Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 4th Nov 2016
Kruger this year has been feeling the effects of quite a severe drought and the park was looking very dry. There was very little grass cover evident throughout the park and of course there was a shortage of water. The Hippo population has been particuarly badly hit and we saw many Hippo carcasses on our journey from the North of the park to the South. However despite the drough the bird encounters remained very good with a total of 185 species seen and photographed.
Northern Kruger again provided some special sightings and we got to see and photograph the Meve's Starling, Trumpeter Hornbill at a nest site and the unusual looking Crested Guineafowl, only found in Northern Kruger.
A few of our other bird highlights were watching a fight between an African Hoopoe and a Greater Blue - eared Starling, two Crowned Hornbills each eating a large locust, a tiny Pygmy Kingfisher, an African Finfoot, the Grey Backed Cameroptera and a Red Headed Weaver at its nest.
Of course we also bumped into a number of great mammal sightings which included a pack of Endangered African Wilddogs, Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, a few of Kruger's Big Tusker elephants, White Rhino, Giraffe, Zebra, Kudu, Waterbuck and a number of sightings of the rarely seen Sharpe's Grysbok.
Many thanks to Brian and Marian for joining us on this "Birds of Kruger" photo safari, it was great to travel with you and officially set a new "Birds of Kruger" photo record !
Here are some of the images from the safari.
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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
Many thanks to Wild 4 for a truly memorable trip . Stu’s guidance and photography skills provided excellent opportunities to get some great shots. His professionalism and commitment to the trip made the safari ‘special’. Having only 3 photographers per vehicle made an incredible difference. Committed time to ‘get the shot’ was very rewarding. Time to just observe animal behaviour was of great joy for me too. Watching the many elephant families in Kruger their social interactions and sometimes zany behaviour….those memories will stay forever. The accommodations and meals were excellent .Many thanks to Justyna for her wonderful help on the admin side making my booking a dream I have been on trips before but none quite so enjoyable as this one. Would I go again ? definitely yes…… spaces allowing ! Would I recommend to friends ? A big yes to that one….. in fact I already have ! Sincere thanks again to you all
Sue Green, UK