Two of my main interests are photography and birds and I would like to know if you guys know any good spots for photographing birds either in the camps or on the roads. Maybe bird baths in the camps or good low fruiting trees or a quiet pond/stream good for kingfishers, that sort of thing.
I'm not expecting "bird x will be on bush y at 10:00am"
but just wondered if you had any tips or favourite spots. I'll be using a DSLR with lenses up to 500mm.
Camp birding is always exceptionally rewarding! Try and bird as much as you can within the boundaries of the camps. You will have a very rewarding time from the car as well. We were in the Shimuwini area 2 weekends ago. The bridge over the Letaba river along the H14 was great for Giant Kingfishers and Pied Kingfishers. We also saw Little, White-fronted and European Bee-eaters here. The White-fronted are nesting in holes in the river bank. Another super spot for White-fronted Bee-eaters is from the Malelane Bridge just outside the Malelane gate. I have also seen them nesting along the Nwatimiri causeway just off the H4-1 between Skukuza and Lower Sabie.
Lilac-breasted Roller. I'm hoping I'll see quite a few of these guys but most of the photos I've seen are looking up at the bird, presumably taken from a car. Are there any spots where I might be on eye-level with or slightly above favourite perches. I'll be in a small car. Are there any areas where they're more common, Do they visit any of the camps or areas you can get out of the car. This is one seriously beautiful bird and is at the very top of my bird photograph most wanted list.
You'll see loads of them. Yes, they are seen mostly sitting in a tree or bush(Chances are good that the bush will be at eye level.) next to the road, but they very often catch prey from the road and this is when you get opportunities to take shots like these.
So perhaps hang around when you see one. You never know.
Is Skukuza golf course a good spot for these? Purple-crested Turaco, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Lesser-striped Swallow and Twinspot. Would Carmine Bee-eaters be around in mid-October.
People have seen Green Twnispot around Skukuza, but I think you need a helluva lot of luck. The only Twinspot regularly seen in Kruger is Pink-throated, but unfortunately along the Mozambique boundary road in the Sandveld just south of Pafuri which is unfortunately off limits for normal tourists and can only be visited during Birding Big Weekends from Punda Maria and the Lebombo 4x4 trail along the boundary fence.
Purple-crested Turaco is quite common in Skukuza and Pretoriouskop. Check out fruiting fig trees. Pearl-spotted Owlet is far more conspicuous during winter times when they call more often and are very often seen next to roads in trees, most often whilst mobbed by various other small birds. There is a very nice African folklore why birds mob owls, it is a story for another day.
Lesser Spotted Swallow is very common in Kruger. Concentrate around water for them. We also saw them regularly from the H14 Letaba bridge.
Carmine Bee-eater is more common from December. But perhaps in the Northern reaches of the Park you might be lucky with them in October.
My plan at the moment is to leave camp when the gates open and drive around slowly, looking for game and birds, visiting picnic spots for lunch when possible. Maybe then return to camp to Bird and go out again later. I'll be doing sunset drives probably every night. Is the birding still good in the camps late morning early afternoon or should I try and mix morning drives with mornings birding in camp. Should I miss a few sunset drives so as to bird the camps late afternoon. What about picnic sites, should I aim to visit these early morning or is lunchtime ok for birding.
Are the organised morning walks any good for bird photography.
As I said earlier, camp birding is always rewarding, but no one can argue that early morning is the most productive time for birding. It is always easier to bird on a foot so organized walks could work, but birds also seem far more skittish when you approach them on foot. Also keep in mind that other people in your group on the walk might not share your sentiment.
If you have a good flash, then sunset drives, as it extends to well after dark, will be superb for nocturnal bird photography.