Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Three Amigos in the Drakensburg & Wakkerstroom.

On the road to the pass.

Dumb animals in front of stuffed dumb animals!
Photo courtesy of Rob Quested.

We then packed up & drove towards Rhodes in the Drakensburg Mountains. We were around 80kms short of our destination when we spotted a nice hotel by the roadside. 
Getting higher!
Black headed Heron

One of seventeen Southern Bald Ibis.


African Stonechat

We did some afternoon birding around a nearby dam & then enjoyed an excellent evening meal.

This is at the bottom of the pass not the top!
On the 25th we took the dirt road towards Rhodes. The weather was again kind to us & we enjoyed some very scenic vistas along the way. 

Mountain Pipit

At bang on 2,000 m. we came across two Mountain Pipits! A world tick for me!

The highest road in South Africa.
The habitat

Orange-breasted Rockjumper

This pair had a nest with chicks close to the road.

Male Sentinel Rock Thrush.
We arrived at the pass & started birding: Orange-breasted Rockjumper proved to be the highlight, although Sentinel Rock Thrush came a close second. Drakensburg Siskins were also seen but not photographed.

The eastern side of the pass was
 much more verdant.
Long crested Eagle

Bizarre, but wonderful!

The eastern side of the pass proved to be much greener & we saw a few good species including a fine adult Black Harrier.

Grey-crowned Crane.

A little further down, we enjoyed a pair of Grey-crowned Cranes by the roadside. The rest of the late afternoon was spent driving & we arrived late & crashed straight away at a local guesthouse, which proved to be surprisingly comfortable.

Denham's Bustard - for me the finest of this family.

The 26th was a day of driving the 586 kilometers to our next destination, Wakkerstroom. However a fine Denham’s Bustard by the roadside proved to be a real bonus.

Our temporary home.
This one is for you Robin!
This is a much better picture!

 We arrived at Wakkerstroom late afternoon & found a lovely self-catering cottage to stay in for the next two nights. We had a pleasant evening in the local pub with some good food.

Steppe Buzzard
Greater Striped Swallow
Killed on the road by fast moving traffic.
Cape Sparrow
27th dawned grey, cold & overcast, which soon turned to light drizzle. We concentrated on the grassland birds but didn’t see very much at all. Probably the worst days birding of the trip!

Intermediate Egret
White-throated Swallow - this individual was trying 
to stay warm, in the very cold conditions.
Red-backed Shrike - a summer migrant here.
Cape Canary
Photo courtesy of Maarten

In the afternoon we did manage to see 3 Blue Korhaans, but it was pretty slow going so we returned early to the cottage & enjoyed a nice evening out at the local bistro. Which proved to be excellent.

It was raining again the next morning so we cut our losses & drove back to Sabie Park arriving a day early on 28th.

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