Whos keeping an eye on me....

Thursday, 3 October 2013

South Africa 2013 Pt 7

Kruger Park, Pretoriuoskop Rest Camp and surrounds:

We are here for two nights which now gives us time to explore a little. We also had time to book onto our first guided tour, we chose a rather early and chilli morning.

Pretoriuoskop turned out to be my fav camp of the four that we stayed at. The camp site wasn't as busy as the Satara Camp that we would visit in a few days. The bird species around the camp were stunning and seemed a little more tolerant of humans, probably due the more relaxed atmosphere of the camp. More of those species later!

Southern Kruger turned out to be a stronghold for the magnificent Bateleur Eagle. The adult birds are quite stunning, but unfortunately I only captured the adults in flight

however I did get a juvenile perched

A few kilometres from the rest camp was Shitlehave Waterhole. It was productive for a few species, especially these Hammerkop that were mating
Wooley Necked Stork (and Turtles)
Three Banded Plover
While out travelling along the roads between Pretoriuoskop and Skukuza the stunning birdlife continued to show
 Lilac Breasted Roller

Black Collared Barbet

 Burchells Coucal

the incredible Purple Crested Turaco
Grey Go-away Bird
Crowned Hornbill (Which became my 1000th Life species)

Tawny Flanked Prinia
Laughing Dove


The most fantastic thing you could wish to see ....
Southern Ground Hornbill
and the full version.....

Back in the camp early morning walks bagged me
Grey Tit- Flycatcher
Beautiful African Green Pigeon
Red Headed Weaver female (confusingly without a red head!)

Common Scimitarbill

Green Wood-Hoopoe
Southern Black Flycatcher -a beautiful understated bird
African Whiteye

Yellow Fronted Canary
Crested Barbet checking out a nest hole
What a stunner!

Cardinal Woodpecker

and the female
other species around the camp were African Mourning Dove,  Green Backed Camaroptera and Marico Sunbirds while Little Swifts congregated in their 1000s in the evening making a deafening screech as they fed, Lesser Striped Swallows seemed to be more of a morning species as they swooped around the camp and a single sighting of a Fiery Necked Nightjar as it flew across the camp one early evening.
In the surrounding areas of Pretoriuoskop camp a few sightings of Coqui Francolin, a large roadside flock of White Crested Helmet-Shrikes I guess if they hadn't been so skittish with the traffic passing along side I may have seen a Retzs Helmet-Shrike or two in the flock, as it happens one of my trip target birds escaped me. Add African Stonechat and Black Crowned Tchagra.

  This lovely raptor didn't escape me as we had quite a few sightings in the area of
Brown Snake Eagle

The star of this post was undoubtedly the sighting of three Cheetahs.
The early morning guided drive was certainly chilly. It started off under spot light as we looked for eye- shine from the nocturnal and early morning risers. Small-Spotted Genets were numerous as were Water buffalo, however as the early morning sun rose the dense fog made viewing near impossible...... most of the tour group huddled under the blankets in the back of the tour bus. The drive was becoming fairly non eventful (but still very much enjoyable) until we reached the point that we have to turn back to return to camp. Just a few hundred yards up the road at a junction two cars were parked at the roadside, the driver said he would just check this out before we turned back, as we neared the cars a hand appeared from the drivers side window and pointed across the road where bingo!!! Three Cheetahs had been resting in an open area, our bus must have disturbed them as they all got up, stretched and proceeded to walk past us. One stopped  a few yards away and unbelievably  started to scent mark the junction corner....


 The other two had now walked in front of our vehicle and even felt confident enough to stop in the sun-lit road

What a way to spend part of a morning! Cheetah watching.
Of course the Cheetahs didn't hog all the limelight.......
Impala males
Nyala male

The impressive Greater Kudu Male


African Elephants



However it was really turning out to be a few days of big cat sightings. Our third cat species of the area.

It walked right alongside our vehicle but quickly disappeared into the bush and out of sight

This group of Impala was the intended prey.

We soon figured out that while Cats are hunting, Vultures Gather, Although we had now lost sight of the Leopard the Vultures were gathering in large numbers, Possibly upto 50 were now circling above us including White Backed, White Headed and Hooded species
White Backed Vulture
Ten minutes later we relocated the Leopard a few hundred meters away using the long grass as camouflage, the Impala didn't stampede but were on edge enough to retreat to the thicker bush
We needed to make headway as we had many kilometeres to travel........
Next stop Satara Rest Camp, but not before we stopped to witness yet more cats
Four Lioness`s (three in the foreground to the left)
unfortunately we really must move on now, many more kilometres to travel


Joop Zand said...

WOW Dave....your pictures are again fantastic,
the birds have wonderful colors and you have captured them well......the cheetah's are my favorite's.

Greetings and thanks for this great post.


Dave said...

Thank you Joop.

I have the easy bit, that of just turning up, all the creatures just show off their beauty........ You must try and go there one day, it is wonderful.

Thanks for dropping by again

theconstantwalker said...

Another wonderful post Dave... congrats on reaching 1000 bird species then adding more beauties to your list. Your images are superb and I loved seeing the big cats and other wonderful African wildlife.
Thanks for sharing.

Hampers said...

You are a lucky so and so for big cats walking in front of you!!!!


Sharon Wagner said...

Wow. What an abundance of unusual and exotic birds. And animals!

Sharon Wagner said...

Wow. What an abundance of unusual and exotic birds. And animals!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

So much to take in...hard to keep tract, as I liked so many, yet I must confess, that perched juvie Bateleur Eagle is AMAZING BEAUTY~

Stewart M said...

Wow! What a great set of birds. And a bit of a stunner for the 1000 bird!

I am now about to search for tours!! Did you take an organised tour, or did you set up the trio your self?

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

PS: sorry for slow reply - I have been out of phone / internet range for most of the week - rather nice if the truth be told!

Dave said...

Hi Stewart, did all this ourselves. if you want further details email me at dave.bancroft@yahoo.com

More or less everything was booked through Sanparks, even our stay in the Western Cape. WILD CARDS are essential for non nationals, saves you a fortune in Conservation fees.

Saun said...

WOW these are awesome thanks for sharing.

eileeninmd said...

Wow, your photos and post are just amazing!

mick said...

A great series of photos and how fantastic to actually see birds and creatures that have only been names in books until now! Lucky you!!

Karen said...

Another spectacular post full of awesome photos Dave!

Unknown said...

Excellent photos! What an amazing variety of birds and animals.

Hootin' Anni said...

I am totally dumbfounded here!!! Wow. The 4 legged animals rock my world, and the birds?!!!---well, the birds just blow me away...especially that beautiful lilac breasted roller. Whoa.

Amanda said...

Oh wow!! what an experience. Fantastic, so many animals.

Carole M. said...

what a trip! Such a variety of wildlife and birdlife Dave. So many individuals I was going to comment on but the list kept getting longer. Know I enjoyed it all. I thought of everyone on the tour bus huddled in blankets when that cheetah appeared though - bet all that was forgotten quick smart and grabbing for camera from under their pillows!

hula-la said...

WOW! This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing. Yes, living vicariously through your photographs! Only way I'm going to experience it. Mother Nature at its finest! Great post!

Carletta said...

A plethora of wonderful shots Dave!

Phil Slade said...

Fantastic shots once again Dave, you really have had a wonderful once in a lifetime trip. So fabulous to see Leopard and Cheetah too. Somehow I remember Cheetah being the most exciting thing we saw in Kenya - such lean and improbable limbs, a running machine.

Richard Pegler said...

This is a truly amazing assortment of wildlife, Dave, and beautifully captured in your lens.

The majesty of those wildcats is awe-inspiring, and the variety of avian species is fabulous. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.