BIRDS of KRUGER photo safari - October 2015
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 3rd Nov 2015
This years Birds of Kruger Photo Safari offered us fantastic opportunities and great weather too.
A total bird count of 168 with a very impressive 153 photos (of different species)
The aim of this safari is not to tick species off, but instead the challenge is to try and get some decent photos of Kruger's birds, with the additional challenge of trying to improve upon existing shots when better opportunities present themselves.
We began the tour with a drive from Phalaborwa Gate all the way to the northern most National Park Camp, Punda Maria. We stayed for 4 nights here and visited the birding mecca of Pafuri twice. Once again this area proved to be very productive with Broad-billed Rollers, Crested Guineafowl, Crowned Hornbill, Red-headed Weavers and the Purple Crested Turaco.
Our next destination was Shingwedzi Camp where we spent 3 nights. The river drives in this area are spectacular and it proved to be very rewarding on the bird front. Here we picked up White-fronted Bee-eaters, Lilac Breasted Rollers, Saddle Billed Storks and a number of Martial Eagles. On the Cat front we saw a wonderful male Leopard.
We continued our tour south to Letaba Camp, one of the most beautiful camps in the park with magnificent camp grounds and a spectacular view over the Letaba River. Walking around the camp proved very rewarding with Organge Breasted Bushshrikes, Black Collared Barbets, Speckled Mousebirds, Ashy Flycatchers, Puffbacks, African Scops Owl and White-browed Robin-chats.
Our final desitnation on the safari was a 3 night stay at the main camp Skukuza. This camp has wonderful sycamore fig trees which were fruiting at the time of our stay. These trees are magnets for many birds and here we collected some great images of Green Pigeons, Cape White-eye, Violet Backed and Red-winged Starlings, Sunbirds and Yellow Fronted Canaries. Lake Panic Bird hide is still one of the best hides for photography in the park. The Malachite Kingfisher showed up, along with a Squacco Heron, Lesser Masked Weavers and the ever present Egyptian Geese.
All in all it was a fantastically productive trip and really enjoyable to be able to go at a very different pace to the normal bigger mammal type photo safaris (of which we still got to see and photograph anyway) We saw 6 Leopards, a Cheetah, Lions and a pack of Cape Hunting Dogs, as well as Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Giraffe, Kudu, Zebra, Wildebeest and the rarely seen Sharpe's Grysbok.
Thanks very much to Sharron, Mark, Marco snr & jnr and Mathilde for coming on the safari, it was a great pleasure to have had you on the safari.
Thank you also to Stefan, it was a priveledge to guide with you in the Kruger, a true haven for wildlife and a fantastic place to photograph birds !
Here are a few photos taken by Stefan and myself - enjoy !!!
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For thirty-five years I had dreamed of going on a photographic safari in South Africa. This year I finally realized that dream and it is fair to say that my hopes and expectations were surpassed in every way. I had done extensive research on African photographic safaris on the Internet before settling on Wild 4 photo safaris. What an inspired choice that turned out to be! This family company run by Stu Porter and his wife, Justyna, and aided by Stu’s parents, John and Ann, provides the perfect safari experience for photographers of every skill level. Stu is one South Africa’s finest wild-life photographers and a first-class teacher into the bargain. His knowledge of the habitat and habits of the animals and birds to be found in Kruger National Park is simply encyclopaedic. I was accompanied on the trip by my 25 year-old daughter, Amy, and we eagerly adapted to the early morning wake-up call to go off into the wilds in one of Stu’s specially fitted jeeps to photograph animals at sunrise. Every day brought its special moments whether the spectacle of lions mating just a few metres from the jeep, or leopards lying lazily in the grass digesting a meal, or elephants and hippos frolicking in a river. The days sped by and we returned home with thousands of photographs of birds and animals to sort through and cherish for the memories they bring back. A safari with Wild 4 is more than a photographic experience with a master photographer: it is an initiation into the wonders of South Africa – its wild-life and spectacular landscapes - and, above all, an experience of friendship as everyone aboard the jeep bond in common purpose. Everything about Wild 4 is first class: organization is superb, accommodations excellent, choices of locale perfect. Our safari with Stu and Wild4 was truly the experience of a life-time.
Andrew Oliver, CANADA
If you are serious about nature photography, you can't do better than booking with Wild 4. Wild 4's itinerary provides sun-up to sundown quality photo-ops, and you feel you are traveling with good friends who are showing you their favorite spots. This was our fourth African photo safari (three others in East Africa) and we could not believe what a difference it makes, when a professional photographer, who understands light and animal behavior, just happens to be your driver, in a photo vehicle he designed himself. There was super spotting work from Ann from a separate radio equipped vehicle. We were the first on a leopard / impala kill thanks to one of Ann's incredible sightings, resulting in a sensational series of images shot over 45 minutes of the leopard dragging her prey to her den. After an exciting, productive day in the field, we were treated to friendly conversation, sitting around a campfire, and wonderful feasts magically prepared by Ann. Wild 4 is a totally professional and very special company. Thanks Stu, Justyna and Ann for a sensational safari.
Lee & Doris Wiese, USA