Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Sabie & Kruger Parks

Rob & I enjoyed a fantastic week in Welgovenden. But, we needed somewhere to chat & digest all the information & possibilities. Where better than my house in Sabie Park?
We arrived late one afternoon & after unpacking & getting a few things sorted in the house, we sat on the veranda, watching animals just over our boundary fence in Kruger. It wasn't long before we had a friend come to have a look at us!
 This young bull Elephant, was at first curious
 about us!
 The wind was in the wrong direction
 & he smelt us!
 He tossed & shook his head around & then left
 the scene, with as much dignity as he could muster!
He was right up against my boundary fence
looking straight at us on the veranda.
Shortly after a female Kudu started grazing on the edge of the reeds, giving Rob & I excellent views.
 Female Kudu.

 Then it was dark & we turned in after a long & tiring day.
Early the next morning we were up & about for a game drive in Kruger National Park. I decided on both our behalves to do one of my favourite short drives - the S3, then the loop road around to Skukuza Camp, where we planned to have lunch. We entered the park after completing the formalities & at first it was a little quiet, but then we turned the corner &......
 A large pride of seventeen Lions, with cubs!
If it hadn't been for Rob's shout I might have actually run over them! I didn't see them at all & they were right in front of me! I, of course was looking into the bush at the sides of the road! At first we thought they might go hunting, as they looked interested, but slowly they relaxed & lost interest in a possible hunt.

 Cubs, watching with interest, in the background.
 This was a large pride, with cubs of varying ages
 within it.
 This adult female was radio collared
 for tracking purposes.
 This sub-adult male, seemed not to be in tune
 with the hunting ethos, of the rest of the pride!

 Eventually they lost interest in a possible hunt
 & slowly started to wander off.


Another day we enjoyed a short drive out to Lake Panic near Skukuza. There were plenty of birds around, but the light was very poor. Hence the quality of the following two photos!
 White-breasted Cormorant
Helmeted Guineafowl.
We then drove down the main road, towards Lower Sabie Camp. On a distant rocky outcrop, we spotted a fine male Leopard. The only problem was my camera chose this moment not to focus properly, hence the less than sharp photos! We watched it for quite a while though, including scent marking the rocks, before it slowly moved off into thicker cover.

 A really good encounter.

 Male Red-crested Khoraan.

 But, while you are taking photos of birds,
 one should always keep a look out behind!
This large male Elephant, sneaked up on us!
In this southern part of KNP, hornbills are common. This Yellow-billed Hornbill epitomizes this portion of the bushveld.
Yellow-billed Hornbill
We came across a Red-billed Hornbill anting. It was so wrapped up in its ablutions, that it allowed us to get really close.
 Red-billed Hornbill

That feels better!
We found a female Black-faced Vervet Monkey in a nearby bush, with a very young baby. Every time any bird flew overhead, she kept a wary eye on it.
 Black-faced Vervet Monkey

Driving alongside the beautiful Sabie River is always full of incident. Water Dikkops were seen loafing around on bare rocks in the river. And several African Wattled Plovers were seen well on the drier, grassy areas. Next to the river itself, the much more uncommon White-crowned Plover was seen.A female Egyptian Goose with goslings was also entertaining. A Giant Kingfisher was perched on the bridge.
 Water Dikkop.

African Wattled Plover.
 White-crowned Plover

 Nearly at the water!
 A little drink for the chicks!
 Giant Kingfisher
A little further down the road, we found a couple of Hooded Vultures on the remains of a kill. Others were also sniffing around, for any possible remains!
 Hooded Vulture

A couple of very young Spotted Hyenas
 It became apparent, that there were at least five cubs,
 of varying ages present.

 They were alert but happy, just playing.

 Just south of Lower Sabie Camp, an area of bushveld had been burnt, several weeks ago, by the Kruger Park Management Team. On this day, it was regenerating nicely and had attracted many grazing species.

 Burchell's Zebra
 Cape Buffalo

  Common Reedbuck
 Showing off the plumes, which gave this species
 its English name.

 This mother & baby Vervet Monkey was begging
 for hand-outs, at the nearby picnic site.

Rob & I started birding in the more open long grassland & it wasn't long before we found a superb male Black-bellied Khoraan displaying! It gave us both long and superb close up views!
 Male Black-bellied Khoraan

Starting to pump up its body!
Here goes!
The explosion!

A more relaxed pose.
Has a female noticed?


 The time was pressing & we drove towards the exit gate at Paul Kruger Gate. But just before we got there we undertook a small circular detour and as dusk was approaching a couple of very young Spotted Hyenas cubs came out to play. A nice ending to a great day in the park.
 Like most young animals, full of life, mixed
 with curiosity & a little bit of timidity!


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