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Monday, January 13, 2020

Wilsons Phalarope Sighting in Velddrift South Africa

Wilson's phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) is a small wader. This bird, the largest of the phalaropes, breeds in the prairies of North America in western Canada and the western United States. It is migratory, wintering in inland salt lakes near the Andes in Argentina.

We went to twitch for the very rare vagrant Wilson's Phalarope at Kliphoek Saltpans in Velddrift on 11 January 2020 as the notices came in from our Whatsapp group. With hard luck, we missed the visitor by a few minutes as it had disappeared.  Michael Mason and I kept searching with to no avail.  We left with sad hearts.

I returned on the 12th of January 2020 to give it one more go, and my efforts paid off and I was rewarded with great sightings of this very busy wader enjoying our local saltpans. 

Its common name commemorates the American ornithologist Alexander Wilson. This bird is the largest of the phalaropes and is often very tame and approachable. Unlike the other phalaropes, this species does not have fully lobed toes and so rarely swims, spending no time at sea.

Scientific name: Phalaropus tricolor 
Mass: 57 g (Adult)
Encyclopedia of Life Conservation status: Least Concern (Population increasing) 
Encyclopedia of Life Rank: Species
Higher classification: Phalaropes
Kingdom: Animalia

The Barn owl 
This local resident at Kuifkopvisvanger takes up residence in the large date palm just outside the reception area.  We have confirmation that there are five barn owls that now reside here.

The above GPS map pinoints where the above images were taken.  I hope it helps you to locate this very rare bird from far North America, visiting Southern Africa.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Kruger Holiday 2018 3 of 3 Letaba to Lower Sabie

One thing one must always keep in mind is that the distance from the camps has relevance to the time it takes to get from A to B.    This is always dependent on your sightings, and of course the 50km/h speed limit that you must to adhere to.  So while the two mentioned camps are 160km apart, the time it takes on average to travel it is about 7 hours drive.

What are the pro's that stood out at each camp?


  • Beautiful camp with a great opportunity for daily walks all around and along the river.
  • The restaurant has a lovely vibe and a great view overlooking the river.
  • Magnificent trees all over the camp.
  • Outdoor movie theatre not to be missed.
  • Animal sightings and birdlife is superior, not forget the nighttime animal activity too.
  • Elephant Hall of Fame.
Lower Sabie

  • Lower Sabie chalets are much bigger with an indoor kitchen, which is a big plus for when you need to prepare and manage your meals.
  • This camp is much greener and easier for the little ones to play and run about. 
  • A beautiful boardwalk along with the riverfront
  • The local dam is very close, so you have a great opportunity to enjoy a sunset shoot if photography is high on your agenda.
  • This location is cooler in the peak summer months.

    This is one of the most boring gates of the whole park.  We love entering each camp with enthusiasm and this one seems very dull compared to many of the other main camp gates.

    All the main camps that we had visited have lovely swimming pools.

    The famous weir that crosses over the Lower Sabie River and always has offered wonderful photographic opportunities.

    With the dense bush, there is always a special moment when you find an eagle owl resting in the branches above.

    White-headed Vultures are on the endangered list, and with only about 300 breeding pairs remaining in the Kruger National Park, this was a special sighting indeed.

    Visiting the park during the rainy summer months is great fun because this is when you get to see all the baby animals and the summer migrating birds.

    This sighting was particularly special, as we noticed the Tawny Eagle in the tree (on the right), seemingly keeping a beady eye on the black-backed jackal pups.

    Sunset Dam is only 1km from the Lower Sabie camp, and we found out on the last night exactly how this dam got its name.

    We made it part of our holiday to ensure a bush-walk at each camp.  This one was by far the least entertaining of them all.  Maybe the ranger was as bored as we were, but there is little to offer on this walk compared to the other walks we did up North.

    On route out of the park, we made a point of stopping at our favourite bird hide, Lake Panic.  Sadly this year it was extremely dry and muddy and little to no action took place.  

    Skukuza restaurant offers a great vibe, views and welcome meals.