Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

SOUTH AFRICA PART Part 2: Lower Sabie and Satara in Kruger National Park

White lion near Satara

Following our stay at Pretoriuskop Camp in Kruger National Park (see here) we moved on the Lower Sabie Lodge for a 2-night stay. We left early in the morning, seeing a troop of Chacma Baboons as we headed east.

Chacma Baboon
In the morning mist we spotted a Roan Antelope, a rare animal in the park. Then at a watering hole a fine Sable Antelope came in to drink.

Sable Antelope
We saw plenty of Wilderbeeste, Buchell's Zebra and Impala as we slowly drove along.


Burchell's Zebra
We were pleased to find two White Rhinoceros – a female with a large calf – in the scrub. Glenn and I inexplicably failed to see this species during our last visit to Kruger in 1996 (although we saw it at Mkuzi) when it was supposedly quite common in the park. In recent years the population has been severely diminished with the poaching of hundreds of rhino. So sightings are these days much more uncommon than in the relatively recent past.

White Rhinoceros
Soon after we saw our first African elephants of the trip; we were to see many more in the days ahead.

African Elephant
We found a party of Spotted Hyaena sunning themselves on the road.

Spotted Hyaena

Spotted Hyaena
We called in at the park headquarters in Skukuza before moving on to Lower Sabie in the south-eastern portion of the park. Stierling's Wren-Warbler was something of a bogey bird for me as I had missed it in the past. So we tried playback in several places and eventually one showed nicely at Mhlupheka waterhole.

Stierling's Wren-Warbler
A pair of Southern Ground-Hornbills strutted their stuff by the road.

Southern Ground-Hornbill
We had game drives every morning and late afternoon at each of the lodges we stayed at. Lower Sabie had a nice mix of habitat with rivers, open woodland and thornbush scrub. We saw a large leopard resting under an acacia on the banks of the Sabie River.

Our first lions were brief views of a male and female, then a fine male early in the morning as it lay stretched out on the ground.

We found another two White Rhinoceros in scrub south of Lower Sabie Camp.

White Rhinoceros
A pool near the lodge entrance had large numbers of Nile Crocodile and Hippopotomus.


Nile Crocodile & Impala

Nile Crocodile
Lower Sabie waterhole
Hippopotamus were also seen emerging from the river nearby to feed during the late afternoon.


Among the birds around the dam were Three-banded Plover and African Spoonbill.

African Spoonbill

Three-banded Plover
We then transferred to Satara Camp for a 2-night stay. Satara is one of the finest lodges for game-viewing as there are extensive areas of short-grassed plains. 

Plains between Lower Sabie & Satara

Sunset at Satara
On the way to Satara we found another leopard, this one partially concealed as in rested in the branches of a thick acacia.

More game drives. We found three lionesses feeding on an Impala it had just killed.

Lions on Impala kill
Black-backed Jackal was added to the ever growing list of mammals.

Black-backed Jackal
A waterhole a few kilometres west of the lodge was popular. Lions were here as well, with a large male marking its territory.

Mammals of various species such as Giraffe, Chacma Baboon and Impala, freely mixed as they came in to drink. Conditions in the park during our visit were harsh and hot, with no water away from the main rivers and a few watering holes. This was in stark contrast to our visit 22 years ago, when all was green and lush following good seasonal rains. However, because of the sparse vegetation, we saw more game during this visit.

Chacma Baboon & Impala

Giraffe & Impala
On a drive east of Satara we came across a pride of 17 lions, including a fine white male (see top image). They nonchalantly strolled past the vehicle without giving us a side glance. The pride was clearly on the hunt, with the lionesses in the lead.

Lion pride


Sub-adult male Lion
Nyala was among the mammals we saw during our game drives.

We saw our first Common Ostrich in on the plains, while Flappet Lark and Croaking Cisticola were numerous.

Common Ostrich

Flappet Lark
Croaking Cisticola
One evening at Satara Lodge we tracked down an African Scops-Owl. On the second evening we saw an African Wild Cat with a kitten, as well as a Lesser Galago.

African Scops-Owl

African Wild Cat

No comments:

Post a Comment