Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Birds of KRUGER photo safari - October 2014 SOUTH AFRICA

Yet again this proved to be a very successful photo safari with the focus being slanted towards trying to photograph the amazing bird diversity that the Kruger has to offer.

A total bird count of 178 with a very impressive 144 photos (of different species)

The aim of this safari is not to tick species off, but instead the challenge is to try and get some decent photos of Kruger's birds, with the additional challenge of trying to better existing shots when better opportunities present themselves.

Northern Kruger is the real hotspot as this area has some special species not commonly seen in the rest of Kruger. We did very well with the Crested Guineafowl and Broad-billed Rollers, as well as getting to see the Trumpeter Hornbills again at the exact same nest site as last year ! We also added the rarely seen Crowned Hornbills to our photo list.

Kruger has such a diverse range of habitats which made the trip very enjoyable as we travelled from the North right down to the south over a period of 14 days. The trip was really relaxing, the binoculars and cameras were well used and our safari vehicle acted as the perfect mobile bird hide, this is the best way to get original and different shots of Kruger's birds. We saw a number of the same species as we did last year but they were all in different situations and circumstances which helps to keep the subject matter unique and fresh.

A number of migrants were already back, gearing up for the summer season in South Africa, Yellow Billed Kites, European Bee eaters, Cuckoos, Wahlberg's Eagles and a very rare sighting of a Grey Kestrel, normally only seen in Namibia.

The beautiful African Paradise Flycatchers seemed to be everywhere this year and we had a special sighting of a Black Heron and a Greater Honeyguide.

We did very well on the Owl front, notching up 4 different species (all during the day time)

Other highlights were getting to photograph both of the Helmet Shrikes and the Orange Breasted and Grey headed Bushshrikes.

The waterbirds were fantastic this year, Squacco Herons, Collared Pratincoles, Black Crake, African Jacana and many more. The visits to Lake panic Bird hide near Skukuza proved to be very productive - it is still one of the best places to see and photograph the Malachite Kingfisher !!

Sunbirds, Woodpeckers and the very active Weavers also added some great photo opportunities.

All in all it was a fantastically productive trip and really enjoyable to be able to go at a very different pace to the normal bigger mammal type photo safaris (of which we still got to see and photograph anyway)

Thanks very much to John for coming on the safari, it was a great pleasure to shoot alongside you !

Here are a few photos - enjoy !!!

Warmest regards


Arrow-marked Babbler - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

Black-collared Barbet - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Crested Barbet - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

White-fronted Bee-eater - Luvuvhu River Bridge, Northern Kruger

European Bee-eater - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Yellow-bellied Greenbul - Punda Maria Camp, Northern Kruger

Dark-capped Bulbul - Letaba Camp, Northern Kruger

Sombre Greenbul - Skukuza Nursery, Southern Kruger

Red-crested Korhaan (Male) - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Kori Bustard - Central Kruger

Great Spotted Cuckoo - Babalala Picnic site, Northern Kruger

Jacobin Cuckoo - Central Kruger

Cape Turtle Dove - Northern Kruger

Red-eyed Dove - Northern Kruger

Mourning Collared Dove - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

Emerald-spotted Wood Dove - Northern Kruger

Laughing Dove - Northern Kruger

African Green Pigeon - Letaba Camp, Northern Kruger

Fork-tailed Drongo - Letaba Camp, Northern Kruger

Wahlberg’s Eagle - Northern Kruger

Grey Kestrel - Northern Kruger

Immature Brown Snake Eagle - Northern Kruger

Tawny Eagle - Northern Kruger

Immature Bateleur Eagle - Northern Kruger

Yellow Billed Kite - Southern Kruger

African Fish Eagle and moon - Northern Kruger

African Fish Eagle - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Martial Eagle - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Immature White Backed Vulture - Northern Kruger

Lappet-faced Vultures - Central Kruger

Spotted Flycatcher - Northern Kruger

African Paradise Flycatcher - Babalala Picnic Site, Northern Kruger

African Paradise Flycatcher (male) - Mopani Camp, Northern Kruger

Southern Black Flycatcher - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Ashy Flycatcher - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Greater Honeyguide - Southern Kruger

Double Banded Sandgrouse (male) - Northern Kruger

Swainson’s Spurfowl - Northern Kruger

Crested Francolin (male) - Northern Kruger

Natal Spurfowl (male) - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

Common Ostrich chick - Northern Kruger

Crested Guineafowl - Punda Maria Camp, Northern Kruger

Helmeted Guineafowl - Northern Kruger

African Hoopoe inspecting a potential nest site - Northern Kruger

African Hoopoe - Northern Kruger

Green Wood-Hoopoe feeding behaviour before nesting - Northern Kruger

Green Wood-Hoopoe  - Northern Kruger

Southern Ground Hornbill (adult Male) - Northern Kruger

Southern Ground Hornbill (juvenile) with skink - Northern Kruger

Trumpeter Hornbill at nest site - Pafuri, Northern Kruger

Trumpeter Hornbill at nest site, Male is passing an Nyala Tree berry to the female inside the nest cavity                  - Pafuri, Northern Kruger

Crowned Hornbill - Northern Kruger

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

Southern Red-billed Hornbill - Bateleur Camp, Northern Kruger

African Grey Hornbill displaying (male) - Northern Kruger

African Grey Hornbill (female) - Northern Kruger

Giant Kingfisher (male) - Luvuvhu River, Northern Kruger

Brown-hooded Kingfisher displaying - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Pied Kingfisher (male) Northern Kruger

Pied Kingfisher (male) with fish - Shingwedzi River, Northern Kruger

Malachite Kingfisher - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

Purple-crested Turaco - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Purple-crested Turaco in flight - Northern Kruger

Grey Go-away-bird - Northern Kruger

Black-headed Oriole - Northern Kruger

Verreaux’s Eagle-owl - Pafuri, Northern Kruger

African Scops Owl - Northern Kruger

African Barred Owlet - Northern Kruger

Pearl-spotted Owlet - Central Kruger

Red-billed Oxpecker - Northern Kruger

Yellow-billed Oxpecker - Northern Kruger

Brown-headed Parrot feeding on the flowers of a Baobab tree - Northern Kruger

White-browed Robin-chat - Northern Kruger

Bearded Scrub Robin at Pafuri Picnic site - Northern Kruger

White-throated Robin-Chat - Lower Sabie Camp, Southern Kruger

White-browed Scrub Robin - Skukuza Golf Course, Southern Kruger

Mocking Cliff Chat (Male) - Mlondozi Picnic Site, Southern Kruger

Lilac-breasted Roller - Central Kruger

Purple Roller - Central Kruger

Broad-billed Roller - Northern Kruger

Broad-billed Rollers displaying - Northern Kruger

Brubru - Northern Kruger

Chinspot Batis (male) - Babalala Picnic site Northern Kruger

Black-backed Puffback (female) - Letaba Camp Northern Kruger

Black-backed Puffback (male) - Letaba Camp Northern Kruger

Black-crowned Tchagra - Northern Kruger

Orange-breasted Bushshrike (Immature) - Bateleur Camp Northern Kruger

Orange-breasted Bushrike - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Grey-headed Bushshrike - Northern Kruger

Burchell’s Coucal - Northern Kruger

Magpie Shrike - Babalala Picnic site Northern Kruger

White-crested Helmet-shrike - Northern Kruger

Retz’s Helmet-shrike - Pafuri Picnic site Northern Kruger

Blue Waxbill - Northern Kruger

Red-billed Firefinch (male) - Northern Kruger

Red-billed Quelea (non-breeding) - Northern Kruger

Green-winged Pytilia (female) - Northern Kruger

African Yellow White-eye - Luvhuvhu River Bridge Northern Kruger

Cape White-eye - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Rattling Cisticola - Northern Kruger

Golden-breasted Bunting - Northern Kruger

Cinnamon-breasted Bunting - Northern Kruger

Tawny-flanked Prinia - Northern Kruger

Sabota Lark - Northern Kruger

Southern Black Tit with insect - Northern Kruger

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow - Northern Kruger

Jameson's Firefinch - Shingwedzi River, Northern Kruger

Yellow-breasted Apalis (male) making use of an abandoned Red-headed Weavers nest - Letaba, Northern Kruger

Bronze Mannikin - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Yellow-fronted Canary - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Speckled Mousebird - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Greater Blue-eared Starling with elephant dung used as nesting material - Northern Kruger

Meves’s Starling - Nyala drive, Northern Kruger

Violet-backed Starling (male) - Shingwedzi river, Northern Kruger

Red-winged Starling (male) - Letaba Camp Northern Kruger

White-bellied Sunbird (male) - Northern Kruger

Marico Sunbird (male) - Skukuza Camp, Southern Kruger

Rock Martin - Luvuvhu River Bridge, Northern Kruger

Wire-tailed Swallow - Luvuvhu River bridge, Northern Kruger

Lesser Striped Swallow (male) - Northern Kruger

Kurrichane Thrush - Letaba Camp, Northern Kruger

Saddle-billed Stork (female) - Northern Kruger

Saddle-billed Stork (male) with Platanna (African Clawed frog) - Tshokwane, Central Kruger

Yellow Billed Stork - Sunset Dam, Southern Kruger

Blacksmith Lapwing - Northern Kruger

White-crowned Lapwing - Sunset Dam, Southern Kruger

Three-banded Plover - Northern Kruger

Collared Pratincole - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Common Greenshank - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Wood Sandpiper - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Common Sandpiper - Mazithi Dam, Central Kruger

Little Stint - Mazithi Dam, Central Kruger

Ruff - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Black Crake - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

African Jacana - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

Black Heron - Pioneer Dam, Northern Kruger

Squacco Heron - Northern Kruger

Grey Heron (adult) - Kumana Dam, Central Kruger

Green-backed Heron - Northern Kruger

Great Egret - Northern Kruger

Little Egret - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Western Cattle Egret in breeding plumage - Southern Kruger

Hammerkop - Sabie River, Southern Kruger

Hadeda Ibis - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Water Thick-knee - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

African Spoonbill - Sunset Dam, Southern Kruger

African Pied Wagtail - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

White-faced Whistling Ducks - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Spur-winged Goose & Little Egret - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Egyptian Goose - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

Spectacled Weaver - Southern Kruger

Southern Masked Weaver - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

Lesser Masked Weaver - Lake Panic Bird Hide, Southern Kruger

Red-billed Buffalo Weaver with nesting material - Sunset Dam, Southern Kruger

Cardinal Woodpecker (male) - Letaba River, Northern Kruger

Golden-tailed Woodpecker - Letaba Camp, Northern Kruger

Bennett’s Woodpecker (male) - Northern Kruger

Bennett’s Woodpecker (female) - Northern Kruger

Of course birds were not the only animals seen on the safari !! we did take time to photograph some of the other species found in the park. Some highlights included seeing the Leopard Tortoises coming out in big numbers, this usually happens around this time of year to coincide with the first rains, we passed 11 on our way to Northern Kruger on the very first day !!

The Sharpe's Grysbok are rarely seen, but Northern Kruger is a good place to hope to see them, we notched up 5 sightings of this small and elusive antelope.

We watched Lions lying in wait at a pool of water in the Shingwedzi River, but the Impala were too quick for them on this occasion.

Northern Kruger is well know for its large herds of elephants and particularly its big tuskers of which we saw many.

We had an amazingly close sighting of the largest African Rock Python I have seen in the wild, a huge monster in excess of 5 meters, who moved slowly through the undergrowth, a real treat to see.

On our very last day we were treated to a sighting of a pack of Cape Hunting Dogs, right in the middle of the road between the bird hide and Skukuza main camp.

My personal favourite though was getting to see the three Leopards we had seen playing in the Nwatimhiri River on the August trip, this time the mum and two sub adult cubs were close to the road resting up in a tree, what beautiful cats !!

Leopard Tortoise - Northern Kruger

Water Monitor Lizard - Northern Kruger

Nyala Antelope (female) - Northern Kruger

A shy Sharpe's Grysbok - Northern Kruger

Lioness watching Impala approach - Shingwedzi River, Northern Kruger

The unsuccessful charge ! - Northern Kruger

Vervet Monkey - Northern Kruger

Tree Squirrel - Northern Kruger

Male Elephants enjoying a swim - Shingwedzi River, Northern Kruger

Hippos in the Letaba River - Northern Kruger

Elephant herd in the Letaba River - Northern Kruger

Large Crocodile - Luvuvhu River, Northern Kruger

Baby Elephant sheltering - Shingwedzi, Northern Kruger

Moth - Northern Kruger

The 5m + African Rock Python - Northern Kruger

Hippo with Baby - Shingwedzi River, Northern Kruger

A rare and special sighting of African Wilddogs - Southern Kruger

A sub-adult male Lion - Shingwedzi, Northern Kruger

The sub-adult Male Leopard near the Sabie River - Southern Kruger

Brother and sister resting in a tree alongside the Sabie River - Southern Kruger

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic set of photos Stu, looks like the 400mm is working well. We would love to do this trip one year!