Zululand and the Kruger Part 8

Skukuza 14 to 18 November 2014

Paul and Sally Bartho

After Balule we drove do our next destination – Skukuza. As we travelled south the countryside became greener and greener – from some much needed rains.

There was some water flowing on the south side of the Sabie River as we crossed the bridge. We stop, looking up and downstream to see what birds are about. As we are doing this one of us jokingly said keep an eye out for Finfoot, and with that Sally looks downstream and says “There it is”. It was quite a way down but walking in and out of the water at the upper end of some rapids.

Surprisingly the campsite was relatively empty, so we chose a level spot close to one of the kitchen areas with a reasonable amount of shelter. There were only one or two level spots on the fence-line but they were taken.

Skuskuza Campite
Skukuza Campite

During our time there we took an early morning drive along the road to Lower Sabie and were surprised that there was virtually no traffic. Breakfast on a cold gloomy morning at Mlondozi Dam – looking out for the Collared Flycatcher which had recently been reported there. No luck.

On the way back we took the S30 – the Salitje Road and at its end followed close to the Sabie River on the north side. At one of the lookout points over the river bed we were very surprised to see a pair of Mountain Wagtails. Unfortunately no photos of them. But I include some of the other birds seen.

On the way back along the H4-1 we stopped at several loop roads. On one we saw an Eagle in the middle of the road as we pulled onto it. It took no notice of us and kept scurrying back and forth on top of some low-lying dead thorn bushes right beside us.

Another bird we chased was the Madagascar/Lesser Cuckoo reported as seen right in front of the Golf Course club house. After several visits we gave up on that one too. However there was good birding in the area – on the board-walk beside the nursery and at the Lake Panic bird hide.

Some birds seen at the hide include:

The highlight of our time in Skukuza came at Lake Panic. There was only another couple and ourselves in the hide at the time. We heard what sounded like a dog barking and I immediately said “Leopard”. The other chap there said it was more like a bushbuck. However what we did notice was that one of the two African Fish-Eagles -some 100 metres away – had flown a few trees further along and was making the call!

Then from below the Fish-Eagle out stepped a Leopard. Peering cautiously around, it stepped out to the water’s edge. Every now and then looking our way – even when it was drinking. marvellous sight.

In total we had observed 148 different bird species in the area.

And eventually it was time to leave and head for Malelane – our last camp in the Kruger – see Part 9 to follow.

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