Whos keeping an eye on me....

Thursday, 25 August 2016

South Africa 2016 - Olifants, and Satara area

In 2013 we had been as far north as Olifants, this trip we toured further north still. It turned out to be a great idea. This post is dedicated to the Satara to Olifants area.

Overall I think we saw less animals as the open savannah of Satara disappears and  becomes more populated with Mopane trees and bushes, views from the roads are more hindered..... however the views that we had were better....... far better. The areas visited were less populated with tourists which meant that we had some of the most wonderful sights to ourselves.

The Olifants river is a haven for all species of wildlife and gave us superb views of the larger species of Mammal and bird.  The river was  only part full and almost completely dry in places. One a particularly blustery morning from the camp we had a sky full of Vultures, Eagles and Storks.... quite a sight. I had a glimpse of a Palm Nut Vulture, but was unable to get the camera in time for the conclusive evidence.

We also utilised the time to revisit some of the Satara areas that were easily doable as a day trip from Olifants.

Enjoy the wildlife.

Southern Ground Hornbill
Not particularly easy to see now, as sightings are somewhat rarer nowadays, but great to see this family, there were actually 3, and we would see an immature bird later on.

Ellies..... giving a warning!

Black Crake
A life bird for me and pretty easy to see if you could afford 30 minutes around the edges of rivers

Cape Sparrow..... common as muck! not in Kruger.
It seems this is a good sighting by me as they are extremely rare in Kruger.

Chestnut Backed Sparrowlark, rubbish pic, great bird

Crested Barbet

Lilac Breasted Roller

The next 3 images are immediately after I heard a loud commotion whilst travelling towards Olifants. Two Crowned Lapwings fought off a Slender Mongoose

Slender Mongoose

 Leopard Tortoise

White Headed Vulture soaring over Olifants
 From Olifants we were able to revisit the Satara area for a day trip and here the Wildebeest are just outside Satara rest camp 
this image doesn't depict it very well, but this herd were in a boisterous mood as they chased each other around, while others took dust baths and were generally in a fun mood!

the same day visit produced this young male Lion relaxing

Magpie Shrike, very common but a striking species
Olifants and the large expanse of river are a good place for the larger species, this Marabou Stork is one of many that were along the river often sharing the space with large flocks of Vultures

Vultures and Storks

Waterbuck drinks from the waters edge
This is a typical scene along the Olifants river, large herds of Elephants on the move

Where there are Elephants, there is usually Hippos.....
Saddle-billed Stork.
The best view yet, and actually not very close to the river but along the roadside, a stunning creature

and finally for this post
a rather big tusker!
It was just too close for my lens, so a close in full frame in yer face Elephant
Next stop Mopani, Letaba

Saturday, 20 August 2016

South Africa 2016 - Satara Kruger Park

We (Liz & myself), flew into Jo`burg then immediately into Heodspruit. We very quickly picked up our car and enjoyed a leisurely 60 minute drive and entered Kruger Park at the Orpen gate. We booked in and then travelled across central Kruger to Satara rest camp. From there we would over the course of 7 days move between Satara, Olifants, Mopani, Letaba and exit via Phalaborwa gate.

We had a great spot in the rest camp with our accommodation backing onto the outer fence. This would enable us to spotlight at night. On the second night we had 6 Spotted Hyena come very close to the fence, one even came down the fence line to check us out. A while later and we had more superb views, this time of 2 Civet  also very close to the fence (one drink too many on my part and touched the electric fence with my torch..... I wont be doing that again!).

The biggest miss this time around that we saw well in 2013 were Cheetah, and I am still waiting to see a Secretary bird....... it must be good for another visit in a few years then.

What we did score well with were great views of numerous Lions, a Leopard in a tree, although a little distant we had prolonged views and watched it climb down and eventually disappear.

We booked onto a night drive and had great views of 3 Porcupines around the dam, stunning views of Genet and Civet. The night drive also gave us good views of Verreauxs Eagle-owl, a Tawny Eagle sat low down in a tree guarding what seemed to be a Bee`s nest and 3 very vocal Water Thicknee around a waterhole.

We desperately wanted to catch up with either of the Rhino species but disappointingly only had a single view of a White Rhino, and unfortunately it kept its back to us all the time before wandering off.

No Nyala sightings all trip, but enjoyed numerous Kudu sightings. We also picked up our first ever sighting of a foraging Honey Badger and also a few Steenbok. All other mammals showed well and in good numbers, the Elephants giving especially close wildlife watching experiences.

 Bird wise one of the highlights were the pair of Bateleur which gave stunning views while preening each other. This was closely followed by a great view of a perched Martial Eagle (lifer for me) and then watched it fly off low to a more distant tree. I picked up a few more lifers around the area with Little Bee-eater, Grey headed Kingfisher, Black Crake and a single Collared Pratincol.


Martial Eagle

Having visited Satara for the second time now, and even though I think the rest camp and general areas were a little quieter than our last visit three years ago, I think I would give it a miss next time as the area is easily covered on day trips from other rest camps such as Olifants.

Enjoy the images of the Wildlife around Satara.

Blue Waxbill 

Brown Headed Parrot


Crested Francolin

Dark Capped Bulbul

African Elephant

 Grey Backed Camaroptera
Grey Go-away bird
Impala (one looks albino)


Lilac Breasted Roller

Lesser Stripped Swallow 
Magpie Shrike

Pearl Spotted Owlet
Burchells Zebra

Red Billed Oxpeckers enjoying the free meal and ride
Water Buffalo
Next stop Olifants