Friday, January 13, 2017

South Africa 2016 - Trip Report Part 3

For this particular blog I have concentrated a little more on Kruger and included a few more photographs than normal, there is so much to tell you and thus I have broken this blog/Trip Report, into 5 parts! Here I present Part 3. The final part will be a bird species list and a mammal list. I hope you can forgive the drawn out nature of these information packed day by day accounts of my tour.

South Africa and THE tour. Part Three of the Trip Report and I really hope you will enjoy the read and of course the photographs. 

Tour Leaders: Peter Jones (Worldwide Birding Tours § Co-Author, Editor) and  Wian van Zyl (Birding Guide, Main Author)

This comprehensive tour of South Africa by Worldwide Birding Tours undertook a 3-week journey across eastern South Africa, and down into the Western Cape of South Africa. Starting in Durban on the scenic Kwazulu-Natal coast, we slowly worked our way northwards taking in the rolling hills and forests of Eshowe down to the coastal forest and bushveld of the greater Isimangaliso Wetland Park, before heading up to the high-altitudinal grasslands surrounding the endemic hotspot of Wakkerstroom. Kruger was next on the agenda, where a few days were spent enjoying this true natural side of Africa, before heading onto Cape Town and the Western Cape via Dullstroom. Some time was spent on the Cape Peninsula itself, before heading up the west coast to the sleepy village of Langebaan, thereby bring the tour to an end some three weeks later. Due to the length of the tour, and variety of habitats taken in, a mammoth total of nearly 420 species of bird were found on the tour!

Day 13, 04/12/2016: Birding Kruger National Park
Waking up at 05:00 we had a brief walk around the camp before meeting our Safari Vehicle driver (Chris-man) at 06:00. We got great views of a skulking Gorgeous Bush-Shrike(took us a while to get optics on the guy). We were also rewarded with Willow Warbler and African Goshawk before leaving the camp. As we went out we got Western Osprey, Jacobin- and Levaillant's Cuckoo, White-fronted Bee-eater as well as Lesser Grey Shrike. We continued along to Lower Sabi and scanned a kettle of vultures only to be rewarded with a new species for the trip, White-headed Vulture. After having a quick bite to eat we made our way to Tshokwane Picnic outpost. En route we got Tawny Eagle, Southern Ground Hornbill, Common Ostrich, a Grey Heron surfing a Hippo and Secretarybird. Just before entering Tshokwane we had a great sighting of a lazy Leopard in a tree, legs dangling down, sheltering from the mid-day heat. Whilst having a bite to eat we got African Mourning Dove and a whole host of other regulars. En route back to Skukuza we managed to find some more Southern Ground Hornbill, Magpie Shrike and just before entering camp a perched Marabou Stork panting in the late afternoon heat. Mammals for the day included the entire Big 5 as well as Hippo, Giraffe, Kudu, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Klipspringer,etc.

Day14, 05/12/2016: Kruger National Park transfer to Dullstroom
Starting the day bright and early we were rewarded with smashing views of Scarlet-chested Sunbird whilst we were loading up the van to head out to Lake Panic hide. En route to the hide we had a great view of a clan of about 8 Spotted Hyena and shortly after that a small pride of Lions (with very inquisitive you males) just before the hide itself. We entered the hide and started off pretty quiet but soon were rewarded with the likes of Squacco Heron, African Fish-Eagle, Water Thick-Knee, African Jacana, Amur Falcons mobbing a Yellow-billed Kite, Pied Kingfisher and a Wire-tailed Swallow adult feeding a youngster. After spending quite some time at the hide we decided to drive around just before breakfast and recorded calls of African- and Black Cuckoo just before jumping in the van. On our little drive around we encountered Bateleur, Lilac-breasted Roller, Red-backed Shrike, Marabou Stork and a great Elephant bull sighting. After a hearty breakfast we started to make our way out of the park getting Saddle-billed Stork, Grey-Go-Away-Bird, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill and Tawny-flanked Prinia before exiting the park. The rest of the drive was a travel day to Dullstroom to get some Highveld Grassland birding in before our flight to Cape Town the next day. As soon as we entered the Dullstroom area we recorded Southern Red Bishop, Long-crested Eagle, Steppe (Common) Buzzard, Long-tailed Widowbird and Southern Fiscal. We continued along the dirt track to the guest house and managed African Olive Pigeon and Olive Thrush upon arrival at the guest house. Other mammals for the day included Buffalo, Waterbuck, Nyala,Kudu, Impala, Banded Mongoose, etc.

Day 15 and 01, 06/12/2016 Dullstroom (flight transfer to Simonstown, Cape Town)
The day started around 05:00 in just outside the small town of Dullstroom. The habitat and altitude here is very similar to that we had in Wakkerstroom, so most of the same species were expected. It was very misty around 05:00 and seemed to be clearing up as we left for birding but as the morning progressed it got really thick again. We did manage to get great views of Yellow-breasted Pipit(better than what we had in Dullstroom), Grey-winged Francolin, Red-capped Lark, Cape Long-claw and a species we dipped on in Wakkerstroom (which we were really hoping to get here) the Denham’s Bustard. This individual was flying a wide circle around us and gave us spectacular views of it before disappearing into the distance over a ridge. As soon as the mist got really thick we decided to make our way to Johannesburg to board our flight to South Africa’s “Mother City”, Cape Town. After stopping for breakfast en route we managed to record Cape Sparrow, Steppe- and Jackal Buzzard and had some good new mammal species with the likes of Red-hartebeest, Springbuck and Black Wildebeest. As we boarded our flight we saw our last Johannesburg birds, House Sparrow and Long-tailed Widowbird. Although not exciting it is worth mentioning that we saw these from the plane as we were taking off.

Well the 3rd installment is finished, so I am hoping you might follow the blog and read about our remaining adventures on this spectacular tour. If the idea appeals to you, why not consider joining me and Wian later this year on another of our South African adventure tours? 

Details of the tour and itinerary can be found on this link

To see other destinations we visit please visit our main site. Thank you.

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