Whos keeping an eye on me....

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

South Africa 2013 - Pt 6

Kruger Park: Melalane Rest Camp and surrounds (including Berg-En-Dal):

Onwards into Kruger.................... the start of another adventure.
Malelane Gate

Just the one nights stay at Malelane. We (Aletta, David, Liz, Ryan, Matt and myself) booked in, unloaded and got on the road in double quick time. The plan was to drive a simple loop towards Berg-En-Dal camp to buy provisions for the evenings Barbecue. Most of the mammal and Fauna species were going to be new to me here in Kruger so it was eyes alert ...... I even got out of walking around the shop and snook in a little extra bird-watching from the car park.

Dark Capped Bulbul
Scarlet Chested Sunbird
Black Backed Puff-back
Greater Blue Eared Starling
Back on the tracks and heading around the Matjulu Loop we were soon picking up some Mammals. Impala were to be the default Mammal species across southern Kruger, often large herds of either Males or females, although now and again we did see the odd male in with large flocks of females.

female Impala

it didn't take us long to get our first Rhino.... here is the White Rhino (we would later see the critically endangered Black Rhino on a guided tour)
note the Red Billed Oxpeckers.

Magpie Shrike
Black Collared Barbet

African Grey Hornbill
Southern Ground Hornbill.
This bird is huge, impressive and high on any birders wish list, we were to get some seriously stunning views and images as the week progressed.
Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill
and possibly the most charismatic species in the whole park, I spent hours watching their antics.....
They refused to fly away under all sorts of provocation from other species (when food was around).. they simply picked something up and ran, often in circles trying to avoid attacks from every angle. Brilliant to watch.
Back at Malelane Camp before sunset I went looking to see what species were around the camp while the others were able to prepare the Barbecue which immediately grabbed the attention of a large troop of Vervet monkeys.
They only managed to steal bread but tomorrow I would witness them ransacking other Rondavals where food had not been locked away over night. I found them to be a creature of dare I say FUN, however the SA residents were less tolerant of their antics.,..... lock your possessions away, simples!
The Barbecue was lit, the sun had gone down and a lap of the camp with the torch for some spot lighting. Thirty yards away and sat on the lower branches of the tree was this fella..... also ready with its diner in preparation..... (notice the Bat in its Talons).

Pearl Spotted Owlet
A very early start for Aletta, Matt and myself as we left the camp at first light.

Quickly we came across 3 Spotted Hyena, they all stopped in their tracks and looked at us for only a few seconds and they were gone deeper into the bush..... things looked promising. Then a few hundred yards down a dirt track we saw 4 Spotted Eagle-Owls all perched in the same tree, they were a little more distant, the light was poor so no image (now back at home I wish I had at least gotten myself a record shot), however we were soon onto our first large Raptor when we found this impressive Tawny Eagle stood alongside its nest, a little later we would see an adult flying low over the bush.
We headed for Matjulu waterhole. As it turned out it was a little disappointing with no mammals coming to feed but a few good bird species kept our attention for the hour or so.
Natal Spurfowl
this one showing it spurs rather well and hence the species name
White fronted Bee-eater.
A good sized colony enjoyed feeding as the sun began to rise
while a few species of Kingfisher perched towards the water both Grey Headed and Brown Hooded Kingfishers as well as Blue Waxbill, Red Billed Hornbill, Streaky Headed Seedeaters and Burchells Starlings.
We headed back towards camp and birds were now warming up in the sunshine
Gabar Goshawk
 of course the mammals would soon be out and about these Giraffes taking an early feed
African Elephant
as were these menacing looking Water Buffalo
 but for me here is the star of the show.....
Lilac Breasted Roller
It is very cool this time of year in the mornings so this bird had its plumage a little ruffled so as to keep warm, what an absolutely stunning creature.
the same species but looking a little warmer

the stunning species continued to show.... this was just out side the camp entrance
Crested Barbet

as was this Red Billed Hornbill

while back inside the camp
Kurrichane Thrush

 a pair of fabulous Southern White Crowned Shrikes

Another must see species, Brown Headed Parrot
I had seen a large flock flyover the camp the previous evening at sunset, they returned this morning to feed in this tree

I counted at least a dozen at one point

and mixed in with the Parrot flock were a pair of Black Headed Oriole

Plenty of other species were around, Black Storks flew over the river behind the camp while Lesser Masked Weavers, Cape Glossy Starling, and White Bellied Sunbirds were in the camp.

This was the first afternoon and morning in Kruger Park, if this first camp was a taster of what was to come then roll on the rest of the stay..... happy days!
We now travel the 4hrs to Pretoriouskop Rest Camp


theconstantwalker said...

A wonderful post Dave...

Nette Cecilia said...

A very, very , wonderful post ,Nette

Joop Zand said...

Hello Dave

It's a beautiful blog with so much fatastic pictures, and the birds have beautiful colored feathers.

from now on i will follow your site.

greetings from Golland, Joop

TexWisGirl said...

such a gorgeous array of exotics, again! beautiful!

Andrea @ From The Sol said...

I drool over your pictures and I have to agree, the star of the show is definately the Lilac Breasted Roller. I can't remeber ever seeing such a beautiful bird and I have seen many birds. Thank you for taking us on your travels with you ... it is such a joy!

Andrea @ From The Sol

Karen said...

Wow, what a fantastic showing of exotic birds. Love the Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill and Lilac Breasted Roller. Fabulous shots!

Phil Slade said...

A trip of a lifetime Dave. You totally spoilt all your readers with such exotic fare but i have to agree with you that the Lilac-breasted Roller is just an incredible sight - and willing to have a beautiful portrait taken.

mick said...

It sounds like an amazing trip and it would be wonderful to see so many beautiful birds - all new to me of course! I agree that the Lilac Breasted Roller is the star of the show! Great photos.

Unknown said...

What an amazing trip with all the animals and the birds.

Les Fous du Cap said...

Magnificent ;-)
CĂ©line & Philippe

Carole M. said...

some super-amazing bird and wildlife Dave; what a visual treat!

eileeninmd said...

Wow, what a great series of photos. A neat place to see the birds and animals. Awesome shots!

NatureFootstep said...

hm, think I have to go to Kruger Park. :)
Seem like a great place for both birds and great photography. Took me a long time to go through your post. So many great birds to study. :)

Wally Jones said...

What a wonderful opportunity!

Incredible variety of spectacular wildlife.

(Good show on escaping the shop!)

Hootin' Anni said...

Okay, I want to go to South Africa!!!! These birds...oh these birds. So many beauties. The one that really stands out for me is the Scarlet Breasted.

And your other animal photos...awesome. I especially like the 'head on' elephant photo!

Rajesh said...

Very beautiful birds. I would love to see them in person.

Janice said...

Just breathtakingly beautiful.