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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I just returned from the 2017 'Birds of Kruger' safari, and it was a delight. This was by no means my first trip to Kruger, but I don't recall ever sighting so many birds - or other animals - in a single trip. Stefan's ability to spot, track and anticipate the movement of animals is superb - from the smallest LBJ to the Big 5. This allowed him to place the vehicle in the best spot for photography and I can rightly say that this trip produced more 'keepers' than any other safari I have been on. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone interested in birding or bird photography. Stefan and Sandrine were great company and everything about the safari was well organized and ran smoothly: from the initial contact with Justyna, who answered my emails promptly and made all the arrangements (down to my favourite SA snacks - thanks!), to Sandrine's excellent coffee every morning before sunrise, and Stefan's patience and good humour that never wavered. I am already planning my next trip with WILD4 and would highly recommend them for an unforgettable African experience.
I found Wild4 through an article in Popular Photography magazine about how to choose a photo safari. They were one of five recommended in the article. After checking them all out, I saw that Stu and Wild4 offered the kind of experience that I wanted: 1) Small groups of dedicated photographers 2) Variety in wildlife viewing 3) Tuition on photography and wildlife behavior 4) Good communication and organisation. I can say that Wild4 met and exceeded all expectations on all points (and then some). 1) We used one vehicle for three photographers. Stu is a trained photographer himself, so his goal was always to get us into the best position with the best light. Having only three on the tour meant plenty of room for equipment and the ability to shoot from either side of the vehicle when surrounded by a herd of elephants! It also gave us the flexibility to be patient and wait for the shot. 2) The three places we visited each provided a unique experience and wonderful variety in scenery and wildlife viewing. 3) Stu's tuition was excellent. It was there if we needed it but never pushed. Tips, reminders, anecdotes on wildlife behavior. All given with patience and good humor. 4) From the first email, the communication was timely & clear. Justyna was a joy to work with and handled the back-office part of the tour seamlessly. It can't be as easy as she makes it seem. Wild4 didn't provide the wildlife or the spectacular sunsets that we experienced, but they put us in position to enjoy and capture a little piece of it in our cameras and in our memories. Our Safari was amazing and I would not have changed a thing...well, maybe I would have eaten a little less. If you're looking for a Photo Safari, there is nothing to consider. Just go ahead and contact Wild4 Photographic Safaris. You will not be sorry.
Doug Croft, USA