Day 9 - 24 August, 2010
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– 24 August, 2010
Late start today.
Left camp at 8:00 and took the S93/S44 loop to the Olifants River
This is a beautiful
spot to observe wildlife along the river. We
didn’t really take enough time to enjoy it.
Next year we will spend more time there.
We headed south, on
the dirt roads and spent a fair amount of time on and around this causeway
over a small river.
It turned out to be
a birder’s paradise. Fani, when
you come to Africa this is one place you must go!
We watched this
on the causeway,
periodically diving into the water, then returning to watch for prey.
Honestly, we didn’t see him come back with anything, but he sure was
trying. After watching him for a
while, we moved just off the causeway to where there were thickets, close to the
road, and were amazed at the birds we found there.
First, this Blue
a member of the
finch family, who was pecking and digging in the grass, looking for insects.
Then there were two
different varieties of Bee-eater, the Little Bee-eater,
and this pair of
White Fronted Bee-eaters.
Honestly, our first
reaction to seeing these incredibly colorful little birds, was, “They can’t
be real!” They look more like the
product of an artist’s brush, than something real, in nature.
But, then, isn’t nature the greatest artist of all?
Moving on down the
road, we found this female Martial Eagle, sitting on her nest in the top of a
and a pair of Lilac
Because it was the
dry season, many, if not most of the water holes we checked were dry.
One exception was Goedgegun Waterhole
which, though quite
shrunken did have some water in it. It
was surprising not to find some kind of wildlife nearby.
A bit further down
the road we came across this lovely Acacia Tree,
and a spectacular rock formation.
(Note that we’re
finally starting to notice something other than the animals!)
At mid-day we saw
this trio of hansom male Impala
along with another
solitary male, laying nearby.
frequently see this bird, the Blacksmith Lapwing
Plover – it is known by both names) at the waterholes, this was the first one
At Ratelpan Hide
we watched a very
doing what they seem
to do best – laying on the bank, sleeping!
This female Kudu
watched us pass, from the brush beside the road.
Here we have a
one of Africa’s
largest trees, some with trunks approaching 40 feet in diameter.
It is known by bushmen as the “Tree of Life”, partly because of
it’s ability to store water. A
large Baobab tree can contain upwards of 30,000 gallons of water and they use
hollow pieces of grass, like a straw, to suck the water out.
It is also know as the “Upside Down Tree”, since, when it is without
its leaves, in the winter, its limbs look much like the root structure of many
Our next stop was
the Timbavati Picnic Area (with restrooms!!!)
It is a very nicely kept area, complete with barbecues where some people
were preparing quite elaborate
lunches. The afore mentioned
restrooms were clean and there were a couple of rangers on duty there to answer
our questions and to see to the upkeep of the area.
We spotted this Blue
Waxbill and snapped this picture,
much better than the
one we got in the morning at the causeway.
There were tons of
Cape Glossy Starlings, and this one posed for us, giving us his best orange eyed
As usual, there were
Yellow Billed Hornbills in abundance, ready to pounce on any scraps of food that
happened to be dropped.
This Bluebilled Fire
Finch was pecking around, looking for food,
and we almost missed
him, his camouflage was so good. Not
a great picture, but it was the only Bluebilled Fire Finch we saw!
Just over a bank,
off the edge of the parking lot, this little bushbuck was feeding, with little
regard to having her picture taken.
And last but not
least, this common House Sparrow
was hopping around
in the parking lot as we returned to the car.
Continuing on our
way, we came across another Kori Bustard,
striding through the
grass. Such an unusual bird, and fun
to watch, as their gate is almost mechanical, head bobbing as they go.
Continuing on along
the Timbavati River, we saw a bit of an unusual sight – a hippo
out of the water and
moving around in broad daylight. Normally,
during the day, if they aren’t in the water, they are sleeping on the bank,
preferring to do their wandering and grazing at night.
In the middle of the
afternoon, we returned back to the causeway where we had seen so much bird
activity in the morning. It was
quite windy, and this young Wiretailed Swallow
was hunkered down on
a rock, trying desperately to keep from being blown away.
On a thorn bush
overlooking the river, this Brown Hooded Kingfisher
sat watching for an
afternoon snack, while this Fiscal Flycatcher
On our way back to
Olifants Camp, we watched this small group of elephants.
was in musth, as can
be seen by the dark secretion from the temporal duct on the side of his head,
behind the eye. Musth is a periodic
condition in bulls, which is characterized by aggressive behavior and an
increased level of testosterone, often reaching 60 times greater than normal.
A large bull elephant is nothing to be messed with at any time, but he
can be especially dangerous at this time. This
was always the first thing we looked for when we encountered bull elephants and
we always kept our distance. This is
another reason to have a really good telephoto lens!
Back at Olifants, we
went on an afternoon game drive, which though enjoyable, didn’t yield too much
in the line of critters. We did see
this immature Bateleur.
The Bateleur is the
most easily identifiable eagle of the region, due to his very distinctive
And so we came to
the end of another wonderful day at Kruger.
We’ve become “birders” it would seem – hard not to, when
confronted with such beautiful creatures as we saw today.
White Fronted Bee-eater
Lilac Breasted Roller
Cape Glossy Starling
Yellow Billed Hornbill
Blue Billed Fire
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