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An invitation to attend an event in Eswatini (better known to you and me as Swaziland), gave me an opportunity to spend some time in Kwa Zulu Natal.

It is a couple of years since I’ve been there, ooops, longer than that, it has actually been three and a half years since I joined Peter Connan, Game Warden and Bugs on a Wilderness Trail in Hluhluwe iMfolozi.

 

What I really wanted to do was take a few days to see what the birding is like in the Ezemvelo parks but it was also a chance to try out British Airways new direct flight into Durban.

 

The flight was actually pretty good. Anyone who has flown into Johannesburg or Cape Town will be familiar with the congestion at immigration as flights from all over the world seem to land within the same 1 hour slot.

Durban is a breath of fresh air in that regard, there are currently only 3 international flights landing each day. Our flight landed at about 05:45, the next flight was not due until after 11:00; we had the Arrivals Hall to ourselves. How nice was that.

I believe the downside is that the plane does not stay on the ground for long and the return flight is a daytime flight. That didn’t bother me though as I’d be flying home from Cape Town.

 

Day 1

Bugs had arranged to meet me at the airport and my passage through immigration & customs was so quick I had finished my first coffee at Mugg & Bean by the time he arrived.

 

Apart from the first 2 nights, we had not booked any accommodation until we were due in Swaziland – oops, I mean Eswatini – in four and a half days. We were going to play it by ear, or ‘wing it’ as Bugs likes to call it. This would be very different from the tight scheduling I normally have to stick to as a tour operator.

 

I’d arranged for us to spend our first 2 nights close to uMkhuze Game Reserve at a small tented camp called Zululand Lodge.

Zululand Lodge was constructed specifically to accommodate the groups of Sunway Safaris, and they use it a base for exploring the area.

 

First impressions were good. The camp is nicely secluded – 5km from the R22 that runs between Hluhluwe & Sodwana – and has a relaxed feel about it, with just 9 guest tents, a lounge, dining room and raised platform that looks out over the forest canopy.

 

Rate are not too bad, starting at ZAR990 per person sharing, inclusive of all meals and a guided walk.

How viable it will be for independent travellers remains to be seen as reservations will only be accepted when the tents are not being used by a Sunway Safaris group.

 

The conservancy is a lovely area for walking with access to the Msinene river. Mammal species are a bit limited but the birdlife is interesting. There are plans to drop the fence between the Zululand Lodge concession and the neighbouring one, which has many more animals, and will create a larger conservancy.

 

And we’re off!

 

We had 3 birds on our list already, spotted on the drive in to the camp.

1. Long Crested Eagle

2. Common Myna

3. Brown Hooded Kingfisher

 

but we were keen to see what we could find here.

 

Fritz, the camp manager explained to us that there was no guide available to take us for a walk as he had just gone for a couple of days break; but we were welcome to explore by ourselves. No problem.

 

We strolled down to the river to see what we could find.
We could certainly hear plenty of birds and although we could identify several of them by their call, we had agreed to only add them to our list if we actually got a sighting.

 

2 of the species that we heard a lot, were the Narina Trogon and the Gorgeous Bushshrike. We saw the Bushshrike but not the Trogon, and didn’t manage a photo of either.

 

Our first afternoon’s tally was not great,

4. Sombre Greenbul

5. Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

another Brown Hooded Kingfisher

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

6. Village Weaver

7. Black-backed Puffback

Black-backed Puffback

8. Cape Glossy Starling

9. Red-faced Mousebird

10. Purple Crested Turaco

Purple Crested Turaco

although I am pleased with the way the Turaco photo turned out as it was right on sunset and far away.

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Day 2

uMkhuze Game Reserve

We had planned to spend a night or two in uMkhuze, but decided that we might as well visit the reserve from here.

 

Compared with East Africa, the entry fee for game reserves in South Africa is a pittance; ZAR50 per person plus another ZAR50 for the vehicle. ZAR150 in total for 2 of us, that’s about £8 or US$10.50.

 

As both of us were more interested in birds than mammals we decided not to do much driving around and headed straight for our first hide.

 

I have to say that the time we spent in the Malibala hide was one of the most exhilarating hide sits I’ve ever had. At one point we were spotting species faster than we could log them.

By comparison, the Masinga hide was quiet and the water level was so high at Nsumo that there was no shoreline for the waders and the various observation points yielded very little to get excited about.

 

11

Apalis, Bar-throated

12

Bee Eater, Little

13

Bishop, Southern Red

14

Bulbul, Dark-capped

15

Bunting, Golden-breasted

16

Canary, Yellow-fronted

17

Crombec, Long-billed

18

Crow, Pied

19

Darter, African

20

Dove, Cape Turtle

21

Dove, Laughing

22

Dove, Namaqua

23

Drongo, Fork-tailed

24

Eagle, Martial

25

Egret, Little

26

Egret, Western Cattle

27

Firefinch, Jamieson’s

28

Goose, Egyptian

29

Guineafowl, Helmeted

30

Heron, Green-backed

31

Hoopoe, African

32

Hornbill, Southern Yellow-billed

33

Hornbill, Trumpeter

34

Ibis, Hadeda

35

Jacana, African

36

Kingfisher, Pied

37

Kingfisher, Striped

38

Kite, Yellow-billed

39

Dove, Emerald Spotted Wood

40

Oxpecker, Red-billed

41

Plover, Three-banded

42

Pytilia, Green-winged (Melba Finch)

43

Quelea, Red-billed

44

Robin, White-browed Scrub

45

Roller, Lilac-breasted

46

Sappow, House

47

Sparrow, Grey-headed

48

Starling, Violet-backed

49

Starling, Wattled

50

Stilt, Black-winged

51

Starling, Red-winged

52

Sunbird, Scarlet-chested

53

Swallow, Lesser-striped

54

Swallow, Barn

55

Thick-knee, Water

56

Tit, Southern Black

57

Twinspot, Pink-throated

58

Wagtail, African Pied

59

Waxbill, Blue

60

Waxbill, Common

61

Weaver, Yellow

62

Weaver, African Golden

63

Weaver, Cape

64

Weaver, Southern Masked

65

Whydah, Pin-tailed

66

Woodpecker, Cardinal

 

Here are a few of the ones I managed to get photos of

 

Golden Breasted Bunting (Emberiza flaviventris)

 

Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura)

Pin-tailed Whydah


Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus) m Village Weaver (male) 

Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus) f

Village Weaver (female)

 

Blue Waxbill (Uraeginthus angolensis)

Blue Waxbill

 

Turtles

 

Blue Waxbill (Uraeginthus angolensis)

Blue Waxbills

 

Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild)

Common Waxbill bathing

 

Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild)

Common Waxbills bathing

 

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

Western Cattle Egret

 

Green Winged Pytilia (Melba Finch (Pytilia melba)

Green Winged Pytilia (Melba Finch)

 

Golden Breasted Bunting (Emberiza flaviventris)

Golden Breasted Bunting

 

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas)

Yellow-billed Hornbill

 

Red-billed Oxpeckers (Buphagus erythrorhynchus)  

Kudu with red billed oxpeckers
 

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

Black-winged Stilt

 

Water Thick-Knee (Burhinus vermiculatus)

Water Thick-knee

 

Nyala (m)

Nyala

 

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Some beautiful sightings there @Soukous. It looks like a really good birding destination. I look forward to the rest of your report.

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Is anybody getting a formatting problem with the table in @Soukous's post above?

Thanks, Matt.

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But goes  off the page to the right on my phone.-Samsung

Edited by wilddog
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Off the page to the right on ipad. Haven't checked on PC

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It is fine on the laptop, but off to the right on the iPad. I think its more of the programme used not narrowing to the same ratio when looked at on an iPad or iPhone.

Edited by CDL111
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19 hours ago, TonyQ said:

Some beautiful sightings there @Soukous. It looks like a really good birding destination. I look forward to the rest of your report.

 

Yes @TonyQ it is a terrific birding destination. I'd happily go again. And it is not expensive compared with Kruger or Western Cape.

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18 hours ago, Game Warden said:

Is anybody getting a formatting problem with the table in @Soukous's post above?

Thanks, Matt.

 

The table runs off the right hand side of my page - on the PC. But that is because I just copied & pasted the content from a Word document.

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I had another try, reducing the font size. All the text fits in OK but some of the lines still flow off the page. As long as it's readable.

 

11

Apalis, Bar-throated

12

Bee Eater, Little

13

Bishop, Southern Red

14

Bulbul, Dark-capped

15

Bunting, Golden-breasted

16

Canary, Yellow-fronted

17

Crombec, Long-billed

18

Crow, Pied

19

Darter, African

20

Dove, Cape Turtle

21

Dove, Laughing

22

Dove, Namaqua

23

Drongo, Fork-tailed

24

Eagle, Martial

25

Egret, Little

26

Egret, Western Cattle

27

Firefinch, Jamieson’s

28

Goose, Egyptian

29

Guineafowl, Helmeted

30

Heron, Green-backed

31

Hoopoe, African

32

Hornbill, Southern Yellow-billed

33

Hornbill, Trumpeter

34

Ibis, Hadeda

35

Jacana, African

36

Kingfisher, Pied

37

Kingfisher, Striped

38

Kite, Yellow-billed

39

Dove, Emerald Spotted Wood

40

Oxpecker, Red-billed

41

Plover, Three-banded

42

Pytilia, Green-winged (Melba Finch)

43

Quelea, Red-billed

44

Robin, White-browed Scrub

45

Roller, Lilac-breasted

46

Sappow, House

47

Sparrow, Grey-headed

48

Starling, Violet-backed

49

Starling, Wattled

50

Stilt, Black-winged

51

Starling, Red-winged

52

Sunbird, Scarlet-chested

53

Swallow, Lesser-striped

54

Swallow, Barn

55

Thick-knee, Water

56

Tit, Southern Black

57

Twinspot, Pink-throated

58

Wagtail, African Pied

59

Waxbill, Blue

60

Waxbill, Common

61

Weaver, Yellow

62

Weaver, African Golden

63

Weaver, Cape

64

Weaver, Southern Masked

65

Whydah, Pin-tailed

66

Woodpecker, Cardinal

Edited by Soukous
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Day 3

Zimanga – Kube Yini

 

Zimanga wasn’t really part of our plan (in so much as we had one at all), but as we were so close I was really keen to get a look at their set up.

 

I have to say it is impressive. They have created a game viewing experience unlike any other with 8 hides (number 9, an elevated hide, is under construction), purpose built for photography. They are all at water level, with non reflective one way glass so the animals cannot see in when they are drinking and 4 tripods with gimbal heads ready and waiting in each hide.

 

There are 2 overnight hides, complete with motion triggered sensors and beds so you can sleep when there is no activity.

 

There are people who criticise Zimanga, saying it is not a ‘true’ game reserve, but I have to say that from a photographer’s perspective it is a fantastic setup, offering unequalled opportunities for both day-time and night-time shooting.

They even have a scavenger hide where you can watch vultures, hyaenas and other scavengers.

 

What they are doing clearly works as they have a steady flow of photographers and photography groups coming to stay, with the usual duration being 5 or 6 nights.

Rates are in Euro and range from 317 in low season to 440 in high season, per person sharing, including all meals and two daily activities (either hide stay or game drive).

 

I’m saving up my pennies for a return visit.

 

On the drive into and out of Zimanga we added a few more species

67

Fish Eagle, African

68

Eagle, Tawny

69

Eagle, Wahlberg’s

70

Heron, Squacco

71

Kite, Black-shouldered

72

Hamerkop

73

Pigeon, Speckled

74

Shrike, Magpie

 

Wahlberg's Eagle

Wahlberg's Eagle

 

Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

 

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

 

Our next destination was a small private reserve adjoining Phinda called Kube Yini.

This is perhaps better described as a wildlife estate than a reserve as it is only really open to residents and their guests.

 

Luckily we have friends living here. Even better, one of them is an ace birder, so we were both looking forward to spending time with someone who actually knows what he is doing. We were not disappointed.

 

Although the highlight of our time in Kube Yini was almost certainly watching a Crowned Eagle on it’s nest, we saw a hell of a lot of species too. There is no doubt at all that having a local expert with us made a huge difference; we saw many more than we would have done if we hadn’t had Ian’s local knowledge.

Although the full species list for Kube Yini is 331, Ian has his own list of 233 regularly seen species.

And he’s dedicated. Every morning he goes to for 2 hours to make a daily count. One list for the birds he identifies by call, another for the ones he identifies by sight.

A couple of hours spent walking with Ian was quite an experience. Of course it helps to be in an area with so many wonderful species.

 

75

Apalis, Rudd’s

76

Bee Eater, European

77

Bee Eater, White-fronted

78

Bushshrike, Gorgeaous

79

Buzzard, Common

80

Dove, Tambourine

81

Duck, White-faced Whistling

82

Snake Eagle, Brown

83

Eagle, Crowned

84

Fiscal, Common

85

Grebe, Little

86

Hornbill, Crowned

87

Kingfisher, African Pygmy

88

Lapwing, Blacksmith

89

Lapwing, Crowned

90

Lark, Rufous-naped

91

Starling, Black-bellied

92

Sunbird, Purple-banded

93

Tchagra, Black-crowned

94

Vulture, White-backed

95

Weaver, Lesser-masked

96

Weaver, Village

97

White-eye, Cape

98

Widowbird, White-winged

99

Barbet, Black-collared

100

Brownbul, Terrestrial

101

Bushshrike, Orange-breasted

102

Cisticola, Croaking

103

Cisticola, Rattling

104

Cuckoo, Jacobin

105

Flycatcher, African Paradise

106

Greenbul, Yellow-bellied

107

Petronia, Yellow-throated

108

Robin, Bearded Scrub

109

Stork, Woolly-necked

110

Sunbird, Grey

111

Sunbird, White-bellied

112

Warbler, Willow

113

Weaver, Dark-backed

 

 

 

Phew! I am always in awe of birders who know all the species in their area and can identify every bird they see.

On one occasion something flashed past us and Ian said immediately “Pygmy Kingfisher”. I’d barely registered the bird at all and, if I’d seen it, would than then spent ages agonising over whether it was a Pygmy or Malachite Kingfisher.

 

African Crowned Eagle

African Crowned Eagle on its nest

 

African Crowned Eagle

African Crowned Eagle, ready to fly

 

African Crowned Eagle

African Crowned Eagle

 

Black Collared Barbet

Black Collared Barbet

 

Black Collared Barbet

Black Collared Barbet

 

Laughing Dove

Laughing Dove

 

Bearded Scrub Robin

Bearded Scrub Robim

 

Cape White-eye

Cape White-eye

 

Little Grebe

Little Grebe

 

Striped Kingfisher

Striped Kingfisher

 

A pair of Striped Kingfishers

Striped Kingfishers

 

Rufous-naped Lark

Rufous Naped Lark

 

Our tally was growing nicely.

 

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@Soukous, l have never considered a birding holiday before, however the quantity of different species and quality of your photographs makes it interesting option. I presume that it would be easy to add on a conventional safari.

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Wow, some really great shots and lots of species seen. Are you enjoying the D500?

 

Zimanga is a dream destination, but I just can't justify the costs. Taking my family there for two nights in high season costs the same as a three-week camping trip through Botswana...

 

 

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Amazing birding, @Soukous. I can only hope that some of those birds will hang around till February. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Agree with everybody...really astounding list and photography, @Soukous

Thank you.

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On 12/21/2018 at 5:31 PM, Peter Connan said:

Wow, some really great shots and lots of species seen. Are you enjoying the D500?

 

Zimanga is a dream destination, but I just can't justify the costs. Taking my family there for two nights in high season costs the same as a three-week camping trip through Botswana...

 

 

I know what you mean @Peter Connan I'd love to spend a week there but I can go so much farther with that amount of money so I guess it stays on the wish list.

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On 12/20/2018 at 4:21 PM, CDL111 said:

@Soukous, l have never considered a birding holiday before, however the quantity of different species and quality of your photographs makes it interesting option. I presume that it would be easy to add on a conventional safari.

 

I never really considered birding holidays either @CDL111  but there are so many periods on a safari or game drive when there are no animals to photograph and that is when the birds came into play for me. They are always around. You'll find them throughout the day, even in camp.

The other big attraction of birding is that it is comparatively low cost, you don't need a fancy lodge, just a good location; although if you want to get the most from your birding I would definitely recommend going with a guide or someone who knows the local birds. It is so much more rewarding if you can actually put names to what you are seeing.

 

And, to answer your question, yes, it is very easy to add a few days birding to almost any holiday.

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Day 4

Next stop was Sodwana Bay. Not for birding but just to say ‘Hi’ to a couple of friends.

 

I hadn’t realised until now that you can drive right through Phinda on a public highway. Well actually, you’re pretty much driving along between Phinda and uMkhuze, but you have to log in at the gate to Phinda.

I was hoping we might sneak a sighting of some good game on the drive but we actually saw bugger all.

 

In fact the only species we were able to add to our list at Sodwana was

114. Gull Grey-headed.

 

If I’m honest, we didn’t really try very hard. The sun was shining and the sea was inviting.

Awesome burgers at The Tree in Sodwana.

 

Day 5

The plan was to spend the morning at Tembe Elephant Park and then move on to Nduma Game Reserve for the afternoon.

 

Tembe Elephant Park is renowned for its elephants and has some pretty big tuskers. Nduma is rated as one of the best birding destinations in South Africa. It should be an interesting day.

 

Tembe Elephant Park

 

For some reason we’d both got into the habit of waking at around 5am, so by 5:30 we were ready to hit the road. Not sure what time Tembe opened its gates we dawdled along, to arrive at 7am; only to find that the gates had opened at 6am.

 

Once again we decided that we would spend our time in the hides, rather than driving around, and we got to the Mahlasela hide to find we had it to ourselves. There was not much happening around the waterhole, so we settled in to wait.

 

Our good fortune did not last. We’d been there about 10 minutes when people started arriving. Within moments between 14-16 Germans had crammed into the hide, and they were not quiet at all.

Then, on top of their chatter we heard the clanking of metal plates and cutlery. They had brought a picnic breakfast with them from their lodge and this was where they planned to eat it.

 

There was no way we could stay, so we left them to it and drove through the park to the Poweni hide.

 

To be honest there was not a lot to see during our drive. We saw a small herd of unimpressive looking buffalo and 2 zebras. Some drivers coming in the opposite direction were seriously unimpressed with their game viewing and told us they had been driving for 45 minutes and seen f*** all.

 

We were quite content to enjoy the tranquillity – as long as we managed to stay one step ahead of the Germans – and Tembe’s sand forest habitat.

We did see a few species to add to our list as well.

 

114

Batis, Chinspot

115

Bustard, Black-bellied

116

Dove, Red-eyed

117

Francolin, Crested

118

Heron, Black-headed

119

Lapwing, African Wattled

120

Longclaw, Yellow-throated

121

Mousebird, Speckled

 

Woolly Necked Stork

Woolly Necked Stork

 

Woolly Necked Stork

 

Woolly Necked Stork

 

Black Bellied Bustard

Black Bellied Bustard

 

 

Black-headed Heron

Black Headed Heron

 

Emerald Spotted Wood Doves

Emerald Spotted Wood Dove

 

Tusker enjoying a mud wallow

Wallowing in the mud

 

Elephants around the waterhole in Tembe

Mahlasela hide, Tembe Elephant Park, Isimangaliso.

 

 

Tembe Tusker

Tusker

 

Wattled Lapwing

 

Wattled Lapwing

 

Tambourine Dove

Tambourine Dove

 

 

The Poweni hide yielded some elephants, including one impressive tusker, enjoying a mud wallow. We could hear lots more elephants away to our left but they never came into sight.

Surely the Germans must have finished their breakfast by now.

Thankfully they had finished and moved on.

There was a lot more action at the waterhole now. I should say a lot more animals, because none of them were being particularly active. Mostly elephants, just standing around flapping their ears or drinking.

Very picturesque.

 

Ndumo

 

After our frenzied time in the hides at uMkhuze, Tembe had been a bit of an anti-climax, so we were keen to get to Ndumo where we would be able to build our tally.

 

It was only a short drive so we stopped in the town to pick up supplies as we’d be self-catering tonight.

Oh how spoiled we are. The only supermarket we could find was nothing like the ones we are used to in more affluent areas, stocking only those things that its rural clientele required. Our meal tonight would be pretty basic.

 

Our first stop on entering the park was the office as we needed to book ourselves into one of their chalets for the night and then arrange for a guided bird walk. The bird walks at Ndumo are reputed to be excellent.

 

This was where we came face to face with the perils of winging it. There were no chalets available as they had a group coming in. To make matters worse, this group had booked out the afternoon bird walk as well.

Oh bollocks!

 

Since we now had to find somewhere to stay for the night. The manager at the park office was super, he told us a few places we could try for accommodation and even lent us his phone to call them because we had no signal. All to no avail as everywhere we contacted was fully booked.

No problem, it was still early. So we decided to visit the hide overlooking the main water body, Nyamithi, and then hit the road.

 

Hmm. We got to the hide to find we had it to ourselves, which was a good thing. Not so good was the fact that the water of the lake had receded so much that the shoreline was now 200m away from the hide. All we could see was a dry lake bed.

 

Wanting to see if we could get closer to the water, where we might see some birds, we went for a walk. Our reward was a few water birds in the distance.

 

122

Avocet, Pied

123

Egret, Great

124

Flamingo, Greater

125

Heron, Grey

126

Ibis, African Sacred

127

Openbill African

128

Pelican, Great White

129

Spoonbill, African

 

Greater Flamingoes

Greater Flamingoes

 

Greater Flamingoes and Openbills

Flamingoes and Openbills

 

African Spoonbills

African Spoonbills

 

African Spoonbills in flight

 

 

On our way back out of the park we added a Cape Crow to our list (130).

 

Finding accommodation was not as straightforward as we’d expected. Who’d have thought that every guest house and lodge between Ndumo and Pongola would be full? Not us, that’s for sure.

 

To save fruitless driving we were now phoning every B&B that the sat nav had listed. Eventually we found one that had rooms for us, but, even with the help of the sat nav, we couldn’t locate the place, and no-one we asked had heard of it.

As chance would have it right where we were stopped was a sign advertising a B&B. So we gave them a call. Yes, they could accommodate us.

 

Tamboti Ridge proved to be one of the upsides of winging it.

Expecting to eat, sleep and then leave in the morning we rolled up the track to the house, which seemed to be at the heart of a well managed farm.

The accommodation itself was nothing special, an old building converted into simple bedrooms. But the garden was something else. The noise of bird song was everywhere.

Edited by Soukous
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Day 6

 

As usual we woke early and ventured out onto the veranda. The morning chorus was in full voice and even in the gloomy early light we knew were were in for a treat; if we could only just get to see the birds we were hearing.

Most of the noise, of course, was coming from the weavers.

 

 

131

Cuckoo, Diederik’s

132

Oriole, Black-headed

133

Owl, Spotted Eagle

134

Pigeon, African Green

135

Robin-chat, White-browed

136

Sunbird, Olive

137

Thrush, Olive

138

Widowbird, Red-collared

 

And those were just the new species for our list. There seemed to be African Paradise Flycatchers everywhere; three in one tree at one point, and the weavers were making quite a racket as they worked on their nests.

 

African Paradise Flycatcher

African Paradise Flycatcher in flight

 

African Paradise Flycatcher

 

African Paradise Flycatcher

 

 

I got a bit carried away, scurrying around the garden, following bird calls.

 

White-browed Robin Chat

White Browed Robin Chat

 

Black-headed Oriole

black-headed-oriole1

 

black-headed-oriole2

 

It was also a reminder to me of just how good modern cameras have become at dealing with low light situations.

Even though it was not yet 6am, my eyes were completely accustomed to the light and it didn’t even occur to me that it was still practically dark.

 

I was shooting away, relying on my camera to adjust the ISO to handle the situation.

 

Spotted Eagle Owl

Spotted Eagle Owl

 

 

Many, probably most of the birds I was shooting were quite far away and so in order to get a decent image I have to do a lot of cropping. I mean a lot, sometimes as much as 90% or even 95%. Yet, as long as my hands were steady, in almost all cases, with a bit of noise reduction I can arrive at an image that is acceptable. Yes, the noise reduction has taken out a bit of the detail, but unless you scrutinise the picture it looks pretty good.

 

We were only a stone’s throw from the border crossing into Eswatini but we decided to take a quick look at a small section of Pongola Game Reserve that sits alongside the border on the shore of Lake Jozini.

We could see the border post ahead of us and thought we’d somehow missed our turnoff, but The turnoff was literally 100 metres from the border.

 

At one time there were campsites here and location looked really stunning.
Sadly, when we enquired, we were told that the campsites are no longer in use and the only people really accessing this section of the reserve are fishermen who come in for the day.

It is a real shame that the option of staying in the reserve is no longer available.

We added a couple more to our list before crossing into Eswatini.

 

139

Goshawk, Gabar

140

Ruff

 

Ruffs in flight

 

I must say that although a couple of parks were disappointing, this may have been largely due to the severe and prolonged drought that KZN has been suffering for the past couple of years. On another visit, when there has been a bit of rain, I am sure that Nduma would have been and entirely different proposition.

 

Overall though, I was very impressed with the diversity of bird life we found and would certainly come back again for more. Next time though, instead of going to Sodwana I’d go to Kosi Bay, and I’d probably make sure I had all my accommodation booked in advance.

 

The overall total for my visit, including Eswatini was 165. Klein Karoo added a further 22 species.

I'll post some of these in separate reports.

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Sorry @Peter Connan, I omitted to answer your question about the D500.

 

Yes, I am enjoying it immensely. It is far & away the best DSLR I have ever owned.

When I first got it I used it all the time with my 300mm lens and was very happy. Then, a year ago, I bought a   Nikon 200-500mm zoom to use on my snow leopard trek. I have hardly taken it off the camera since then and my beloved 300mm lens rarely gets taken out of my bag.

This zoom lens is terrific. It focuses very fast and has wonderful sharpness. Many of the photos I've posted her were cropped by a huge amount and still look OK. 

A few years ago I wouldn't have even bothered with the shot but now I'll take it, even if the bird is just a speck in the frame. 8 time out of 10 I can get a usable picture.

 

Edited by Soukous
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The photograph of the Woolly Necked Stork with it's wings spread out reminded me of the top of a totem pole. Do like the photographs of the Paradise Flycatcher. 

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Peter Connan

A real pity that Pongola's campsites have closed down. I really liked that camp!

 

Glad you are enjoying the new combo. 

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