Report: Kruger Park and Surrounds - 27 February to 5 March 2006
25/02/06 - Sun City to Tzaneen
Jenny and Trevor were met by Etienne Marais at the Cascades, Sun
City at 07:30. We then travelled westwards and took a back road
towards Koedoeskop, where the birding started in earnest. Some good
birds here included Southern White-crowned Shrike, Crimson-breasted
Shrike, Barred Wren-warbler, Chinspot Batis, and both Southern Yellow-billed
and Red-billed Hornbill. Several warblers were in evidence and we
had good views of Olive-tree and Icterine Warbler, before being
entertained by the resplendent Shaft-tailed Whydah. A Purple Indigobird
was also very obliging before we reached a small farmyard, where
we saw Great Reed-Warbler and several Amur Falcon, as well as a
Cut-throat Finch as it entered the nest of Southern Masked Weaver.
We then travelled eastwards to Bella-bella (Warmbaths) and then
north to Nylsvley Nature Reserve. The floodplain had a fair amount
of water, and some birding within the reserve produced species such
as Greater Honeyguide (doing it’s guide call), White-browed
Sparrow-weaver, Burnt-necked Eremomela and Pearl-spotted Owlet.
The floodplain areas in the reserve and at Vogelfontein were being
patrolled by numbers of Amur Falcon, and here we saw Southern Pochard,
White-backed Duck, Little Egret,African Jacana, Common Squacco and
Red-breasted Swallow. On the floodplain itself, we were treated
to excellent views of Allen’s Gallinule, and fly-past and
close up perched views of no less than three Dwarf Bittern.
A brief stop on the bypass at Polokwane produced excellent scope
views of a singing Short-clawed Lark.
We arrived at Kurisa Moya and took a late afternoon walk, during
which several Yellow-streaked Greenbul were seen. Dense cloud cover
blotted out the dusk sunlight and brought a premature end to the
Jackie delivered a superb dinner of Ostrich fillets to the Forest
26/02/06 - Tzaneen
We made an early start towards the Woodbush Forest Drive, which
remained misty with light rain through the morning. Here we saw
Narina Trogon, and were rewarded by excellent views of Barratt’s
Warbler in the open. Other forest species included Cape Batis, Southern
Double-collared Sunbird, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Cape
Parrot (fly-over), Orange Ground-thrush and Forest Canary.
We found somewhat better conditions at Rooikoppies, and here saw
the two Bat Hawks roosting a short distance from their nest. Dusky
Indigobird, Red-faced Cisticola and Yellow Bishop were among the
other birds seen here. We then had a glut of Raptors, which included
African Cuckoo-Hawk, a nice dark phase Western Honey-Buzzard and
In the afternoon we undertook a long walk in the forest at Kurisa
Moya, which took us up to the Big Yellowood Tree. The walk produced
a Brown Scrub-Robin, which however only offered fleeting glimpses,
as it sang beautifully from a deep tangle. Other species seen included
Yellow-streaked and Terrestrial Bulbul, Chorister Robin-chat and
Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher.
Jackie delivered a wonderful Bobotie for dinner.
27/02/06 - Tzaneen to Punda Maria
With persistent rain and dense fog, we opted to try an area of grassland
near Haenertsburg. Here we recorded Red-collared Widow, Golden Weaver,
Dark-capped Yellow Warbler and Drakensburg Prinia, amongst others.
African Firefinch also offered very good views. We visited an interesting
area of broadleaved woodland near Tzaneen, where we saw a variety
of woodland birds including Golden-breasted Bunting, Orange-breasted
Bush-shrike, Black Cuckoo-shrike, Blue Waxbill, Stierling’s
Wren-Warbler, Croaking Cisticola and Grey-rumped Swallow.
In the late morning we met up with Malcolm, who took over for the
Kruger Leg of the trip.
We met at the Wheel Barrow at 10:30 am on an overcast drizzling
morning. Jenny and Trevor had already been out with Etienne, and
had seen great birds, but were ready to leave the rainy escarpment
and head for the “drier” Kruger National Park. We had
a quick change over of vehicles and were soon on our way east to
the Park, stopping only for a circling Eurasian Hobby on the way.
At the Kruger National Park Punda Gate, we got out for a photo and
ticked our first Goldentailed Woodpecker and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting.
From there we went straight through to Punda Maria Camp, stopping
for our first magnificent Southern Carmine Bee-eater and three roller
species – Lilac-breasted, European and Purple Rollers. At
the camp we got settled in, birded the aerial insectivores and scoped
a Marabou Stork from the Franks’ balcony.
A little later we set off on the Flycatcher Trail to do some birding,
and were rewarded with the fascinating scene of a sub-adult Redchested
Cuckoo being fed by a Bearded Scrub-Robin! Given that the latter
was a target bird for the camp, this was a fine way to find it and
we had great views of them frantically trying to feed their “chick”
that was twice their size.
Our plan for the evening was to go out on a night drive, so at 5
pm we picked up our toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches (the soon-to-be
staple diet of the trip along with kudu biltong) and headed out
with our rather reluctant KNP ranger Matfield. The bush around Punda
Maria was alive with birds. A wet summer thus far had resulted in
flooded grasslands with calling Harlequin Quails and later, Kurrichane
Buttonquails. We had soon spotted our first cuckoos – two
or three Levaillant’s Cuckoos and an African Cuckoo and by
the time the sun set (and we had had our toasties and Trevor his
Stoney), we had added Wahlberg’s Eagle and Comb Duck.
After drinks, we began spotlighting - the first exciting nocturnal
bird, being Fiery-necked Nightjar, which was soon followed by a
Square-tailed on the road and later a European Nightjar perched
up on a branch. At one point, whilst nightjar spotting, we were
aroused by the hair-erecting roar of a male lion from the bottom
of one of the valleys we were traversing. We spent some time trying
to find the lion with the spotlights, during which time Trevor managed
to inadvertently direct a small insect into his ear. This was a
bug which had decided that the warm atmosphere of the outer ear
canal was a bonanza, and proceeded to celebrate by tapdancing on
Trevor’s eardrum – rather irritating as you can imagine.
A 15 minute procedure ensued in which we finally displaced it by
pouring in water (Jenny had suggested blowing in the other ear…)
and during which the lion roared again, twice.
We couldn’t find the lion, but did spotlight a few other large
mammals and some small ones including a Spring Hare, a Scrub Hare,
a Small Spotted Genet and a family of Thick-tailed Bush Babies which
greeted us at the entrance back at the camp.
28/02/06 - Punda Maria to Pafuri and back
We were all woken at 3am by a clap of thunder that had instant bolt-upright-in-bed
effects and an ensuing storm that threatened to wash away the camp.
It didn’t last too long though and by the time we surfaced,
things were drying out and soon we were on our way up to Pafuri
and the Luvuvhu River.
We stopped on a few occasions in the cathedral mopane woodland which
lines the S60 dirt road and picked up a few species including Southern
Black Tit and Yellow-throated Petronia. A little further on where
a rocky ridge runs parallel to the northern side of the road, we
scoped a Mocking Cliff-chat and an African Green-Pigeon.
From there the woodland thinned out and we started picking up on
grassland birds. Apart from the numerous Natal and Swainson’s
Francolins that lined the roadsides, we were pleasantly surprised
to find an adult African Crake wandering around. Later this surprise
turned to disbelief when around the corner we came and there were
no less than 6 African Crakes in the road – two adults and
Seedeaters were plentiful in the chest high grass, and there were
lots of birds on the road enjoying rich pickings – common
amongst these were Fawn-coloured Larks which flushed with reddish
wing patches and perched up in nearby bushes. We ere also lucky
enough to flush a Harlequin Quail female, and at one point we heard
the call of a Black Coucal. Our raptor count also grew, with a great
look at a perched Long-crested Eagle.
At the small dam (Klopperfontein Dam?) closer to the tar road we
spotted a Grey-headed Kingfisher and were rewarded with some scope
views of him perched up and calling. Once on the tar road heading
north, we discovered flocks of Wattled Starlings squabbling for
food and overhead, we stopped for circling Steppe and Tawny Eagles.
At the Luvuvhu River Bridge, we were greeted by a swollen red-brown
muddy river. We nevertheless managed to bag our first Red-faced
Cisticola, White-fronted Bee-eater and Wood Sandpiper. Amongst the
aerial insectivores, new, were Mosque and Wire-tailed Swallows.
We did the Nyala Road loop west along the southern bank of the river
and there found Longtailed Glossy Starling. On our way back towards
the Pafuri Picnic Site, we stopped at a busy spot and finished up
the roller list with Broad-billed Roller and added Bennett’s
Woodpecker, a species that can be tricky anywhere in the park.
At the Pafuri picnic site, we were soon approached by Frank Mabasa
who offered to show us a Yellow-billed Oxpecker nest and we spent
the next couple of hours birding the surrounding bush with him.
Amongst the birds to be found there were Black-throated Wattle-eye,
Thrush Nightingale, Tropical Boubou, White-throated Robin-chat and
We used the Picnic site as a base for exploration for the rest of
the day during which we drove right to the Luvuvhu-Limpopo confluence
and back. Additional birds included White-crowned Lapwings (at the
confluence), Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Trumpeter Hornbill and Little
As the afternoon drew on, we finally tore ourselves away from the
shade of the tree lined river banks, and headed back towards Punda
Maria. Close to the junction with the main tar road south, we stopped
to scan a section of seasonal pans with surrounding Hyphaene palms,
and were immediately rewarded with scope views of a singing male
Lemon-breasted Canary. The main tar road south was punctuated with
stops for birds including a vociferous Eastern Nicator, a pair of
Violet-backed Starlings, a flock of White-crested Helmet-shrikes
being bombed by a pair of Fork-tailed Drongos, a family of 3 Common
Ostriches and a pair of Double-banded Sandgrouse right on the side
of the road.
Once back on the dirt road, we made a bee-line for the cathedral
mopane woodland, stopping only for a displaying male Long-tailed
Paradise-Whydah on the way. In the woodland we spent some time trying
to find some of the specials and were soon rewarded with great views
of a pair of Arnot’s Chats. We tried for both cuckooshrikes,
but could only find Black Cuckooshrike – great views of both
a male and a female.
Close to the camp, we stopped to view flocking Red-billed Quelea
that were settling down for the night – numbers were in the
thousands – and more and more kept on flying in from the surrounding
areas. Just as we were leaving, a passing car informed us that there
was a male lion walking along the road a few hundred metres back,
so we about-turned and sure enough, there was a large male lion
padding up the road towards us. We had great views of him as he
passed in front of us and settled behind some bushes to await the
onset of darkness.
01/03/06 - Punda Maria to Letaba via Shingwedzi
The wind blew and it rained for a large part of the night. We awoke
to a drizzle, packed and drove east on the tar road. Conditions
were bad until about an hour or so into the morning, by which time
we had reached the wetland just south of the T-junction with the
main tar road south. There we hung around in the hope of picking
up on some of the wetland species and were duly rewarded with a
bedraggled looking Corncrake which crossed the road tentatively
in front of us. South of this we birded a flock of 10 or so Amur
Falcons whilst waiting for the drizzle to pass. But the weather
was not improving, and as if to rub our noses in it, we got a flat
tyre and spent about a half an hour changing it. The birding wasn’t
bad during the tyre-changing affair, especially since we had a good
excuse to be out of the car. The most notable of our spectators
was a sub-adult Gabar Goshawk which perched up and dried its wings
on a nearby dead tree.
Eventually we headed south through mist, more drizzle, flooded steams
and grasslands. The picnic site at Babalala was sodden, though we
did manage a Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling and a Red-faced
Cisticola. South of there we stopped in the grassland patches to
look for Desert Cisticola and were eventually rewarded with views
of a displaying male. Also quite common in the grasslands were Rufous-naped
Larks and just as we were leaving the grasslands for the mopane
woodlands, we flushed a sub-adult male Montagu’s Harrier.
Further south, at a point along the Mphongolo River, we found a
Lesser Spotted Eagle perched up relatively close to the road. Down
below in the sand river bed we spotted a small group of Marabou
Storks, and at one point in the bush on the roadside was an adult
male Lesser Masked Weaver. Close to Shingwedzi, the clouds had lifted,
but it was still drizzling intermittently. This didn’t stop
us finding a pair of Black Storks in a drying stream and getting
great views of our first Green-winged Pytilia. Another highlight
of the Shingwedzi area, was the displaying Black-bellied Bustard
which having done its extra terrestrial call, flew off in a hurry
and then parachuted slowly down with broad V-shaped wings. Hopefully
for him, Jenny was not the only lady impressed by this spectacular
After yet another round of toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches,
we ventured south from Shingwedzi on the Nhlawu Vlei - Dipene Road.
The road follows the Shingwedzi river south east initially and here
we were rewarded with some great hippo watching, and at the same
viewspot, our first Jacobin Cuckoo. Also interesting was a stump
with one Yellow-billed Oxpecker and at least 3 or 4 Red-billed Oxpeckers
Eventually the road leaves the Shingwedzi river and cuts south along
the Lebombo mountains. Though the birding was indifferent along
this section (Namaqua Dove was new), we stopped at a magnificent
viewspot (Shibavantsengele) and surveyed the central Kruger, before
heading south-west into the Nshawu drainage area.
With the clouds having lifted by now and the sun breaking through
on to lush green flooded grassland, the hour or two that we spent
birding and enjoying the scenes at the waterholes along the Nshawu
drainage, must rate as one of the highlights of the trip. We had
cracker views of 2 more Montagu’s Harriers (both males) -
one of them flew right across the road in front of us and bounced
off across the grassland in full afternoon sunlight. At one of the
waterholes Trevor scoped some Red-billed Buffalo Weavers and I brushed
up on my African Pipit and Black-backed Cisticola ID while Jenny
photographed a herd of Waterbuck that came down to drink. Further
on, we stopped to bird a flooded pan and listen to the excited frog
chorus and were duly treated to the sight of eight to ten Red-breasted
Swallows swooping in for a drink - the russet colour of their breasts
gleaming in the post storm, late afternoon sunlight.
Closer to the Letaba River we picked up on a Dusky Lark that had
found a tasty grasshopper to eat, and had great views of it dismembering
it before swallowing. On the Letaba River bridge, we stopped and
got out to take in the last of the afternoon sunlight. Upstream
was the tranquil scene of three mother and calf pairs of waterbuck
making use of the safety of the sandy river islands. Downstream
we scoped our first Greenshank and Kittlitz’s Plovers.
By the time we got to Letaba, it was nearly dark. While I was checking
in, Trevor and Jenny found a Mourning Dove close to reception. The
perfect ending to a fantastic day’s birding, though, was the
African Barred Owlet which we found hunting for insects close to
02/03/06 - Letaba to Lower Sabie via the Old Main Road
We were up early to bird the Letaba camp area before heading south.
The large trees in the camp and mix of riverine and bushveld vegetation
make it an ideal spot for birding on foot in the Park (a rare opportunity).
The highlights of the morning were White-browed Robin-chat (an adult
and youngster in a palm thicket), a young Little Sparrowhawk being
mobbed by Green Wood-hoopoes, our first proper look at a male Red-headed
Weaver, a family of Black-collared Barbets, a Spectacled Weaver
and a pair of African Golden Orioles and a flock of Alpine Swifts
From Letaba, our plan was to head to Olifants for breakfast and
then south across the low water bridge from there. When we saw the
level of the Olifants River, however, it was obvious that the bridge
would be closed, and we opted for breakfast at the N’wamanzi
Lookout instead. The river was flowing strongly - hippos and crocs
were taking shelter in eddies and on the few remaining islands.
With the scope we managed a few new birds including African spoonbill
and Yellow-billed Stork. And for the first time in a couple of days,
the sun was really beating down.
The highlight of the Olifants River Bridge was a herd of elephants
that were browsing in the riverside bush on the south side of the
river. From there, our route took us to the Old Main Road via the
Ngotso Weir Road. The first bird of interest there was a Lappet-faced
Vulture – our first for the trip. This was followed by a great
look at a Red-crested Korhaan.
The Old Main Road is known for its grasslands and excellent chance
for harriers and other grassland species, but clearly not as much
rain had fallen in this area as further north, and it was quieter
than expected. We had not so good looks at Chestnut-backed Sparrow-larks
near the Bangu waterhole. Further on, we flushed a Long-billed Pipit.
We also had a run in with a rather large elephant bull. We initially
spotted him on the road far up ahead plodding towards us. The Old
Main Road is no highway, though, and there would definitely not
have been space for both of us. One of us was going to have to make
space. Being in a Mercedes Vito, I thought he’d soon realize
his folly and allow us a safe passing, but once he got up close,
we noticed that he was in musth. Musth bulls have a tendency to
be unpredictable, and often look to test their manhood out on any
large enough looking opposition - the odds seemed rather more even
than I had first thought. A couple of seconds later when he was
a few metres away from the front of the vehicle, the said Vito suddenly
looked rather small in comparison to his five ton frame and extra
metre and a half height advantage. At this stage reversing would
have been a bad plan, and we had a few moments of nervous stand-off,
before making space for each other amidst some tyre spinning, head
shaking, revving and trumpeting. His manhood seemed pretty intact…
Like a gatekeeper, that bull held the key to a few more birds along
the Old Main Road, and soon we had added Red-shouldered Widow, a
beautiful Martial Eagle and our first Burchell’s Starling.
Our next destination was Tshokwane for lunch and we made a beeline
for it, stopping only to scan the roadside waterholes, picking up
Red-billed Teal, Woolly-necked Stork and African Jacana for the
list. At Tshokwane itself we found some tasty toasted cheese and
tomato sandwiches (yup they had ‘em) and added Klaas’s
Cuckoo to the list.
The post lunch drive from Tshokwane to Lower Sabie, was hot and
not very birdy, so we covered the mileage and stopped only to take
in the views from the Nkumbe Viewsite. What a sensational lookout
point that is, and it lived up firmly to its name (Nkumbe is the
Shangaan word for White Rhinoceros) because down below alongside
the Nkelenga stream, were two rhinos (cow and older (probably female)
calf) lying in a mudhole. We sat and surveyed the scene for ages,
picking up on a further sleeping Nkumbe in the distance as well
as a few elephant bulls and a small journey of giraffe. Presently,
a rhino bull was spotted making his way to the mudhole for his mid-afternoon
wallow. You can imagine his surprise when he discovered that two
ladies had just been there and were busy leaving as he was arriving.
In fact the sight or rather the smell of these two ladies rather
confused him and he took a while to decide whether he should pursue
them or not for a further whiff. We watched as he made is way over
to the patch of grass they were now eating, and proceeded to move
in for a scenting opportunity. For one of the cows this was a little
too forward, and she let him have it followed soon after by the
definite “cold-shoulder” treatment. He tried the tactic
of looking disinterested and eating grass nearby, and then eventually,
returning to his original intention, retired to the mudhole.
Down at Lower Sabie, we checked in and were soon out on a night
drive with Jan – our keen-to-please young Kruger ranger. There
were 20 of us on the truck, and barefoot Jan drove us straight off
on a tour of the Big 5 of his patch. In no time we had ticked elephant,
and were soon amidst a lowing herd of about 300 buffalo. This was
followed by a brilliant performance of how to scare a large crocodile
out from the grass on the side of the road by throwing a few stones
at it from about 3 metres away…
To his credit, Jan chose his route carefully as we were now outrunning
one of the biggest storms we had yet seen on our rainy tour of the
park. Once dark settled in, our pace slowed and we were lucky enough
to spot a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl and a Southern African Python.
Later, we had two different sightings of lion. The first was of
3 lionesses and three very young cubs (2-3 months old). The second
was of a male (almost certainly from the same pride) who walked
past the truck at pouncing distance.
03/03/06 - Lower Sabie to Pretoriuskop via Skukuza
The storm from the previous night's drive grew bigger and bigger
and it rained harder and harder all night. At our agreed departure
time, it was raining so hard that it didn't seem worthwhile to head
out, and we sat and had tea overlooking the Sabie River which was
starting to show signs of increased flow.
By the time we left, most of the hard rain had stopped but all of
the dirt roads in the Park had been shut off and we were left with
the Sabie River tar road as our only option. We made our way to
Nkuhlu Picnic site, stopping to take in the splendour of the flooded
tributary streams along the way. The most impressive of these was
the Lubyelubye River that was a raging torrent of dark brown flood
water complete with dangerous looking standing waves and large debris.
By the time we got to the picninc site, the Sabie River had started
to rise even more, and the rain was still coming down!
By the time we got to the Sabie River high water bridge, it seemed
as though it would be a day of admiring nature at one of her extremes
and we decided to watch the Sabie come down in flood. Over the following
hour or two we drove the banks of the river, birding and taking
in the power of nature. We watched as the river rose by a further
metre in height to a point where it was only about 1.5 metres from
the top of the arches of the high water bridge. The force of the
water eventually reached a level where large 3-4 ton dead trees
that had been left stranded on islands by a previous flood, were
being picked up and carried downstream.
The birding was fun too, and we added a few more to the list. Most
notable of these was Purple-crested Turaco which had been a long
time in coming. Also spotted was Malachite Kingfisher and we heard,
though frustratingly couldn't find, a Thick-billed Cuckoo.
By lunch time the river was subsiding and we stopped for something
to eat at the Skukuza restaurant. Over lunch we entertained ourselves
by watching (and watching other people watching) the Tomb bats hanging
from the rafters above, and the commotion that surrounded someone
discovering a black mamba in a hole at the base of a nearby tree.
We covered the distance to Pretoriuskop fairly quickly, adding only
Hooded Vulture as a new one for the trip, though Red-collared Widow
was new for our KNP list. Our evening drive around a granite dome
near to the camp was uneventful, and we were in bed relatively early.
04/03/06 - Pretoriuskop (incl. Voortrekker Road, Napi Road and night
We woke early and headed out on the Voortrekker Road towards Afsaal
picnic site. A southerly wind had got up in the night and blew most
of the morning - eventually stopping only after lunch time (as predicted
by Malcolm). The road was still pretty wet and in places quite badly
washed from the rains. It was beautiful though, and we were once
again in territory where there were no other cars, which made it
even more enjoyable.
At the crossing of the Hukweni stream below Sifungwane Mountain,
we were trying to find a Jacobin Cuckoo, when Jenny suddenly spotted
an animal standing on a rock outcrop on the top of the mountain.
The "animal" turned out to be two lionesses, our first
big game spotting for the morning. Around the corner we picked up
on a crash of 3 white rhinos on a nearby hillside, and the first
new bird for the day, Pale Flycatcher.
At the crossing of the Josekhulu stream, Trevor spotted a male Scarlet-chested
Sunbird and at the site of the Voortrekker Waterhole and Outspan
plaque, we had a glimpse of a Grey-headed Bush-shrike before it
dived into a dense bush.
The Afsaal picnic site was quite busy, but we found a quiet corner
to eat breakfast and enjoy some of the bushveld birds close up.
From there we headed north towards Skukuza, birding and mammal watching
along the way. The highlight of this was the coalition of three
male cheetah that crossed the road in front of us at one point.
But also enjoyable was a small herd of impala that were being attended
to by a pair of Red-billed Oxpeckers, a Fork-tailed Drongo and a
pair of Lilac-breasted Rollers.
Once back on the Napi Road heading for Pretoriuskop, we had a great
sighting of a small breeding herd of elephants crossing the road
in front of us. At one point a White-headed Vulture flew overhead,
and we had our first Ground-scraper Thrush.
Back at camp we had an afternoon rest, and then birded a little
of the camp (Grey Tit-Flycatcher was new) before going out on another
night drive. The drive was great fun - our guide was good, our fellow
travelers were friendly and the crepuscular and nocturnal life was
great. Of the birds, we managed a Dark Chanting Goshawk and after
dark, a female Pennant-winged Nightjar (there were also a few Square-tailed
and Fiery-necked). Of the mammals, we had great views of a bull
White Rhinoceros, as well as a Small Spotted Genet and a troop of
baboons clinging onto a cliff face for safety. Good thing we finally
got the spotlights to work.
05/03/06 - Pretoriuskop to Johannesburg via Kaapsehoop
Up at first light, we enjoyed a cup of tea and then took a walk
around the camp for an hour to bird the morning activity. The highlight
of the camp birds only came only once we were packing the car back
at our accommodation. We heard a flock of helmet-shrikes calling
and they proved to be Retz's Helmet-shrike - one of the prettier
birds we had missed in the north.
Our route from Pretoriuskop took us out of the Numbi Gate and through
White River, Nelspruit and on up to Kaapsehoop. There we were looking
for Blue Swallows, and were disappointed to discover that not only
had only one pair returned this year to breed, but that you now
needed a guide and permit to go and see them (good for the swallows,
but not so good for us who were keen to see them and had not made
We tried some birding of our own though and soon found Lazy Cisticola,
Buff-streaked Chat and Long-billed Pipit. We then spotted the local
guide (Richard??) and his client trying to push their car on the
forestry road that led into the grasslands and we went across to
help. Forestry trucks had made a mess of the very wet clay roads,
and sections were practically impassable. or so we thought. Behind
the wheel of the "stuck" brand new looking VW Polo, was
a very determined lady who was very very keen to see the swallows.
What followed was an hilarious display of sheer guts as she guided
her VW through mud and water at rally car speeds in between gnawing
on biltong and photographing birds! The swallows were not home,
but for our efforts we did find Grey-backed and Wing-snapping Cisticolas
as well as Secretarybird, Jackal Buzzard and Cape Longclaw.
Closer to Johannesburg International, we stopped for some Cape Vultures
that were getting up from a carcass close to the highway. Our final
target was Long-tailed Widow, which we searched and searched for
until eventually finding it at a small dam west of Witbank. Also
at the dam were Yellow-billed Egret and Glossy Ibis.
Trip report by Birding Africa tour leaders Malcolm