Skukuza 23-24th August

Skukuza 23-24th August

Monday, 23rd

High cloud and calm weather greets me as I exit camp at 6am. I cross the Sabie and Sand Rivers and take the Maroela Loop S83 and then push on to Salitje S30.

Maroela Loop S83 (My Library)

I fear that this blog may appear rather tame as no special sights await me. I really do creep along with senses on high alert willing something extraordinary to show itself. Perhaps I need sharp-shooting David to assist with some of his specials. But I nevertheless love it and just to be in this environment is reward enough. I push down to the 10Km pond and turn making my way slowly back. The sun breaks through as I sit at the Nwatinhlophu confluence with the Sabie.

I watch two White Crowned Lapwings – once so rare but now so common along the Sabie River.

Then back over the high-level bridge and up the little loop roads leading to Skukuza. With the encouragement of some warm sun, the birds are really out strongly again.

White Helmetshrike (My Library)
Female Chinspot Batis (My Library)

Back in camp my favourite Robin-chat makes an appearance in the nearby bush.

White Throated Robin-chat
Skukuza is synonymous with the beautiful early morning and late evening calls of the White-browed (Heuglin’s) Robin-chat

This afternoon we go down the H4-1 river road. A couple of hundred meters from the T junction near camp, a traffic jam indicates the presence of a cat and sure enough, a sleepy leopard is sprawled out unconcerned about the chaos on the road above.

Such is the appeal of a leopard that even this very obscure sighting results in an enormous pile-up of cars.

Winter months seems to attract the ‘cat spotters’ and everywhere we go people ask if we have seen “leeus”. Summer seems to bring the birders and the real Kruger addicts.

The day ends with the sun sinking over the railway coaches on the Sabie Bridge.

Tuesday, 24th

I have patiently bided my time, waiting for the right weather conditions to allow me to visit Lake Panic. A clear, still morning sees me heading thither and by 6.20am I am comfortably seated in my favourite corner of the birdhide.

Lake Panic has recovered completely from summer when it was empty and choked with grass. Today many hippos are close by snorting, puffing and squabbling.

A bristly snout (My Library)

Surprisingly, Village Weavers are already (in August) beginning their nest building.

A pair of African Fish Eagles are also nest building.
A Pied Kingfisher busy ‘tenderising’ his catch
How does this Kingfisher manage to catch two fish with one dive into the water?
African Darter

Visitors to the hide are always so decent and well behaved and a quiet murmur and the clicking of cameras is all one hears. It really is the most pleasant place to spend and few hours. By 9am the good photographic light is over and I return to camp well satisfied.

The midday temperature rises to 34℃ and the sky looks very summery and threatening. At 3.30pm I go out along the Doispane S1 Road but the veld is burnt on the left making it rather unattractive.

Doispane S1 (My Library)
I then cut along the S3 road down to S4 river road and back to Paul Kruger Gate but all is quiet. A most pleasant day.