Monday, January 18, 2016

On Safari With Gert From 16 January 2016

16 January 2016

We set out early this morning for our game drive in cool overcast conditions. Bouts of drizzle, occasionally interrupted by a fairly chilly breeze made for slightly unfavorable conditions, although we still managed to get a number of very good sightings.

From the start it was a good day for elephant as we got 5 young bulls not far out of camp. They were quite relaxed and browsing along the road, parallel to our vehicle.

Not long after we found a small breeding herd with a few calves feeding in a thicket.

We also found many more Bulls of varying ages feeding in random locations along our route. Among these was one impressive tusker as well as one bull in full musth, on the road of course, moving towards us, but nice enough to let us pass!

We were also lucky enough to encounter a crash of White Rhino, consisting of a large male, 2 females and a year old calf. They were on the road when we rounded a corner and we watched them grazing and slowly walking off into the bush...

Towards the end of our drive we were also lucky enough to find a herd of Sable Antelope, 2 bulls, a few females and some young. These are some of the rarest animals in the Park and always a privilege to see, especially as they were close to the road and in the open, providing us with very nice views.

The cool weather also meant that many of the large birds of prey were perched, rather than soaring up high and we got to see both Brown and Black-chested Snake Eagle, Wahlberg's Eagle and Bateleur very well. Another memorable sighting was that of a baby Mozambique Spitting Cobra or Mfezi, in the road, it's aggressive attitude more than compensating for its small size as it was very quick to rear up and spread its hood at any movement. We watched and made sure that it crossed the road safely before continuing on our way!

17 January 2016

After breakfast we set out on our Game drive, again in cool, drizzly conditions.

It started off as a very good morning for buffalo sightings, as first up we got 3 old males having an early graze in tall grass surrounding a mud pool. A little further we found a big herd of about 80 buffalo grazing in the distance. We found another 5 big old males lying down in tall grass next to the road, hiding from the chilly breeze. A little further we came across a huge herd of at least 200 buffalo, again all lying down and huddled up against the cold in tall grass. This was a mixed herd consisting mostly of females and young, with some large males around the fringes.

After the beautiful herd of Sable Antelope we saw yesterday, we got a solitary adult male, again in a very good position fairly close to the road close to a magnificent Kudu bull with a very impressive set of horns, browsing and posing very nicely for a few shots.

We also found a very relaxed breeding herd of Elephant early on during our drive and watched them leisurely feeding and crossing the road in front of us.

The main objective of the day however, was to find some more predators. We had been lucky with Spotted Hyena sightings so far, but the cats have been scarce due to the cold windy weather. We decided to take our chances along the river and eventually found 2 lionesses in the riverbed; they had just killed a Zebra and were dragging the carcass into some cover in the reeds to start feeding! Even though it was a fairly distant visual, it was in the open and it is always a bonus to see them active! We watched as they tucked into the Zebra for about 20 minutes before they both went to the water's edge to drink.

Then it was time for our own lunch break at a nearby camp before starting to head back to our accommodation.

As luck would have it, very shortly before heading into camp for the night we noticed that some cars had stopped in front of us.. On approach we saw the reason for this; a beautiful female leopard lying in Marula tree no more than 10 meters of the road. She was looking around purposefully and something had obviously drawn her attention, as she eventually sat up, stretched and then climbed down from the tree and slowly disappeared into the lush undergrowth, topping off another successful Safari!

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