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2008-12-28

South Africa (ZA)   Kirkmans Kamp, Sabie Sand Reserve  -  Categories: South Africa  -  @ 10:45:55 pm

Kirkmans Kamp, Sabie Sand Reserve, Mpumulanga, South Africa - July/Aug 2008

This is an overdue posting from our vacation back to South Africa in the summer/winter break at the end of July. If anyone is looking for the therapeutic tranquility of the African bush, I can highly recommend Kirkmans Kamp, in the private Sabie Sand Reserve on the western border of the Kruger National Park. Images by Mike Pope

On route to the lowveld, we stopped for breakfast at a quaint restaurant in Dullstroom. I found this Groundscraper Thrush feeding in the gardens


Groundscraper Thrush

We eventually reached the lodge and soaked up smell and sounds of the bush after a year in the desert of Kuwait. The sounds were familiar and music to our ears. We spent 3-days at Kirkmans and enjoyed every minute. The majority of visitors come for the fantastic game sightings, but we just appreciated the bush and everything we saw. Our room was a distance from the main lodge and gave us a great view over the river and plains below us.


Our rooom in the Bush

A flowering tree (I forget the name) was the centerpiece for the breakfast in the garden and it was visited by many sunbirds. The male Scarlet chested Sunbird really does stand out when the light catches its plumage


Scarlet chested Sunbird

A male Marico Sunbird


Marico Sunbird

A male White bellied Sunbird


White bellied Sunbird

The grounds around the lodge were very productive and produced many photographic opportunities in between the morning and afternoon game drives (safari's). Ashy Flycatchers were easily approached near our room


Ashy flycatcher

Black Flycatchers hawk from trees and ambush insects in flight and on the ground


Black Flycatcher

Kurrichane Thrushes foraged near our room after the morning drive


Kurrichane Thrush

A White throated Robin Chat was vocal early morning and late afteroon


White throated Robin Chat

Starlings were represented by Burchells Glossy Starling, the largest of the starling family


Burchells Glossy Starling

And Greater blue eared Starlings


Greater blue eared Starling

Small groups of Arrow marked Babblers made themselves known before they were seen


Arrow marked Babbler

The male Chin spot Batis is a smart little bird


Chin spot Batis

Southern Grey headed Sparrows foraged for scraps around the tables


Grey headed Sparrow

Away from the manicured gardens I came across Blue Waxbills


Blue Waxbill

Together with small flocks of Red billed Firefinches


Red billed Firefinch

and a lone Yellow fronted Canary


Yellow fronted Canary

Yellow billed Hornbills are the comical birds of the bush, you can easily spend time watching their antics and their call is one that will always evoke memories of the african bush. This one was trying to delicately dispatch of an earthworm with its oversized bill.


Yellow billed Hornbill

Once out on the daily safaris, the focus changes to looking for game and the Big 5, although at Kirkmans the drives are well balanced to ensure that guests have the best safari experience. In between game spotting, Im obviously still looking for birds and our rangers considered this on our drives. Our tracker spotted this small Barred Owl roosting in a thicket


Barred Owl

Crested Francolins are really vocal during the dawn chorus


Crested Francolin

Helmeted Guineafowl forage in small groups and are also hunted by small cats and raptors alike. I have heard a single Guineafowl make more noise than a herd of 10 elephants passing by my tent at night, whilst camping in Tanzania.


Helmeted Guineafowl

Along the Sabie River we found a hunting Hamerkop, this strange birds builds enormous domed nests in forks of large trees.


Hamerkop

Green backed (Striated) Herons are innovative hunters and sometimes use tools to attract their quarry to a fateful end.


Green backed Heron

Purple crested Louries are more often heard than seen and when you do it is normally a flash of crimson wings through the canopy. This one landed above us whilst we were sitting quietly at a leopard sighting


Purple crested Lourie

July is winter in SA and is generally better for game viewing as the bush is brown and the absence of foliage allows better sightings. White crested Helmet Shrikes generally forage in small flocks moving quickly from tree to tree


White crested Helmet Shrike

Winter is generally not good for Raptors, but vultures were represented by White backed Vultures


White backed Vulture

And Hooded Vulture


Hooded Vulture

The only small accipitor seen was this Shikra


Shikra

African Hawk Eagles are generally seen in pairs and hunt Guineafowl as part of their prey


African Hawk Eagle

An adult Gymnogene (African Harrier Hawk), a strange raptor that can clamber up the sides of trees an pull barbet and hornbill nestlings out of their nests by using their double jointed knees


Gymnogene

A male Bateleur, easily identified in flight by its very short tail and tight rope walker jizz


Bateleur

A juvenile Bateleur can take up to 7 years to develop adult plumage (if memory serves me correctly)


Bateleur

The call of Africa - African Fish Eagle


African Fish Eagle

It would be sacriledge not to show any mammal sightings after a visit to a private lodge, in this posting. I will start with a a few of my favourite antelope, the first being the Kudu. This small herd came down to drink, but were nervous and tentative as would be expected


Kudu

I think Waterbuck are one of the most photogenic antelope in the bush, especially with some backlighting


Waterbuck

We were fortunate to come across an African Wild Cat on a night drive, I used the pop up flash on my 20D with acceptable results


African Wild Cat

The Big 5 are generally what most visitors want to see at Kirkmans, but we were also fortunate to come across a Wild Dog kill in the reeds of the Sabie River. They made very quick work of a Bushbuck, this is to ensure they dont lose their kill to other predators. These painted dogs are endangered and threatened, so it is always a priveledge to witness a sighting such as this


Wild Dog kill

Generally nothing is left of the kill for other predators to scavenge, this leg will be chewed into manageable pieces by their powerful jaws


Wild Dog kill

This young Spotted Hyena was too late, but was still chased off by the Dogs guarding what was left of the carcass


Spotted Hyena

For those that may not know, the Big 5 are made up of: Rhino (White or Black), this is a White Rhino told by its large flat straight lip


White Rhino

Elephant


Elephant

Buffalo; generally in large or smaller bachelor (dagga boy) herds. They appear generally docile, but dont be fooled by this outwardly bovine appearance. Although they make great photographic subjects with the character in their faces


Buffalo

Lion; this female was lying in ambush for an early breakfast - not quite as docile looking as those you see generally passed out under a bush in the heat of the day


Lioness

These two male Lions were in prime condition and are not to be taken lightly


Lion

And lastly Leopard; these elusive cats are generally the toughest to find - we were fortunate in seeing Leopard on every game drive during our stay. This was a large male marking its territory early one morning


Leopard

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