Skukuza 19th February

Skukuza 19th February

One is lulled into a false sense of security here weatherwise. Last evening’s perfect light gave no indication that this morning would be any different. At 5.30am I am the only vehicle at the gate but noting an ominous bank of cloud to the south I hurry back to camp to store away exposed possessions. And just as well. A brisk wind brings up squalls of rain interspersed by bursts of sunshine.

I wander down the Sabie River road H4-1 but conditions are not good. Birds in particular tend to hide away in windy conditions. I do see a couple of items of interest.

Female Giant Kingfisher
European Bee-eater

Something about Rollers. So called because of their rolling flight.

5 Species are to be seen in the Park.

My Library

Both the above are European Rollers which migrate to southern Africa. Now here is an interesting snippet. The first photo shows the bird as very blue whilst the second (the one in flight) is much duller. The blue bird migrates to Europe whilst the duller one migrates to Asia during our winter.

The spectacularly beautiful Lilac Breasted Roller. Resident all year. (My Library)
Broad-billed Roller mainly in the north of the Park. Intra African migrant. (My Library)
Less common Purple Roller. Resident throughout Kruger. (My Library)
Racket-tailed Roller. Resident in the far north of Kruger on the Limpopo River. (My Library)

It really is incredible the distances travelled by migratory birds. This next one is a Curlew Sandpiper which breeds on the northern coastline of Russia.

Curlew Sandpiper occurs in Kruger (My Library)

Whilst we are on the topic of bird migration, try this one. I recently read that a Godwit that had been microchipped was tracked flying non-stop from Alaska to New Zealand. That’s 12,000Km’s across the Pacific. And how does it know how to find the relatively tiny island of NZ in the middle of nowhere? If it misses NZ the next stop is Antarctica. Astounding.

Godwit (from the Internet)

Returning from my morning drive, I visit Lake Panic and am gratified to find that it has filled with water in my absence. Despite the thick grass there is enough open water to warrant a visit – perhaps tomorrow if the weather is good.

This afternoon I go out along the H1-1 towards Pretoriuskop with the idea of taking the lovely S65. But it is closed so I turn and amble down the Sabie H4-1 taking the loop roads as I go. I find an immature Diederik’s Cuckoo (Note the coppery tinge).

Adult Diederik’s Cuckoo (My Library)
A Wood Sandpiper in one of the many free standing pools

I end the day by encountering the ugly side of Kruger. Two speeding idiots (not tourists) have managed to have a head-on collision on a 50kph wide open road.

The mind boggles how they managed it. Meanwhile up the road the grossly overweight and most uninspiring traffic officer spends her day parked under a tree pouncing on tourists who don’t come to a complete stop at the wide open 4-way crossing. Oh dear!!