Best waterhole to see Kgalagadi's small birds
Although raptors are the trademark of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, there’s little fowl aplenty. From your base at Urikaruus, you’re perfectly placed for twitching at 13th Borehole. By Carin Malan
We arrived safely at Urikaruus, unpacked and while sitting down we spotted two male lions on the hill across from the camp. At dusk first the one, then the other came down to the waterhole to have a long drink. They greeted one another and disappeared into the dark. While we were braaiing a Cape fox, spotted hyena and lots of eland came for a drink at the waterhole. I managed my first sighting of Rufous-cheeked nightjar that was hunting in the light of the waterhole. He started with his usual prrrrrrrrrr, that could go on for as long as three minutes. Later that night a barn owl came to drink and bathe.
That night at 3.00 am we got woken by the roars of the same two lions, by 4.00 am it turned into loud roars a mere 20 m from us. Around 6.00 am I got up to open the door as one was just getting up, the sun rising behind him. The two re-united and disappeared down the riverbed.
Urikaruus male lion
On Wednesday morning we made a slow start after all the excitement of the previous night. We decided on a long breakfast. With the temperature rising we decided that our car’s airconditioner would be a better bet. We travelled north towards Mata Mata, the outside temperature reaching 40 degrees. On the way we found at least eight vulture nests along the Aub River and spotted no less than six juvenile vultures having flying lessons in a very strong and dusty wind. We later got lovely photographs of a bateleur coming to land. It was jumping from one branch to another calling to his mate flying overhead. At 14th Borehole we saw a beautiful pair of Verreaux’s eagle-owls, as well as tawny eagles and an African wildcat. At 17:30 pm we reached Urikaruus with the outside temperature still at 39 degrees.
Thursday, after a leisurely breakfast (you don’t need to go anywhere as the waterhole is in camp) we drove to 13th Borehole. It was cold (four degrees) and the birds only became active at about 11:00 am. We spent two wonderful hours at the hole. I still believe this is the best waterhole in the Park to see small birds, and you don’t need a very long lens. A 70 – 200 mm lens should give you all you need to take magnificent photographs. That afternoon we returned to 13th Borehole and watched an ostrich dust bathing.
Back at camp just after 19:00 pm I heard the call of a cat. Soon after, a leopard appeared…
Extracted from a trip report posted on www.westerncapebirding.co.za
Black-backed jackal on the hunt
A Cape cobra
© Photographs and text by Carin Malan