Wednesday, 13 July 2011

11th July – The Calm Before the Storm!

Photo of the Day
Lilac-breasted roller

Morning Drive
(Chad, Godfrey, Grant, and Colbert)
4 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd
2 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Camp
2 x buffalo bulls – Java, Sjambok Pod
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Hlaru Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Karans, KNP Corner

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Godfrey, Grant, and Colbert)
1 x Leopard (Argyle male) – Argyle, Buffalo Pan
2 x rhinos (2 females)
3 x buffalo bulls- Motswari, Southern Access
1 x buffalo bull – Scholtz, Scholtz Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Bush Braai Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Ingwelala Boundary
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Camp
2 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Reception Rd
4 x elephant bulls – Motswari, Airstrip
2 x elephant bulls – Peru, Jack’s Camp
1 x elephant bull – Mbali, Mvubu Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Mbali River Rd
1 x elephant bull – Scholtz, Scholtz River Rd
1 x elephant bull – Scholtz Big Dam Rd East

Daily Synopsis
After yesterday’s good game viewing, today was always going to be a hard day’s work.  I just didn’t expect it to be that hard!  While the game viewing was below par today, the weather certainly wasn't, and I think the fact that we drove around on a perfect winter’s day made up for any lack of animals!
I wanted to drive the scenic parts of the reserve, along the Nhlaralumi Riverbed, so I slowly headed towards Mbali Dam to begin the meandering drive along the green banks.  We did our usual bird watching at a few select spots, and managed to tick off quite a few different species.

Egyptian geese

Along the way, we found a nice breeding herd of elephants that we spent some time with as they fed in the mopane’s that are currently drawing in loads of elephants at the moment.
Breeding herd of elephants
At Mbali Dam, we saw many more birds, some giraffe, baboons, impala, waterbuck, and even a hippo out of the water.

Hippo, waterbuck and impalas
Carrying on to Makulu Dam, there were more impalas, a large crocodile basking in the sun, more hippos and loads of waterbuck everywhere.  We also saw more zebras!  We were all having a good laugh, because I had foolishly cursed myself by telling the guests that we generally see more leopard sightings than zebra sightings, and while that is in fact true for many guests, whenever I mention this to my guests, the zebras come out of the woodwork and the leopards go into hiding! 
Large crocodile at Makulu Dam

Slowly making our way back to camp, there were some more good birds, more waterbuck, many steenbuck and as always, impalas!
The afternoon saw me trying something different, and I headed east, just for a change of scene, and to make sure that I didn’t see another vehicle as I had somehow managed to bump into probably the only six other vehicle out there in the morning!
The drive started off with a few buffalo bulls near the lodge, and not the same ones that I had walked into during my bushwalk!  Godfrey then called to tell me that he had Classic, one of the impressive collared elephants in the area, and so I went to view him before heading east again.
The impressively sized Classic

The east was not on form today, and failed to deliver as I had hoped.  We did have reasonably fresh tracks for one of the Sohebele male lions heading along Scholtz River Rd, but despite trying, the tracks were heading straight for Mananga, and it was getting dark, so we headed to Scholtz Big Dam for a drink.  Prior to that, we had seen two separate lone elephant bulls, and after dark, we bumped into another buffalo bull, but didn’t spend any time with him, as I had a long way to go.
The other guys had stayed in the north, and managed to get a good sighting of Argyle Male leopard near Buffalo Pan...pity I was on the other side of the reserve when they found him!  Still, I made my way into the area, hoping that by some miracle, the guides would be able to keep sight of him as he got mobile after dark. 
Heading to the northern boundary, we did see a glimpse of a civet, a bushbaby, a genet, and then a leopard!  Miracles do happen! 
Andries had kindly waited with the leopard until I arrived, but a minute prior to arriving, he lost him, but fortunately I managed to pick him up as he headed back into a drainage line and continued his mission west!  We leap-frogged ahead and just missed him as he carried on at pace to the west in a very difficult area to follow.  We tried again, and this time we were spot on and as we arrived on the bank, he came ambling down the drainage line, past us and into the night.  He was gone, and while I tried to relocate him for Godfrey, perhaps I shouldn’t have, as Godfrey found him himself a short while later.
It was now late, so we headed back to camp, not seeing much along the way.  As always, I hope that tomorrow can make up for the quiet day I had!  Some consolation was seeing both a genet and a honey badger in the boma after dinner!

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