25 May 2021

Another great day in the Park

15 February 2021 - Kruger National Park; Day 5

More rain through the night, so we left after breakfast to the Park, this time through Kruger Gate which was a longer drive from Kruger Park Lodge. Once inside, a slow drive toward Skukuza stopping for this chilled Elephant Bull

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

We were lucky today and saw all the iconic African Eagles; starting with this juvenile Bateleur with a Barbel on the bank of a small river

Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)

Later we had the unmistakable African Fish Eagle, peering at us from the top of a tree

African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)

Then a juvenile Martial Eagle against a backdrop of threatening clouds

Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)

and lastly a Tawny Eagle with a similar backdrop

Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)

Just before Skukuza, I picked up this brute of a male Leopard walking its territory and toward us. It came past my car and then turned into the thick grass and melted away - another treat!

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

We stopped for coffee at Skukuza and picked up a calling Jacobin Cuckoo in the car park

Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus)

And a number of birds down at the restaurant deck, including a displaying Red-collared Widow

Red-collared Widowbird (Euplectes ardens)

It was then a fair drive to Tshokwane picnic site, finding more Red-backed Shrikes.

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

We had lunch at Tshokwane, before heading back to Lower Sabie

Old Brands at the Tshokwane shop

The grass was so long, we almost missed this lone Buffalo bull. It was grazing and slowly came toward us, before crossing the road

African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

This Warthog was pretty well hidden in the grass

Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)

Now the storm clouds were building up again, but provided a backdrop for a magnificent African landscape; both colour and B+W work well with this image

Dramatic African Landscape

Followed by an Ele landscape

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

There were many European Roller's to be seen - another migratory species

European Roller (Coracias garrulus)

At Sunset Dam, a Nile Crocodile cruised by

Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)

By now it was late afternoon, so we cruised slowly back toward Phabeni Gate, finding a sleeping Saddle-billed Stork

Female Saddle-billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) 

Red-billed Oxpecker on a Zebra 

Red-billed Oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus)

Followed by another herd of Zebra with youngsters, resting in the road

Burchell's Zebra (Equus quagga burchelli)

At the last river crossing before Phabeni Gate, a Black Stork foraging in amongst the reeds was unexpected

Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)

Then it was back to the Lodge for dinner after a long, but pretty good day in the Park

Kruger Park delivers

14 February 2021 - Kruger Park Lodge and Kruger National Park; Day 4

Again, it rained softly through the night and intermittently in the morning, so we decided to delay going to the Park until the afternoon.

And the rain pours down

Before breakfast, I caught this Egyptian Goose looking quite miserable in the rain

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)

After a leisurely breakfast and with a break in the rain, we had a walk around the Lodge grounds. Outside our Chalet, a Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird was foraging in the canopy

Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus chrysoconus)

With a Tawny-flanked Prinia in the shrub below 

Tawny-flanked Prinia (Prinia subflava)

Near the Clubhouse, there was a bit of birding activity as birds hawked and fed on erupting midges. We picked up Black Flycatchers

Southern Black Flycatcher (Melaenornis pammelaina)

White-fronted Bee-eaters

White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides)

This cool male Violet-backed Starling

Violet-backed Starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster)

A couple of Purple-crested Turaco's drying out in some brief sun

Purple-crested Turaco (Tauraco porphyreolophus) 

and a Golden-tailed Woodpecker

Golden-tailed Woodpecker (Campethera abingoni)

At one of the dams (or water hazard for the golfers) on the golf course, I found Holub's (African) Golden Weaver building a nest

Male Holub's Golden Weaver (Ploceus xanthops)

With Common House Martin overhead with a number of other Swallows..

Common House Martin (Delichon urbicum)

Of course, I was also on the lookout for invertebrates and managed to again photograph Brown Pansy

Male Brown Pansy (Junonia n. natalica)

Soldier Pansy

Soldier Pansy (Junonia t. elgiva)

And Malagasy Grass Yellow

Malagasy Grass Yellow (Eurema f. floricola)

And a striking and distinctive Mackens Dart

Female Macken's Dart (Acleros m. mackenii)

Male Macken's Dart (Acleros m. macken

The Dragonflies were out around the dams, but also the Water Lilies had opened and they made a great image before I concentrated on the Dragonflies

Water Lily 

Here I photographed (thank to Lappies Lapuschagne for assisting with the ID's) Red-veined Dropwing

Red-veined Dropwing (Trithemis arteriosa)

The uncommon Eastern Blacktail

Eastern Blacktail (Nesciothemis farinosa)

and Banded Groundling

Banded Groundling (Brachythemis leucosticta)

There were also a number of Damselflies present; Highland Spreadwing

Highland Spreadwing (Lestes plagiatus)

Swarthy Sprite

Swarthy Sprite (Pseudagrion hamoni)

and a stunning female Glistening Demoiselle in the adjacent forest

Glistening Demoiselle (Phaon iridipennis)

After lunch, the rain seemed to have abated, so we headed to Kruger Park through the Phabeni Gate. We chatted to one of the safari guides at the gate whilst completing the formalities and he told us about a pair of mating Lions near Skukuza. We headed in that direction and luckily the Lions were in the same spot and hadn't moved to far off from the side of the road - plus there weren't too many cars, so that was a bonus.

The male, was side on to us which made for a nice classic portrait

Male Lion (Panthera leo)

Whilst the female was a little further back and behind a tree - but still, I like this image

Female Lion (Panthera leo)

My wife opened a tin of Coke in the car and just that noise (pffttt) got the attention of the male and for a brief moment, he looked directly at us - Bingo!

It was then time for another bout of mating, after which they moved further into the bush - but a really great sighting

Driving back down the road, we were entertained by a large group of Chacma Baboons lounging around on the road

Chacma Baboon (Papio ursinus)

There weren't too many birds seen this afternoon, but we did stop for a migratory Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

After passing Skukuza we continued to Phabeni and it wasn't much longer when I saw a familiar silhouette running down the road toward us, followed by many more - Wild Dog, what an unexpected treat!

Apparently they had recently killed an Impala and had moved off, but chose the road. We were only 3 cars at the sighting to start. There was a small pool of water on the side of the road opposite my car and this is where a few drank and lay in to cool down - does it get any better?

African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)

One of the dogs had a bone from the kill, but just gnawed on it for awhile before leaving it. Of course the Spotted Hyena's that were following them snatched and crunched it in no time

African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)

There was a bit of interaction between the Dogs and Hyena, as is expected. We all giggled when the Hyena yelped as the Dog nipped it on its hind quarters.

African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) and Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) interaction

By now there were a good number of cars, so we moved off to give others a chance and also to get to the gate before closing time - but what a great afternoon. We arrived back at the Lodge after sunset and were treated to a calling Spotted Eagle Owl on our neighbours thatch roof - how cool!

Spotted Eagle Owl (Bubo africanus)

Migrants and invisible Ele's

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