16 October 2023

Kyalami Estates - July Round-up

31 July 2023 - Kyalami Estates

We are now in mid-winter, but I still had a decent count of 46 species for the Estate, but it was still down compared to the two previous years.

Despite being mid-winter, there was already signs of breeding preparation with Blacksmith Lapwings seen mating

Blacksmith Lapwing (Vanellus armatus)





Southern Masked Weavers in almost full breeding plumage, nests completed and competing for females. The theory for early breeding is to get in one or two clutches before the Cuckoo's arrive

Southern Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus)









In and around the main Park, Karoo Thrushes are plentiful

Karoo Thrush (Turdus smithii)


Reed Cormorants also occasionally drop in

Juvenile Reed Cormorant (Microcarbo africanus)



Down at St Ledger Dam, I recorded Little Grebe, which was my first record for the Estate

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)





The resident Malachite Kingfisher is not always easy to pick-up, especially since the reeds have been cut back

Malachite Kingfisher (Corythornis cristata)


Tawny-flanked Prinia's are present around the fringes of the dam

Tawny-flanked Prinia (Prinia subflava)


But the highlight was Little Sparrowhawk in the Bluegum's

Little Sparrowhawk (Accipiter minullus)



and then later three birds providing some aerial acrobatics as they interacted with each other. I suspect it was a juvenile, together with the adults

Little Sparrowhawk (Accipiter minullus)






GECKO Survey

28 July 2023 - GECKO Conservancy

Together with the monitoring team, we conducted a survey at one of the sites on private land in the GECKO Conservancy.

We were thrilled to find A34, but also disappointed not to find a second bird. 

African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis) - A34




Hopefully, a little later in the season when we check again, it will have been joined by a mate.



13 October 2023

Heading home

25 July 2023 - Roodewal, KNP - Day 4

We had packed the night before, but still got an early start after saying our goodbyes. We headed south on the Timbavati Road where we managed to see a pair of Klipspringer in a rocky outcrop, exactly where you would expect to see them.

Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragu)


It was an overcast morning and game was somehow quite scarce. We had a quick stop at the picnic site, which also has an iconic Baobab on the road leading in

Baobab (Adansonia digitata)



From there we continued to Orpen gate seeing very little. It was still quite gloomy, but before the gate we had a Tawny Eagle

Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)


Which was followed by a single African Hawk Eagle

African Hawk-Eagle (Aquila spilogaster)


Once we completed the formalities at the gate, it was the long drive home - getting stuck in a monster traffic jam, which resulted in us taking a sand road detour to escape what would have been a 2.5 hour delay. Once past this, it was plain sailing all the way back to Midrand after a thoroughly enjoyable few days with good friends in Roodewal.


Holy Grail

24 July 2023 - Roodewal, KNP - Day 3

This was our last full day in the Park and we decided to drive south to Satara for a late breakfast and were all out of the gate just before sunrise. Our kids were ahead of us and found a pack of 4 Wild Dog on the move - we had radio's in our respective cars and most of our gang managed to get onto them moving quickly through the bush on a early morning hunting sortie. 

This image illuminated by car headlights

African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)


Before the bird hide, two impressive Kudu bulls

Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros)



We continued to the bird hide for coffee and then stopped again at the Timbavati Picnic Site. My wife suggested we head east on the S127 back to the tar road and I'm so glad she did. Driving slowly, I saw some movement in a big dead tree and whatever it was, it dropped quickly out of the tree and into the grass. My mind went into overdrive as it was too small for a Leopard and to large for a Genet. I knew exactly what it was, but as this cat has eluded me in the Kruger, I didnt want to shout out, until I actually got my eyes on it. We drove for a few heart stopping meters and I saw a pair of ears pop up in the long grass - SERVAL and not just one, a pair of them. It was just after 7am in the morning and they were really skittish and didnt stay still for long - but we managed to get decent views through the long grass as they made there way deeper into the bush. I have had many visits to the Park over decades and finally a dream was realised - so special!

Serval (Leptailurus serval)










We continued elated on the S127, stopping for a few Ele's

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)


And a large herd of Zebra

Burchell's Zebra (Equus q. burchelli)



On the road to Satara we had Southern Ground Hornbill

Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)



and good numbers of Kori Bustard

Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori)






As well as another big herd of Zebra, some behaving like naughty school children

Burchell's Zebra (Equus q. burchelli)






We arrived at Satara and enjoyed some coffee with toasties on the deck. With some help, I managed to locate the resident Scops Owl, literally in the tree next to where we were having our breakfast

African Scops Owl (Otus senegalensis)







After breakfast, I had a walk around the Reception area finding Red-billed Buffalo Weaver

Red-billed Buffalo Weaver (Bubalornis niger)


and Red-billed Firefinch

Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala)


We then headed back to Roodewal on the tar road, finding a distant Cheetah against the light

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)


Once at camp, we chilled over a casual lunch and I managed to find Paradise Flycatcher 

Female African Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis)


Southern Black Tit feverishly feeding on some fruit

Southern Black Tit (Melaniparus niger)




and Yellow-breasted Apalis in the trees surrounding the braai area

Yellow-breasted Apalis (Apalis flavida)



Near our Chalet, the Dusky Fly's were still present

African Dusky Flycatcher (Muscicapa adusta)



and I had an Tawny Eagle overhead

Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)


Late in the afternoon, we had a short drive, but this time heading north on the Timbavati Road toward Olifants. It was pretty quiet, other than a large herd of Ele's coming back from the river

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)


On the return to camp, we came across a large herd of Buffalo in the Mopane

African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)





Back at camp, we had a festive dinner along with the fines for silly things observed during the day - a fun way to end the day and trip with good friends







Migrants and invisible Ele's

09 January 2024 - Mabula; Day 3 Only the boys opted for this morning's drive and were entertained with these two Dung Beetle's tryin...