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Of Birds and Beasts

SOUTH AFRICA | Thursday, 8 August 2013 | Views [414]

Lilac-breasted roller, Kruger National Park

Lilac-breasted roller, Kruger National Park

We spent our first three days at Kruger in the southern part of the park; Berg-en-Dahl, Skakuza and Crocodile Bridge.  The commute from Belvedere-on-River to the Malelane Gate entrance was a snap – only ten kilometers.  It’s 70 km to Crocodile Bridge but it’s a better drive on the highway at 120 kph than in the park with its 50 km speed limits.


    African lioness

The gravel roads that link the paved sections offer a better chance of spotting wildlife but the driving is stressful.   While one eye looks for animals while the other checks the road for bone-jarring potholes.  Nothing compares to the long sections of teeth-rattling washboard.  Thank goodness it’s a rental car!


     Southern ground hornbill 

Most visitors to Kruger are looking for beasts, meaning mammals; the Big Five, hippos, impala, warthogs and such.  Even adding the mostly nocturnal cats, crocodiles and little guys like mongoose and meerkats, the have maybe forty animals to choose from.  Birders have all those plus 400-some birds, a much more target rich environment.  Granted, many are LBJs (little brown jobs) but there are also several majestic eagles, colorful rollers, bee-eaters, barbets and kingfishers and other-worldly oddities like the turkey-sized, southern ground hornbill with its red face and eyelashes that would make an alpaca envious.  Let’s face it; we birders get more for our money


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