black Saw-wing Psalidoprocne holomelas Up to 4/day St. Lucia and Scottburgh.
WAGTAILS & PIPITS Motacillidae
African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp A few seen daily in Kruger and Mkuze.
Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis A few daily in highveld, St. Lucia and Drakensberg.
Cape (Orange-throated) Longclaw Macronyx capensis Up to 20/day Wakkerstroom; three records Drakensberg.
Yellow-throated Longclaw Macronyx croceus Four in Kruger; two Mkuze; max 10 Vernon Crookes
African (Grassveld) Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus One at Letaba; max 30 on 28th in highveld.
Mountain Pipit Anthus hoeschi Two of this recently discovered endemic in the Lesotho hills, 3rd.
Black Cuckoo-Shrike Campephaga flava Singles Kruger, Mkuze and at Pietermaritzburg.
Dark-capped (Black-eyed) Bulbul Pycnonotus tricolor Common and widespread. Seen daily.
Sombre (Zanzibar) Greenbul (Bulbul) Andropadus importunus Two in southern Drakensberg; up to 4/day St. Lucia.
(African) Yellow-bellied Greenbul (Bulbul) Chlorocichla flaviventris Single Kruger; up to 8/day St. Lucia.
Terrestrial Brownbul (Bulbul) Phyllastrephus terrestris A few seen Mkuze.
Eastern (Yellow-spotted) Nicator Nicator chloris Heard Mkuze; single seen well in St. Lucia forest.
White-crowned Shrike Eurocephalus anguitimens Two in Kruger, 24th.
White (-crested) Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus One flock in Kruger. Up to 8/day Mkuze.
Red-billed Helmetshrike Prionops caniceps
Brubru Nilaus afer Two in Kruger, 23rd.
Black-backed Puffback Dryoscopus cubla Seen widely in Kruger and Mkuze. Max 6 on 23rd.
Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegala Seen daily in Kruger. Max 15 on 21st.
Brown-crowned (Three-streaked) Tchagra Tchagra australis Up to 2/day in Kruger.
Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike Laniarius brauni Singles on 4 days in Kruger, with excellent views at Letaba and Satara camps.
Southern Boubou Laniarius ferrugineus Two at Kruger picnic site.
Bokmakierie Telophorus zeylonus One seen daily Wakkerstroom; heard in Drakensberg.
Gorgeous (Perrin's) Bush-shrike Telophorus viridis Unusually good views of this superb day-glo coloured bird in Mkuze, 30th, with another on 31st.
Grey-headed Bush-Shrike Malaconotus blanchoti Six sightings in Kruger.
Magpie (African Long-tailed) Shrike Corvinella melanoleuca c20/day in Kruger, where widespread and noticeable.
Common Fiscal (Shrike) Lanius collaris c20/day in highveld, St. Lucia and Drakensberg.
Drakensberg (Orange-breasted) Rockjumper Chaetops aurantius c5 in Sani Pass and Lesotho.
Cape Rock-thrush Monticola rupestris One Wakkerstroom, two Sani Pass.
Sentinel Rock-thrush Monticola explorator Three Wakkerstroom; six Sani Pass and Lesotho.
Groundscraper Thrush Turdus litsitsurupa Four records in Kruger.
Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyana Up to 5/day in Kruger; one at Mkuze.
(Northern) Olive Thrush Turdus olivaceus Singles Wakkerstroom and Drakensberg lowlands.
(African) White-throated Robin-Chat Cossypha humeralis Three noted in Kruger.
Cape Robin-Chat Cossypha caffra Two singles note at Wakkerstroom; up to 5/day in Drakensberg.
Red-capped Robin-Chat (Natal Robin) Cossypha natalensis Four at St. Lucia.
Chorister Robin-Chat Cossypha dichora Three at Q.E. Park, Pietermaritzburg.
Eastern Bearded Scrub-robin Cercotrichas quadrivirgata Two at Letaba camp, Kruger; two Mkuze.
Brown Scrub-robin Cercotrichas signata Two at St.Lucia camp.
White-browed Scrub-robin Cercotrichas leucophrys Up to 2/day in Kruger.
African (Common) Stonechat Saxicola torquata Seen in highveld and Drakensberg where max 20/day.
Buff-streaked Chat Oenanthe bifasciata One at Slang River, Wakkerstroom; one Sani Pass.
Mountain Wheatear (Chat) Oenanthe monticola A male at Slang River.
Sickle-winged Chat Cercomela sinuata Five, Sani Pass and Lesotho
Familiar (Red-tailed) Chat Cercomela familiaris Two Sani Pass.
(Southern) Anteating Chat Myrmecocichla formicivora Up to 10/day in the highveld.
Mocking Cliff-Chat Thamnolea cinnamomeiventris Six records in Kruger; one en route to Scottburgh.
Arrow-marked Babbler Turdoides jardinei Up to 20/day in Kruger.
CISTICOLAS & ALLIES Cisticolidae
Red-faced Cisticola Cisticola erythrops Two in Kruger, 25th.
Lazy (Rock-loving) Cisticola Cisticola aberrans One in Vernon Crookes.
Rattling Cisticola Cisticola chinianus Abundant in Kruger; a few in Mkuze.
Wailing Cisticola Cisticola lais Noted in the highveld and Sani Pass.
Levaillant's Cisticola Cisticola tinniens Up to 20/day in highveld and Drakensberg lowlands.
Croaking (Striped) Cisticola Cisticola natalensis Two in Vernon Crookes.
Zitting Cisticola (Fan-tailed Warbler) Cisticola juncidis Up to 2 on 5 dates in Kruger, Wakkerstroom and Scottburgh.
Wing-snapping (Ayress) Cisticola Cisticola ayresii Three records in the highveld.
Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava Up to 6/day in Kruger and Mkuze.
Drakensberg Prinia Prinia hypoxantha Singles at Slang River, Wakkerstroom and Sani Pass.
Karoo (Spotted) Prinia Prinia maculosa One seen by JDM only in Lesotho.
Bar-throated Apalis Apalis thoracica One at Letaba, 23rd.
Rudd's Apalis Apalis ruddi Four records Mkuze and St. Lucia.
Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida One at Skukuza, Kruger; four at Mkuze camp.
Fairy Flycatcher (Warbler) Stenostira scita Two high in the Lesotho alpine zone.
Green-backed Camaroptera (Bleating Warbler) Camaroptera brachyura Up to 4/day in Kruger and Mkuze.
Grey-backed Camaroptera (Bleating Warbler) Camaroptera brevicaudata Two at Satara camp, Kruger.
Stierling's (Barred) Wren-Warbler Calamonastes stierlingi Heard, Kruger, 24th.
OLD WORLD WARBLERS Sylviidae
Cape Grassbird Sphenoeacus afer One at Vernon Crookes.
African (Marsh) Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus baeticatus Many heard at Wakkerstroom; three sight records.
Lesser Swamp (Cape Reed) Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris One at Wakkerstroom, 24th.
Burnt-necked Eremomela Eremomela usticollis Two in Kruger, 24th.
Long-billed (Cape) Crombec Sylvietta rufescens Singles on 6 dates, Kruger and Mkuze.
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus Two records in Kruger. At least 12 in Mkuze, max 10+ on 31st.
Layard's Tit-babbler (-warbler) Sylvia layardi One in the alpine zone, Lesotho.
OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS Musicapidae
Pale (Mouse-coloured) Flycatcher Bradornis pallidus Singles in Kruger; four records in Mkuze.
Southern Black Flycatcher Melaenornis pammelaina Pairs noted in Kruger, Mkuze and Scottburgh.
(African) Dusky Flycatcher Muscicapa adusta One at Q.E. Park, Pietermaritzburg.
Ashy (Blue-grey) Flycatcher Musicapa caerulescens One Mkuze; two St. Lucia.
Grey Tit- (Fan-tailed) Flycatcher Myioparus plumbeus Two Letaba; two Nsumo Pan.
Cape Batis Batis capensis One Drakensberg lowlands.
Chinspot Batis Batis molitor Up to 6/day in Kruger; three at Mkuze.
MONARCH FLYCATCHERS Monarchidae
Blue-mantled (Crested-) Flycatcher Trochocercus cyanomelas Glimpsed at St. Lucia forest.
African Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis Up to 6/day in Kruger with others at Q.E. Park, Pietermaritzburg and St. Lucia.
Southern Black Tit Parus niger Five in Kruger; two Mkuze.
Collared Sunbird Anthreptes collaris Up to 3/day noted 7 days mainly in lowland habitats.
Eastern Olive Sunbird Nectarinia olivacea Four at St. Lucia and Scottburgh.
Grey (Mouse-coloured) Sunbird Nectarinia veroxii One at St. Lucia.
(Southern) White-bellied Sunbird Nectarinia talatala Noted in Kruger and Mkuze; max 10+ on 23rd in the Kruger camps.
Amethyst (African Black) Sunbird Nectarinia amethystina Over 10 at Misty Mountain; 3 at Scottburgh.
Scarlet-chested Sunbird Nectarinia senegalensis Five records from Mkuze and Drakensberg lowlands.
Southern (Lesser) Double-collared Sunbird Nectarinia chalybea Over 10 Misty Mountain; one Q.E. Park, Pietermaritzburg.
Greater Double-collared Sunbird Nectarinia afra Over 10 Misty Mountain; a few Drakensberg lowlands.
Marico (Mariqua) Sunbird Nectarina mariquensis Seen Kruger; max 10+ Mopani on 23rd.
Purple-banded Sunbird Nectarinia bifasciata Four records Kruger; one St. Lucia.
Malachite Sunbird Nectarinia famosa Two at Slang River, Wakkerstroom; over 10 in Sani Pass.
Cape (Pale) White-eye Zosterops pallidus Five Misty Mountain; over 20 Q.E. Park, Pietermaritzburg; two en route to Scottburgh.
Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi Over 10 seen, Sani Pass.
Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii Two at Mkuze.
Common (Fork-tailed) Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis Widespread and common; noted every day except in the highveld.
JAYS & CROWS Corvidae
Cape Rook (Black Crow) Corvus capensis Up to 4/day highveld and Drakenberg lowlands.
Pied Crow Corvus albus Up to 6/day St. Lucia and Scottburgh.
White-necked Raven Corvus albicollis Four at the top of the Sani Pass; five en route to Scottburgh.
African (Eastern) Black-headed Oriole Oriolus larvatus Noted Kruger, Drakensberg and Vernon Crookes; max 6 on 23rd in Kruger.
Red-winged Starling Onychognathus morio Seen Kruger, Misty Mountain and Drakensberg.
Black-bellied Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis corruscus Up to 4/day St. Lucia and Scottburgh.
Cape Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis nitens Common and widespread max nos. in Kruger.
Greater Blue-eared Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis chalybaeus Only noted in Kruger, where common.
Burchell's Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis australis Seen three days in southern Kruger.
African Pied Starling Spreo bicolor Common around Wakkerstroom; also noted Drakensberg.
Violet-backed (Plum-coloured) Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster Seen Drakensberg, Mkuze and Vernon Crookes.
Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea Noted 3 days in Kruger, max 30+ in Satara camp.
Common (European) Starling Sturnus vulgaris Two seen at St. Lucia.
Common (Indian) Myna Acridotheries tristis Noted widely outside Kruger.
Yellow-billed Oxpecker Buphagus africanus A pair plus 2 juvs. noted on 22nd, Kruger.
Red-billed Oxpecker Buphagus erythrorynchus Up to 20/day in Kruger and Mkuze.
NEW WORLD SPARROWS and BUNTINGS Emberizidae - Emberizinae
Cape Bunting Emberiza capensis Twelve in Sani Pass.
Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting Emberiza tahapisi Singles in Kruger and Mkuze.
Golden-breasted Bunting Emberiza flaviventris Singles in Kruger and Mkuze.
Cape (Yellow-crowned) Canary Serinus canicollis A few in highveld and Drakensberg; max 10+ Sani Pass.
Forest Canary Serinus scotops One at Misty Mountain.
Yellow-fronted (-eyed) Canary Serinus mozambicus Noted Kruger, Mkuze, Scottburgh. Max 3 on 24th.
Yellow Canary Serinus flaviventris One in Lesotho.
Brimstone (Bully) Canary Serinus sulphuratus Two at Scottburgh.
Streaky-headed Seed-eater (Canary) Serinus gularis One in Lesotho.
Drakensberg Siskin Serinus symonsi Over 20 in Sani Pass and Lesotho.
WAXBILLS AND ALLIES Estrildidae
Green-winged Pytilia (Melba Finch) Pytilia melba Up to 5/day in southern Kruger.
Pink-throated (Rosy) Twinspot Hypargos margaritatus Four at Mkuze camp.
Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta senegala Noted four days in Kruger and at Mkuze.
African (Blue-billed) Firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata Six at Letaba camp.
Blue Waxbill Uraeginthus angolensis Up to 10/day in Kruger and Mkuze.
Common Waxbill Estrilda astrid Noted 9 days in varied habitats.
Bronze Mannikin Lonchura cucullata Seen at Mkuze camp.
Red-backed Mannikin Lonchura nigriceps Flock seen coming to the hide at Mkuze camp; also seen at Vernon Crookes.
Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura Four in the highveld; max 10 at Vernon Crookes.
WEAVERS AND ALLIES Ploceidae
Red-billed Buffalo-weaver Bubalornis niger Noted four days in Kruger.
Lesser Masked-weaver Ploceus intermedius The commonest weaver in Kruger and Mkuze.
Spectacled Weaver Ploceus ocularis Up to 4/day Kruger.
Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis Noted Drakensberg, highveld and Scottburgh.
Yellow Weaver (African Golden-weaver) Ploceus subaureus Colony nesting in the reeds, St. Lucia.
Village (Spotted-backed) Weaver Ploceus cucullatus Widespread in Kruger and Mkuze.
Dark-backed (Forest) Weaver Ploceus bicolor Noted Vernon Crookes, St. Lucia and Nsumo Pan, where max 3 on 31st.
Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps Noted two days in Kruger; colony in Letaba camp.
Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea Noted Kruger and Mkuze where largest flock of hundreds at the waterhole hide.
Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix Up to 20/day in highveld.
Fan-tailed (Red-shouldered) Widowbird Euplectes axillaris Noted highveld and Vernon Crookes, where max 10+ seen.
Long-tailed Widowbird Euplectes progne Hundreds in the highveld and Drakensberg; displaying males were noted Bird of the Trip!
White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus Noted in southern Kruger, 24th but not in breeding plumage.
Red-collared Widowbird Euplectes ardens Five records from the coast.
Thick-billed (Grosbeak ) Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons Glimpsed at St. Lucia.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus Widespread in the lowlands.
Cape Sparrow Passer melanurus Only seen at Johannesburg airport(!) and in the Drakensberg lowlands.
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer diffusus Noted daily in Kruger, with others seen in Mkuze and the coast.
(African)Yellow-throated Petronia (Sparrow)Petronia superciliaris Five records from Kruger and Mkuze.
BATS - Old World Leaf-nosed Bats Chiroptera - Hipposideridae
Sundevall's Leaf-nosed Bat Hipposideros caffer Bats hanging in the waterhole hide at Mkuze were identified as this species.
PRIMATES - Old World Monkeys Primates - Cercopithecinae
Chacma Baboon Papio ursinus Troupes of up to 50 seen in Kruger, Mkuze and St. Lucia and Sani Pass.
Green Vervet (Savannah) Monkey Cercopithecus aethiops Widespread noted 11 dates in varied habitats.
Samango Monkey Cercopithecus mitus About a dozen at St. Lucia camp.
CARNIVORES - Dogs Carnivora - Canidae
Black-backed Jackal Canis mesomelas One on the night-drive, Kruger.
Bat-eared Fox Otocyon megalotis One distantly at Wakkerstroom.
CARNIVORES - Civets Carnivora - Viverridae
Small-spotted Genet Genetta genetta Either this or the next species seen on the night-drive Kruger.
Large-spotted Genet Genetta tigrina
African Civet Civettictis civetta Superb spot-lit views of one on the nightdrive, Kruger.
CARNIVORES - Mongooses Carnivora - Herpestidae
Meerkat Suricata suricata A total of 13 at Wakkerstroom.
Slender Mongoose Herpestes sanguineus Five sightings in the Kruger.
Banded Mongoose Mungos mungo A group of 12 Kruger, with over 30 at St. Lucia camp.
Yellow Mongoose Cynictis pencillata About 20 seen in the highveld.
CARNIVORES - Hyaenas Carnivora - Hyaenidae
Spotted Hyaena Crocuta crocuta One in Mkuze.
CARNIVORES - Cats Carnivora - Felidae
Lion Panthera leo Seven young males seen on the night-drive, Kruger.
Leopard Panthera pardus Superb views of one in Mkuze, 30th.
Bottle-nosed Dolphin Tursiops truncatus A pod of c20 off St. Lucia, 1st.
PROBOSCIDS Proboscidea - Elephantidae
African Elephant Loxodonta africana Up to 20/day in Kruger.
ODD-TOED UNGULATES - Horses Perissodactyla - Equidae
Burchell's/Chapman's Zebra Equus burchellii Up to around 50/day Kruger and Mkuze.
ODD-TOED UNGULATES Rhinoceroses Perissodactyla - Rhinocerotidae
White Rhinoceros Ceratothrium simum One near Mopani, Kruger, with superb views of up to about 10/day in Mkuze.
Black Rhinoceros Diceros bicornis Two probables in Mkuze, 30th.
HYRAXES Hyracoidea - Procaviidae
Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis At least 20, Slang River, Wakkerstroom. One in Sani Pass.
EVEN-TOED UNGULATES - Pigs Artiodactyla - Suidae
Warthog Phacochoerus aethiopicus Seen in Kruger and Mkuze, with up to c10/day.
EVEN-TOED UNGULATES Hippopotamuses Artiodactyla - Hippopotamidae
Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius Seen in Kruger and Mkuze, with up to c30/day.
EVEN-TOED UNGULATES Giraffes Artiodactyla - Giraffidae
Giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis Seen Kruger and Mkuze, with up to c20/day.
EVEN-TOED UNGULATES - Cattle Artiodactyla - Bovidae
Nyala Tragelaphus angasii Excellent views Mkuze, including in the camp area, with up to c100/day.
Bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus Noted Mkuze, St. Lucia, Drakensberg and Kruger, where max c20 at Letaba.
Greater Kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros Seen Kruger and Mkuze, with up to c/10 day.
African Buffalo Synceros caffer Only in Kruger, where max c250 on 22nd.
Red (Forest) Duiker Cephalophus natalensis Nine sightings in the sand-forest, Mkuze and St. Lucia.
Common/Grey/Grimm's Duiker Sylvicapra grimmia Six sightings at Mkuze, with one in Drakensberg lowlands.
Common Waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus Up to c20/day in Kruger, with six in St. Lucia wetlands.
Southern Reedbuck Redunca arundinum Two in Kruger, with max c10 in St. Lucia wetlands.
Mountain Reedbuck Redunca fulvorufula Three in Drakensberg lowlands.
Rhebok Pelea capreolus Two in the Sani Pass.
Roan Antelope Hippotragus equinus One near Mopani, Kruger was an excellent find the first Mark had seen in the area for 20 years!
Blue Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus Up to 30/day Kruger; up to 20/day Mkuze.
Blesbok Damaliscus dorcas phillipsi Only seen in the highveld where encouraged by farmers. Max c50 on 29th.
Tsessebe Damaliscus lunatus 12 near Mopani, Kruger, 22nd.
Steenbok Raphicerus campestris Up to 6/day of this delightful small, solitary antelope in Kruger and Mkuze.
Impala Aepyceros melampus Abundant in both Kruger and Mkuze. Max 500+ in southern Kruger, 26th.
RODENTS - Squirrels Rodentia - Sciuridae
South African Tree Squirrel (Smiths Bush Squirrel) Paraxerus cepapi Seen daily in Kruger.
Red-bellied Coast Squirrel Paraxerus palliatus Three at St. Lucia.
RODENTS - Rats, Mice & Voles Rodentia - Muridae
Sloggett's Ice-Rat Otomys sloggetti Over 20 of this small character in Sani Pass and Lesotho.
Pouched Mouse Saccostomus campestris One running round the breakfast tables, Mopani, 23rd.
LAGOMORPHS - Rabbits & Hares Lagomorpha - Leporidae
Scrub Hare Lepus saxatilis Seven on the night-drive, Kruger.
Flap-necked Chamaeleon Chamaeleo dilepis Pointed out on the night-drive, Kruger
Blue-headed Tree Agama Agama atricollis Noted three days in Kruger and one day in Mkuze.
Morean's Tropical House Gecko Hemidactylus mabonia Noted Kruger and Mkuze
Drakensberg Crag Lizard Pseudocordylus sp. Noted on rocks in high Drakensberg. Two virtually identical species are possible.
Giant Plated Lizard Gerrhosaurus validus Quite widespread around the camps and picnic sites, Kruger
Water Monitor Varanus albigularis One Kruger; two, Mkuze
Rock Monitor Varanus ruloticus Singles Kruger & Mkuze
Rainbow Skink Mabuya quinquetaeniata Noted three days in Kruger
Nile Crocodile Crocodylus niloticus Up to 20 noted daily in Kruger, Mkuze and St Lucia
Leopard Tortoise Geochelone pardalis Seven in Kruger; four Mkuze
Pale Hinged Terrapin Pelusius subriger Probably this species at the waterhole in Mkuze difficult to get down to the water to see the diagnostic underside, though.
Marsh Terrapin Pelomedusa subrufa Seen three days in Kruger
Green Turtle Chelonia mydas One off the shore at St Lucia
Green Tree Snake Dispholidus typus The venomous boomslang pointed out on the night drive in Kruger.
Foam-nest frog Nests seen at the Mkuze waterhole
Tree Frog sp. One in a ladies loo, Southern Kruger!
Fireflies Seen on the night-drive, Kruger
Giant Red-winged Grasshopper Seen frequently in Mkuze
Dung Beetle sp. Seen Kruger and abundantly in St Lucia reserve
House Cricket One in the cottage at Wakkerstroom
Pyrgomorphid Grasshopper Two species of these sluggish orthopteran giants seen in Drakensberg and Vernon Crookes
An amazingly varied tour, with so many highlights: Lions trotting calmly alongside us in the Kruger, the Leopard lazily licking its paws in the bushes at Mkuze, the in-your-face views of White Rhino at the waterhole at Mkuze, a phenomenal range of birds from the grotesque Ground Hornbills of the Kruger palins to the stunning and delicate Malachite Sunbirds the bright emerald males feeding amongst the orange Watsonia spikes of the Drakensberg. And who can forget Sloggetts Ice-Rat?
Many thanks to Mark and Jean for devising a cracking tour, including some delightful places to stay, places like Mkuze Camp that you simply cant get to with operators who cant self-cater, and for superb meals throughout the trip.
And my thanks to the group for your genial company and excellent spotting abilities, without which the tour wouldnt have been nearly as enjoyable to lead.
I hope to see you again on another tour in the not-too-distant future!
© The Travelling Naturalist 2004