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Kruger birding:Birding sites in Kruger

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parksfanatic
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Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by parksfanatic » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:23 am

My husband and I are wildlife fanatics and now also amateur birders. Just been on a beginners course to help us with identifying birds etc.

6 Months ago we planned & booked a 6 day birding trip to Kruger, for last week, as I believe February is the prime birding time. We unfortunately had to cancel last minute :( In order to not lose the money paid for the booking we now have to reschedule for another time.

My question is, when would be the next best time for birding and what are deemed to be the best camps for this. Our initial booking was 2 days Satara, 2 days Letaba and 2 days Punda Maria. Should we stick with this or are there better places ie: Sirheni??

I know this is a matter of preference with regards camps, personally we prefer water & shade, birds & animals all together if possible!!

All advice appreciated!
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Josh of the Bushveld
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Re: Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by Josh of the Bushveld » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:27 am

Personally I quite like the Sabie river valley (Skukuza, LS, CB) in winter, but there are no specials etc.
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Re: Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by Rooies » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:30 am

Punda Maria and Shingwedzi are, in my opinion the best for birding. Make sure you visit the Pafuri area.
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Re: Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by DotDan » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:41 am

Hi there parksfanatic :D

Every birder will tell you that summer is best, but that doesn't mean that winter can't be a productive birding trip as in winter more and more birding parties form which makes it easier to spot the more elusive guys like the Firefinches, Waxbill's etc..

Best time for summer birding in KNP is roughly between November and March. Especially November/December as the Cuckoo's are most vocal and it is great to listen to the likes of Klaas Cuckoo and Black Cuckoo singing their harts out...

January is a very good time for Raptor's, especially around the Satara area as Wahlberg, Tawny, Martial and Lesser Spotted Eagle's can all be seen in good numbers around the huge flocks of Red Billed Quelea's. Also Steppe Buzzard, Yellow Billed Kites come through in big numers. This area is also good for the likes of Lanner Falcon, Peregrine Falcon and Eurasian Hobby.

For the most specials I would recommend to sticking to either the Sabie river and Luvuvhu River (Skukuza and Punda/Pafuri)

African Finfoot, Narina Trogon, White Back Night-Heron and Pel's Fishing Owl are some specials that might be found here...

There is a very good book out that describes KNP birding on every camp. Go have a look here: KNP birding

I would love to delve deeper into this as there is so much to discuss, but time is a bit lacking today :lol:

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Re: Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by Bush Baptist » Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:08 pm

Howzit PF & welcome,

From one amateur birder to another.

All Kruger can be good for birding, but Pafuri is the best. I have seen great birds at Croc Bridge and in between.

Get a good bird book and a checklist. I have an excel one if you want it. PM me your email addy.

My summer count for a week is usually about 135, with about 60 a day.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by DuQues » Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:24 pm

Just adding a bit, Pafuri (so Punda) is a very good choice.
One of the attendants at the picnicspot, Frank, is an avid birder who will (depending on how busy it is) happily show you the birds in 'his' area.
Have a look at the topic about Pafuri: viewtopic.php?f=48&t=1992
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Re: Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by Josh of the Bushveld » Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:36 pm

Bush Baptist wrote:Get a good bird book and a checklist. I have an excel one if you want it. PM me your email addy.

You can get my ticklists here. (Note they're for southern Africa, not just KNP)
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Re: Birding sensus weekends in Kruger

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:09 pm

While I am still busy getting my pix sorted, I thought some non-bird sightings may entertain you...

Chameleon, flap-neck
Celebrated for its colour-changing prowess, they remain a rare sighting in spite of being quite abundant. But at night this changes... the chameleon's camouflage fails it when a spotlight picks it out... it stands out like phosphorescence on a dark night
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African wildcat
It looks like your average pussy, but this is not a kitty to be sharing a suitcase with...
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Most snakes tend to be nocturnal. So, when the sun goes down, they come out to play... On a night drive it is common to see snakes. The variety is often stunning

Puff adder
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Young Rock python
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Common Egg-eater
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And last (and probably least :lol: )... insects! I just cannot go by an interesting gogga without having a good look.

Antlion
Most of us know the larwal stage of antlions that live in sandy areas and use funnel-shaped pits to trap their prey in... This is what they look like as adults. Superficially resembling dragonflies, they are the largest members of the lacewings, with wingspans up to 160 mm.

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Re: Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by nightjar » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:16 pm

The north is certainly the best part of the park for birding and you will see a lot at Punda and around the Mahonie Loop, including many species not found further south. All the camps attract a lot of birds, but I have always found bush camps to be particularly good and would recommend Bateleur or Shimuwini. Shimuwini has the dam and a well-situated bird hide. When I was there in January I saw a lot of birds from that hide including White-backed Night-heron, and the dam attacts a lot of animals to drink in the drier months.

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Re: Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by ruthers » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:40 am

Just to start with Kruger is an amazing place to launch your life of bird watching addiction! Beware - it may be hazardous to your neck!

My first piece of advice is wherever you go avoid the standard holidays if you can. Down South especially it does get busy - and out of the holidays you are much more likely to get your choice of camp and accomodation and peace and quiet at hides, water holes etc.

We just got back from Kruger (mainly Punda Maria) and it was (for us - enthusiastic but newish bird fanatics) absolutely incredible. Firstly the summer season is definately more lucrative - after years of winters in Kruger I got my first look at summer bee-eaters and other summer migrants.

Punda Maria is a quaint "old-style" camp. If possible try and book the Tented Bungalows - (we didn't get in but they looked great!). All around the North is great birding in the big trees and thickish bush. But what you have to do is to mission up to the Pafuri Picnic site as early as you can one morning. If you can talk to the camp site manager Frank, all the better, he can show you around. It was the best hour in my short birding life.
I have found many of the Camps along rivers with nice frontage offer great in-camp birding. Letaba, Skukuza, Shingwedzi, Shimuweni (I haven't been to Lower Sabie yet - but hear it is lovely.)
But just to give you an idea about Summer and the North - In the winter of 2008 and 2009 we spent a week each in the South and Central Park. My birdlist was around 140-150 each time. (Like I said we are still beginning) This year switching to Summer and heading to Pafuri and Punda Maria and Shingwedzi - we saw 200 species, which included 60 birds I had not marked before. You definately see less game in the thick bush but it is more than made up for onthe birding side of things.

One last thing - it is a long way up to Punda Maria from JHB. Try stopping off in the Magoebaskloof area. Nicely placed halfway to Punda Maria/Pafuri from JHB. On the escarpment the afromontane forrest offers beautiful birding and scenery. Check Birder's Cottage on the web.

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Re: Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by bert » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:56 am

A very rewarding birding drive is from Lower Sabie to Tshokwane.
You pass grass lands and and higher areas and see different birds then along the rivers.
Lower Sabie to me is prime country for birding
So many different areas within easy reach
Sunset dam
River front at camp
majestic trees in camp
the grassy areas nearby
Sabie river lined with huge trees

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Re: Birding sensus weekends in Kruger

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:01 pm

I guess the BBW night drives will always be the major highlight of many things that make the BBWs so attractive...

Here are some more night drive shots...

Verreaux’s eagle-owl.. It has been four BBW-seasons since my last... (sounds a bit like a confession, hey :lol: ) On this trip we saw no less than 5!
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Fiery-necked nightjar sitting in an ideal position to show off its features.
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Bronze-winged courser
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Spotted eagle-owl
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parksfanatic
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Re: Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by parksfanatic » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:20 pm

Hi all

Thank you so much for all the info posted so far it really has been a great help!!

Have got the checklists as posted thanks..........have the Kruger Bird Book which is
excellent! I just wanted some more "personal" feedback with regards the camps and
it seems most opinions tie up with each other so appears I am on the right track with
the Punda Maria camp and the bushveld camps.

Looking forward to our trip, the earliest we could rebook for was August :( but hey
any time is a good time for Kruger in my opinion. As per "ruthers" suggestion we have
booked a couple of nights in Magoebaskloof as well which we have always wanted to
visit as we are told it is a really scenic interesting area.

Thanks again all and keep the advice coming, I take note of it all..... :)
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Re: Best Time of Year and Best Camps for Birding?

Unread post by Batmad » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:43 am

I am speaking from mere personal experiance here,

Best time to go - Early Summer (Undoubtably the best time)

Places to go-

The north of the park is probaly the best.

Punda Maria, pafuri Rivercamp, and Shingwedzi.

Specials such as Arnots Chat, Crested Guineafowl, Ayers hawk Eagle, Bat hawk, Racket Tailed Rollar, African yellow White eye, Watlle Eyed Flycatcher etc etc.

Shingwedzi, you may have a chance of finding Collared palm Thrush.
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Re: Birding sensus weekends in Kruger

Unread post by dianne » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:50 am

I promised JVR I would post something after the trip - sorry it's taken so long! In the end, I only just made it to the weekend - albeit a day late - as I had an unexpected business trip to London, which interferred a little with our plans. I sent JoelR off with Leonie2 without me, and followed a day later (after getting lost in Polokwane in the dark - all the roadworks lol - and finding myself a rather dodgy BnB in Louis Trichardt at about 11 o'clock at night). Enjoyed the weekend - although I was pretty exhausted and shamed myself as a birder by spending a lot of time dozing :redface: This meant I didn't do too much spotting or chatting - but I did do spotlight duty on the game drive vehicles - so that's something at least.

SANParks, HR, JVR and other forumites- thanks for all the organisation that went into the weekend - and my mini-team - you put up with me in my useless state :clap: - I'll do better next time :tongue:
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