Monday, 25th March
Since flying to the Cape on 14th March, our brief visit there culminated with the most beautiful marriage of our third son, Gareth to lovely Sarah on Friday, 22nd March. It began on the 15th with the lads letting off steam at Witsand at the mouth of the Breede River, the hectic buildup to the Big Day and then the warm feeling that was Kruger again beckoning.
Renette and I flew out of Cape Town at 6am this morning in rain and then landed in Jo’burg where we retrieved our faithful Quantum from David’s house. With our noses firmly pointed east we headed down the M4 arriving in Nelspruit at 2pm where we collected brother Steven’s family. At 4pm we thankfully re-entered the Crocodile Bridge Gate and made our way towards our destination – Lower Sabie.
It was immediately evident the during our absence Kruger has had more good rain. The grass is longer and water is standing about in pools in the veld. The weather today is clear and hot after the chill of the Cape. At 5pm we move back into our caravan and begin a hasty spring clean to tidy up after our two week’s absence.
Tuesday, 26th March
It is to be expected that after all that has happened over the past couple of weeks there would be some exhausted people preferring a well earned rest in bed. However, Steven and I are up at 4.45am and join the queue at the gate under a heavily overcast sky.
We are first over the river and then head up the gravel road toward Salietjie (S30). Everywhere the grass is thick and lush. We pass by jackals and hyenas and the sky brightens so that at the rocky outcrop beyond the Nwatimhlophu causeway we come across the lovely sight of two Klipspringers amongst the boulders.
From the high level bridge back over the Sabie, we note a large flock of Barn Swallows on the sand collecting for their incredible migration back to Europe.
Further upstream two wild-dog are also resting on the sand.
The main H4-1 road between Skukuza and Lower Sabie is notorious for its heavy traffic but…. it is an excellent road for both bird and animal as well as its scenic beauty. Steven and I then begin a slow dawdle looking out for good bird opportunities. There is a good strategy to be followed. If one stops on the right hand side of the road closer to the bird then one can ignore the inevitable pile up of curious tourists and get on with the pleasant task of photographing – undistracted. This we do as we get some good shots of the shy and very beautiful Orange-breasted Bushshrike.
We thoroughly enjoy ourselves arriving back at Lower Sabie at about 11am. So pleasant is the cool weather that after a cup of coffee we set off again downstream of the camp in search of the Icterine Warbler that we are keen to photograph. But we draw a blank as I fear that these birds have already left on there northerly migration.
This afternoon all six of us cram into the Quantum and set off up the H10 towatds Munche. It is noteworthy that in the two weeks that I have been away, the call of the Harlequin Quails has suddenly switched off and I never once today heard the call of the Woodland Kingfisher – such a feature of the summer bushveld. The sky becomes darker as thick clouds sweep up from the southeast and we return to camp with light rain falling.
Today was a period of adjustment but I feel that I have already slipped back into my routine and I am raring to explore Nwatimhiri (S21) tomorrow – rain or not.