TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT
Kruger & Drakensberg
17th November 2006
White Rhinoceros, just outside the picnic site during our first lunch at Mkuzi (KG)
Leaders & Guides:
Mark & Jean Caulton
Wednesday 1st November Departure fom Heathrow
We all duly met at Terminal 1 and were called to the gate early. Despite this, take off was delayed by about half an hour.
Thursday 2nd November Phalaborwa & the Kruger
Overcast but warm at J'burg, clear & 34°C at Kruger.
We made up some time on the international flight and connected with the onward flight to Phalaborwa, where Mark & Jean were waiting for us. Having sorted out our luggage, bought drinks where necessary and extracted binoculars, we were off to the Kruger National Park soon after midday. A brief stop at the Park entrance whilst our permits were bought enabled us to start our birding with Cape Glossy Starlings, Common Scimitarbills, Blue Waxbills and a Kurrichane Thrush. We drove steadily, stopping for our first Elephants, Giraffe, many Impala, several Wahlberg's Eagles and a rather distant Martial Eagle. Both Red-billed and Southern Yellow-billed Hornbills were seen regularly, and a brief Grey Hornbill. Several of the rivers held water, with excellent views of Saddle-billed Storks and a single Hamerkop. European Bee-eaters were just arriving from the north and we passed several small parties as well as a Little Bee-eater which showed well for some. At one river bridge, a pair of Egyptian Geese still managed to protect just two goslings, Greenshank, Wood and Common Sandpipers were feeding along the mudbanks and Pied Kingfishers were perched on the bridge supports. Our first Waterbuck were feeding in the reeds and a Cinnamon-breasted Bunting showed well for some.
We arrived at Mopani Camp mid-afternoon and soon settled into our cabins overlooking the lake. We were immediately aware of the several groups of Hippos below us and the many large Nile Crocodiles lazing on the opposite mud-banks. After a welcome dip (in the swimming pool, not the lake!), we gathered on Mark & Jeans veranda from where a telescope search of the mudbanks revealed Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Ruffs, two Goliath Herons and Squacco Heron amongst the crocodiles. As dusk approached, we did the call-over followed by one of Jeans excellent dinners.
Friday 3rd November Mopani Camp, Capricorn Loop, night drive
Very thin high cloud, hot & humid.
We were up at dawn for a 5am breakfast, during which there were two broods of Natal Francolins around the cabins. Both Goliath Heron and Yellow-billed Stork were on the mudbanks, and a dead tree on the opposite shore held roosting African Darters and Cattle Egrets. We were away by 6am for our morning drive, finding good numbers of mammals which included a group of the rarely seen Roan Antelope and a superb male Steenbok which walked right up to us. We also found Tsessebe and large numbers of African Buffalo with their accompanying Red-billed Oxpeckers. A Brown Snake-Eagle drifted over as Southern Reedbucks were giving their alarm whistles. We stopped but couldnt see anything amiss, although the reedbucks could obviously sense something. As we drove across open grassland, Chestnut-backed Finch-larks were seen on the track in front of us and we began finding Kori Bustards, often very close to the roadside. At one point, a male started displaying, puffing up his neck feathers. A couple of Red-crested Korhaan, a smaller relative of the Kori, and a few superb Temminck's Coursers were next, the latter also very close to road. Our first Ostriches were then found, a nice pair with half dozen small chicks.
We were back in camp soon after 10am for a coffee, swim, lunch and relax, though not necessarily in that order! From the balconies, there were nice views of Wire-tailed Swallows, 3 species of 'masked' weaver, Long-billed Crombec and Dark-capped Bulbuls. A few African Paradise Flycatchers showed off their tail plumes from the trees surrounding the swimming pool. We gathered again at 3.30pm to walk the nature trail along the lake shore. We only got as far as the shop and restaurant where Golden-tailed Woodpecker, White-throated Robin-chat, Mocking Cliff-chat, White-crested Helmet Shrike, and Black-backed Puffback all showed well, particularly a Long-billed Crombec which was searching a low shrub beside us. We then walked down the slope from the restaurant and along the lakeside trail. A Tawny-flanked Prinia played hide and seek along the electrified fence [to keep us in or the hippos & crocs out? (KG)], and we saw both the Giant Kingfisher and Malachite Kingfisher, the largest & smallest! On a nearby mudbank, we also had great views of Three-banded Plover. As we returned amongst the cabins, there were further good views of two Golden-tailed Woodpeckers and a flock of Yellow-billed Storks flew overhead.
After a slightly early checklist and dinner, we were ready for our night drive at 8pm. Buffalo, Elephant, Impala and Steenbok were all picked up in the spotlight beams, and a single Klipspringer was seen running up a rocky slope. Several eyes reflected in the lamps were nightjars, unidentified at that range. We found good numbers of Water Thick-knees on the roads in front of us, but no sign of the hoped for Bush Thick-knee. A very exciting drive as we literally did not know what we were going to pick up next, particularly as we rounded a corner to overlook a small river and there, laying quietly on a slope across from us, was a magnificent pale-maned Lion! We watched him for several minutes, he trying to look completely disinterested in true cat fashion, until the rain set in and we turned for camp. On the way, our final exciting find was a Common Genet stretched out along a log. We again watched him for a minute or two before he got up, stretched and disappeared into the undergrowth. Return just before 10pm - what a day!
Impala, the lions BigMac!
Saturday 4th November Mopani Camp, Letaba, Oliphants & Satara Camps
Overcast all day, though still hot & humid.
After a 5am breakfast, we were packed and away by 6. Despite the travelling, this was a superb day, with bathing Hyenas and stalking Lions being the highlights. Soon after leaving camp, we came across three Hyenas on the roadside. A little later, at least four were playing around in a river, one in particular just sitting up to his chest in the water. [I have this image of a hotel pool with a bar in the middle. You could almost hear him calling for his beer! (KG)] This was only interrupted as a pair of Saddle-billed Storks walked up and got so close that they couldn't be ignored. They did fly off, just in time! We moved on, stopping at Letaba camp for a walk and ice-cream. Marabou was seen across the river, a Black Crake appeared briefly for some of us whilst others were watching a Great White Egret. Yellow-billed Kites were noted overhead several times during the day. As we headed south, we left the low, often dense, Mopani woodland behind and entered a countryside dominated by Acacia.
A pride of 9 Lions stalking Wildebeest & a Warthog (Anita Lloyd)
We were at Oliphants for lunch, overlooking the river valley, where at least 3 Lions were resting. Apparantly we had missed an Impala kill by a couple of hours. We then headed on, finding a pair of White-crowned Lapwings below the higher Oliphants bridge, then Vervet Monkeys, Chacma Baboons, a Water Monitor crossing the road and a Leopard Tortoise at the roadside. Our first two White Rhinos were seen, and we were told about a large pride of Lions further on. We found seven at the roadside and were obviously just starting a hunt. We waited about half an hour whilst they stalked a small group of Wildebeest. Extremely exciting as we were directly behind them and could see the Wildebeest ahead. This ultimately failed as the wind changed and the group caught the scent. As the Lions visibly relaxed, we moved on and immediately had to stop as a large herd of Buffalos crossed the road. A further three or four Lions were here but just loafing rather than stalking. We arrived at Satara around 4pm, a little later than expected.
Sunday 5th November N'Wanetsi loop, dusk drive.
Thinly overcast, more pleasant though still warm & humid
Wind increasing during evening, becoming quite cold!
We gathered again at 5am, though this time we set off immediately, the aim being to have the best chance for mammals and birds before having a barbeque breakfast overlooking the M'Wanetse River. Though no new mammals were added to our list, views were excellent with Wildebeest, Impala, Zebra and Giraffe all very close. The Greater Kudu males were particularly regal. Birds similarly were very good, we seemed to be stopping every hundred metres or so with further good views of Purple Rollers, Yellow-throated Longclaw singing from roadside bushes, and Southern Black Tit searching the upper branches of some mature trees lining a watercourse. A pair of Mosque Swallows were unusually far south and were quite unexpected, unlike the more numerous Red-breasted Swallows. A Black-collared Barbet showed well for one bus, followed by Pearl-spotted Owlet in a roadside tree. A Black-bellied Korhaan, though a young bird without the black belly was excellent, stalking around the roadside a mere four metres from the vehicles. A little later, we found an adult which really showed off the black belly and white wing patches as it flew off. Searching the flocks of waxbills along the roadside, we came across 2 Common Quail, trying to sneak away. Both Red-billed and Blue-billed Firefinches were found, together with further Blue Waxbills and several Green-winged Pytilia. We were suddenly amongst masses of Burchells Starlings, a species absent further north in the Park. The Orange-breasted Bushshrike was difficult, the first merely heard and a little later on, a second bird appeared very briefly but did not show again. We found three further Ground Hornbills on our way back to camp, arriving back soon after 11am.
With free time then until a late lunch, an African Hoopoe seemed to be collecting food for young, a pair of Red-billed Woodhoopoes were searching the knarled tree trunks near Reception, and a Crested Barbet was also here. Unfortunately, there was no sign of the African Scops Owl despite searching possible roosting trees. After lunch, an hour's walk around camp produced further good views of Crested Barbet, African Black Flycatcher, Southern Black Tit, Violet-backed Starling, Diederik Cuckoo and Bennett's Woodpecker. At least one African Black Swift was amongst the large numbers of Little Swifts chittering overhead. The Sunset Drive (5pm - 8pm) produced good views of the 'usual' mammals, plus several pairs of Crowned Lapwings. Two male Lions were loafing alongside the road and as it became dimpsey, they got up, stretched and walked off leisurely, parallel to the road seemingly oblivious to the vehicles in attendance and with much spraying of bushes! There were two separate African Wild Cat sightings and we also spotlit Hyena, Elephant, Zebra, Giraffe, Waterbuck and many Impala. Reptiles included Serrated Hinged Terrapin, a large Flap-neck Chameleon, two small unidentified snakes and a bright green Boomslang.
African Jacana & chicks
African Scops Owl
Monday 6th November Mwantinungu, Mlondozi, Lower Sabie
Strong cold wind overnight, weather lifting & becoming warmer.
A 5.30 breakfast meant a lay in! We were mobbed around the cabins by a horde of birds wanting to share breakfast - Buffalo Weavers, Grey Go-away-birds, Crested Barbet, bulbuls and doves. We were away by 6:30 and on the way out through the car parking area, we at last found an African Scops Owl roosting quite low down against the main trunk of one of the mature trees.
There was no shortage of mammals including good numbers of Hippos and a large bull Elephant wanted to inspect us rather too closely! A Wahlberg's Eagle on a nest showed a very pale grey head looking much like a chick but actually one of the pale plumaged females which sometimes occur. The first roadside lake held a good number of Comb Ducks and our first Black-headed Heron. The Hamerkops here were catching large frogs, but each was soon stolen by Yellow-billed Kites. A White-fronted Plover was new for the list but rather distant. Tawny Eagles kept us discussing id features until we found one perched up on a roadside tree and got the scopes on it to confirm the relative positions of gape and eye. A male Red-backed Shrike was interesting, the first of the incoming migrants from Europe. We reached a high lookout and searching the open savannah below us, we found White Rhino plus elephants, giraffes and zebra. A Brubru also appeared briefly. The coffee stop a little later produced another Crested Barbet, Green-backed Cameroptera and a nice female Bushbuck. The frog in the ladies loo must remain unidentified.
There were wonderful views of two further bull elephants as we approached the lunch stop overlooking the Mlondozi dam. They appeared at the far end of the lake to drink, and there was also African Openbill here, a good number of Spur-winged Geese, and most surprisingly, six Fulvous Whistling Ducks. We headed on for Lower Sabie Camp, crossing the nearby dam and finding Brown-throated Martins and a pair of African Black Ducks. Around the camp, there were White-throated and White-browed Robin-chats, Diederik Cuckoo, Marico Sunbirds, Lesser Striped Swallows, Common Waxbill and Village Weavers. A Thick-tailed Galago (or Bushbaby to you and I!) was found by Mark near his cabin and was luckily seen by two of us.
Tuesday 7th November Mlondozi, Skukuza
Sunny, cool breeze, becoming hot.
With bags packed and loaded and we were off by 5.30. A juvenile Black-chested Snake-eagle had us guessing for a bit as it kept landing out of sight. We got to grips with this and explored a little further up the road, before turning around and promptly finding a Brown Snake-eagle. Then another unidentified eagle flew over together with two adult Fish Eagles. We headed once again for the Mlondozi picnic site for a barbeque breakfast. This is a wonderful location, overlooking the dam where a Giant Kingfisher perched. The Comb Ducks and Spur-winged Geese were still present and though the Fulvous Whistling-ducks from yesterday had moved on, there was a good number of White-faced Whistling-ducks. Southern Black Tits were feeding young in a nesthole in one of the supporting uprights of the picnic site shade-roof. A pair of Chinspot Batis showed well. The vantage point enabled us to spot Zebra, which became very alert as a large pride of 20 Lions walked by, heading for a drink from the dam. This spooked a large troop of Baboons which were exploring the shoreline, and they came running back to cross the valley on the dam itself. A Secretarybird could just be seen on its nest.
Heading back to Lower Sabie camp to hitch up the trailer, we found two of the group who had stayed behind had been watching a pair of Purple-crested Turaco around the cabins. The rest of us caught up with this species a little later as we found one near the road. We had a brief coffee stop, then on to Skukuze for a light lunch, where a Hadeda Ibis with a fluffy chick was found on its nest in one of the large trees. A Black-collared Barbet was also seen here. We left the park through the Kruger Gate, and immediately started seeing Fiscals on the roadside wires and were soon climbing up through farming country to Misty Mountain. A brief exploration of the gardens found Amethyst, Southern Double-collared, Greater Double-collared and Marico Sunbirds and a Bar-throated Apalis feeding a well-grown juvenile. A noisy group of Hadeda Ibis came in to roost in the pine plantation, and it was time to get ready for dinner.
Wednesday 8th November Misty Mountain & Wakkerstroom
Generally fine & sunny.
We met outside in the garden at 6am, to walk up on to the hillside, immediately finding several sunbirds and nice views of Black-headed Oriole. We made steady progress up the path on to the grassy ridge. Here we were hoping for the magnificent Blue Swallow, but the breeding pair had yet to return from their wintering grounds in Malawi. There were both Wailing and Zitting Cisticolas. An African Goshawk flew over as we returned through the garden, and from the breakfast patio, we saw both Karoo and Olive Thrushes, Swee Waxbill, African Black and Alpine Swifts. We were away by 9am and made good progress to Wakkerstroom.
With a rest stop, a fuel stop and a lunch stop, we travelled through the farming country of the highveld and arrived at our bungalows around 3pm. During the journey, we noted a good number of species including a nice flock of Blue Cranes, Red Bishops, Southern Anteating Chat, Sacred Ibis and Yellow-billed Teal. Cape Weavers were building nests on the fencing wherever it crossed a water-filled ditch. There were some fine Southern Bald Ibis feeding in roadside fields and our final stop was just outside Wakkerstroom itself for Southern Crowned Cranes. We settled in with a cup of tea and then spent an hour overlooking the nearby wetland reserve, finding hordes of Red-knobbed Coots, two Little Grebes, Yellow-billed Ducks, and both White-breasted & Reed Cormorants. A pair of African Marsh Harriers was present and we witnessed a food pass from male to female. A bit of rain swept in and we decided to call it a day and return.
Thursday 9th November Wakkerstroom area
Sunny & warm, quite windy at times.
We gathered at 6.30 for breakfast, watching Greater Striped Swallows and Hadeda Ibis around the house. The aim this morning was to explore some of the grasslands around the town. A single Intermediate Egret stood in the wetland alongside the road as we left town. There were lots of African Pipits along the roadside, Red-capped Larks were seen regularly and Cape Longclaws looked magnificent in the sunshine with their orange throat patches aglow. A tumble-down round-house, just a ruined wall remaining, had several Mountain Wheatears present and, most unusually, two juvenile Ground Woodpeckers were also here. A little further on, and we found White-throated Swallows, Banded Martin and further Southern Anteating Chats. A pair of Blue Korhaan was spotted as the male displayed with kangaroo-like jumps to the female just by the road. They crouched as we pulled up and stayed as we all had good views through the telescopes. As we left, they ran, the male again puffing up his throat feathers, keeping very close to his mate. We walked across a paddock to find Southern Bald Ibis, Spike-heeled Larks and further Red-capped Larks. The pool at Fickland Pan held good numbers of Yellow-billed Duck, Maccoa Ducks and Southern Pochard, several Little Grebes, two Great Crested Grebes and a single Cape Shoveler. Ayre's / Wing-snapping Cisticolas were singing and displaying overhead but it took us a long time before we actually managed to see them. We flushed several African Quailfinches, one or two of us eventually getting a very brief view of one bird. As we headed back, we flushed a second pair of Blue Korhaan, the male croaking, frog-like, before landing in a newly ploughed field, giving us nice views before they both walked and crouched behind a grassy strip in true bustard fashion! We returned around 11.30 to relax before one of Jean's super lunches.
Gathering again at 3pm, we set off to explore the wetland area. Our first stop at the bridge produced a host of birds, African Swamphen and several African Snipe being new for the trip. There were good views of Red Bishops, Cape & Southern Masked Weavers. The dark male African Marsh Harrier flew across as we boarded the vehicles to explore the far side of the wetland. Various stops were made, for a pair of Bokmarkarie, the remains of a mouse on a shrike larder, a nesting tree with Black-headed Herons and Intermediate Egrets. Despite thunder & lightning on the horizon, we risked a walk across the fields from the Birdlife South Africa buildings, to a hide overlooking the marsh. There were hordes of Long-tailed Widowbirds and Red Bishops feeding on the newly mown lawn. A female Paradise Whydah perched briefly and a small flock of Common Waxbills flew by. A Bush Thick-knee was scoped, as were four Crowned Cranes. Then a Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk flew in and landed briefly on a grassy bank. As we walked back, a Black-bellied Bustard was spotted.
Return to the bungalows soon after 5pm, for a 6.15 checklist and 7pm home-cooked dinner.
Southern Bald Ibis
Long-tailed Widowbirds & Southern Red Bishops feeding on newly mown grass
Leopard, surprised in a grassy clearing, Mkuzi
Friday 10th November Wakkerstroom to Mkuzi
Warm & sunny, becoming hotter & overcast at Mkuzi.
A 6.30 breakfast and away soon after 7.20, we left Wakkerstroom in warm sunshine. A small party of Crowned Cranes were in a roadside field, with Spur-winged Geese nearby. We made steady progress, descending off the highveld alongside the Swazi border. With stops for provisions, restrooms and fuel, we arrived at Mkuzi for lunch. The picnic site was just inside the Park boundary, and we went for a short walk as Jean prepared lunch. A Red-breasted Cuckoo kept flying around but insisted on landing out of sight deep inside the tree canopy, but we did get brief views as it flew past us. Pairs of Golden-breasted Bunting and Cardinal Woodpeckers showed well. As we returned for lunch, a superb White Rhino appeared on the slope just outside the fence. We drove on for a few kilometres to arrive at the camp and settle in. Some went for a swim in the pool, much to the interest of the local Vervet Monkeys, whilst others just chilled out or explored the camp grounds. A large Leopard Tortoise was wandering around, and many Lesser Striped Swallows were nesting under the eaves of the bungalows. We gathered again at 3pm for a drive around the local area. Many of the Impala seemed heavily pregnant, and we had excellent views of Nyala, the males seeming almost twice as big as the females. One vehicle saw Red Duiker very well, and a little later the other noted Grey Duiker. We stopped several times, as Helmeted Hornbills flew over, for good views of Black-bellied Starlings which were new for the list, and for a gang of White-headed Helmetshrikes as they flew across the track. Dung Beetles were very busy in a Rhino midden, and we found one beetle with its prized ball walking steadfastly along the trail some 25m away. Pride of place and with incredible luck, we surprised a Leopard in the middle of a grassy clearing, and we all settled down to watch. The leopard crouched until it regained its confidence and then pounced unsuccessfully on a small unseen prey item, before swishing its tail in true cat-like fashion and stalking off into the brush. Amazing!! Back to camp to wash and change before dinner.
Saturday 11th November Mkuzi - Nsumo Pan
Overcast & sultry.
We awoke with Impala and Nyala grazing quietly all around the bungalows. Our 6 o'clock walk around the camp produced White-throated Robin-chat and Sombre Greenbul. Butterflies just warming up included African Veined White, Sulphur Orange-tip and The Novice. After breakfast, our morning drive nearly ran into a Giraffe which was hiding behind a trackside bush! We had brief views of both Red and Grey Duikers, further views of Black-bellied Starlings and found a White-backed Vulture pair at their solitary, quite small, tree nest. A Gorgeous Bushshrike was heard calling, and we managed to attract him in but he still remained out of sight, except to the second vehicle which had good if brief views behind us! Overlooking a large lagoon, there were three Rhinos, one wallowing in the mud I don't know what an ecstatic rhino looks like but he was enjoying the terrapins clambering over him removing ticks! As we arrived at the lookout, there were several Red-billed Teal and an Egyptian Goose with goslings crept off. Further on, on a grassy 'lawn' sloping down to the waters edge, we found a mixed colony of Yellow and Lesser Masked Weavers in a reed clump. A careful search along the opposite shore revealed Darters, Openbill, Yellow-billed Stork and African Spoonbill. A small opening in the reed edge allowed us to see White-faced Whistling Ducks, several African Swamphens with a half-grown youngster and a Glossy Ibis. A Martial Eagle patrolled beyond, and both Bateleur and African Fish Eagle were seen. An African Marsh Harrier swept through. The small numbers of 'marsh' terns included mainly Whiskered (two in breeding plumage) and just a couple of White-winged Black Terns. Our final stop was a hide built over a waterhole, allowing viewing on three sides. Unfortunately this is reliant on pumped water, which had failed, so we found ourselves looking at dried cracked mud! We decided to abort and return to camp in time for a swim before lunch. However, the dawdlers here were lucky enough to spot a Pygmy Kingfisher, which perched very close and at eye level!
After lunch and a rest, we reconvened at 3.15 for a further drive, this time along the River Loop. Another hide, this time overlooking some water, provided us with close views of Warthogs, a crusty old male with quite a petite female (can a Warthog be petite??), a whole troop of Baboons, and a large male Nyala. Birds were represented by Red-eyed Dove and Green-spotted Wood Dove. Completing the loop, the second vehicle found three Trumpeter Hornbills and a stunning Purple-crested Turaco, whilst the first flushed a Suni from the track side. At one point, there were many dog tracks crossing the main trail, presumably the Wild Dog pack which was relocated here a year or two ago. A large male Kudu was also spotted. Back to camp by 5pm.
Nyala, adolescent male
Sunday 12th November Mkuzi to St Lucia
Generally overcast, cool but humid.
After an early breakfast, we all met up at 6am for the drive to the Fig Forest, on the border of the Park. We saw the vultures nest from yesterday, Giraffe and all the usual antelopes. Angel, our guide, walked us across the suspension bridges and into the forest proper with its fantastic cathedral figs. We had superb views through the telescopes of Broad-billed Rollers, African Broadbill and Trumpeter Hornbills. There were several Green-backed Cameroptera and a brief White-eared Barbet.
We returned to camp, loaded the vehicles and set off for St Lucia, arriving in time for lunch. After a rest and settling in to our rooms, we briefly explored the local estuary. This was blocked from the sea by the sand bar, so there was much water for the crocs & hippos. Around the edge of a grassy island, Curlew Sandpipers were joined by Ruffs, Ringed Plover and White-fronted Plover. A single Caspian Tern flew over, and we had good views of Pink-backed Pelican and Woolly-necked Stork. Further up the estuary, we found several Thick-billed Weavers, and as we turned into the car park, a large band of Banded Mongooses went into a frenzied heap of scent marking each other, before running off along the reed edge.
Monday 13th November St Lucia Wetland Park
Wet! Wet! Wet!
Despite the rain, one of us booked on to the early morning whale-watching trip. The rest of us gathered for a 7am breakfast but with torrential rain continuing from the previous night, we abandoned all thoughts of our birding walk through the coastal forest. Instead, we boarded the vehicles and set off to explore the Wetland Reserve. Kudu were magnificent, and several Waterbuck were seen. Raptors, sitting sulkingly in the rain on dead trees, included Yellow-billed Kites and Steppe Buzzards. Two Broad-billed Rollers were also seen and there were several small groups of Reedbuck. The Dune Forest, where again we were hoping to have a picnic lunch was extremely wet, so we turned around and took the loop road through the dunes and along the lake shore. Here both Yellow-throated and Cape Longclaws seem to co-exist in the same habitat. We found our first Croaking Cisticolas and both Red-capped and Flappet Larks. Several Grey Duiker were noted and it was whilst the first vehicle was watching one of these running full pelt across the road that we completely missed the Oribi found by the second vehicle.
We returned to the hotel for lunch, where the rain intensified once more and we decided to have a free afternoon. The early morning whale-watching trip was indeed wet but provided great views of a Humpback Whale breeching alongside the boat. A later river trip enabled really close views of the crocs & hippos, together with the weavers and a Goliath Heron. This encouraged three more of the group to book on the afternoon river trip, particularly as the weather cleared right on cue for this .......
Tuesday 14th November St Lucia, Durban, Underburg, Hienville
Sunny & warm.
Because of the heavy rain yesterday, we decided on an early pre-breakfast walk in the coastal forest. The day dawned bright and sunny, and we gathered at 5am for the short drive. All the rain had simply soaked into the sandy trails so walking was easy, and we quickly found ourselves listening to a cacophony of bird song. We managed good views of Natal Robins and both Sombre & Yellow-bellied Greenbuls within the thick under-storey. Sitting out on the higher branches were Trumpeter Hornbills and Square-tailed Drongos, and searching the high outer branches were Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds and Rudd's Apalis. We returned for a 7am breakfast, and were loaded and away by 8am. Heading south towards Durban, we noted Long-crested Eagles en route and, as the rain had encouraged termites to swarm, numerous Yellow-billed Kites. At Durban, we stopped briefly at the river, finding good numbers of Swift Terns, with fewer Common Terns and one or two Caspian Terns. A flock of Greenshanks were roosting on the sandy shoreline opposite, and both Purple and Goliath Herons were present. We had a snack lunch at the Botanic Gardens, and then spent an hour wandering round the lake or looking at the orchid display in the Orchid House. There was a nesting colony of Sacred Ibis and also both Hadeda Ibis and African Spoonbills were wandering around the lake waiting for bread from passers-by! The rushes around the lake held a couple of Cape White-eyes and we also had a couple of sightings of Little Rush/African Sedge Warbler.
In the afternoon we headed up into the foothills of the Drakensburg, arriving at our farmhouse accommodation at around 4pm. Almost immediately a Gymnogene flew over, then, after a cup of tea watching Pin-tailed Whydahs and an African Hoopoe on the lawn and a horde of Red-billed Queleas in the hedge, we took a short walk down the valley towards the lake, finding Common Waxbills and Cape Sparrows amongst the horde of queleas in the paddock and Cape Vultures overhead.
Wednesday 15th November Sani Pass to Lesotho & back
Virtually cloudless, hot.
We were away in the four-wheel drive vehicles after a 6:30 breakfast. Wilson and Warren, our drivers for the day, made good time and we were soon climbing up through stunning limestone scenery, and watching Cape Robin-chats, Ground Woodpecker, some excellent Jackal Buzzards and Red-capped Larks. Then we were discussing and closely inspecting the pipits, since these were Mountain Pipits, a newly discovered summer visitor to this very confined area, virtually endemic to Lesotho and very similar to the African Pipit we had been seeing elsewhere. A displaying male Yellow Bishop made a nice change from the Red Bishops we have been seeing regularly elsewhere. Further on we stopped for the stunning Malachite Sunbirds, feeding on the massed orange Crocosmia flowers on the slopes, and also brief views of Gurney's Sugarbird. We passed through the South African border post and onwards, the climb getting steeper and the scenery more stunning, until the hairpin bends heralded our approach to the summit and the Lesotho border post. These high grasslands are incredibly beautiful in good weather, but we must never be fooled. During the winter, temperatures can drop well below freezing with snow on the ground. We saw Sickle-winged Chats and Sentinal Rock Thrushes prior to our visit to the village with excellent homemade bread and beer. Here, unwanted clothes were also donated to the villagers. Returning to the Sani Pass Inn, the highest pub in Africa, for lunch, we were also soon watching a pair of Drakensburg Rockjumpers, various Cape Buntings, Cape Canaries and Drakensburg Siskins and of course, Sloggett's Ice-Rat. Several pairs of White-naped Ravens were also noted.
Heading back down, we made various stops, for Barratt's Warbler and Cape Grassbird, further excellent Gurney's Sugarbirds on the proteas and Malachite Sunbirds on the Crocosmia. Time was moving on, so we headed back to the farm, very well satisfied.
Thursday 16th November Final exploration around Himeville area & departure
We drove a circuit around the Himeville area in the morning. At one lake, as well as Grey and Black-headed Herons, a single Black Heron flew in and landed on the bank. There were three nests of African Spoonbill, each with well-grown chicks, and many Red-knobbed Coots, also on nests. Although the vulture restaurant had no vultures in attendance, we eventually found several Cape Vultures circling in the distance.
Packing up and loading the trailer, we were on our way to the airport. We had several nice sightings of Long-crested Eagle perched on roadside poles, and passed a good number of Southern Crowned Cranes. We dropped those of the group staying on in Durban for an extra night at their beachside hotel, bade our farewells and arrived at the airport soon after 5pm for our flights home via Johannesburg.
Friday 17th November Arrival at Heathrow
The various species lists below use the following references:
Birds: We use the suggested worldwide English names and systematic order as found in World
Bird Species Checklist: with alternate English & scientific names (Wells, M.G., 1998).
Also: Birds of Southern Africa (Sinclair, I., Hockey, P. & Tarboton, W., 3rd edn., 2002).
Mammals: Mammals of the World, A Checklist (Duff, Andrew & Lawson, Ann, 2004).
Also: The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals (Kingdon, J., 1997).
Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa (Stuart, C. & T., 3rd edn., 2001)
Butterflies: Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa (Woodhall, S., 2005).
Dragonflies: First Field Guide to Dragonflies of Southern Africa (Goodwin, W. & V., 2003).
OSTRICHES - Struthionidae
Common Ostrich Struthio camelus: Noted on 2 days in Kruger with at least 6 including a pair with chicks on 3rd, 3 on 4th.
GREBES - Podicipedidae
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis: Noted on 4 days with 2 on 8th, several on 9th, 1 on 14th, at least 20 on 16th.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 9th, 1 on river at Durban on 14th.
ANHINGAS / DARTERS - Anhingidae
African Darter Anhinga rufa: Noted in small numbers on 5 days with 3 on 3rd, 1 on 4th, 1 on 6th, 2 on 11th, 1 on 16th.
White-breasted Cormorant Phalacrocorax lucidus: Noted on 4 days with 2 on 8th, 4 on 9th, at least 6 on 14th, 1 on 16th.
Long-tailed/Reed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus: Several noted on each of 10 days.
PELICANS - Pelicanidae
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus: One on 11th was our only record.
Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens: Noted on 3 days with 2 on 11th, at least 16 Mkuzi plus 1 St Lucia on 12th, nesting colony on 14th.
HERONS, EGRETS & BITTERNS Ardeidae
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea: Regularly noted on 12 days.
Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala: Ones & twos noted on 8 days with 1 on 6th, juv on 7th, 1 on 8th, several on 9th, 1 on 10th, 1 on 13th, 1 on 14th, 2 on 16th.
Goliath Heron Ardea goliath: Up to three noted on 8 days with 3 on 2nd, 2 on 3rd, 2 on 4th, 1 on 6th, 2 on 7th, 1 on 11th, several on 13th, 1 on river on 14th.
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea: Up to three noted on 5 days with 1 on 8th, 2 on 9th, 1 on 12th, 3 on 13th, 1 on river on 14th.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis: Good numbers noted on 6 days; on 3rd, 8th-10th, 12th, & 14th.
Great [White] Egret Casmerodius albus: Noted in small numbers on 5 days with 3 on 3rd, several on 4th, 11th & 12th, 1 on 13th.
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia: Several at Wakkerstroom on 9th.
Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca: One near Himeville on 16th.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta: Noted in small numbers on 7 days with 2 on 3rd, singles on 4th, 6th, 8th & 12th, several on 13th, 1 on river on 14th.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides: Singles noted on 2 days, 2nd & 11th.
Striated Heron Butorides striatus: Noted in small numbers on 5 days with several on 2nd, several on 3rd, 2 on 5th, 2 on 6th, 1 on 13th.
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax: Singles noted on 2 days, 5th & 13th.
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus: One during the river trip at St Lucia on 13th was our only record.
Hamerkop Scopus umbretta: Noted in small numbers on 5 days with 1 on 2nd, 1 on 4th, 1 on 5th, several on 6th, 3 on 9th.
Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis: Noted on 7 days with at least 10 on 3rd, at least 10 on 4th, 1 on 5th, 2 on 6th, a tree-ful on 7th, 2 on 11th, 2 on 12th.
African Openbill Anastomus lamelligerus: Singles noted on 4 days, 5th-7th & 11th.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra: Noted only on 1 day, 3 on 7th.
Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus: Noted on 3 days with singles on 11th & 12th, several on 13th.
Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis: Noted in small numbers on 6 days with 2 on 2nd, 1 on 3rd, 7 on 4th, several on 6th, several on 7th, 1 on 13th.
Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus: Five at Letaba on 4th was our only record.
IBISES & SPOONBILLS Threskiornithidae
Sacred Ibis Threskiomis aethiopicus: Noted on 5 days with many on 2nd, several on 8th, at least 6 on 9th, nesting colony on 14th, many on 16th.
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus: Noted on 2 days with 4 on both 8th & 9th.
Hadeda Ibis Bostrychia hagedash: Noted in varying numbers on 13 days.
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 11th & 12th.
African Spoonbill Platalea alba: Noted in small numbers on 8 days with 2 on 2nd-4th, 2 on 8th, several on 9th, 2 on 11th, 2 Botanical Gardens on 14th, 3 nests with young on 16th.
White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata: Noted on 5 days with at least 5 on 4th, ca.40 on 5th, at least 30 on 7th, at least 4 on 11th, many on 13th.
Fulvous Whistling Duck Thalassomis leuconotus: Five at Mlondozi on 6th.
SWANS, GEESE & DUCKS Anatidae
White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus: Three near Himeville on 16th.
Maccoa Duck Oxyura maccoa: Noted on 2 days with at least 30 at Fickland Pan on 9th, several near Himeville on 16th.
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca: Noted most days, often with goslings.
Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis: Noted in varying numbers on 9 days, maximum count was at least 25 on 6th.
Knob-billed/Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos: Noted in small numbers on 4 days, though at least 39 on 6th.
Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata: Noted on 5 days with at least 22 on 8th, at least 40 on 9th, and several on 13th, 14th & 16th.
African Black Duck Anas sparsa: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 6th, 4 on 7th.
Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhyncha: Four at Mkuzi on 11th.
Cape Shoveler Anas smithii: Noted on 2 days with 1 at Fickland Pan on 9th, at least 15 near Himeville on 16th.
Southern Pochard Netta erythrophthalma: Noted on 2 days with at least 20 at Fickland Pan on 9th, several near Himeville on 16th.
HAWKS, EAGLES & allies - Accipitridae
Black-shouldered/-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus: Noted on 6 days with singles on 3rd, 4th, 7th & 8th, at least 10 on 9th, several on 10th.
Yellow-billed Kite Milvus aegypteus/parasitus: Noted generally in small numbers on 9 days with 1 on 3rd, several on 4th, 1 over camp during pm on 5th, several on 6th, several on 7th, 1 on 11th, several on 12th, several on 13th, regular en route on 14th.
African Fish-eagle Haliaetus vocifer: Noted in small numbers on 8 days with 2 on 2nd, 2 on 3rd, 2 on 4th, several on 6th, several on 7th, 2 on 11th, at least 4 on 12th, 4 on 13th.
Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus: Two, Kruger NP, on 6th.
White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipatalis: A pair plus one other, Kruger NP, on 7th.
Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus: One, Kruger NP, on 4th.
Cape [Griffon] Vulture Gyps coprotheres: Noted on 3 days with 4 on 14th, 2 on 15th, at least 4 distantly on 16th.
[African] White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus: Noted on 8 days with at least 20 probably this species on 3rd, at least 15 on 4th, at least 10 on 5th, several on 6th & 7th, a pair on nest on 10th-12th.
Black-chested Snake-eagle Circaetus pectoralis: One, Kruger NP, on 7th.
Brown Snake-eagle Circaetus cinereus: Noted on 3 days with 2 on 3rd, 1 on 4th, several on 7th.
Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus: Up to three noted on 7 days in Kruger & Mkuzi, with several on 2nd, 2 on 3rd, 2 on 4th, 1 on 5th, at least 3 on 6th, several on 7th, 2 on 11th.
African Harrier-hawk / Gymnogene Polyboroides typus: Singles noted on 4 days with 1 seen well by first bus on 7th, then on 11th, 14th & 16th.
African Marsh Harrier Circus ranivorus: Noted on 3 days with a pair on 8th & 9th, 1 on 11th.
African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro: One at Misty Mountain on 8th.
Little Sparrowhawk Accipiter minullus: Singles noted on 3 days, Kruger NP on 2nd & 4th, and en route to Mkuzi on 10th.
Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk Accipiter rufiventris: One near Wakerstroom on 9th.
Steppe Buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus: Noted in varying numbers on 6 days with 1 on 7th, numerous on 8th, 1 on 9th, 2 on 10th, several on 13th, several on 14th.
Jackal Buzzard Buteo rufofuscus: Noted on 4 days with at least 6 on 7th, 1 on 8th, 3 on 15th, several on 16th.
Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax: Noted on 4 days with 1 probably this species on 4th, several on 5th & 6th, 1 on 12th.
Wahlberg's Eagle Aquila wahlbergi: Noted on 8 days with several on 2nd & 4th-7th, two nests plus other sightings on 10th, singles on 11th & 12th.
Martial Eagle Polemaetus bellicosus: Noted on 5 days with the first seen distantly in flight on 2nd, then one perched on 5th, one dismembering a Steenbok on 7th, other singles on 11th & 12th.
Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis: Noted in small numbers in the coastal lowlands on 5 days, 12th-16th.
Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius: Noted on 3 days with 3 on 4th, 1 from vehicle plus 1 on nest on 6th, 1 on nest on 7th.
FALCONS & allies Falconidae
Rock [Common] Kestrel Falco [tinnunculus] rupicolus: Singles noted on 2 , on 8th & 15th.
Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus: One distantly near St Lucia on 13th.
PHEASANTS, PARTRIDGES & allies - Phasianidae
Swainson's Spurfowl/Francolin Francolinus swainsonii: Noted in small numbers on 7 days, 3rd-8th, & 10th.
Natal Francolin Francolinus natalensis: Noted commonly on 7 days, often around the camps, on 2nd-8th.
Crested Francolin Peliperdix sephaena: Noted on 4 days with 1 on 3rd, 2 on 5th, several on 6th & 7th.
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix: Noted on 2 days with 2 on roadside on 5th, several heard on 16th.
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris: Noted regularly on 8 days, 3rd-11th.
Crested Guineafowl Guttera pucherani: Noted on 3 days at Mkuzi & St Lucia with several pairs on 11th-13th.
Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus: Eight en route to Wakkerstroom on 8th.
Grey/Southern Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum: Noted on 6 days in Wakkerstroom & Himeville areas, with 3 on 8th, 4 on 9th, 4 on 10th, 2 on 14th, 2 on 15th, at least 35 on 16th.
RAILS & COOTS Rallidae
Black Crake Amauromis flavirostris: Noted on 4 days with 3 on 4th, at least 7 on 5th, several on 6th, 2 on 7th.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus: Noted on 4 days with 1 on 9th, 1 on 13th, 1 on 14th, several on 16th.
African [Purple] Swamphen Porphyrio [porphyrio] madagascariensis: Noted on 3 days with several on 9th, several including chicks on 11th, 3 on 13th.
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata: Noted on 5 days often in large numbers, with many on 8th, many on 9th, 3 on 14th, several on 15th, many nesting & young on 16th.
Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori: At least 15, Kruger NP, on 3rd.
Red-crested Korhaan Eupodotis ruficrista: Noted on 3 days, Kruger NP, with 1 close to road plus 2 others on 3rd, 1 on roadside on 4th, 1 on 7th.
Blue Korhaan Eupodotis caerulescens: Two pairs near Wakkerstroom on 9th.
Black-bellied Bustard Eupodotis melanogaster: Noted on 4 days with 2 on 5th, 1 on 8th, 1 on 9th, 2 on 10th.
African Jacana Actophilomis africanus: Noted on 9 days in small numbers.
STILTS & AVOCETS Recurvirostridae
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus: Noted in small numbers on 6 days, 2nd-4th, 6th, 7th & 11th.
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta: Noted on 3 days with 2 on 2nd, 2 on 3rd, several on 4th.
THICK-KNEES / STONE-CURLEWS Burhinidae
Water Thick-knee Burhinus vermiculatus: Noted on 5 days with several seen distantly from camp plus 4 very close during day on 3rd, several on 4th, at least 6 on 6th & 7th, 2 on 12th.
Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis: One near Wakkerstroom on 9th.
COURSERS & PRATINCOLES Glareolidae
Temmincks Courser Cursorius temminckii: Excellent views of 3, Kruger NP, on 3rd.
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola: Noted on 2 days with several on 3rd, 2 on 4th.
LAPWINGS & PLOVERS Charadriidae
White-crowned Lapwing Vanellus albiceps: Two, Kruger NP, on 4th.
Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus: Noted on 3 days with 1 on 3rd, a pair during the day plus another 3 pairs on the airstrip at sunset on 5th, several on 9th.
African Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus: Noted on 3 days with a pair on 7th, several pairs on 9th, at least 10 on 13th.
Blacksmith Lapwing Vanellus armatus: Noted regularly on 12 days.
Grey/Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola: At least 3 at St Lucia on 12th.
[Common] Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula: Noted on 2 days with 1, St Lucia, on 12th, and 2 at Durban on 14th.
Kittlitzs Plover Charadrius pecuarius: Noted on 2 days with 1 distantly on 3rd, several on 4th.
Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris: Noted in small numbers on 6 days, Kruger NP on 3rd-7th, plus 2 at St Lucia on 13th.
White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 6th, 1 on 12th.
SANDPIPERS, SNIPES & allies Scolopacidae
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis: Singles noted on 3 days, on 3rd, 4th & 16th.
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia: Noted on 7 days with 1 on 2nd, 2 on 3rd, several on 4th, 1 on 6th, 4 on 12th, several on 13th, at least 30 on 14th.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola: Noted on 7 days with 1 on 2nd-3rd, several on 4th, 6th & 7th, 2 on 11th, 1 on 16th.
Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos: Mainly singles noted on 6 days, with 1 on 2nd, 2 on 6th, 1 on 7th & 11th - 13th.
African Snipe Gallinago nigripennis: At least 16 at Wakkerstroom on 9th.
Sanderling Calidris alba: One at St Lucia on 14th.
Little Stint Calidris minuta: Noted in small numbers on 4 days with several on 3rd & 4th, 1 on 6th & again on 12th.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea: Noted on 3 days with several on 3rd & 4th, at least 20 on 12th.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax: Noted on 6 days with many on 2nd, several on 3rd, several on 4th, 1 on 11th, 5 on 12th, at least 20 on 13th.
Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus: Noted on 2 days with at least 6 on 12th, many on 14th.
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus: At least 5 at Mkuzi on 11th.
White-winged [Black] Tern Chlidonias leucopterus: At least 2 at Mkuzi on 11th.
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia: Noted on 3 days with 1 on 12th, 2 on 13th, at least 2 on 14th.
Swift/Crested Tern Sterna bergii: At least 30 at Durban on 14th.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo: At least 10 at Durban on 14th.
DOVES & PIGEONS Columbidae
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon Columba livia: Noted only on 8th & 14th.
Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea: Noted on 5 days with 2 pairs on 8th, common on 9th, several on 14th-16th.
African Olive/Rameron Pigeon Columba arquatrix: Two at Misty Mountain on 8th.
African Mourning Dove Streptopelia decipiens: Twos & threes noted on 3 days, 4th-6th.
Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata: Noted in small numbers on 7 days, 7th-8th, 11th, 13th-16th.
Cape Turtle/Ring-necked Dove Streptopelia capicola: Noted regularly on 9 days.
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis: Noted commonly on 13 days.
Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove Turtur chalcospilos: Either heard or seen in small numbers on 8 days.
Namaqua Dove Oena capensis: Many noted on 2nd.
African Green-Pigeon Treron calvus: Ones and twos noted on 5 days.
PARROTS & allies Psittacidae
Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus: Noted on 4 days with at least 20 at Satara Camp on 4th & 5th, then several on 6th & 7th.
Grey Go-away-bird Corythaixoides concolor: Regularly noted in small numbers on 6 days, 2nd - 7th.
Purple-crested Turaco Musophaga porphyreolopha: Noted on 3 days with at least 4 on 7th, 1 on 10th, several on 11th.
Livingstones Turaco Tauraco livingstonii: Several at St Lucia on 14th.
OLD WORLD CUCKOOS Cuculidae
Levaillants [Striped] Cuckoo Oxylophus levaillantii: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 5th, heard on 7th.
Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius: Noted on 2 days with a pair at lunch plus another round camp on 10th, 1 on 11th.
Black Cuckoo Cuculus clamosus: Heard, but not seen, on 15th.
African Cuckoo Cuculus gularis: Heard, but not seen, on 5th.
Klaass Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas: Noted on 3 days with 1 on 8th, heard on 9th, 1 on 13th.
Diderick/Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius: Noted on 3 days with 1 around camp during pm on 5th, 1 on 6th, 2 on 7th.
Burchells Coucal Centropus burchelli: Noted on 6 days with 1 very close on 3rd, several on 4th, seen regularly on 5th, then several on 6th, 7th & 13th.
BARN OWLS Tytonidae
Barn Owl Tyto alba: One in the restaurant rafters at Mopani Camp on 2nd & 3rd.
African Scops Owl Otus senegalensis: Heard during the evenings on 4th & 5th, 1 seen on 6th.
Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium periatum: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 5th, 2 on 7th.
NIGHTJARS & NIGHTHAWKS Caprimulgidae
Square-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus fossii: One found dead on road on 3rd.
African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus: Several noted on 4 days, 2nd, 4th, 6th, & 14th.
Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba: Several overhead at Misty Mountain on 8th.
African Black Swift Apus barbatus: Noted on 7 days with at least 1 with Little Swifts over camp during pm on 5th, then several on 8th-12th & 15th.
Little Swift Apus affinis: Noted regularly, often in large numbers, on 12 days.
White-rumped Swift Apus caffer: Noted in small numbers on 5 days, 5th & 9th-12th.
Horus Swift Apus horus: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 2nd, many on 4th.
Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus: Noted on 9 days with 4 plus 2 in camp on 5th, 2 on 6th, at least 5 on 7th, at least 5 on 8th, at least 5 on 9th, regular on 10th, several on 14th-16th.
Red-faced Mousebird Urocolius indicus: Noted on 2 days with 4 on 3rd, at least 2 on 11th.
Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle maxima: Ones & twos noted on 3 days on 3rd, 5th & 7th.
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis: Noted on 9 days with several on 2nd - 4th, several on 6th, several on 7th, p on 8th, several on 9th, 2 on 12th, at least 12 on 13th.
Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata: Noted on 5 days with 1 on 3rd, 2 on 5th, 1 on 6th, 1 on 13th, 1 on 16th.
African Pygmy-Kingfisher Ispidina picta: One seen by the dawdlers at one of the hides at Mkuzi on 11th.
Brown-hooded Kingfisher Halcyon albiventris: Noted on 4 days with 2 on 4th, 1 on 7th, 1 en route on 12th, at least 5 on 13th.
White-fronted Bee-eater Merops bullockoides: At least 4, Kruger NP, on 4th.
Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus: Singles noted on 2 days with 1 on 2nd, 1 on 10th.
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster: Several noted on 8 days; 2nd-4th, 6th, 7th, 10th-12th.
Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudate: Noted in small numbers on 7 days, 2nd-7th & 11th.
Purple Roller Coracias naevia: Noted on 4 days with 1 on 3rd, 2 on 4th, several on 5th, 1 on 6th.
Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus: Noted on 2 days with at least 2 on 12th, 2 on 13th.
African Hoopoe Upupa africana: Noted on 10 days with 1 on 2nd & 3rd, 3 on 4th, several around camp on 5th, 6th & 10th, 1 on 11th-12th, 14th-15th.
Red-billed Woodhoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus: Noted on 3 days with several on 2nd, 2 around camp on 5th, a pair during lunch on 10th.
Common Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 2nd, several on 10th.
African Grey Hornbill Tockus nasutus: Noted in small numbers on 6 days with 1 on 2nd, 2 on 3rd, several on 4th-7th.
Red-billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus: Noted regularly on 6 days; 2nd-7th.
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus leucomelas: Noted regularly on 7 days; 2nd-7th & on 10th.
Trumpeter Hornbill Ceratogymna bucinator: Noted on 5 days with 2 in flight on 10th, several on 11th - 13th, 2 on 14th.
Southern Ground Hornbill Bucorvus cafer: Noted on 3 days with 3 on 4th, 3 on 5th, 4 on 6th.
AFRICAN BARBETS Lybiidae
White-eared Barbet Smilorhis leucotis: Singles noted briefly on 12th & 14th.
Red-fronted Tinkerbird Pogoniulus pusillus: A pair at Mkuzi on 11th.
Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus: Heard on 10th, several seen on 14th.
Black-collared Barbet Lybius torquatus: Noted on 4 days with 1 on 5th, singles males on 7th, 10th & 11th.
Crested Barbet Trachyphonus vaillantii: Noted on 3 days with a pair at nest hole on 4th, 2 around camp on 5th & 6th.
Red-throated Wryneck Jynx ruficollis: Singles noted on 2 days on 8th & 16th.
Bennetts Woodpecker Campethera bennettii: Noted on 2 days with 1 at camp on 5th & 6th.
Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni: Noted on 5 days with 3 on 3rd, then singles on 6th, & 10th - 12th.
Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus: Noted on 2 days with 2 juvs on 9th, 1 on 15th.
Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 4th, a pair on 10th.
African Broadbill Smithornis capensis: One in the Fig Forest on 12th.
Rufous-naped Lark Mirafra africana: Noted on 2 days with 1 distantly on 5th, regularly seen along road on 13th.
Flappet Lark Mirafra rufocinnamomea: Several at St Lucia on 13th.
Sabota Lark Mirafra sabota: Noted on 3 days with several on 3rd, seen distantly on 4th, several beside road on 5th.
Spike-heeled Lark Chersomanes albofasciata: Several near Wakkerstroom on 9th.
Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea: Noted on 2 days with several in Wakkerstroom area on 9th, and en route to Sani Pass on 15th.
Large-billed Lark Galerida magnirostris: Several en route to Sani Pass on 15th.
Chestnut-backed Finch-lark Eremopterix leucotis: Several flocks, Kruger NP, on 3rd.
SWALLOWS & MARTINS Hirundinidae
Brown-throated/Plain [Sand] Martin Riparia paludicola: Noted on 2 days with at least 6 on 6th, at least 30 on 16th.
Banded Martin Riparia cincta: Noted on 2 days with several on 9th, and again on 16th.
Rock Martin Ptyonoprogne fuligula: Noted on 2 days with several at Johannesburg Airport on 2nd, good numbers Sani Pass on 15th.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica: Noted most days.
White-throated Swallow Hirundo albigularis: Several noted on 8th, 9th, & 16th.
Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii: Noted on 4 days with 2 on 3rd & 4th, 1 on 6th & 7th.
Greater Striped Swallow Hirundo cucullata: Noted on 5 days with several on 9th, 10th, & 14th, many on 15th & 16th.
Lesser Striped Swallow Hirundo abyssinica: Noted on 8 days with singles on 2nd, 3rd & 5th, a pair on 6th, several on 8th, many nesting around bungalows on 10th-12th.
Red-breasted/Rufous-chested Swallow Hirundo semirufa: Noted on 5 days with 2 on 4th, several pairs on 5th - 7th, 2 on 13th.
Mosque Swallow Hirundo senegalensis: Noted on 2 days with 1 pair around large dead tree on 5th, and another pair on 6th.
South African [Cliff] Swallow Hirundo spilodera: Noted on 3 days with several on 8th, nesting under bridge on 9th, at least 1 on 16th.
[Common] House Martin Delichon urbica: Noted only at Johannesburg Airport on 2nd.
Black Saw-wing [Swallow] Psalidoprocne pristoptera: One at St Lucia on 13th.
Lesser Striped Swallow, collecting mud
(Don & Shelagh Evans)
Southern Double-collared Sunbird
WAGTAILS & PIPITS Motacillidae
African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp: Noted regularly in small numbers on 10 days; 2nd-8th & 11th-13th.
Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis: Noted on 3 days with several on 8th, 1 on 14th, 1 on 16th.
Cape/Orange-throated Longclaw Macronyx capensis: Noted on 4 days with 1 on 8th, at least 15 on 9th, several on 13th, 1 on 16th.
Yellow-throated Longclaw Macronyx croceus: Noted on 3 days with several seen well beside road on 5th, 1 on 7th, several on 13th.
African/Grassveld Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus: Noted on 3 days with many on 9th, 1 on 13th, several on 16th.
Mountain Pipit Anthus hoeschi: At least 2 en route to Sani Pass on 15th.
Long-billed Pipit Anthus similes: One near Wakkerstroom on 9th.
Dark-capped Bulbul Pycnonotus tricolor: Noted most days.
Sombre Greenbul Andropadus importunes: Noted on 5 days with 1 on 8th, 1 on 10th, several on 11th, 1 on 12th, several on 14th.
Yellow-bellied Greenbul Chlorocichla flaviventris: Noted on 3 days with 1 on 4th, couple on 11th, several on 14th.
Terrestrial Brownbul Phyllastrephus terrestris: Two at St Lucia on 14th.
Eastern [Yellow-spotted] Nicator Nicator gularis: Noted on 2 days with a couple briefly on 11th, 1 on 14th.
White-crested Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus: Noted on 3 days with 1 on 3rd, at least 5 on 4th, at least 6 on 10th.
Brubru Nilaus afer: Singles noted on 2 days on 6th & 7th.
Black-backed Puffback Dryoscopus cubia: Noted on 9 days with several on 2nd, 1 on 3rd, 2 on 4th, 1 on 5th, a pair on 6th, heard on 10th, a pair collecting nest material on 11th, 1 on 12th, 1 on 14th.
Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegala: Singles noted on 2 days on 7th & 11th.
Brown-crowned Tchagra Tchagra australis: Several, Kruger NP, on 3rd.
Southern Boubou Laniarius ferrugineus: Noted on 6 days with a pair on 6th, heard on 7th, 8th, 14th & 15th, 1 seen on 16th.
Orange-/Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike Telophorus sulfureopectus: Noted on 3 days with 1 heard & another seen very briefly on 5th, a pair on nest on 6th & 7th.
Bokmakierie Telophorus zeylonus: A pair near Wakkerstroom on 9th.
Gorgeous/Four-coloured Bushshrike Telophorus quadricolor: One on 11th seen briefly by one vehicle whilst unsighted from the other!
Magpie Shrike Corvinella melanoleuca: Noted regularly on 5 days, often along the roadside, on 3rd - 7th.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio: Noted on 3 days with single males at roadside on 6th, 7th, & 10th.
Common Fiscal [Shrike] Lanius collaris: Noted regularly on 9 days with several on 7th-10th & 12th-16th. A pair was attending a nest with two young in honeysuckle in bungalow garden on 9th.
THRUSHES & allies Turdidae
Drakensberg Rockjumper Chaetops aurantius: A pair at the Sani Pass on 15th.
Cape Rock Thrush Monticola rupestris: A male en route from the Sani Pass on 15th.
Sentinel Rock Thrush Monticola explorator: Several pairs below the Sani Pass on 15th.
Groundscraper Thrush Psophocichla litsipsirupa: Singles noted on 3 days on 3rd, 5th & 7th.
Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus: Noted on 6 days with singles on 2nd & 3rd, several on 4th, then singles on 10th, 11th & 14th.
Olive Thrush Turdus olivaceus: Several at Misty Mountain on 8th.
Karoo Thrush Turdus [olivaceus] smithi: Several at Misty Mountain on 8th.
OLD WORLD CHATS Saxicoliidae
White-throated Robin-chat Pogonocichla stellata: Noted on 5 days with a pair around cabins on 3rd, 1 on 5th & 6th, several on 7th, 1 singing & seen well several times though briefly on 11th.
Cape Robin-chat Cossypha caffra: Noted on 3 days with 2 on 14th, several on 15th & 16th.
White-browed/Heuglins Robin-chat Cossypha heuglini: One at Lower Sabie on 6th & 7th.
Red-capped Robin-chat / Natal Robin Cossypha natalensis: Noted on 3 days with 1 on 6th, heard singing on 11th, 2 on 14th.
Chorister Robin-chat Cossypha dichroa: Noted on 2 days with heard singing on 11th, 1 seen on 13th.
[Eastern] Bearded Scrub-robin Cercotrichas quadrivirgata: Heard singing, Mkuzi, on 11th.
White-browed Scrub-robin Cercotrichas leucophrys: At least 3, Kruger NP, on 4th.
African Stonechat Saxicola torquata: Noted on 4 days with several on 8th, regular on the fences on 9th, good numbers on 15th, many on 16th.
Mountain Wheatear Oenanthe monticola: At least 3 near Wakkerstroom on 9th.
Sickle-winged Chat Cercomela sinuata: Good numbers in Sani Pass area on 15th.
Familiar/Red-tailed Chat Cercomela familiaris: Several in Sani Pass area on 15th.
Southern Anteating Chat Myrmecocichla formicivora: Noted on 3 days with several in Wakkerstroom area 8th - 10th.
Mocking Cliff-chat Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris: One, Kruger NP, on 3rd.
Arrow-marked Babbler Turdoides jardineii: Noted on 5 days with several small groups on 3rd - 7th.
CISTICOLAS & PRINIAS Cisticolidae
Rattling Cisticola Cisticola chinianus: Noted regularly on 9 days at Kruger, Mkuzi & St Lucia.
Wailing Cisticola Cisticola lais: Several at Misty Mountain on 8th.
Levaillants Cisticola Cisticola tinniens: Noted on 3 days in Wakkerstroom & Himeville areas.
Croaking Cisticola Cisticola natalensis: Two, St Lucia, on 13th.
Neddicky / Piping Cisticola Cisticola fulvicapillus: Noted in ones & twos on 5 days, Kruger & Mkuzi, with several on 3rd, 1 on 7th, 1 on 10th, 2 on 11th, 1 on 12th.
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis: Noted in small numbers on 7 days with several on 3rd, 1 on 8th, 1 on 10th, several on 13th - 16th.
Pale-crowned Cisticola Cisticola cinnamomeus: A fleeting view of one in Wakkerstroom area on 9th.
Wing-snapping/Ayres Cisticola Cisticola ayresii: Several singing overhead at Fickland Pan on 9th proved difficult to see, though we were successful in the end!
Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava: Noted in small numbers on 6 days in Kruger & St Lucia.
Bar-throated Apalis Apalis thoracica: Two at Mlondozi on 7th.
Rudds Apalis Apalis ruddi: A pair at St Lucia on 14th.
Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida: Noted on 2 days with a male on 6th, a pair on 11th.
Green-backed Cameroptera Cameroptera brachyura: Noted on 2 days with 1 on 6th, several on 12th.
OLD WORLD WARBLERS Sylviidae
Little Rush/African Sedge Warbler Bradypterus baboecala: Noted on 2 days with several at Wakkerstroom on 8th, & 2 at Durban on 14th.
Barratts Warbler Bradypterus barratti: Two below Sani Pass on 15th.
Cape Grassbird Sphenoeacus afer: One below Sani Pass on 15th.
Long-billed Crombec Sylvietta rufescens: Noted in small numbers on 5 days with several at Kruger, 3rd - 6th, & 1, Mkuzi, on 11th.
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus: Noted on 2 days with singles on 3rd & 10th.
OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS Muscicapidae
Pale/Mouse-coloured Flycatcher Bradornis pallidus: Two en route to St Lucia on 10th.
Southern Black Flycatcher Melaenomis pammelaina: Noted on 2 days with 1 at camp on 5th, several on 14th.
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata: One at Mopani on 3rd.
WATTLE-EYES & PUFFBACK-FLYCATCHERS Platysteiridae
Woodwards Batis Batis fratum: Several heard at St Lucia on 14th.
Chinspot Batis Batis molitor: Noted on 3 days, Kruger NP, with 1 on 4th & 6th, a pair on 7th.
MONARCH-FLYCATCHERS - Monarchidae
African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis: Noted on 5 days with excellent views at Mopani on 2nd - 4th, 1 on 10th, several on 14th.
TITS & CHICKADEES Paridae
Southern Black Tit Melaniparus niger: Noted on 3 days, Kruger NP, with 1 plus another at camp on 5th, 1 on 6th, a pair feeding yg in nest on 7th.
Collared Sunbird Hedydipna collaris: Several St Lucia & Durban on 14th.
Eastern Olive Sunbird Cyanomitra olivacea: One at St Lucia on 14th.
Amethyst/African Black Sunbird Chalcomitra amethystina: Noted on 2 days at Misty Mountain, 7th & 8th.
Scarlet-chested Sunbird Chalcomitra senegalensis: One at Mkouzi on 12th.
Southern Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris chalybeus: Noted on 2 days at Misty Mountain with a pair on 7th, several on 8th.
Greater Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris afra: Noted on 3 days with several at Misty Mountain on 7th & 8th, a male in the garden at Himeville on 15th.
Marico/Mariqua Sunbird Cinnyris mariquensis: Noted on 3 days, Kruger NP, with a male on 4th, a pair on 6th, a male on 7th.
Purple-banded Sunbird Cinnyris bifasciatus: A male at Mkuzi on 11th.
Malachite Sunbird Nectarinia famosa: Many on the Crocosmia slopes on 15th.
Cape White-eye Zosterops capensis: Noted on 3 days with 1 on 7th, common on 8th, 2 on 14th.
Gurneys Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi: Noted on 2 days with 1 briefly at Misty Mountain on 8th, several on Proteas on 15th.
Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii: Several in forest at St Lucia on 14th.
Fork-tailed/Common Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis: Noted most days.
CROWS, JAYS & MAGPIES Corvidae
Cape/Black Crow Corvus capensis: Noted in small numbers on 6 days, 8th-10th, 14th-16th.
Pied Crow Corvus albus: Noted on 5 days with several on 8th, 2 on 10th & 12th, several on 14th & 16th.
White-necked Raven Corvus albicollis: Several, Sani Pass, on 15th.
OLD WORLD ORIOLES Oriolidae
African Golden Oriole Oriolus auratus: One as we entered Kruger on 2nd.
[Eastern] Black-headed Oriole Oriolus larvatus: Single birds noted on 5 days, on 4th, 7th-8th, 11th & 15th.
Red-winged Starling Onychognathus morio: Noted in small numbers on 7 days with several on 4th, in Wakkerstroom area 8th-10th, and Himeville area 14th-16th.
Black-bellied [Glossy-]Starling Lamprotornis corruscus: Noted in small numbers, Mkuzi & St Lucia, on 4 days, 10th-12th & 14th.
Cape [Glossy-]Starling Lamprotornis nitens: Noted commonly on 7 days in Kruger NP on 2nd-7th, and Wakkerstroom on 9th.
Greater Blue-eared [Glossy-]Starling Lamprotornis chalybaeus: Noted on 5 days, Kruger NP, 2nd-6th.
Burchells [Glossy-]Starling Lamprotornis australis: Noted on 4 days, Kruger NP, with at least 50 on 4th-5th, fewer on 6th-7th.
African Pied Starling Spreo bicolor: Regularly noted on 3 days at Wakkerstroom.
Violet-backed Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster: Noted in small numbers on 4 days with 1 at camp on 5th, 1 Mkuzi on 10th, at least 7 on 11th, several on 12th.
Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea: Noted on 4 days, generally with buffalo herds, 3rd-6th.
Common/European Starling Sturnus vulgaris: Two near Himeville on 16th.
Common/Indian Myna Acridotheres tristis: Regularly noted on 7 days; 8th-10th, 12th-14th & 16th.
Yellow-billed Oxpecker Buphagus africanus: One on 4th.
Red-billed Oxpecker Buphagus erythrorhynchus: Noted on 6 days, Kruger & Mkuzi, with several on Buffalo & Giraffe on 3rd, up to 10 on 5th-7th, 3 on 10th-11th.
BUNTINGS & NEW WORLD SPARROWS Emberizidae
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting Emberiza tahapisi: A female soon after entering Kruger on 2nd.
Cape Bunting Emberiza capensis: Several at Sani Pass on 15th.
Golden-breasted Bunting Emberiza flaviventris: Noted on 3 days with 1 on 4th, a pair on 10th, a male on 11th.
Cape/Yellow-crowned Canary Serinus canicollis: Noted on 3 days at Wakkerstroom & Sani Pass with 1 on 8th, regular on 9th, several on 15th.
Yellow-fronted /-eyed Canary Serinus mozambicus: Regularly noted on 7 days at Kruger, Mkuzi & St Lucia.
Drakensberg Siskin Serinus symonsi: Several at Sani Pass on 15th.
Green-winged Pytilia / Melba Finch Pytilia melba: Noted on 2 days with several on 5th with a male seen particularly well, another seen on 6th.
Pink-throated Twinspot Hypargos margaritatus: A pair (leader only), Mkuzi, on 11th.
Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta senegala: Regularly seen on 5th.
African/Blue-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata: Several on 5th.
Blue Waxbill Uraeginthus angolensis: Noted regularly but in small numbers on 8 days, Kruger & Mkuzi.
Swee Waxbill Estrilda melanotis: One at Misty Mountain on 8th.
Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild: Noted on 6 days in varying numbers, maximum count ca20 on 9th.
African Quailfinch Ortygospiza atricollis: Several brief views around Fickland Pan on 9th.
Bronze Mannikin Lonchura cucullata: Two on 14th.
Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura: Widespread and noted regularly on 8 days.
Long-tailed/Eastern Paradise Whydah Vidua paradisaea: One, out of colour, probably this species near Wakkerstroom on 9th.
Red-billed Buffalo-weaver Bubalornis niger: Many around Satara Camp on 5th & 6th.
Lesser Masked Weaver Ploceus intermedius: Widespread and noted regularly on 10 days.
Spectacled Weaver Ploceus ocularis: At least 6 on 5th.
Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis: Noted on 4 days, 8th-10th & 16th.
Yellow/African Golden Weaver Ploceus subaureus: Noted at Mkuzi & St Lucia with nesting with Lesser Masked in reed clump on 11th, also on 12th & 13th.
Southern Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus: Regularly noted on 5 days, 3rd-4th, & 8th-10th.
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus: Regularly noted on 6 days, 3rd-4th, 6th-8th & 14th.
Dark-backed/Forest Weaver Ploceus bicolor: One briefly at the Fig Forest on 12th.
Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps: Noted in small numbers, Kruger, 2nd-4th.
Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea: Noted on 8 days, often large flocks, 3rd-7th, 14th-16th.
Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix: Noted commonly on 7 days, 8th-12th, 14th & 16th.
Yellow Bishop Euplectes capensis: Two males below Sani Pass on 15th.
Fan-tailed Widowbird Euplectes axillaris: Noted in small numbers on 7 days, Wakkerstroom, St Lucia & Himeville.
Long-tailed Widowbird Euplectes progne: Many noted on 6 days at Wakkerstroom & Himeville.
White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus: Flocks probably this species as we arrived at Kruger on 3rd; unfortunately none were full-plumaged males.
Red-collared Widowbird Euplectes ardens: A male as we left the Himeville area on 16th.
Thick-billed/Grosbeak Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons: Noted in small numbers at St Lucia, including nesting birds, 12th-14th.
OLD WORLD SPARROWS - Passeridae
House Sparrow Passer domesticus: Widespread and noted on 11 days.
Cape Sparrow Passer melanurus: Commonly noted at Himeville on 3 days, 14th -16th.
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer diffusus: Widespread in small numbers on 7 days, 3rd-7th, 9th & 14th.
FRUIT BATS - Pteropodidae
Wahlberg's Epauletted Fruit-Bat Epomophorus wahlbergi: Noted on 2 days with several roosting under thatched verandas at Satara Camp on 5th, many roosting under cafe roof at Skukuze on 7th.
SHEATH-TAILED BATS - Emballonuridae
Mauritian Tomb Bat Taphozous mauritianus: Noted roosting in the expansion gaps of several bridges on 4th.
LORISES - Lorisidae
Thick-tailed Galago / Bushbaby Otolemur crassicaudatus: One seen soon after dark over cabins at Lower Sabie Camp on 6th.
OLD WORLD MONKEYS - Cercopithecinae
Chacma Baboon Papio ursinus: Groups noted on 9 days, Kruger 4th-7th, en route on 8th, Mkuzi & St Lucia 11th-13th, en route to Sani Pass 15th.
Vervet Monkey Chlorocebus [aethiops] pygerythrus: Widespread and groups noted on 9 days; 4th-8th, & 10th-13th.
DOGS - Canidae
Black-backed Jackal Canis mesomelas: Heard outside Mopani Camp early on 4th.
[African] Wild Dog Lycaon pictus: Many tracks along the trail at one point on 11th, Mkuzi. This was a recently relocated pack.
CIVETS - Viverridae
Common/Small-spotted Genet Genetta genetta: One spotlit during the night drive from Mopani Camp on 3rd.
MONGOOSES - Herpestidae
Suricate / Meerkat Suricata suricatta: A group of at least 10 near Wakkerstroom on 9th.
[Common] Slender Mongoose Herpestes sanguineus: Noted on 3 days, Kruger, with 1 across road in front of us on 3rd, 2 across road on 4th, 1 briefly on 5th.
Banded Mongoose Mungos mungo: Noted on 2 days, St Lucia, with a band of 25 on 12th, another of 17 on 13th.
Yellow Mongoose Cynictus penicillata: At least 8, Wakkerstroom area, on 9th.
HYAENAS - Hyaenidae
Spotted Hyena Crocuta crocuta: Noted on 2 days, Kruger, with at least 8 on 4th, 1 on roadside plus another spotlit on 5th.
CATS - Felidae
African Wild Cat Felis [sylvestris] libyca: Two individuals spotlit during the Sunset Drive, Satara, on 5th.
Lion Panthera leo: Noted on 4 days, Kruger, with 1 male spotlit during night drive on 3rd, 15 in 3 groups on 4th, 2 males on 5th, 20 plus 1 on 7th.
Leopard Panthera pardus: One surprised in a clearing, Mkuzi, on 10th, watched for about 20 minutes.
PROBOSCIDS - Elephantidae
African [Savanna] Elephant Loxodonta africana : Regularly noted on 6 days, Kruger.
HORSES - Equidae
Burchell's/Chapman's Zebra Equus burchellii: Regularly noted on 9 days, Kruger & Mkuzi.
RHINOCEROSES - Rhinocerotidae
White Rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum: Between 1 & 4 noted on 7 days, Kruger, Mkuzi & St Lucia.
HYRAXES - Procaviidae
Rock Hyrax / Dassie Procavia capensis: Several briefly near Wakkerstroom on 9th.
PIGS - Suidae
Warthog Phacochoerus aethiopicus: Noted on 6 days, Kruger, Mkuzi & St Lucia.
HIPPOPOTAMUSES - Hippopotamidae
Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius: Noted on 9 days, Kruger, Mkuzi & St Lucia.
GIRAFFES - Giraffidae
Giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis: Noted on 8 days, Kruger & Mkuzi.
OXEN, ANTELOPE, GOATS & SHEEP - Bovidae
Nyala Tragelaphus angasii: Noted on 4 days with several as we travelled through Kruger on 4th, then very widespread in Mkuzi, including around camp, 10th-12th.
Bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus: Noted on 5 days, in small numbers in Kruger including at least 15 in Letaba camp, then 1 at St Lucia on 13th.
Greater Kudu Tregelaphus strepsiceros: Noted on 8 days, including some impressive males, Kruger, Mkuzi & St Lucia.
African Buffalo Syncerus caffer: Noted each day in Kruger including several hundred in one huge widespread herd on 3rd-4th. Several, St Lucia, on 13th.
Red/Natal/Forest Duiker Cephalophus natalensis: Noted on 5 days, Mkuzi & St Lucia.
Common/Bush/Grey/Grimm's Duiker Sylvicapra grimmia: Noted on 6 days with singles in Kruger on 6th & 7th, singles Mkuzi on 10th-12th, several St Lucia on 13th.
[Common] Waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus: Noted on 7 days in varying numbers in Kruger 2nd-7th, at least 8 St Lucia on 13th.
Southern Reedbuck Redunca arundinum: Noted on 3 days with 2 on 7th, at least 6 on 13th, several on 16th.
Mountain Reedbuck Redunca fulvorufula: Noted on 2 days with 2 on 14th, 2 on 15th.
Roan Antelope Hippotragus equinus: At least 6, including a calf, near Mopani Camp on 3rd.
Blue Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus: Noted in varying numbers on 8 days, Kruger, Mkuzi & St Lucia.
Blesbok Damaliscus dorcas phillipsi: Noted at Wakkerstroom area with several on 8th, at least 20 on 9th, at least 25 on 10th, plus several near Himeville on 16th.
Tsessebe Damaliscus lunatus lunatus: Noted on 2 days in Kruger NP with at least 20 on 3rd, 1 on 4th.
Klipspringer Oreotragus oreotragus: Noted on 2 days with 1 spotlit during night drive on 3rd, 2 on 6th.
Oribi Ourebia ourebi: One at St Lucia on 13th.
Steenbok Raphicerus campestris: Noted each day in Kruger in small numbers, 3rd-7th, 1 surprisingly en route to Wakkerstroom on 8th, 1 Mkuzi on 10th.
Suni Neotragus moschatus: A couple, Mkuzi, on 11th.
Impala Aepyceros melamphus: Commonly noted each day Kruger, Mkuzi & St Lucia.
SQUIRRELS - Sciuridae
Smith's Bush- / S African Tree-Squirrel Paraxerus cepapi: Noted each day Kruger, 1 across road St Lucia on 13th.
Red Bush-Squirrel / Red-bellied Coast-Squirrel Paraxerus palliatus: One St Lucia on 14th.
RATS, MICE & VOLES - Muridae
Sloggett's Ice-Rat Otomys sloggetti: Several Sani Pass & Lesotho on 15th.
RABBITS & HARES - Leporidae
Scrub Hare Lepus saxatilis: Noted in small numbers on 5 days, with several spotlit during night drive on 3rd, singles seen on 4th, 5th, & 9th, a roadkill on 14th.
Nile Crocodile Crocodylus niloticus: Noted on 8 days, Kruger & St Lucia.
Leopard Tortoise Geochelone pardalis: Ones or twos noted on 4 days, Kruger, Mkuzi & St Lucia.
Serrated Hinged Terrapin Pelusios sinuatus: Noted on 2 days, Kruger.
Rock Agama: Many Sani Pass on 15th.
Southern Tree Agama Acanthocercus atricollis: Noted on 3 days, 2 in Kruger on 6th & 7th, 1 Mkuzi on 11th.
Flap-neck Chameleon Chamaeleo dilepis: One during Sunset Drive, Satara Camp, on 5th.
Giant Plated Lizard Gerrhosaurus validus: Noted on 3 days, Kruger.
Rock Monitor: One near camp, Mkuzi, on 11th.
Nile/Water Monitor Varanus niloticus: Noted on 4 days, Kruger & Mkuzi.
Five-lined/Rainbow Skink Mabuya quinquetaeniata: Noted on 4 days, Kruger.
Green Tree Snake / Boomslang Dispholidus typus: One during Sunset Drive, Satara Camp, on 5th.
Southern Tree Agama
Wandering Donkey Acraea
APOLLOS & SWALLOWTAILS - Papilionidae
Citrus Swallowtail Papilio demodocus: Up to three on 3 days, 3rd, 5th & 10th.
Large Striped Swordtail Graphium antheus: Noted on 2 days with several on 3rd, 1 on 4th.
WHITES, YELLOWS & SULPHURS - Pieridae
Scarlet-tip Colotis danae: Several, Lower Sabie, on 6th.
Bushveld/Common Purple-tip Colotis ione: One, Mkuzi, on 10th.
Smoky Orange-tip Colotis euippe: Several noted, Mkuzi, on 10th-11th.
Sulphur Orange-tip Colotis auxo: Several, Mkuzi, on 11th (photographed) & 12th.
Bushveld Orange-tip Colotis pallene: Photographed, Mkuzi, on 11th.
Common Dotted Border Mylothris agathina: One, Wakkerstroom, on 9th.
African Veined White Belenois gidica: Several, Mkuzi, on 11th (photographed) & 12th.
Meadow White Pontia helice: Several, Wakkerstroom area, on 9th.
African Clouded Yellow Colias electo: One on 10th.
Common Dotted Border Mylothris agathina: One, Wakkerstroom, on 9th.
Broad-bordered Grass Yellow Eurema brigitta: Several, Mkuzi, on 10th & 11th.
BRUSH-FOOTED BUTTERFLIES Nymphalidae
(Subf: MONARCHS Danainae)
African Monarch Danaus chrysippus: Up to three on 4 days, 4th, 8th, 10th-11th.
Novice Amauris ochlea: One photographed, Mkuzi, on 11th.
(Subf: VANESSIDS & SMALLER FRITILLARIES - Nymphalinae)
Painted Lady Cynthia [=Vanessa] cardui: Noted on 4 days with several on 8th, many 14th-16th.
(Subf: GLASSWINGS - Acraeinae)
Wandering Donkey Acraea Acraea neobule: Regularly seen, photographed on 2nd.
Broad-bordered Acraea Acraea anemosa: One during lunch stop on 6th.
Banded Groundling Brachythemis leucostica: Many around Mopani Camp on 2nd-3rd, many at Mkuzi on 11th.
Blue Emperor Anax imperator: One on 10th.
Wheeling Glider Tramea basilaris: One photographed on 10th.
Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii: Noted only on 7th.
We will all have come home with our own special memories, starting with the view from camp on our first evening. The mammals were excellent, remember the very impressive male Kudus, the White Rhino just the other side of the fence during that first lunch at Mkuzi, the late afternoon when we happened to come across the Lions stalking a small party of Wildebeest, the Leopard surprised in the small grassy clearing, the Hyenas playing chest deep in the river, and for some of us, the Bushbaby in the branches over our cabins. We mustnt forget the birds with really close views of stately Kori Bustards, Temmincks Coursers, the Violet-backed Starlings, Purple-crested & Livingstones Turacos. Our surroundings as we climbed to the Sani Pass and briefly into Lethoso were breathtaking, as were Gurneys Sugarbirds and the orange Crocosmia carpeting the slopes with stunning Malachite Sunbirds flickering amongst them. Remember also the wide open farmland with Long-tailed Widowbirds displaying over the grassland, the Banded Mongoose orgy of scent-marking and the evening when the baby Hippo was left behind on the lake shore and it suddenly realising this and rushing off into the bush to catch up with Mum.
Well done to all of you who made this trip the success it was, and particular thanks to Mark & Jean, both for keeping us on track and more-or-less to time, and for their wonderful cooking and barbeques.
I do hope to see you all on another trip, sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Keith Grant, December 2006
© The Travelling Naturalist 2006