This pair of Swainson’s Spurfowls (Pternistis swainsonii) was one of the little highlights on our last trip into the Kruger National Park. Whenever at the junction of the H7 and the untarred road towards Maroela camp we were sure to spot these two territorial birds. Seemingly undisturbed and rather inquisitive at first, they frantically started to look for cover in the tall grass every time our car approached. After experiencing this ritual half a dozen of times we baptized them Tweedledee and Tweedledum – a funny couple in a wild Wonderland. To listen to their captivating call please read the post and click on the mp3 file.
An encounter with a stately Saddle-billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) doesn’t seem particularly special, however, with only an estimated 25 to 30 breeding pairs left in the greater Kruger area – on a total of 150 breeding pairs in South Africa – we were incredibly lucky to spot this couple collecting nesting materials in a dry riverbank next to the S133. Little is known about the dwindling numbers of this big bird, but a combination between an irregular breeding pattern and the degradation of their wetland habitats by upstream human activity seems to seal their fate. This striking bird is in serious danger and needs all our conservation efforts to change its dire future!
Just south of the Letaba the S-46 crosses a side arm of this mighty river. At the water’s edge our attention was drawn to a solitary hippo bull, clearly not amused by our presence according to his resonant grunts. It was only after he submerged when we spotted this Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta) right next to the car, waiting for an unsuspecting fish or frog in the shallows. We observed this fascinating bird for a few moments, but as it is a symbol for bad-luck and human futility in South-African folklore we didn’t wait for the hippo to reappear…
Southern Ground Hornbills (Bucorvis leadbeateri) are one of the most fascinating and striking looking birds to see in the Kruger National Park. We had been lucky to find a pair willing to pose before the camera, crossing the road leisurely in the heat of the afternoon sun and seemingly too weary to even raise their beautiful eyelashes. Soooo pretty!!!