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Ngwenya Lodge and Kruger Park
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Ngwenya Lodge and Kruger Park
Saturday, 20 January 2007 16:55
Written by Neil Gray

19 January 2007. My wife and I have just returned from our annual week away at Ngwenya Lodge, near Komatipoort in Mpumalanga province. Ngwenya is only 12km and a 15-minute drive from the Crocodile Bridge entrance gate to the Kruger National Park, so we spent only one day at Ngwenya and made five day trips into the Kruger Park.

We had varied weather, with the mercury hitting 37˚C on one day, coupled with high humidity, while another day was overcast with intermittent drizzle. Neither day was conducive to good birding, but this was more than made up for by sightings of the 4-legged kind. On our last day in the Park we picked up all of the Big Five before 8am leaving us wondering just what else might be in store. Three cheetah provided the answer to that one. As two of them cleverly separated an impala ram from the the rest of the herd, the third lay in wait and as the impala was sheperded into the perfect ambush, pounced only 50m from our vehicle. Luck was on the side of the impala, however, and it escaped with claw marks on its hindquarters.

Overall, the birding for the week away was not too bad, with a trip total of 191 species.

Highlights in the Kruger Park included:

  • a Pallid Harrier quartering the open grassland north of Lower Sabie
  • a single Black Stork below the Vurhami bridge north of Crocodile Bridge
  • a Lappet-faced Vulture at the remains of a lion(?) kill east of Phabeni Gate
  • a White-headed Vulture on a nest near the Nhlanganzwane Dam north of Crocodile Bridge
  • 3 pairs of Saddle-billed Stork at three widely separated locations on the same day
  • a pair of African Black Duck foraging in the fast-flowing waters of the spillway of the Lower Sabie Weir
  • 3 separate sightings of Senegal Lapwing
  • Temminck's Courser with a juvenile in the group in the short grass adjacent to the access road into the Nthandanyathi Hide, south of Lower Sabie
  • a single Woolly-necked Stork at the Gardenia Hide near Malelane Gate
  • a male Cardinal Woodpecker excavating a new nest-hole in one of the river-front Sycamore Figs at Skukuza rest-camp
  • no less than 41 Grey Herons at the Mlondozi Dam north of Lower Sabie

Of the summer visitors, Spotted Flycatcher numbers seemed well down on previous years, while Woodland Kingfishers and Amur Falcons appeared much more abundant than usual.

At Ngwenya, juveniles of several species were very conspicuous. A rusty-spotted Southern Black Flycatcher sat in a tree right in front of our chalet and called persistently for mother's attention. Juvenile African Paradise-Flycatchers seemed to be everywhere one looked, but the highlight was the juvenile White-browed Robin-Chats. The dawn and dusk chorus from the adult birds is one of the more enduring memories of Ngwenya, but this year is the first time that I have seen juveniles. At least three rusty-spotted individuals were present in the area behind the main game-viewing hide. On a walk to the hide at the southern end of the property I came across an adult feeding its youngster - a black-barred Red-Chested Cuckoo almost three times its size!!!


One of the great joys of our week at Ngwenya is to sit on the stoep of our river-front chalet and listen to the early morning calls. The Dark-Capped Bulbuls are the first to start up, followed in no particular order by Water Thick-Knee, Burchell's Coucal and White-browed Robin-Chat. As the sun comes up and the birds become more active, listen out for Red-faced Cisticola, Woodland Kingfisher, Black-backed Puffback, Sombre Greenbul, African Fish-Eagle, Red-eyed Dove, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Kurrichane Thrush, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Crested and Black-collared Barbets, Grey-headed and Orange-breasted Bush Shrikes, Fork-tailed Drongo, Green-backed Camaroptera, Natal Spurfowl and the almost inevitable Hadeda Ibis.

Neil Gray

Last Updated ( Thursday, 27 September 2012 11:00 )