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Recent Sightings - Kruger National Park – Pre 2004

Kruger National Park - Biyamiti Bushveld Camp - 24 to 26 October 2003

  • 6 cuckoo species:
    • Great Spotted Cuckoo - S139
    • African Cuckoo - S23
    • Striped Cuckoo- Crocodile Bridge Camp
    • Klaas's Cuckoo - Biyamiti
    • Redchested Cuckoo - Biyamiti
    • Jacobin Cuckoo - Biyamiti
  • Halfcollared Kingfisher - Bridge at Malelane Gate
  • Orangebreasted Bush Shrike - Biyamiti
  • Redbilled Helmet shrikes - S139
  • Wattled Plover - S139 and many more.

We were very impressed by the sheer numbers of birds in the region. - Herman van Heerden

Kruger National Park: October 2003

There is an influx of Larklike Buntings in the northern section of the park, particularly on the tar road between Shingwedzi and Babalala. This happens periodically during periods of low rainfall. - Chris Patton

Kruger National Park: 30 August - 6 September 2003

The birding was as wonderful as ever. Our specials for this trip included:

  • Black cuckooshrike - near skukuza just before the low level bridge over the Sand River
  • Grey cuckooshrike - near N'wanetsi picnic site
  • Scops owl - outside our bungalow at Talamati
  • Lizard buzzard - Near Phabeni gate
  • Squacco heron - Sweni bird hide
  • Lappetfaced vulture - Near Olifantsbad pan
  • And 7 different sightings of ground hornbills - we seem to see more and more every time we visit .

- Cathy Burton, Juli Vandenberg, Natalie Zimmelman, Philippa Robinson

Kruger National Park: August 2003

I have just returned from a birding trip to Kruger National Park and would like to report an influx of ... believe it or not ... grey-backed sparrowlark.

While driving along the S90 north-east of Satara, I noticed a large flock of sparrowlarks among the hundreds of Lark-like Buntings that are on the basalt plains at present. A first casual call of Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark had to be ammended after a closer look revealed all the birds to be male and female Grey-backed Sparrowlarks - a flock of 83 in all! We found a few smaller groups of the same species further down the road a while later. All the males had the characteristic dull greyish back and white cheek-patch extending into a complete collar on the nape. Strangely enough no Chestnut-backed Sparrowlarks could be found in these flocks, nor Red-capped Larks, both species that are fairly prominent here in "normal" rain years.

As far as I can ascertain, this is a first for the park. The old Transvaal Bird Atlas (Tarboton, Kemp & Kemp 1987) mention an unconfirmed report from Crocodile Bridge in April 1981. The closest record during the SA Bird Atlas period was 2429BD - a long way from the park. For those of you who keep Kruger lists, this is a good bird to get, as they may not stay around for long. The park is looking incredibly dry, but birding is still good as ever.

Highlights included Cape Wagtail at Sunset Dam (Lower Sabie) and African Snipe from the viewing deck over the river at Lower Sabie - both rare vagrants in the park. Other interesting sightings included an early Red-breasted Swallow, Mosque Swallow, Squacco Heron, Black Stork, African Spoonbill, White-crowned Lapwing, Southern White-faced Scops-Owl, Bearded Scrub-Robin, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike and Violet-eared Waxbill.
Regards - Warren McCleland, Nelspruit

Kruger National Park: July 2003

We had a very good birding week in Kruger from 30 June to 7 July and totalled 141 species. We were privileged to see both Tawny - (near Phalaborwa Gate) and Martial Eagles (just north of Letaba Camp) giving their chicks a flying lesson. If the chick struggled, one of the adults would characteristically fly in under it and support it with its wings. The colourful Malachite Kingfisher also delighted us when fishing from a perch not far from the vehicle.

We also saw a Whiteheaded Vulture for the first time in many years just outside Mopani Camp. Another rare special was a male Painted Snipe seen from the lookout at the N'wanetsi Picnic Site. Other specials included:

  • Bearded Robin - Letaba Camp
  • White Pelican - Tsendze River
  • Yellowbellied Bulbul - N'wanetsi Picnic Site
  • Greenbacked Bleating Warbler - Mopani Camp
  • Sabota Lark - Close to Satara Camp
  • Melba Finch and Redbilled Firefinch - Letaba Camp
  • The highlight, however, was a female Woodward's Batis in Satara Camp!
  • We were saddened to learn of the departure of the Scops Owl in Satara Camp, a resident for so many years in a large tree close to reception.

- Herman van Heerden

Letaba Area, Kruger National Park: Mid May 2003

  • A Fish Eagle sheltering from the wind behind the Transport Dam wall
  • Temminck's Courser in the S90 (see photo)
  • Purple Heron at Silolweni Dam
  • An "argument" between a Dark Chanting Goshawk and a Tawny Eagle at Gudzani Dam
  • A tree on the S94 about 2km from Letaba where 4 types of vulture roosted
  • Pied Kingfishers diving for food at Girivana waterhole
  • A Bateleur swooping within 5 metres of us at the N'wamanzi View site near Olifants
  • "Legless" Lilac Breasted Roller (see photo)
  • Lilac Breasted Roller Temminck's Courser Hooded Vulture

- Peter Sumner and Dad

Kruger Weekend: Honorary Rangers Big Birding Weekend: 24 to 26 January 2003

Olifants Camp and surrounds
  • An apparently resident Ovambo Sparrowhawk seen several times within the camp
  • Burnt necked Eremomela in dense riverside bush at the Balule Bridge
  • Olive Tree Warbler - seen about 1 km along the Timbavati dirt road from the main north-south road. Seen in medium sized thorn tree foraging in a fairly concealing manner.

It was pleasing to see a number of Willow Warblers in the camp. Numbers of these birds have noticeably declined in recent years, presumably due to hazards encountered during migration.

Letaba Camp and surrounds

Red winged Pratincole on sandbank approximately 5 kms south of Letaba

  • Gymnogene seen from camp veranda
  • Black Egret on Engelhard Dam
Satara and Orpen Area

Senegal Plover (formerly known as Lesser Black winged Plover) halfway between Satara and Orpen. - Michael 'Bungi' Buckham, Newlands

2002 Year End Bird Sightings

Kruger National Park Trip: 22/12/2002 – 4/1/2003

We were fortunate enough to spend a wonderful 13 nights in the KNP starting from Skukuza and working our way up to Punda Maria. All in all we saw 200 different species of birds with some wonderful sightings. These included:

  • Bearded Robin (Skukuza Camp);
  • Wood Owl (In big trees along the Sand River);
  • Gabar Goshawk (on the tar road H1-5);
  • Redwinged Pratincole (Engelhard Dam);
  • Barred Owl (on the tar road H9 just outside Letaba Camp);
  • Montagu’s Harrier (Nshawu no. 5 ; Mopani);
  • Great Spotted Cuckoo (tar road H1-6 towards Mopani);
  • Kittlitz’s Plover (Shingwedzi River near to Kanniedood Dam);
  • Rufouscheeked Nightjar (S58 Dzundzwini loop near Punda Maria);
  • African Goshawk (S64 Nyala Road at Pafuri);
  • Tambourine Dove (Crook’s Corner, Pafuri);
  • Mosque Swallow (Crook’s Corner, Pafuri);
  • Lesser Moorhen (Klopperfontein Dam);
  • Yellowbellied Bulbul (Punda Maria Camp);
  • Dwarf Bittern ( S99 Mahonie Loop, Punda Maria, just after Matukwale Dam);
  • Gfeyhooded Kingfisher (S99 Mahonie Loop);
  • Black Egret (Shingwedzi River just before Kanniedood Dam);
  • Giant Eagle Owl (Nshawu no.3, Mopani);
  • Openbilled Stork (Pioneer Dam, Mopani);

More new ticks for us included: Redcapped Lark; Orange Breasted Bush Shrike; European Golden Oriole; Goldentailed Woodpecker; Lesser Blackwinged Plover; Greater Blue-eared Starling; Willow Warbler; Monotonous Lark. - Ruth and Andrew Pike (Sandton, Gauteng)

Kruger Park: Black Egret Sighting

  • We spent time in the Northern Kruger Park from 5th to 8th Sept 2002. While we were there, we also saw a black egret - at Nhlanganani Dam on the Letaba - Phalaborwa Road.
  • We also saw a bathawk from the Shingwedzi Bridge (at dusk)

Kruger Park: 5 - 9 December

Notable sightings from this trip were:

  • Crowned hornbill and saddlebilled stork(Mahonie Loop around Punda Maria)
  • Ground hornbills (Klopperfontein Dam loop)
  • Black sparrowhawk (H1-8 to Pafuri)
  • Crested guineafowl (Nyala loop at Pafuri). We also heard, but did not see, cinnamon doves here
  • Trumpeter hornbills and whitecrowned plovers - Pafuri picnic site
  • Pallid harrier in flight and ground hornbills (S52 - northern Red Rocks loop)
  • African cuckoo (Bataleur camp)
  • Black storks (Rooibosrant road)

- (Cathy Burton, Juli Vandenberg, Philippa Robinson, Natalie Zimmelman)

Kruger: August 2002

Its not really a recent sighting but its only afterwards that we've realised what an amazing experience we had! During a 10 day trip to the park late in August, where we started at Nyalaland and travelled down to Crocodile Bridge, we saw all six of the 'big six birds', including the Pels Fishing Owl both sitting and in flight. A truly amazing experience and one for which we thank our guides, Chris and Manzi, very very much. - Kim Foster, England (but coming back soon!)

Olifants Rest Camp, Kruger: Black Egret sighting

On the night of 8 November 2002 at 18:10 a Black Egret was sighted at the Balule low water bridge during the night drive. The bird showed characteristic feeding behavior by fanning out the wings and forming the famous umbrella to catch it’s prey. All this happened only 5 meters away from us. As far as I know, this bird has only been sighted a few times in the park and records are far and few in between Please distribute this information to anyone that you think might be interested. - Deon Stapelberg (Olifants Game Drive Guide)

Crocodile Bridge and Skukuza, Kruger: 17 to 21 July 2002

A super little winter break produced some excellent general birding including five of the big six (martial eagle, kori bustard, saddlebilled stork, lappetfaced vulture and ground hornbill) and one or two special encounters with species unusual or rare to the park. These included:

  • Osprey at Nhlanganzwani Dam - exciting winter record
  • Golden-rumped Tinker Barbet - possibly resident in Crocodile Bridge Camp
  • African Goshawk - a pair of this species - uncommon in the park - were very obliging in overcast early morning conditions at Skukuza camp

But our personal highlight was what at first sounded like a rhino in distress - as we located the source of the noise we discovered it came from a pair of mating white-backed vultures. It was really fascinating to witness the behaviour and listen to the uncanny sounds of a ubiquitous species one would often pay limited attention to. - Rowan Goeller and Christopher Patton

Birding in Kruger: 29 June to 5 July

Our family recently enjoyed a wonderful holiday in the Kruger, staying in Letaba and Satara restcamps.

We saw 5 of the big 6 birds, with only the Pel's Fishing Owl eluding us. Included, a few highlights (not necessarily new birds) from our list:

  • Gabar Goshawk, Little Sparrowhawk (seen eating a small bird in Satara Camp), Whitefronted - and Little Bee-eater, African Finfoot (Engelhardt Dam), Openbilled - and Yellowbilled Stork, Spurwinged Goose, Whitecrowned Plover (2 at the Engelhardt Dam), Kittlitz Plover, Goldentailed - (Letaba Camp) and Bennett's Woodpecker (Satara Camp), Greyheaded Bush Shrike (Orpen Camp), Yellowthroated Longclaw (Mazithi Dam), Natal Robin and Dusky Flycatcher.
    We also had numerous sightings of Pearlspotted Owl, right next to the road.
    We were very impressed by the general maintenance in the Park. Keep it up!

- Herman van Heerden

Lower Sabie/Skukuza, Kruger: March 2002

I saw a White crowned Plover (Witkopkiewiet - Afr) on two occasions (probably the same bird) on 17/02/2002 and 17/03/2002 on a sand/gravel bank on the eastern side of the Lower Sabie bridge.

A male African Finfoot was seen on the Western side of the steel bridge over the Sabie river near Skukuza at 12:15 on 17/03/2002. - Chris de Vries

Pretoriuskop, Kruger: February 2002

Long-crested Eagle was seen just before dusk about 100m from Pretoriuskop Camp entrance. (Chatting to Camp Manager he says it’s been around for a while). On morning drive on Albasini Road between Pretoriuskop and Paul Kruger Gate flock of red-fronted helmet-shrikes, little sparrowhawk killing a dove and cuckoo hawk were seen. - Chris Patton

Sirheni, Kruger: January 2002

Pallid Harrier followed along main tarred road for a couple of kilometers as it quartered the ground just north of Babalala Picnic Site. - S Young

Talamati Bushveld Camo: May 2001

On the morning of Saturday 12 May 2001, a female Narina Trogon flew into the window of one of the camp cottages and died. The body has subsequently been placed in cold storage and will possibly be treated by a taxidermist. - Bianca Currie - Talamati Field Guide

(This record is particularly interesting as the species was not previously recorded in the area, save for one old record from nearby Kapama. Trogons are only recorded regularly in the park at Pafuri and the hills around Punda Maria. Scattered records do exist elsewhere in the park. The record shows that unobtrusive species can easily be overlooked and can occur anywhere, given suitable habitat. – Editor)

Berg-en-Dal, Kruger National Park: April 2001

On our visit to Berg-en-Dal form 26/4 - 01/05, my wife and I were fortunate to spot a blue spotted dove on the Matjulu loop via the Steilberg route on 30/04 at about 10 am at close range from our vehicle (about 4 meters). I only saw the bright/purple spots on the wings, but my wife actually confirmed the species by seeing the yellowish tip of the beak after which it flew away. Shortly afterwards we were able to compare the sighting to a ubiquitous green/emerald spotted dove after which we were comfortable about our "rare" sighting. - Gerhard Strydom (Honorary Ranger 169)

Bateleur Bushveld Camp, Kruger: March 2001

On 15/03/2001 at 10:30 on the Northern bank of the Shingwedzi loop +/- 3km from Red Rocks on the way to Shingwedzi a bird of prey matching the description of an adult Augur Buzzard was watched for over half an hour. This species is not usually recorded in South Africa, where it is replaced by the closely related Jackal Buzzard (some authorities consider them to be subspecies). However, these birds are found in southern Zimbabwe, and thus seeing this bird in nothern Kruger is a more than plausible example of range vagrancy. - Riaan Cruywagen - Auckland Park

Punda Maria and Pafuri, Kruger: February 2001

The following birds have been recorded in the far northern reaches of Kruger during February, 2001:

  • Punda Maria Camp – Flycatcher Trail
    Yellow Spotted Nicator, Gorgeous Bushshrike, flocks of up to 13 Crested Guineafowls, Painted Snipe.
  • The snipe records are particularly interesting, as this is usually an aquatic bird, but appears to seek shelter in the dense foliage of the trail. It was recorded by both camp visitors and by Lize Kelder of Punda Maria Camp.
  • Mahonie Loop (28 km circular drive around Punda Maria)
    Osprey Pair, African Finfoot, Arnot's Chat, Cape Batis, Mottled Spinetail, Brown necked parrots breeding, 2 x Narina Trogons, Sooty Falcon, Blackchested Prinia, Corn Crake
  • Road via Klopperfontein Dam-to Pafuri Picnic Spot,-Levuvhu Bridge and Crooks Corner
    Gymnogene, Narina Trogon, Cape Bunting, Pallid Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Honey Buzzard, Thrush Nightingale, African Crake, River Warbler (recorded by Geoff and Cynthia Lockwood), 7x European Hobbies, Dickinson's Kestrel, Woolynecked Storks, Lesser Moorhen, Redknobbed Coot, Black Coucal, Gorgeous Bushshrike, male Lemonbrested Canary, Pels Fishing Owl, Palmnut Vulture, Angola Pitta was seen 5 times in February
    (The latter two species come as further records for species that have long been suspected to occur in the Pafuri region, but were not previously confirmed on the park bird list)

Submitted by Lize Kelder of Punda Maria Camp

Berg-en-dal, Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie, Kruger: February 2001

  • 2 saddle billed storks at Jones dam on the S36 on Monday 19.
  • Natal Robin at Berg-en-dal picnic area 0n sun 18.
  • Osprey H4-2 between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge on Saturday 24.
  • Carmine European & white fronted bee-eaters with tawny and steppe eagle also 0n H4-2 between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge. Tawny and steppe eagles were on the ground eating flying ants as they were coming out of the ground.
  • African Cuckoo, Paradise Whydah and African golden oriole on S25 between Berg-en-dal and Crocodile Bridge Friday 23.
  • Yellowbilled stork on Sabie River just below Lower Sabie.

- Wendy Pretorius

Satara region, Kruger: February 2001

3 separate sightings of Black Coucal between Satara and Lower Sabie.

  • Montagu’s Harrier near Nkaya Pan
  • Violeteared Waxbill at Muzandzeni Picnic Site
  • Thickbilled Cuckoo in Satara Camp

- Patrick O’Conner (Lone Hill)

Bateleur Bushveld Camp, Kruger: January 2001

  • 3 Redshank and a party of Painted Snipe have been seen regularly at Rooibosrant Dam for the last 2 summers
  • Whitebacked Duck have bred at the dam over the last 2 years
  • Osprey was recorded in January 2001
  • Ground Hornbill breeding - 2 chicks hatched to a local pair in January. One perished, but the other has survived

- Hein F Grobler (Camp Manager)

Kruger: 6 January 2001

Sighted 6 January on the dirt road from Afsaal towards Skukuza. The Ground Hornbill was pecking beatles from a heap of elephant dung in the road. - Magda Du Toit

Birds of the National Parks

  • Bateleur (Kruger Park)

- Steve Bailey

Kruger Bushveld Camps: 18 to 26 November 2000

We spent a fabulous family Holiday in Kruger staying at Talamati, Bateleur and Shimuwini between 18th and 26th of November 2000. Birding throughout was exceptional, as Kruger always is during the summer months. Our highlights included:

Pallid Harrier: at Letaba - a second bird was seen a couple of km from the camp, but it could have been the same bird.

Painted Snipe, Whitebacked Night Heron, Chestnutbanded Plover - all in the Shimuwini region, the latter on a day walk in the company of camp manager/field guide Frank Watts.

- Anthony Mills and Mills family (Cape Town) - Lindi and Dave Lawrenson (East London)

Kruger: 5 to 19 November 2000

Kumana Dam: Blackheaded Heron (breeding?)
Mazithi Dam: Wattled Plover
Ngotso Dam: Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron, Yellowbilled Egret
Engelhart Dam: Glossy Ibis
Nshawu Dam: Pair of Montagu's Harrier (female chasing Pied Kingfisher unsuccessfully)
Rooibosrant Dam: Pygmy Geese (Male with four young), Redbilled Teal, Redknobbed Coot, Great Reed Warbler
Letaba Camp: Female Pallid Harrier perched and flying at junction of H-9 and S59 2km from campRedwinged Pratincole on sand bank 2km north of camp on H1-6
Bateleur Camp: Greencapped Eremomela
Satara Camp: Black Coucal, 3.7km north of junction of H1-4 and S127 (western side of road), perched and also seen chasing Burchell's Coucal. - Philip Calinikos, Pretoria

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