Wednesday, 29th November DAY 15

We wish to get a good campsite at Lower Sabie so as soon as it is light, we quickly pack up camp, hook up the caravan and off we go down the Sabie River road (H4-1).

Coffee on the high level bridge with its beautiful view of the river and then on to Lower Sabie where we find an excellent campsite which someone has just vacated.

Setup complete after just half an hour and we can sit back and relax. A friendly faced lady passes by and Renette engages her in conversation and finds out that she is Louine Chittendon and that she and husband Hugh are staying in the next door campsite. Now you birders will know that Hugh is one of the best known birders in the country, in fact an authority who has published his own books and is involved in keeping Roberts Birds updated. Hugh is out tracking down the Red-faced Cisticola and after a while returns to join us. Now I feel totally inadequate in the presence of someone like this as his bird knowledge is massive. At one stage he casually says to me that he thinks he knows the bird calls of every bird in the country – all 900 of them. If I know 100 it is a lot. He is what you can call a birder who photographs a bit whereas I am a photographer who birds a bit. At one stage of the conversation a puzzled look comes over his face. “One moment please” he says peering up into the branches. “That shouldn’t be here” as a Purple-banded Sunbird flies out of the tree. He and Louine stay in a little tent with only the basics and Hugh is horrified at the thought of lugging a cumbersome caravan behind him. Like us he prefers Kruger in November and February when the migratory birds are here. He says that he has been bird crazy from a very young age and has accumulated his knowledge over many years. He turns 70 this week and is now living in Mtunzini having moved from Eshowe. Unfortunately, they are leaving today for Pongola where his son farms.

It is hot today and we retire to the Mugg & Bean for a light lunch followed by a strenuous swim – another advantage of summer.

For our evening drive we chose to go to Duke (S137) so, with a greying and threatening sky, we hurry to the Gonondwana gravel road along which we stop for at the waterhole for coffee. Whilst here a most pleasant tour guide driving some tourists tells us that there is a Bat Hawk roosting in a Jackalberry tree just on the other side of the Lower Sabie dam wall (H10). Now this is too tempting for me as I do not have as yet a photograph of one. With all ideas about Duke now abandoned, we rapidly retrace our way back to the dam and after a little while find our young lad perched very favourably on a branch.

Juvenile Bat Hawk

Here is the result. How Kruger serves up constant surprises and it is the constant anticipation that entertains one so richly.

I have blown up a photo of him after he dozed off for a while. Note his remarkable white eye lids.

After photographing the Bat Hawk, we leave him in peace and go out on the eastern gravel road (S29) towards Mlondozi Dam. Interesting was some Harrier hunting over the grasslands, a Saddle-bill Stork flying towards the Sabie, a Levaillant’s Cuckoo and many other bits and pieces. In all another great day.