February 5, 2020

The intention of coming to Punda Maria was so that we could go to Pafuri to do some birding. There are some birds that are only found in this region and so it is an important place to come to do some birding. We headed out at 5:30am as is our practice. Pafuri is about 50 kms away from Punda Maria so it takes roughly 2 hours to reach (allowing for stops for game viewing). On the way there I did add to my lifer list – Broad-billed Roller – while Helen was overtaking another car!

We were not disappointed in the Pafuri region. The birding was exceptional especially along the river. We were the only people who stopped for coffee at the picnic site and we added a few birds to the trip list while drinking morning coffee. After the coffee, H finally broke her bogey and found an owl. H is slightly obsessed with finding owls when in a game park and we have done a few recently and she hasn’t seen one. This was a particularly impressive spot and I have no idea how she saw it because it (and actually it turned out to be they!) were tucked behind some leaves. Spotted Eagle Owl in case you’re wondering.

Idyllic Kruger scene – those are buffalo if you want to know

Pafuri is where 3 countries meet – SA, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. There is a corner called Crooks Corner. There used to be a beacon at that point and apparently crooks used to flee here when being chased by the authorities. Then they would simply jump over to another country and say to the police they couldn’t come over and arrest them because they were in another country! It was 10am by the time we left the Pafuri region and the temperature was 35 degrees C. We knew it was going to be another scorcher of a day (it did rise to 42 degrees C at 6pm this evening).

Crook’s Corner – Zimbabwe to left; Mozambique to right – Limpopo River

Helen described this AMs drive as one of the best we have done. That is despite seeing any predators. The bird and game viewing was excellent though in the Pafuri region even though we didn’t see a predator. It is quite special and definitely something we would like to do again. The only issue is that Punda Maria (a) isn’t a great camp and (b) is relatively far from Pafuri. There is a bushcamp in Pafuri but it has no air-conditioning and at this time of the year that is essential.

We spent the rest of the day in the camp and only went out late afternoon for a very short drive. We think we may have added another lifer on that drive but awaiting confirmation from a birding friend before I will count it. Our trip list is now over 120 birds.

Dinner tonight was surprisingly not a braai – we gave it a 1-day break – and rather had pasta for dinner. We are changing camps again tomorrow and a relatively long drive ahead of us so we are off to bed soon.

Until tomorrow

P & H

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