This is Part 2 of a two part article, to read part 1 https://www.thebirdinglife.com/post/magical-kruger-remembering-a-week-in-paradise-pt1-2
We decided to drive west from Satara on the dust roads, what was great about this was that there was a lot less traffic. The day started easy enough – not much to get the heart racing – Cisticola’s, Babblers, Rollers and Hornbills – pretty much the standard Kruger fare – almost like the burgers that you expect to see on a Burger King Menu, they are nice but they don’t excite you too much. I managed to get my first lifer of the day which got the heart racing a little faster – a Marabou Stork which was sitting perched high in a tree.
Then at 7:46am after driving – just after seeing one of my favourite little birds the Green-winged Pytilia - and looking for more than 2 hours the stars aligned and the birding forces smiled down us. We were driving across a low level bridge and I stopped the car and said to Tyron in a joking tone; ‘Let’s stop and look for Finfoot’. I looked out the driver’s window and he looked out the passenger window, and all of a sudden Tyron spoke in a voice which suggested either that he had won a years supply of red wine or he had seen an amazing bird! Lucky for me it was the latter, he had just managed to see a White-backed Night Heron under the tree!! The bird was open enough for us to see it and enjoy it but sadly not enough to take good pics – but we were blown away – this wasn’t a bird that we had even planned to see!
The day had many other bird species which were amazing, but I would see another sighting that would become one of the highlights of the trip for me. We were driving along the dust roads doing a slow route back to the camp and as we drove, we saw two cheetahs walking up a side road to the road that we were driving on. We stopped the car and they kept on walking along – almost ignoring the two camera men clicking away on cameras taking photos of them. They walked slowly towards us giving us the opportunity to get many other photos, and then they walked past the car only a few meters away and disappeared into the bush behind the car. What made the sighting even more special was the fact that we were the only car there – it was a moment where man and nature were able to have an intimate moment together.
We got back to the camp in time to make a quick fire – ate some good steaks probably with some big smiles on our faces. We did a night drive later on in a noisy San Parks truck with a group of people from all around the world, including some Asian tourists that didn’t speak English so it was challenging to try and get them to aim the back spotlight in the right place – sometimes their only reply to our requests was a big teethy smile! The night drive was a special night with our first lion sighting, elephants, scrub hares and a nice wild cat sighting. On the bird front many nocturnal specials were seen such as Bronze-winged Courser, European nightjar and another lifer in the form of a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl. I strongly suggest a nightdrive for anyone that does Kruger – the park opens in a whole new way from the daytime drives.
As we started to head to the back in of our trip and our last day in Satara we headed North towards Olifants Camp where we wanted to see the White-throated Robin