(The original trip report became to big for the server to handle due to the volume of photographs and we therefore load our final comments and a few images herewith - Anton)
DAY 14: WINDING DOWN
We are washing clothes and equipment and are beginning to prepare for the long trek home. We went on an early morning spin along loop roads around Letaba and picked up on many larks, STEPPE and WAHLBERG'S EAGLE, found DOUBLE-BANDED SANDGROUSE at last and generally had a very good time. The area around Letaba is highly underrated for birding and we recommend it strongly.
Male Double-banded Sandgrouse
and the female
We did not see as many birds as we had done previously and this could probably be ascribed to a variety of reasons:
we did not start at Crocodile Bridge in the south as we normally do and missed out on a lot of species to be found there;
the rank and lush vegetation essentially took most pipits, game birds and smaller stuff like finches out of play;
we experienced cloudy and rainy conditions, often accompanied with poor light conditions for more than half of our days here and this also did not help;
the flooding of the Olifants river made us dip badly on many water bird and wader species.
The quality of most on our experiences, together with some brilliant birds seen did though make up ably for the relatively poor species count. The northern parts of the Kruger National Park does remain one of the top birding destinations in southern Africa and we will again be back sooner rather than later.
Our final twitch list reads as follows:
TRIP TOTAL: 355 species
KNP TOTAL: 256 species
SPECIES PHOTOGRAPHED: 113
Elaine and myself were able to add a few 'western species' to our trip list as we returned home via Kimberley. (Species recorded included MARSH OWL, SAND MARTIN, BOOTED EAGLE and SPIKE-HEELED LARKS).
To finish off: The AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE is BirdLife South Africa's bird of the year and I found it rather appropriate that on our last morning one of these beauties just about flew straight at me (unfortunately in very poor light) and I include a few of the images that I got.