Paula Gilhooley…Birds of Sunset Dam in KNP

One of my favorite places for seeing a variety of birds in Kruger National Park is Sunset Dam which is located on the Sabie-Skukuza roP1010754ad just north-west of Lower Sabie Rest Camp.

There is always a large grouping of Yellow Billed Stork on the South-Western shore where they just seem to be resting.  The Yellow Billed Stork have a long yellow bill and a red band over their eyes, otherwise they are white with the flight and tail feathers being black.  The Yellow Billed Stork are sometimes joined by some Marabou Stork which are very large , grey-brown billed birds with a bare,  dirty-pink head and neck.  They white underparts with black wings and a pouch that hangs down in front below their beak.

Another stork that can often be seen at Sunset Dam, usually in a large dead tree on the Northern shore with lots of nests is the African Spoonbil


l Stork, with a bare red face  and legs and as flat spoon shape at the end of its long yellow b
ill.  Their plumage is brilliant white.  They tend to roost and

breed in colonies.  When foraging they move their bill from side to side.  You will also occasionally see a Saddle-billed Stork as well as African Openbills and Woolly -necked stork at the Dam tho they are not as common a sight as the previous three.  Saddle Billed Stork are very large black and white birds with a long black, red with a yellow saddle on their  bill.  The female have yellow eyes and the males have black eyes. Openbill Storks are black with a black and yellow bill which is open in the middle.  Woolly-necked storks are dark brown with white hIMG_3847eads and necks and a black bill.

Occasionally you can sight a Hadeda Ibis or African Sacred Ibis among the birds along the shore but more commonly you will definitely see Grey Herons who love to take a ride on the backs of the Hippos in the water.   Grey Heron are large birds with yellow bill and legs and a white crown with a black band just above the eye.  Their front is white with black streaks and their wings are a soft blue grey with black.  Goliath Heron, Squacco Heron, Green backed Heron as well as Great Egrets can be seen.   Both the Squacco Heron and the Green Backed Heron are smaller birds the Aquacco being yellow brown in color and the green-backed are white fronted with a greenish black back and head. fullsizeoutput_19b1 The Goliath Heron is a huge bird with a brown head, black beak and dark grey wings. It is the largest of the herons.

Shore birds include the African Darter, Egyptian Geese, Lapwings, African Jacana, Hamerkop, Helmeted Guineafowl, Black Crakes, kingfishers and Plovers.


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