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Southern Kruger raptors (1 Viewer)

mr_birdman

No longer a Canon Snob.
Hi SA members

My partner and I are going on a photography trip to South Africa in June/July next year. Besides big cats, I would like to photograph mostly raptors (ok other birds will also have to do).

We will be at Marloth Park for five days with our own 4WD and access to the southern parts of the KNP. Would any of you be able to suggest good places to look for raptors?

Thanks for any tips :)
 

Helen O

Anything that flies
Hello Mr Birdman, I have just returned from my second trip of the year to Kruger. Marloth Park is great (I have a friend who lives there), however, you can't beat actually staying inside the Kruger itself, this will avoid the having to enter the park on a daily basis, and also you get great birdlife around the camps in the park. July will be really busy in the south, as it's the school holidays there. Would it not be possible for you to go in June?

Have you booked the 4x4, because there really is no need at all for one in the park. I hire a normal car (Toyota Carolla this time, and a small Polo lin April), as the roads are good in the park, and the dirt roads are also mainained. My only requirement is an automatic, as you will be driving around 20km/30km p/hour. Anyway, I digress.....

I saw raptors most everywhere, in fact a few weeks ago, I saw my first Wahlbergs Eagle, twice, one was a pale morph. loads of vultures to. One great place to see the Fish eagle is at Lake Panic, which is just a short drive from Skukuza. Although if you go in July, it will be busy, one of the best routes is from Crocodile Bridge up to Lower Sabie, and then onto Skukuza, following the Sabie River, loads of raptors regularly perch on the trees on the river side.

I will be uploading some photos of my latest trip. It really is quite an awesome place to visit. Let me know where in Marloth you are staying. I would also suggest you change the gate entrace at least once, and enter the park via Malelane.

Here's one for starters, an immature Bataleur
 

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mr_birdman

No longer a Canon Snob.
Thank you Helen for your tips, I really appreciate them.

I wanted to hire a bigger car mainly for a couple of reasons. One is to do with elephants and perhaps my thoughts are based on what I think may happen, rather than what could (or does) happen. I guess if one decides to charge the car or play with it, then a larger vehicle will be potentially somewhat safer. Also, at home in Australia, I drive a Nissan Patrol. Personally, I never liked small cars, as you just cannot even stretch in them - not that I am particularly tall at 5'8". A 4WD has a better view of roads and over tall grass. But maybe I'll do it differently the second time around in SA. From a photographer's perspective a smaller car with lower POV would give a better perspective of an animal closer to the car, as opposed to a view of more looking down at it, but would give a more restricted overall view. It's a tough one to decide.
We got a really good deal on accommodation at Marloth Park (Tusk Bush Lodge) from an Aussie man an his son so we will just have to go in and out daily. So be it. Also, our kids are on school holidays about the same time here in Australia so we had to pick this time. The next time they will be in their late teens so we can leave them at home LOL.
 

Sal

Well-known member
The big advantage of the 4x4 is that you are higher off the ground and are thus able to see more,especially if the grass is high or the vegetation is thick. it is useful if you each have control of your own window too as one of you may have to close yours in a hurry! You are right, it does give you a little more of an edge should you encounter an annoyed ellie, but if you abide by the rules concerning ellie sightings and always keep a respectful distance you should not have a problem. Elephants can sense your state of mind so keeping calm and thinking friendly thoughts helps too .. . .:t:

Have a great time.
 

Helen O

Anything that flies
Yes, Sal makes a really good point, however as you will be there in July, viewing will be fine, as the grass is generally lower. The thing I liked about driving a lower car, was that I was at eye level with a lot of the animals, which was great for pics - especially the lions and hyenas. The first photo below of the lion, (in rubbish low light conditions at 0500) and you can see how it was at eye level with me as it approached my car.

Regardless of which transport you choose I am sure you will really enjoy it. As it's the holidays there, perhaps you may want to consider taking more of the dirt roads, which generally are not as busy as the tar roads.

Ref the elephants, yes give them plenty of space, especially when there is a young one around. That said, they usually give good signals, and you will soon know if it's not too happy. Just make sure you have room to reverse. Another tip, the hyenas have a liking for chewing car bumpers etc! So watch out if they come too close, and suddenly they are out of view, they are more than likely chewing your car bumper!

Regarding closing the windows, I was with a pack of hyenas for a good while last month, on a small dirt road, they were running around and generally being, well, youngsters. They were a respectful distance from my car and I was merrily taking pics, when suddenly, I looked down, and there was this young hyena sat right next to my car, looking at me, within inches of my window. (which relates to what I said above about the lower aspect of my car). That window came up pretty damn fast!

Another good road to travel is the southern dirt road, between Croc Bridge and Malelane (the S25), good for predators, and you should see raptors too, as it runs along the Croc River.

One last suggestion (!). Spend some time at Biyamiti Weir, it's a great place for photography, as you are eye level with the water too. (I understand a leopard is a frequent visitor, but not when I was there).

As I mentioned above, if you change the gates you enter/exit, this will give you a great chance of covering more of the southern park. Marloth Park is really well located, especially for Croc Bridge, as well as Malelane, and it's a really easy drive to get to both.
 

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mr_birdman

No longer a Canon Snob.
Thanks for the suggestions Sal and Helen.
I am fine with wild animals as a rule. I don't take stupid risks and have a relatively good understanding of elephant etiquette :)
 

Johnnie Lee

Well-known member
Hi

I have just spent the past 2 weeks around south Kruger (Satara southwards). Raptors were widespread but some rough advice as follows:

Crocodile Bridge area was exceptional for Black-winged Kite and held decent numbers of other raptors (Lanner Falcon, Amur Falcon, Martial Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Buzzard etc)
White-backed Vulture seen at both Satara and Lower Sabie
For vultures follow information on where there is a kill as inevitably they will congregate nearby (use the Latest Sightings app) - probably your best chance for Bateleur, Tawny Eagle & Vultures on the ground
If it rains then get in the park as soon as it starts to dry up - I saw more raptors (perched drying out) than at any other time. I saw Steppe, several Wahlberg's Eagles this way. I am sure other areas nearer to Marloth Park will be just as good under these conditions

Hope this helps and good luck

John
 

mr_birdman

No longer a Canon Snob.
Hi

I have just spent the past 2 weeks around south Kruger (Satara southwards). Raptors were widespread but some rough advice as follows:

Crocodile Bridge area was exceptional for Black-winged Kite and held decent numbers of other raptors (Lanner Falcon, Amur Falcon, Martial Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Buzzard etc)
White-backed Vulture seen at both Satara and Lower Sabie
For vultures follow information on where there is a kill as inevitably they will congregate nearby (use the Latest Sightings app) - probably your best chance for Bateleur, Tawny Eagle & Vultures on the ground
If it rains then get in the park as soon as it starts to dry up - I saw more raptors (perched drying out) than at any other time. I saw Steppe, several Wahlberg's Eagles this way. I am sure other areas nearer to Marloth Park will be just as good under these conditions

Hope this helps and good luck

John

Thanks a ton John! Really appreciate your advice as well mate :t:
 
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