Kruger Part 2
Report by Paul and Sally Bartho
12 to 14 November 2018
The drive from Wakkerstroom was quite scenic, especially going through Barbeton. After an early start we arrived at the Kruger Park Malelane gate at midday. It was a pleasant surprise that we were able to check in at the gate for the campsite and not have to go to Berg-en-dal.
The campsite was deserted except for us for the two days we were there. The huts were in use. The advantage of being at this campsite compared to Berg-en-dal is that we were able to get out onto the main road towards Skukuza well before anyone from Berg-en-dal and an hour ahead of the main gate opening.
The temperature was in the high 30s on arrival and it stayed as the norm during the days we were there. Nights were a lot cooler with a pleasant breeze. Being so dry there were hardly any insects or mossies to worry about.
That afternoon our drive was full of the Big Big 5 – Elephant everywhere, Buffalo en-masse, and White Rhino around every corner it seemed. It was only at the last minute before closing time that we were treated to the sight of a very large male leopard – flat out fast asleep under a distant tree.
The first morning we headed north on the H3 heading for Transport dam – the Egyptian Vulture on our mind. Birds were plentiful on the drive and so were the Rhinos and Elephants. We even came across several packs of Hyenas – busily off to somewhere or sleeping in the shade.
On the way we stopped for a bird call which excited Sally and hence me too. Sally recognized the call of the Coqui Francolin but had yet to have any decent views of one. We did not have long to wait before it was spotted on the side of an ant hill 20 metres distant. A Female. No longer a BVD for Sally.
Then as we turned off the tar to Transport Dam Sally heard a Coqui calling again. After some time we located it – well hidden at the base of a tree in long grass. Eventually we were able to ID it as a male.
Transport dam was full but no sign of any Vultures of any kind. Despite that we had a number of sightings of interest. There were the usual bunch of water birds as well as a dozy crocodile. An African Fish-Eagle being mobbed by Lapsmiths. Water Thick-knee were present.
In the photos below you will see a great comparison in size of a Water Thick-knee and a Malachite Kingfisher.
After a lunchtime dinner back at the camp we took another drive on the dirt roads – numerous Game Drive vehicles – very unpleasant with all the dust they create. Windows constantly opened and closed. Yet we still had sightings to keep our minds attentive.
A brief visit to Berg-en-dal gave us the opportunity to scout for Parrots. To start with – on arrival there was a bus load of guests milling about in the parking area waiting to embark their Game Vehicle. They had been waiting for 40 minutes.
The vehicle was there. The problem was that a Spitting Cobra had beat them to it and was seen in the driver’s cab. They had been trying to remove it. In the end that vehicle was not used as it was still there when we left. Either they had found alternative transport or given the guests a refund. It was fortunate that the snake was not in the back where the guests sit.
The Dam at the camp was bone dry, however the birds were calling and one of those calls was that of a Parrot. After much searching the various fruiting trees they were spotted and I managed to get a shot or two.
On the way back we were treated to a pack of wild Dogs on the road – 10 in all. They were starting to get on the move and we followed them down the road for a while. They were quite close to our camp.
Altogether we identified 103 different bird species in the area. Click here to see the list.
Paul and Sally Bartho
Part 3 Lower Sabie to follow