19th to 22 February 2022
The camp at Satara had plenty of space except along the fence. We were not unhappy about that as the afternoon sun is straight in your face along the fence.
On our three full days there we explored far and wide – going as far north as Olifants, east to Nwanetsi and thereabouts as well as south west of Satara to Ngwanyeni Dam. Going off tar as much as possible.
Noticeable was the presence of many Carmine Bee-eaters. Something it seems you only see late summer.
European Bee-eaters were also abundant
Again we were surprised to see another Dwarf Bittern. This time catching the first rays of the sun.
We found that we often drove for long periods with few birds about. Perhaps it was the overcast weather but more likely after the good rains the birds had dispersed. Big raptors were hardly seen, however there were a few of the smaller variety.
To give an idea of typical scenery in the area:
Then there was an incident with a Pearl-spotted Owlet. We almost collided with it. The bird flew out from the left disappeared for a second below the car and fortunately appeared flying slowly and difficultly and landed in a tree on the right. Why did it behave this was in the middle of the afternoon? We stopped to look and immediately understood why it took such a risk. There in its claws was a creature longer than itself. Take a look.
Satara is known for its cats. We had several lion sightings. Once with cubs and another time with the big cats lying on the road and growling as we passed slowly by.
Our first Cheetah seen on this trip was a marvelous sight – perched on Ngotso staring into the distance right beside the road.
It is always great to see playful Elephants especially when they are frolicking with each other in water.
And the biggest treat for us was a Leopard up to tricks to avoid us. We took a side road to check out some water where we had seen lekker birds on a previous trip to the Kruger last year. Seeing nothing we continued the loop back to the road. As we went round the corner I could have sworn that ahead of us a cat had crossed the road and I had just glimpsed the tail end as it entered the tall grass. We drove up to the area looked down (as they have a habit of immediately hunkering down). Not there. As it was sort of going back to where we had come from I decided to go back and wait to see if it would appear. We waited and then Sally saw it. It was crawling the Leopard crawl – haunches sticking into the air, head low and stomach well down. We all know what Leopard crawling looks like from the many cartoons we have seen. This was a first and wonderful sight.
The Leopard slowly made for a tree across the road in front of us. Jumped up. Seemed to be scratching its bum on the bark in the “V” of the tree and then escalated to the top and lay staring at us.
There was a Crested Barbet asking us what times the gates opened and closed, but our communication was ineffective.
Unusually we were attacked by some Southern Ground Hornbills. Normally they simply walk passed if they come close. However this lot seemed to charge straight at us and proceeded to peck into our car. On the following video you will hear Sally saying that they may come for bugs on the car. And then the pecking started just after the video stopped.
In all we identified a further 28 birds to our Kruger list bringing our total up to 190 different bird species.
Some of the sunsets we had were spectacular.
Paul and Sally Bartho