South Africa Travel Diary -
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19 September 2006
There's more than enough browse to go around in Kruger.
Elephants and giraffes eat their share, and ruminants like nyala and greater kudu
pitch in as well. The latter species is quite tame and easy to watch along the
roadsides. The adult male and its impressive horns are used as the logo of SANParks,
the organization that runs South Africa's park system.
20 September 2006
We decided to do all of Kruger, and last night arrived
at Parfuri camp in the far north. There are fewer tourists here because there is not
as much big game to see, especially elephants and grazers like water buffalo and
zebra. But trees near the Reception were in flower and attracted a host of sunbirds
that I wanted to photograph. The most common were White-bellied Sunbird and Collared
Sunbird, but Scarlet-chested Sunbird was the most colorful.
Sunbirds are nectivores, occupying the same niche in Africa
and Asia as do hummingbirds in the Americas and honeyeaters in Australia.
Interesting how sunbirds parallel our hummers. Both groups have brilliant
iridescence, and have evolved into a myriad species, dictated in part by the flowers on
whose nectar they feed. There are over 80 species of sunbirds in Africa alone.
Some of the smaller ones try to hover for a few seconds, but mostly just flit around the
blooms, feeding from a perch. They actually remind me a lot of our warblers.
22 September 2006
Chacma baboons are common in Kruger.
Troops of them especially like to come out and sit in and around the roads at dawn and
dusk, sometimes blocking traffic. Vervet monkey, another common primate here, does
the same. The thing to remember is not to make eye contact with a mother carrying
young. Charlotte made this mistake, upon which the mother bared its teeth and began
to advance on the car. As with the elephants, we rolled up the windows and sped
24 September 2006
Just imagine. A continent with almost 50
species of starlings, who are often the most colorful birds around. The most
widespread one in Kruger is Greater Blue-eared Starling. It makes an honest living
out in the savanna, but hordes also gather at picnic spots to share what's leftover after
a barbeque on the braai. Actually they'll eat just about anything you throw
One final thought on South Africa: for our late winter
photography safari, Kruger was nice but could not match Kgalagadi for photo ops and game,
especially predators. If you ever come to this part of the world, don't miss the
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