We are about to go away on holiday – the first time since before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our destination is Kruger National Park, which we have not visited since as far back as the 1980s.

We are looking forward to being in the bushveld and experiencing its sounds and scents and seeing creatures great and small, both close-by and distant, as they go about their business. The bushveld is far removed from the suburbs where we live, but last week as I was hanging out the washing under a clear blue sky, I glanced up and was surprised to see three woolly-necked storks flying overhead riding a mid-morning thermal.

So here were these wild birds close-by right in our neighbourhood yet soaring high overhead. African woolly-necked storks (Ciconia microscelis) are large wading birds that are mostly at home in wetland habitats and on flood plains and they also occur in coastal habitats including mudflats and estuaries. In recent times they have adapted to surviving in agricultural lands and even in some suburban areas too.

For a closer look, below is a photo of an African woolly-necked story taken while it was drinking at a waterhole in Mkhuze Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.

African woolly-necked storks occur over most of sub-Saharan Africa though in South Africa they occur only in the extreme eastern region. For the distribution map see here. African woolly-necked storks used to be classed as the same species as Asian woolly-necked storks (Ciconia episcopus) but they are now regarded as a separate species.

Even though we get to see even relatively large wild birds in our neighbourhood it is not the same as experiencing nature in large conservation areas. In places such as Kruger National Park (https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/), if one travels slowly and is patient one can get to observe many species of animals and birds even in close-up.

Although it will be very hot in November when we visit Kruger Park, one of the pleasures is that most of the migratory species of birds will be back by this time of the year.

We also hope to see a diversity of mammals during our stay in the central and northern sectors of the park. This will be the first time we visit the far north of the park where we will stay at Punda Maria, which is the furthest north of the Kruger rest camps.    

In addition to the large, we also hope to enjoy seeing the small. As an alternative to going on game-viewing drives, spending time in the camps means that one can get to see insects, birds and other small creatures near at hand.

And of course there are also the plants to enjoy, including those flowering in early summer. Kruger National Park is large enough to contain several different vegetation zones.

Many animals are intriguing in close-up as illustrated by the stripes on the rump and tail of a zebra in the above photo. I hope that on our return from our trip I will have some photos of what we observed while in Kruger National Park to share with you.

As I have often said, the smaller creatures can be just as intriguing and interesting as the large creatures, and these red-billed oxpeckers (Buphagus erythrorhynchus) are no exception.

Almost all the camps we will be staying in when we are at Kruger Park have no Internet or cellphone connectivity, so we will be offline most of the time. We are most relieved that my spouse has recovered enough from his illness to be able to travel. We will enjoy having this time out and we are looking forward to having a quiet and leisurely holiday in nature.

So this is my last blog post until after we return.  I intend to post again on the 9th December.  But before we go away I hope to be able to catch-up quite considerably on my blog reading, which I have not been able to keep up with lately. I do apologise for that and I have been missing the contact and enjoying the interesting posts I would normally have been reading.

So I am saying bye for now.

And I will be saying hi again in December.

P.S. We do not have to be in the Kruger Park to have no Internet connectivity! The fibre network in our neighbourhood has been down for over 24 hours and so I could neither publish this post nor read other blogs. But now that the connection has been restored, I am finally able to publish this post. Better late than not at all.

Source: BirdLife International. 2021. African Woollyneck Ciconia microscelis. http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/african-woollyneck-ciconia-microscelis

Posted by Carol