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 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
On arrival we were treated as part of the family by Stu Porter, his wife Justyna, and parents John and Ann. The conditions for finding and photographing everything from small birds to large game was perfect – a 500mm lens on hire from Stu, a specially equipped vehicle, which was referred to as a hide on wheels ( with only 3 photographers) , a dedicated and professional approach to photography and plenty of time. We would set off at sunrise, find a group of lions as they were beginning to yawn and stir from sleep, or a pair of saddle-billed storks building a nest, and quietly move our cameras into position. The initial sighting was accompanied by the rapid firing of shutters, but then we would wait as long as necessary in the hope of getting further shots. Stu was very sensitive to our needs and would only make suggestions about the best camera settings if he thought we needed his advice. His awareness of how animals behave was very useful in planning our shots. Stu’s knowledge of African Wildlife and skill as a wildlife photographer is second to none, and I have learned a lot from his expertise. I am delighted with my photos !! This was the trip of a lifetime, good accommodation, delicious food and great company. It was altogether a wonderful, challenging and thrilling experience and, if you are looking for a photo safari in Africa, I too recommend you contact Stu Porter at Wild4.
David Austwick, UK