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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If anyone is contemplating a photo trip to Africa, then we would have absolutely no hesitation in recomending Stu Porter and Wild4 Photographic Safaris. It doesn't really matter what your level of skill is you will get as much or as little help and advice as you wish to receive. Nothing is thrust down your throat and Stu doesn't spend all his time taking his own photographs as some do. Stu has taken a huge amount of time and trouble in customising and setting up his safari vehicle and the effort he's put in makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable. Tethered bean bags are provided and secure plate mounts on the side of the vehicle will also take your tripod head ensuring a rock steady platform and Stu most certainly knows where the animals are. Particularly enjoyable was the time we spent at the Big Cat Reserve (part of the 4 night extension) which is an unbelieveable photographic experience. Many thanks WILD4 !
Rob & Sue Brookes, UK
I recently did a trip with Wild4 which far outweighed any expectations that I had! Wow what a trip. There was a great variety of animals, Stu has extensive knowledge of the animals and their habitat and was always mindful of us getting the best shots possible. My friend and I had our own bench seats in all the vehicles, which was great as we both had 2 DSLRs with numerous lenses, each vehicle is equipped with beanbags to steady your camera / lens, pockets and enough room to take a camera bag. We had fantastic opportunities to watch the cats for a good period of time and learn a little bit about their life, rather than taking a photo and moving on. I loved that we could sit and watch the lions at Mala Mala play in the Sand River, it was a fantastic opportunity. Stu provided us with some great tuition, I certainly learnt a lot of new photo techniques which I look forward to using back home. I hired a Canon 500mm lens from Stu which was great, I think I used that about 85% of the time and used a 70-200mm for the rest. We had many opportunities for night photography, silhouettes, time lapse, low light etc At the end of our trip we did the reptile extension at Khamai Reptile Centre. We went behind the scenes at the centre and had one of Africa's leading reptile specialist spend the day talking about the reptiles, spiders, scorpions we were about to take pictures of. Donald and his team certainly made for a very safe photo shoot, they were extremely patient positioning some of the reptiles for better light or different background. I learnt a lot from Donald, living in Australia we do have some venomous snakes, the day certainly gave me a renewed appreciation for the reptiles. I would highly recommend the Wild4 team for your next photographic safari you will not be disappointed.
Linda Cappello, AUSTRALIA