14 March 2023

Bushveld, Mountain and Beer

28 January 2023 - Pilansberg National Park and Kumbagana

My son had his good friend from Australia visiting for a few weeks and as it was his first time in South Africa, we had to get him into the bush. We decided to spend a weekend in Magaliesberg that included a visit to Pilansberg

It was an early start from Jozi to get to the Kwa Maritane gate at opening time just after sunrise. We were the only ones at that time, so could enjoy the drive into the Park at our own pace. Our first sighting was a mother and calf White Rhino - great start. Sad that he was not able to see one that wasnt de-horned, but we explained to him why it is necessary that they are de-horned

White Rhinoceros (Chiromantis xerampelina)

A little further on, we enjoyed a pair of Klipspringer chasing each other around a rocky outcrop before heading toward the crater

Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragu)

We drove past Mankwe Dam to the Visitor Center to stretch our legs. Whilst talking to some of the safari guides about their sightings, I spied this male White-bellied Sunbird

White-bellied Sunbird (Cinnyris talatala)

I got some gen on a location for Ele's so we headed in that direction stopping for a Lesser Grey Shrike

Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor)

We managed to connect with a mother and calf in the long grass right next to the road that we only saw when she trumpeted as we got alongside. That was certainly one of the highlights for our visitor who almost jumped out of his seat. A little further on we came across the rest of the herd on the slopes of the mountain, but quite some way off. This male was showering himself with sand and dust

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

We then headed to Mankwe Dam and had a few more Ele's in the grasslands on the far side

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) in the grasslands

Love the perceived motion created by the grass

Not much to be seen at the dam other than a White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)

and a few Little Swifts 

Little Swift (Apus affinis)

We heard about some Lion so went to investigate, stopping for a singing Rufous-naped Lark next to the road

Rufous-naped Lark (Mirafra africana)

A little further, a migratory Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)

We eventually found the right road and the two male Lions - but really a long way off under a tree in the heat of the day. But having 3 of the Big 5 in a morning, was really appreciated by our guest

Lion (Panthera leo)

There were other plains mammals around - I went abstract on this Zebra - one in colour and the other B&W

Burchell's Zebra (Equus quagga burchelli)

By now it was really warm and the mammals were retreating into the shade. We headed to Kwa Maritane for lunch and drinks before driving back to Magaliesberg where we checked into the quaint log cabins at Kumbagana Game Lodge for the night. Our guest next to our cabin was this large Lizard - still to be identified

Lizard sp.

In the morning we dropped off the boys to enjoy the Magaliesberg Canopy Tour - while waiting for their safety briefing - I tried to photograph this Kite Spider

Kite Spider (Gasteracantha versicolor)

After the boys were taken to the start of the tour, my wife and I went back to Kumbagana for a relaxed self-catered breakfast. Later, I had a walk around the camp, finding two Groundscraper Thrush

Groundscraper Thrush (Turdus litsitsirupa)

a pair of Bushveld Pipit's - the best bird of the weekend

Bushveld Pipit (Anthus caffer)

and some Violet-backed Starling, here the female

Violet-backed Starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster)

Whilst packing the Hilux, this Toad hopped past

Toad sp.

After picking up the boys, it was off to the Brauhaus Afrika where we were meeting up with good friends out on a visit from UK for a traditional German lunch supplemented with great craft beer - a great way to end off an action packed weekend!


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