Thursday, 13 April 2017

Gilly & Oscar's little trip!

I picked up Gilly & Oscar on Friday evening at the airport. We enjoyed a nice meal at Sunrock Guesthouse & then it was early to bed.

Dullstroom, with storm clouds gathering!

 The 25th saw us driving along the road to Dullstroom. The weather was beautiful, but this changed rapidly & birding in the hills in the afternoon was difficult & became impossible around 4 pm  Torrential rain stopped play! We all enjoyed a great meal at at a local restaurant in the village, an almost barn like setting & great ambiance.

Very poor conditions led him to drive off the road.

He had driven off the track in the same rain storm
in which we had retreated to the village
 the previous night!

First I had to pull him sideways to get him away
 from the rocks who was up against.

Oscar looking on!

Another casualty was this Black backed Jackal.

Oscar & I returned to the De Berg Road just as dawn was breaking. The weather was again poor & we found a local guy who had driven off the track in the heavy rain last night & get well & truly stuck! I pulled him out & he was very grateful.

Oscar & Gilly, at the highest part of the road.
Long Tom Pass.

The guys at Nut Grove Manor.

Oscar & Gilly.

Slowly the weather improved & we scored on most of Oscar's most wanted species. We then picked up Gilly & hit the road for White River, spending the night at the upmarket Nut Grove Manor.

The Sabie River, from the picnic site.

Photo courtesy of Oscar Campbell.

Myself & Gilly: at the famous bar!
Photo courtesy of Oscar Campbell.

Large Spotted Genet

A very good sighting.

Wild Dog, close to Paul Kruger Gate.

We came across about ten of these animals.
This is probably the large pack of 21 dogs
 but difficult to see at night!

This is why Oscar came here!
Not to see me of course!

Photo courtesy of Oscar Campbell.

On 27th I took my truck in for servicing, which took up all the morning. Then we all drove to Sabie Park, spending a lovely evening on the veranda. With  an interesting night drive.

Female Bushbuck

Black Storks

Golden tailed Woodpecker

Tawny flanked Prinia

28th was spent at home inside Sabie Park. Oscar & I went birding & in the afternoon we all enjoyed a spell at the picnic site.

This was an early spot as we entered the park.

Sabie River just down stream from the camp.

Elephants coming down to drink.

A young Crocodile.

Saddle billed Stork

Southern Red Bishop

One or two birds were still in breeding plumage.

Close to Mlondozi Dam

Mlondozi Dam, nice to see it full for a change!

Breakfast at the dam.
The chef was flown in at great expense!


These two Lionesses had killed a Waterbuck, 
but very hard to observe in the long grass.

Flat backed Tortoise

Wahlberg's Eagle

Wire tailed Swallow

European Roller

Red backed Shrike

Nkumbe lookout.

Sabota Lark

The almost obligatory photo stop at Orpen Rocks!

The scenic Sabie River, close to the
 high water bridge.

This picnic site has been completely revamped.

And they have done a pretty good job of it!

29th we went for game viewing in Kruger. We did the run down to Lower Sabie & back via Tshokwane. It was an excellent day.

Wild Dog complete with satellite transmitter.

White backed Vulture
Photo courtesy of Oscar Campbell.

Hooded Vulture looking for scraps.

Tawny Eagle

Photo courtesy of Oscar Campbell


This was taken just opposite my house.
It is a mature male, which I haven't seen before.

New kid on the block!

30th we were once again up early & into the national park. We scored big time with a pack of Wild Dogs on a kill, shortly after finding a superb Leopard which kept us entertained for fifteen minutes. The rest of the day was spent in Hazyview.

Impala with Red billed Oxpeckers.

Cocqui Franklin
A most wanted tick for Oscar!

Tawny Eagle

Dusky Lark

This is an eruptive & nomadic species.

Very hard to pin down.

I don't see this species too often.

A cracker!

Red backed Shrike

On the last day of the month we left Sabie Park & drove along the main road to Satara, where we spent the next two nights.

European Rollers were common on the drive.

Photo courtesy of Oscar Campbell

Large groups of Wattled Starlings were seen
in the grasslands.

Chestnut backed Finch-larks were 
also quite common.

Buffy Pipit

Nice to get good views of this species, 
which often you see just flying away!

Emerald Spotted wood-Dove

Burchell's Starling

Grey-headed Sparrow

I saw this sign in the back of a vehicle
 parked in Satara Camp.
It is just for you Gilly!

Red billed Queleas drinking.

White headed Vultures

A fast declining species.

A distant Leopard was close by.

Male Double banded Sandgrouse.
This species comes on to the roads & tracks 
in late afternoon.


Spotted Hyena.

My favourite camping spot next to the fence was vacant, so we set up camp & watched thousands of Red-billed Queleas going to roost over the grasslands. later on a Spotted Hyena patrolled the fence line.

The view from the lookout, 
looking towards Mozambique.

White backed Vultures.

Southern Ground Hornbill

Kurrichane Buttonquail

This is a species which is not readily photographed.

African Fish Eagle

Croc at the Sweni Bird Hide.

Blacksmith Plover

Wood Sandpiper

Malachite Kingfisher

Up before dawn on 1st April, we did a drive  along the S100, down to Nwanetsi & Sweni Bird Hide & back along the H6 to camp.

An early/late Marsh Owl

It is not often that you see this species
 in the day time.

Swainson's Franklin

There were plenty of Harlequin Quails about.

Lappet faced Vultures.

Amur Falcon

These big lone male Elephants seem to prefer 
the grassland to the woodlands.

Photo courtesy of Oscar Campbell

A very young Giraffe.

Just before Olifants Camp as we drove through
 Mopane woodland we came across this pair
in a clearing.

Temminck's Coursers.

Another nomadic species.

Yet more Dusky Larks!

Lappet faced Vulture

This bird was washing & preening by a waterhole.

Giant Kingfisher on the Olifants River.

The fantastic Olifants River.

Breakfast at Olifants
Photo courtesy of Oscar Campbell.

On 2nd April we drove the S90 up to Olifants Camp for a late breakfast. it proved to be an inspired choice!

He looked quite old & past his prime.

We then did a night drive from Satara.

Early morning just outside Satara.

Spotted Hyena

The furthest south Baobab tree.

Gilly, on the high water bridge.

Olifants River Gorge.

Barred Owlet

Roger, the manager of this camp does a fantastic job
 on keeping tabs on the Owls found here.

Photo courtesy of  Oscar Campbell

African Scops Owl

On 3rd we drove north up the main road to Tzendze Rustic Camp. We stayed here for two nights & it really is an excellent choice. As we set up camp it was a bit of a rush to see the owls on offer!

Tropic of Capricorn line

Read the mug!

Black backed Jackal

Blue Wildebeast

Zebras coming for a drink.




A flock of young birds

Barbary Falcon
Photo courtesy of Oscar Campbell

Purple Roller

Mopani Dam

Cape Buffalo on the edge of the dam.

With attendant Yellow billed Oxpecker!

3rd was all about the Tropic of Capricorn Loop. As always it was good for birds plus a few new mammals as well.


Stoffel & the guys.

Photo courtesy of  Oscar Campbell

 Later we took a side route to the Shibavatsengele Lookout.

Red crested Korhan

Double banded Sandgrouse.



Late afternoon we went on a drive down the Shongolo Loop. It was rather quite for game but we saw a couple of good birds.

Spotted Hyena
Notice the pillow!

They really didn't want to move!

Southern Ground Hornbill

The Three Rondavaals
Photo courtesy of Oscar Campbell

Hippos, in the Swedeni Dam, this is probably close
 to their elevational limit.

Same goes for Crocs.

White-breasted Cormorants nest here.

On the 4th we left early & drove to Phalaborwa Gate. Then on to Swedeni at the bottom of the Blyde River Canyon. We made the afternoon boat trip on to the dam which was as usual was pretty good.

The view from the campsite!

We camped at a private campsite along the river which was idyllic.

Looking down into the canyon from the rim.

The next day we birded around the campsite seeing 2 African Finfoot & then drove the long way around to the top of the canyon, stopping at all the tourist places & spent the night in Graskop.

The natural grasslands which surround Graskop.

Oscar & I were up early on the 6th. I drove him to God's Window & he scored with Barratt's Warbler! His final tick for the trip. We then packed & set off for the long haul to OR Tambo & I dropped them off late afternoon. It was great to see them again & we had a short, but action packed trip together.

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