27 January 2024

Last Morning Drive from Ngwenya to Lower Sabie

31 August 2023 - Ngwenya and Kruger National Park; Day 7

The family were all gamed out, so I had a solo morning in the Park. But when I woke, there was a thick mist over the river - nevertheless, I thought it may burn off quickly. While waiting in the queue at Croc Bridge Gate, the Blue Super Moon was low in the sky

Blue Super Moon

Once through the gate, I found the perfect foreground for the setting Super Moon, I was pretty pleased with the result

Blue Super Moon

I headed north on the sand road S28 in heavy mist which was frustrating, eary, quiet and beautiful at the same time. I wanted to focus on bird photography, but no chance in these conditions. I was able to make out a Blue Wildebeest in the mist and tried to get creative

Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus)

A little further on, an Ele - of course

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

I then had a Swainson's Spurfowl, as it got a little lighter

Swainson's Spurfowl (Pternistis swainsonii)

By now I could see a little sun which gave a dreamy landscape opportunity

Southern Kruger Landscape

A juvenile Burchell's Coucal with it's diagnostic supercilium was out in the open

Juvenile Burchell's Coucal (Centropus burchelli)

Followed by a Yellow-throated Longclaw

Yellow-throated Longclaw (Macronyx croceus)

I found the subcoronatus Southern Fiscal that had been reported earlier in the week

Southern Fiscal (Lanius c. subcoronatus)

and a little later a stunning immature Martial Eagle

Immature Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)

As the mist lifted, a Ring-necked/Cape Turtle Dove

Cape Turtle Dove (Streptopelia capicola)

and once the sun had broken through, a Trumpeter Hornbill flying over.

Trumpeter Hornbill (Bycanistes bucinator)

Close to Lower Sabie, an immature Bateleur trying to gain some height

Immature Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)

I made a stop at Sunset Dam finding the Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

and a Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)

The Yellow-billed Stork numbers had diminished, but there were still a few around - including this youngster

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis)

At Lower Sabie, grabbed a coffee and an image of a Camaroptera in the car park

Green-backed Camaroptera (Camaroptera brachyura)

and had one more look at Sunset Dam where a Black Stork was now present

Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)

And this Three-banded Plover

Three-banded Plover (Charadrius tricollaris)

Many Nile Crocs on the banks around the dam

Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)

As well Hippo, this one just visible

Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious)

I'm always amazed at how the Impala walk gingerly amongst the Crocs to come down and drink

Impala (Aepyceros melampus)

African Spoonbill (Platalea alba) together with Impala (Aepyceros melampus)

I then headed south back to Croc Bridge for the last time on this visit and back to Ngwenya. We were notified of some Lion visible down the river from the main hide, so all went to check them out. There was a pride that we had heard roaring in the early hours and they were resting in the shade under one of the trees. There was also a lone Ele present drinking in the river and he didnt take kindly to having the Lion's so close by - so chose to do something about it. They are faster than you think and the male Lion had to create some dust to make some distance between himself and the charging Ele - very entertaining

Lion (Panthera leo) and African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) interaction

There was a big flock of Yellow-billed Stork that were oblivious to the action behind them, perhaps one was aware and raised it's wings to keep the flock together? The Hippos didnt give a toss

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis)

Back to our Unit where we saw one of the Hippo's come out of it's pool as the sun set, to start grazing - so many scratches on it's hide

Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious)

I then got a bit creative with the sunset and ripples on the river from the wind - I quite like these

Our last Ngwenya sunset

This was our last night and I was still on 99 species, but whilst packing the car early the next morning heard the Square-tailed Nightjar which brought me to my objective of 100 species and another great week at our timeshare on the banks of the Crocodile River in the southern Kruger National Park

Morning loop Drive from Ngwenya to Skukuza

30 August 2023 - Ngwenya and Kruger National Park; Day 6

We were up earlier and in the Croc Bridge Gate queue by 5:45 and through the gate by 6:05 which was great. We always have a family debate as to which roads are the most productive - tar or sand. I prefer the sand, as it feels less commercial, but I was outvoted this morning and we opted to do a day on the tar. Halfway up the H4-2, we had a few Safari vehicles pass us, so we followed them. They took an unmarked turnoff and there was already a traffic jam at the sighting, which was a Leopard (different to yesterday's Leopard), but very high up in a large tree. This sighting vindicated my wife's justification for staying on the tar - but as it turned out, we didnt see much else for the rest of the morning

Lepoard (Panthera pardus)

There were a good number of Spotted Hyena's running around under the tree

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)

Then we had the mission of trying to maneuver out of the traffic chaos. We continued to Lower Sabie, but did a drive over the bridge before the camp where a Croc slowly glided past a solitary Little Egret

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

At Lower Sabie there was a bit of activity at the bird bath before the shop - first Black-collared Barbet

Black-collared Barbet (Lybius torquatus)

and then a White-browed Robin-Chat

White-browed Robin-Chat (Cossypha heuglini)

The Bats were still in the eaves near the restaurant

Wahlberg's Epauletted Fruit Bat (Epomophorus wahlbergi)

We checked out the view from the M&B deck, seeing another Nile Croc

Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)

A big flock of Openbill's

African Openbill (Anastomus lamelligerus)

After our coffee and muffin, I walked down the boardwalk finding a young Sombre Greenbul feeding on berries in an adjacent bush. It's not often they sit out in the open like this, perhaps immaturity....

Sombre Greenbul (Andropadus importunus)

We then continued on the tar to Skukuza where there was still a lot of damage to the road from the floods earlier this year. From Skukuza back down to Malelane and then the loop back to Croc Bridge on the S25, not seeing any Rhino but I did get a Wahlberg's Eagle

Wahlberg's Eagle (Hieraaetus wahlbergi)

and later a soaring Tawny Eagle

Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)

Overall another disappointing game drive and we all agreed that for this trip the KNP should change it's name to the Elephant and Impala Park, as we saw so many of both.

We had a chilled afternoon on our deck back at Ngwenya watching Goliath Heron standing motionless for hours in the rapids

Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)

A Black-headed Oriole serenading us in the Fever Tree

Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus larvatus)

One of the Skink's youngsters on the balcony railing

Skink sp.

and another magnificent sunset and birds returning to their overnight roosts

Returning to roost

Skaal/Cheers and I finished on 99 species for Ngwenya today


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...