My birding was done primarily in the Kruger but each hotel we stayed in offered a plethora of birds for me to struggle with. South Africa is a paradise where birds are concerned and I saw and missed as many species as I clearly identified which totalled 158.
Out first hotel was a one night stay at the Indaba Hotel on the outskirts of Jo’burg. It was a good place to start as the hotel had a bird list of over 150 species and I spent about 2 hours wandering around the grounds and saw some great birds.
|African Wattled Lapwing|
|Southern Masked Weaver|
|African Olive Pigeon|
|Greater Blue-eared Starling|
|Southern Red Bishop|
The following day we had a brief tour of Jo’burg which appears to be in a state of flux at the moment as they try to improve what appears to be a concrete jungle of a city. We were now on our way to the Kruger and 3 nights at the Hippo Hollow Lodge situated on the edge of the park – I was like a child in a sweet shop by now.
This hotel is aptly named. We weren’t allowed on the lawns after 6pm as Hippos and Crocodiles liked to use the hotel facilities at dusk. You don’t get this at a Premier Inn. So we just sipped cocktails and watched the wildlife from the safety of the bar. Bee-eaters, Giant Kingfishers, Malachite Kingfishers, Pied Kingfishers and Brown-hooded Kingfishers and Hadeda Ibis were all frequent along the stretch of river by the hotel.
So now to the Kruger NP. We had an early start at 5.30am and it was quite cool even though the noon temperatures would reach the mid thirties so we needed to wear layers and hats etc. Our guide and driver was called Andrew and he would prove to be a master at keeping one eye on the road and the other in the bush.
The Kruger National Park is about the same size as Wales. We were in the lower western part of the park along the Sabie River. Naturally the big 5 were the main attractions for the many who come here (Cape Buffalo, White Rhino, Lion, African Elephant and Leopard) and we were lucky enough to not only see them all but also Wild Dog, Hyena, Wildebeest, Hippo, Giraffe, Zebra and quite a number of different antelope species. I however was constantly looking for other things!
|African Fishing Eagle|
|Southern Ground Hornbill|
|Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill|
|Brown Snake Eagle|
From the Johannesburg region, we travelled south through Swaziland on our way to the battlefields of Zululand. Any birding I did was from the road or from the hotel stops along the way. Doing the road stuff is a bit of an issue as you only get fleeting glimpses of birds on wires and trees so I probably missed many great ticks but the hotels always had something interesting to see.
|African Black Duck|
|African Sacred Ibis|