We changed camps today. It is about 150 km we needed to cover. You can only check in at 2pm and so we thought if we left around 7am and had breakfast and lunch on route we would arrive at roughly 7am. What we didn’t factor in was H waking up before 5am and I woke up at about 5:30am. We were up, packed and ready to leave by 6:30am and so we headed out figuring we could stop at all the dams on route.
The bird life was amazing for at least the first 2 hours. At some point I remarked that we had hardly seen any game but it really didn’t matter. It was again a mild morning (20 degrees) and it was overcast as well so it stayed cool (rising to about 24 degrees) until mid-morning. It also rained a bit during our drive down but nothing substantial – just a light drizzle.
The bird of the trip so far is Red-billed Quelea. They are amazingly abundant and found in large flocks. We reckon we saw one flock that could easily have been 5000 or more. Colonies apparently can be up to 1 million in size! There are 35 million (yes you read that correctly) in the Kruger Park alone. It is the most abundant bird in the world with an estimated population of 1.5 billion. They are considered pests in some places as they eat crops like locusts would. In most countries were they are found, they have to do controlled killing to ensure that they don’t become too abundant. In SA they apparently kill around 100 million a year (not kidding!). This morning they were in abundance – maybe the terrain, maybe the timing of our drive. Both H and I wondered how long it was going to take for one of them to fly in through the window!
We stopped at Tshokwane Picnic Site for breakfast. It is about half way between Satara and Skukuza (which is really the ‘capital’ of the Kruger). We have stopped there numerous times previously and they make a nice breakfast of egg, bacon and cheese in a jaffle (google a jaffle if you want to know what it is).
I subscribe to a rare bird notification list and I had seen that two days ago a sighting of African Pygmy Geese was seen at Leeupan and that was on our road today. So we pulled in there to see what we could see. What a good decision. The bird life was abundant. We got numerous trippers and most importantly we added two lifers taking me to 497 lifers now. We saw Lesser Moorhen and we had an excellent sighting of it. It is quite rare and so I am really happy to have been able to see it. We also added Burnt-necked Eremomela to the list. After 2.5 days our trip list is now 103. I suspect that is the best we have been after 2.5 days versus other trips.
On the animal side, we had two sightings of hyena today – both in their dens on the side of the road and both teenager pups. We also added duiker to our list. Still need to add leopard and rhino but we have plenty of time to still do that.
We arrived at Pretoriuskop just before 2pm. We spent the balance of the day in the camp as I had to do some business meetings (what would a holiday be without business meetings!). The good news is that the wind finally died down and it was a perfectly still and beautiful evening. As I had meetings we went simple and had pasta for dinner tonight.
Until tomorrow … P & H