Sunday, February 25, 2018

The passage to Kruger - birds #1

On February 14th we drove the long way (534 km) from Hluhluwe to Malelane, the southern gateway into Kruger Park. It was a full day of driving, quite exhausting to be honest. When we climbed up to the plateaus, in open grassy habitats it was nice to see good numbers of Amur Falcons sat on telegraph lines by the road. This amazing bird will soon start its incomprehensible migration back to NE Siberia.

At one of our random stops we bumped into Groundscraper Thrushes - our only birds of the trip.

Most of the drive was through depressing landscapes of endless eucalyptus and conifer plantations. Hours and hours of driving through this.

That night we stayed overnight just outside of Malelane. In the morning I was greeted to beautiful light and birds just outside my window, sadly perched on an ugly wire:

Woodland Kingfisher

White-fronted Bee-eater

Yellow-fronted Canary

That day (February 15th) we drove across Kruger Park, from Malelane Gate straight through to Satara Restcamp. Right at the gate, on Crocodile River, we got a cool introduction to Kruger - a croc tried to snatch a drinking Impala, and elephants were stomping around the gate. More on mammals in the next posts.

eBird didn't appreciate the 180 km long checklist, but for us it was an incredible day, driving through varied landscapes, from the rocky hills and thick bush around Malelane to open savanna closer to Satara. We saw lots of birds that day, and I photographed quite a bit too.

Southern Ground Hornbill is one of the most breathtaking birds I have ever seen. The fact that it's a bird with eyelashes elevates it to mammal level. This successful hunter caught a frog (can anyone identify it?) and a large grasshopper.

Secretarybird - our only bird of the trip

African Fish Eagle

Gabar Goshawk - what a lovely little accipiter

Gray Go-away Bird

Continuing the theme of long-tailed African birds - Magpie Shrike:

Southern Cordon Bleu

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