Following our 23-day trip to Ethiopia (see following five posts) we flew to Johanesburg for another 23-day trip, to South Africa. We booked into the nice Airport Inn Suites in Kempton Park. South African birding mate Phil Penlington picked me up at the hotel early on our first morning and we headed off to Suikerbostrand Nature Reserve south of the city. This was my fourth visit to South Africa so I had a relatively small number of targets. We had success early with nice views of one target, Orange-winged Francolin, on a road outside the reserve, with several birds seen.
|Orange River Francolin|
Inside the reserve on a rocky hillside we easily tracked down a second target – Eastern Long-billed Lark.
|Eastern Long-billed Lark|
Bontebok and Yellow Mongoose were seen. Other birds included African Marsh Owl, Spike-heeled Lark, Cape Grassbird and Cape Longclaw.
We moved on the Marievale wetland sanctuary where before long a third target flew from the reeds a short distance in the form of a much-wanted Red-chested Flufftail, a bird I'd dipped on repeatedly during previous visits to Africa. Other birds included plenty of two shorebirds we don't see much of in Australia – Little Stint and Ruff.
African Snipe showed nicely as we drove slowly around the tracks that criss-cross this fine wetland. Other birds included Red-billed Teal, African Rail, Goliath Heron and an Eastern Barn Owl roosting and flying over the marsh.
A Large Grey Mongoose was seen - evidently something of a rarity in that area. We drove around farmlands in the Devan area seeing Pink-billed Lark. African Quailfinch and more Orange River Francolins.
|Large Grey Mongoose|
In the late afternoon we picked up Kathy Haydon, our friend from NSW, at the airport to join us for the trip. The next morning we headed east to Kruger National Park. Glenn and I had spent a week in Kruger previously and we were eager to get back in there. We entered Numbi Gate and were greeted by our first big game animal – a magnificant Greater Kudu, which proved to be common.
We booked into Pretoriuskop Camp for one night and headed off for our first game drive. We saw good numbers of Common Waterbuck, Giraffe, Impala and Cape Buffalo.
Bush Duiker and Bushbuck were seen before we returned to the lodge. It was a good start for our Kruger adventure.