Birds and beasts, but let’s stick with the birds first … (KNP VII)

Seeing your favorite bird three times in one day is ok, if its the fish eagle or the sand grouse or even the blacksmith plower, but if its one of those really birds – well, then you know KNP is special and it makes these wonderful sightings possible. This visit we got to see a number of storks: Marabou, Saddle- and Yellow-billed, Black- and White-. The African Spoonbill as well as a number of Ibis,  Herons, Bitterns, Egrets, Cormorants were sighted. Probably because we cruised along the Crocodile, Letaba and Olifants rivers for quite a while. At Sunsetlake I was watching Waxbills, Firefinches and other delightful twitters, when the Spookvoel really got me exited. Through the open window his eerie whistle was loud and clear. He surely couldn’t be far away. Moving to the opposite side of the road we parked next to a umKuhlu (Natal Mahogony – Trichilia emetica): “This large tree is striking even from afar because its dense, deep green, glossy foilage shows virtually no visible branching from the outside” (Sappi 1997 Pg 196). From this impenetrable tree the grey headed bush shrike (Malaconotus blanchoti) was continuing its lament – but it was probably as inquisitive as we were. It was not hiding under the leaves, but rather had a peek from under them – and we could make him out nice and clearly. (See picture below)

Waking up early in Lower Sabi I heard Spotted Eagle Owls  (Bubo africanus) calling in the mist. They didn’t stop calling “their mellow 2- or 3- syllable hoots hu whooooooooo or whooo are you, rising and falling in pitch, sometimes in duet.” (Roberts KNP pg 55). Travelling in the lovely afternoon a few cars were crammed next next to some thorns trees along the sluggish Crocodile river. They were watching a resting African Wood-Owl (Strix woodfordii). The conditions for taking pictures was terrible – like so often, but we got a few passable shots – mainly because the predator was so restful and didn’t budge one bit. Chasing lions and other glamorous stars of the bush, we ventured to far south and got carried away too far from camp. That’s why it was turning dark before we got home. On the way we got to see two more owls – a Spotted Eagle-Owl (Bubu africanus) with its pointy ears and a very proud Verreaux’s Eagle Owl (Bubu lacteus).  Both had come out for another hard day’s night – and are nicely silhouetted against the pale evening sky.

We didn’t get to see a Kori Bustard this time – and only a few smaller black breasted ones. Eagles – plenty, just as bee eaters, kingfishers and rollers, swallows and swifts, doves and ducks, geese, coucals and frankolins. But see for yourself.

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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