Our Fortuner needed to be run in for at least 800 kms before we could tow our off-road trailer. So we decided to visit Mkuze and stay in one of their rest huts for 3 nights.
So we had 2 full days for birding/Atlassing. In that time we virtually drove all the roads around the Game Park. As usual kuMasinga was the best waterhole for birds and animals. However we did see some specials as we drove around.
At the office as we checked in, Sally spotted a Greater Honeyguide in the trees by the office hide.
kuMasinga hide beckoned. We can sit hours in there watching all the activity – whether it be birds or animals and that is where we headed. Every time we visited over the two days we were there it was always a hive of activity. Down the passage just before the entrance to the hide there is a boma-like area. As we walked past we spotted a bird hopping about on the ground.
Typical animal activity around the hide – with Impala, Nyala, Zebra, Wildebeest and Kudu making an appearance all together.
The entertaining part were the baboons – especially the youngsters – scrambling up the huge ant hill to be King of the Castle and then trying to defend their position, eventually literally tumbling head over heels to the bottom. Then jumping up and grabbing a low branch swaying above the ground. Of course the others also wanted to do the same so they jumped and grabbed the fist baboon’s tail bringing them all down together in one heap.
Possibly one of the most unexpected moments was the sight of a rather annoyed young male Nyala giving close chase to a naughty baboon which had rolled down the ant hill and on top of him.
It was interesting to compare the different patterns on the backs of the Zebras. Here are some examples.
Then there were the birds which come in numbers during the middle of the day to drink.
Most of the times that we visited the hides they were empty. But on one occasion at kuMasinga there was a German couple at the front. No problem for Social Distancing as there is enough space for 5 or six couples to keep apart. However one long rasping cough by the lady and we were out like a shot!!
As we drove around we came across twin Zebras. We tried hard to compare stripes to see if they were identical but we couldn’t agree.
In one location we noticed some Green Woodhoopoes close by to the road
And while watching them Sally noticed a Woodpecker amongst them. Not any old Woodpecker but a female Bennett’s. A woodpecker which is virtually out of range and mostly seen further north.
Some other birds we saw driving around.
Nsumo Pan is always interesting for water birds especially when the water level is not full. Unluckily for us it was full. At the road side of the Pan there are two hides and then a Picnic spot.
At the first hide we were entertained by Lesser Masked Weavers building nests and squabbling amongst themselves
Two families of Thick-billed Weavers right next to the hide with young pestering parents for food.
Then there was the Gorgeous young Malachite Kingfisher close-by.
A Pink-backed Pelican flew by and the Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters made a feast of whatever they could find in the air next to the hide.
On our last evening we stayed out late. The gate closed at 19h00. At that time is was dark and the night birds started to appear. We must have come across at least 6 Fiery-necked Nightjars in our headlights on the way to camp.
Our bird list is attached and only amounted to 117 different species identified. Much less than we normally would expect to find.
Eventually it was time to head home but we did have a spectacular sunset over Nsumo Pan to take home.