Kruger Part 5
Report by Paul and Sally Bartho
21 to 23 November 2018
We only planned to have one full day here – and it was enough. Temperatures had climbed reaching over 420 C at times. Thankfully there was a swimming pool to cool us down each afternoon.
On the way to Shingwedzi from Balule we stopped at Letaba for breakfast – hoping to see the mad woodpecker again – not this time.
We had tea and some birding at Mooiplaas picnic site. A must as it is an interesting birding site with tall trees by the river and next to the wild rustic Tsendze campsite.
At the Tropic of Capricorn both Splat and Rocky took a starring role.
Tsessebe appeared out of nowhere and Zebra and Buffalo gave us a crossed legged display of how to get down to the water at one of the waterholes.
We eventually arrived at midday at the camp.
The tree beside our chosen site was visited by three different types of Woodpecker as we set up in the deserted camp.
Our time at Shingwedzi was spent dawdling down to the hide and Kanniedood Dam as well as taking the loop road to Bateleur Bushcamp and back along the Redrocks Road.
It is a good time of the year to visit this far north because few people venture even as far north as Letaba.
The hide was not worth the visit as there was no water in sight. However on the last loop road before the hide Sally spotted movement – a skulking Leopard below us alongside the river bed.
Everything was quiet further down towards the Kanniedood dam. Lack of water and damn hot.
That first evening we noticed three Little Swifts flying madly around inside the nearest kitchenette building to us. They were flying up and down, round and round and bashing into the wall. Eventually one fell to ground. I picked it up and released it outside but it went straight back in and it was soon on the floor again. This time we took it to our campsite and put it in a cool bag to settle down – planning to release it in daylight. Back at the kitchinette another Little Swift collapsed. Again I took it back to our site and Sally suggested releasing it away from the light. We did and it flew off into the night so we released the other as well. Peace and calm in the kitchenette and two happy birds we hope.
What was interesting was not only the very soft feel of the birds but also it gave us an opportunity to see their real size with wings extended.
On our one full day there, we headed down the road to the Bateleur Bushcamp. Very quiet most of the way. Anthills had silly expressions – as this one pointing us skyward.
But we did have a couple of great sightings. The most exciting and least expected was that of a Allen’s Gallinule. It was on its own in a small stretch of water in the river.
The other sighting was that of two White-headed Vultures doing a fly-over for us.
The road from the camp to the bridge is always interesting as it overlooks the river and has numerous large trees to investigate for Owls and other birds. At the bridge our first Broad-billed Roller was spotted.
A Martial Eagle flew over and another sat close for a photo.
A Goliath Heron had a Mad Hair Day in the river among other sightings.
Southern Ground Hornbills appeared on our travels round the camp – none had been ringed – much like those we had seen previously.
Despite our short visit we did manage to identify 97 different bird species. See list by clicking here.
From Shingwedzi we headed north to Punda Maria stopping at Babalala Picnic site for breakfast.
Our time at Punda Maria forms the next instalment. Kruger Part 6 – Punda Maria
Paul and Sally Bartho