The final chapter on our unplanned week in Kruger in early September this year…..
Like others, we visit Kruger in the hope of having some interesting sightings of the multitude of animals that live in this superb park and being birders we love the variety of bird life that we encounter.
But there is another, simpler side to spending time in Kruger and the title of this post says it all – sometimes you just want to relax and not be out on the roads looking for the next big sighting
Time in the Camp
There’s a certain luxury to just sitting on the verandah of the rondavel, preferably with your choice of liquid refreshment, taking in the passing show of small wild life.
Early mornings are often the best time, when it’s cool and small animals and birds are most active, but mid to late afternoon can also be very productive and pleasant.
We spent one such afternoon fascinated by what was going on in the patch around our rondavel in Olifants camp, as many of the “regulars” put in an appearance during the afternoon :
- a Natal Spurfowl mommy with 4 teeny bopper youngsters spent time scratching in the dry leaf litter and dust bathing
- Red-winged Starlings turned up hoping for handouts,
- as did some Red-billed Hornbills
- Tree Squirrels joined the Spurfowls in the leaf litter, finding titbits to eat, then cutely holding it with two tiny paws while nibbling
- The resident Striped Skink entertained us with its antics on the verandah wall – another skink passing by got the treatment as it dared to intrude on skink no 1’s territory – backs were reared and skink no 2 skirted widely around and made haste to get away. Thoughts of soccer’s “the Special One” crossed my mind for some reason.
- Banded Mongoose in small groups, foraging in the soil and leaf litter, keeping in contact with each other with their continual high-pitched twitter.
All of this action was played out to the accompaniment of background calls of Pearl-spotted Owlet, Brown-headed Parrot, White-browed Scrub-Robin and others as the afternoon wore on. Just another day in Olifants….
Another good way of whiling away the late afternoon as it gets cooler, is to take a slow walk around the camp. Olifants is ideal for tree spotting, aided by the nameplates on many of the trees, essential for tree dummies like us. Many years ago Gerda and I did a course on trees over a few evenings – very pleasant but not much of it stuck as we did not pursue the hobby thereafter, so we decided to refresh our memories from long ago in the hope that some of it would stick.
Some trees don’t need much in the way of serious observation to know what they are – one such is the famous Sausage Tree of which a good example stands outside the Olifants camp reception. We also saw large Sausage Trees in several spots during our drives and they stand out for several reasons, besides the obvious large pods shaped like enormous sausages which hang from its branches – the bright green foliage and purple flowers are further standout features of this unique tree, in case there is any doubt about the ID.
The bright green foliage is visible from a distance
The pods are potential killers if you happen to be hit by one when they drop – up to half a metre long and weighing up to 7 kg they can deliver a lethal blow or do some serious damage to you or your vehicle
The flowers of the Sausage tree have a pungent fragrance which attracts bats, insects and sunbirds, all of which help to pollinate it. They bloom at night on long rope-like stalks
Several other trees caught our attention while on our Trees 101 walk around the camp –
This medium-sized deciduous tree occurs in bushveld in the northern parts of SA. This example is to be found in the picnic area
As the name suggests the leaves are unusually round
Natal Mahogany trees are one of the more handsome trees in Kruger – large evergreen trees with a dense spreading crown of deep green leaves. They are mostly found in riverine forest but also occur in bushveld
The Wild Fig tree is another prominent tree that is fairly easy to spot as it attracts many fruit-eating birds, bats and even antelope.
An unusual and quite distinctive tree – small to medium-sized succulent tree occurring on rocky hill slopes. The leaves fall very early so the long thin branchlets are left bare creating a spider’s web effect
Interstingly the latex is toxic, used to repel or kill insects, nevertheless it is browsed by Black Rhinoceros
And there ends Trees 101 as well as our unplanned Kruger visit – until next time