Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cape Dwarf Chameleon

Ever since I arrived in South Africa I have kept an eye out for a chameleon. I wanted to see the turret-like eyes, grasping toes, and cryptic colors of a wild individual. After scanning countless bushes for three weeks my quest for a chameleon was finally fulfilled this afternoon. I spotted this beautiful male chameleon basking in a small tree on the grounds of the Afton Grove Retreat where we are staying just outside of Cape Town. The owner had told me his grandson had seen a chameleon in the garden which served as an incentive to check the gardens several times during our stay here. I was glad I persevered.

Sent from my iPad

Cape Dwarf Chameleon

Monday, August 23, 2010

A few birds

Kruger National Park isn't just for big game. I was overwhelmed with all the new birds we found. Of course it was a big help to be birding with Tom Hince as he has birded South Africa on several prior occasions and knows the birds very well. I posted a few bird photos below.

Lilac-breasted Roller is a common and conspicuous bird in the park. Its colours are simply amazing. Even starlings here are gorgeous. We saw four species with iridescent plumage and two species of oxpeckers. The finfoot is much harder to find and we were fortunate to find this lone bird while birding from a bridge.

I hoped to see hornbills on the trip and we were lucky to see all six species in a single day. The Yellow-billed is the most common hornbill in the park. It seems to have a fondness for picking through elephant poop. Mousebirds were another new bird family for me. They are fairly conspicuous as they travel around in small flocks.

Lilac-breasted Roller

African Finfoot

Cape Glossy Starling

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill

Burchell's Coucal

Red-faced Mousebird

Friday, August 20, 2010


The group of three young male Lions was photographed during a night game drive at the north end of Kruger while we were staying at Punda Maria Camp. Kurger has a good population of Lions with an estimated population of 2,000 individuals. The ranger lead night drives are the only way you are permitted to go out at night. In addition to the Big Five we also saw several types of antelope, Springhares, Black-back Jackal, Large-spotted Genet, Greater Bushbaby and other wildlife on these drives.



The hardest of the Big Five to see is the Leopard but we saw our first Leopard on our second day in Kruger. It came down to the edge of the Letaba River at midday, drank, played a bit in the water, and then proceeded to wade across the river. It was a great sight in the spotting scope for almost 20 minutes. That evening we also saw a leopard near it's kill, an Impala that had been carried high into a large tree. On our way out of the park we saw our third leopard siting in the shade of a small bush next to the road. It was causing quite a traffic jam.



White Rhinos

We had good luck and saw 14 White Rhinos and hundreds of Cape Buffalo. This little rhino was quite interested in our vehicle and ran towards us a couple of times. Both the baby and mom lost traction on the pavement when they tried to run. Quite a sight to see a rhino slipping and sliding on asphalt!

Buffalo and other large mammals in Kruger often had attendant oxpeckers that were always busy searching for tasty ticks. The buffalo pictured below didn't mind the two Yellow-billed Oxpeckers poking around in its ear but did object when the birds moved to its nose.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

baby White Rhinoceros, Kruger

Cape Buffalo

Two young elephants

African Elephant

Kruger National Park, South Africa

I'm in the middle of my first birding trip to South Africa and it has been an incredible experience. We started with a visit to Kruger National Park where we stayed in four different camps. Kruger is nearly two million hectares in extent and 350 km from north to south. It is home to over 650 species of birds and mammals so there was no shortage of wildlife. 

I'll start with a few images of the "Big Five" that we encountered in Kruger. This will take more than one post due to my current connection.

Elephants were seen in good numbers (over 100), both during the day and on night drives. One old bull with just a single tusk actually charged our car we we tried to sneak by it!