Kruger Christmas 2: The Bird Is The Word

We’re having our Christmas braai (barbecue) in Satara rest-camp–my favourite place to spend the holiday. While Cape Town is a mad fiesta of tourist-packed partying, in this part of Africa they barely seem to know it’s Christmas. Just the way I like it.

Our circle of rondawels is beset by raiding Vervet Monkeys, and a scavenging Banded Mongoose. Satara is the best camp for animal visitors. We hope that the African Wild Cat will come around–pretending to be a domestic cat to attract food–and the lumbering Honey Badger patrolling for scraps.


The 90km drive from Skukuza to Satara was mostly about birds. New sightings for us, like the bird I thought was either some kind of chat, or a flycatcher, and turned out to be a Chat Flycatcher. Some rarities, like this Ground Hornbill–the largest hornbill in the world and, yes, they can fly.


We found a tree in which White-Backed Griffon Vultures shared the branches with a Steppe Eagle.


Crouched on the remains of a carcass, the largest vulture in Africa, the Lappet-Faced Vulture. It has the largest wing-span of any terrestrial African bird. It’s huge beak gives it the authority and power to take a first turn at tearing open the hides of the dead.


After yesterday’s extreme temperatures (The White Whale’s thermometer registered 50 degrees celsius), it was cool and overcast all day. Aparna spotted a Bateleur eagle (acrobat, or tumbler, from the French. Mountain Chicken in Afrikaans) drinking from rainwater collected in a rocky depression.


A cluster of cars suggested lions, but turned out to be–as far as we could tell–a young Martial Eagle trying to catch a little grazing Steenbok.


It’s a huge, powerful eagle, and a Steenbok is not out of the question. But this one was apparently too inexperienced. The Steenbok didn’t even feel the need to leave the area.

We saw a lot of giraffes. More than ever before. But no tremendously exciting animals until we were almost at Satara. We found this elephant with huge tusks eating a bush by the side of the road. When it took notice of us, and began approaching, we made ourselves scarce and headed on to camp.




Author: singemonkey

A South African interested in public health, travel, making music, and photography

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