Travelling in the Time of Covid – Kruger National Park – Day 6 – Skukuza to Crocodile Bridge and Back

Friday 6 November 2020

At two o’clock this morning the sound of thunder and heavy rain woke us from our slumbers. We lay wide-eyed and afraid that we would be struck by lightning. The chance of that happening, is of course, minimal but when you’re not used to thunder storms and it’s the middle of the night you tend to over-react! Fortunately it was over quickly and we dropped back to sleep and when we awoke to the sound of the birds’ dawn chorus all signs of rain were gone.

At 5 am it was 20 degrees C but it rose to 36 by 10:00 am. We left Skukuza at twenty to six and made our way first to Lower Sabie and then to Crocodile Bridge where we had a picnic breakfast.

On the H4-1 our cousins were only second to the impala to bid us Good Morning

Those, my son, are homo sapiens. Centuries ago they left the wild and have been trying to get back ever since.
I am sorry, my baby – Did the lady with the funny thing on her face frighten you? Don’t worry – she only wants to show your portrait to your relatives back in civilization – whatever that might be!

Next up an unusual sight – well for us anyway. What on earth was this great bird doing at the top of the tree? He should have been at Lake Panic, fishing for breakfast.

Our first Goliath Heron of the trip

When vultures are not surfing the thermals or dining on a lion’s kill they decorate the trees of the Kruger National Park.

A Vulture Tree – These are white-backed vultures and there were quite a few hanging around.

The crafty leopard has a skill that is the envy of all the other predators. He can climb trees. How he manages this with heavy prey in his mouth is amazing.

No leopard – but here’s his lunch stored away for later.

So we didn’t see a leopard today but –

What’s wrong with leopard tortoise? “I may not climb trees but I do carry my house on my back. Beat that!”

Just outside Lower Sabie rest camp is Sunset Dam. Usually it is teaming with activity but with the drought things are not quite so exciting at the moment. However, there is always something to see.

I know I’m being lazy but it is just so hot!
Weavers busy at their nests
You can’t beat the beauty of impala coming down to drink
I rather like the way you sit, said the spoonbill trying to imitate his friend , the yellow-billed stork
Be careful Daisy – that’s not a log, it’s a croc.
Well Donald, with that knob on your bill he is not going to want to eat you! (Female and male Knob-billed Duck)
Harold Hadeda and Peter Three-Banded Plover are good friends in spite of their difference in size.
If Kevin Crocodile gets cranky, just stay out of his way!

After the entertainment at the dam we popped in at Lower Sabie and had a coffee before making or way to Crocodile Bridge where we took out our picnic breakfast of muesli, banana and yogurt as well as a couple of boiled eggs and of course our coffee. We chatted to two other picnickers who told us they were rather fed up with the south. The Satara area, they assured us, was far more productive. But we don’t mind. Just being in Kruger is enough! Some of the routes have been quiet but something interesting always pops up eventually.

“Yes, this is cheaper than a restaurant breakfast and just as satisfying!”

After we were fed and rested we continued and made our way to Mopondo Dam. We were hoping to find lions and wild dog but they were not cooperative at all. We asked some of the creatures we saw where they were but they didn’t have a satisfactory answer.

I don’t care, said Jo Giraffe – So long as they leave me to my spa treatment
Lion? What lion? came the gruff reply from the wild ones
What a stupid question, said Zac and turned his back on us

So we gave up wishing and concentrated on the little things that are always fun.

Crossing a causeway on the way to the dam some aliens came rushing out the water and offered to take us to their leader. In return they wanted some snacks but we told them not to be naughty and to go and find their own food.

Three cheeky terrapin

When we got to Mopondo Dam there was absolutely nothing to be seen.

“All this lovely water and nothing here,” the Earl stated the obvious. He turned off the engine and we scanned with our binoculars.

“Aha – so you thought we’d all packed up and gone off for the weekend. Don’t be so presumptuous,” called out Walter the Water Thick-knee

And then we heard a truly African call and watched as a fish Eagle flew up, then swoop down and come up with a terrapin (I think) in his claws. Sorry – the photo is really poor.

African Fish Eagle

And then after all this excitement something else dropped out of the sky

Not wanting to be excluded from this blog, two white headed vultures dropped down for a photo shoot
And the woolly-necked storks were not about to be outdone and arrived soon after
Wally Woolly-neck looking rather beautiful

Don’t get me wrong, we love to see the Big Five, Lion, Leopard, Rhinoceros, Elephant and Buffalo. But what we enjoy even more are the birds and the other interesting activities of the lesser beings.

Today we were blown away when we watched some bathing beauties.

Lucy, the yellow-throated longclaw was not shy about her ablutions
Marigold the Melba finch had no fear of the car while she splashed about in this puddle on the road.

Oh, sorry – melba finch is the old name. Marigold now has a far more sophisticated title – Green-winged Pytilia. But I prefer Melba Finch – it sounds far more delicious.

When you come across a road block in a game reserve there are no stop/go attendants to let you through.

And when it’s Edgar Elephant causing the delay you don’t argue, you simply wait it out!

The clowns of the game reserve are always amusing.

Borris Baboon knows a good way to slake his thirst
Ivor Impala waits his turn

Our day ended at De Laporte Dam where we found Humphrey Heffalump having a shower.

And when he left Egbert the Egyptian Goose went for a swim.

In the evening we went to Kruger Station for dinner. We were joined by our new friends, Har and Chris. What a stunning meal we had. It was the perfect ending to our day.

Published by puppy1952

I am making the most of the South African Lifestyle and hope with my blog to share some of the adventures my husband and I are having in our retirement. We live at the Southern Tip of Africa in the small coastal town of Struisbaai. Earl and I have a Gecko off-road caravan and we travel around South Africa frequently. We are bird and wild life enthusiasts so are often in game reserves.

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