Monday, 22 August 2011

19th August – This Could Require Patience!

Photo of the Day
Hyena in the late afternoon light

Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant and Herold)
0.04% of a leopard (Argyle Jnr female with impala kill) – Peru, Old Gate Link
4 x elephant – Peru, Pagati Rd
3 x elephant – Motswari, Camp
2 x elephant – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam Rd West
1 x elephant – Motswari, Reception
1 x elephant – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam
2 x buffalo – Peru, Xinkovanin Rd North

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Marka and Herold)
2 x leopards (Klakisa female and unidentified male) – Peru, Concrete Crossing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Elephant Dam Rd
3 x elephant – Motswari, Sharalumi Crossing
3 x elephant – De Luca, Mpela-pela

Daily Synopsis
Greeting’s Virtual Safari Followers J  I trust that you are all well and have enjoyed Grant’s entertaining blogs over the last week!  The bad news is that you are now stuck with me again, and that means that there are probably not going to be many exciting sightings...okay, maybe there will!
The week ended off on a great note, well, at least from a weather point of view, and we were treated to a splendid day – clear blue skies, windless and pleasantly warm weather all day.  My day started out with it being the last drive for my guests from the last two nights, and as they had seen a most of what they wanted, we were relatively “pressure-free”.  I did however have a mission: find the wild dogs that Master had seen at Java yesterday evening!
Both Petros and I went to check the area, but we were not even able to locate a single track to help us in our mission – a bit frustrating, but what can you do!
On the way down, we did find a few new species for the guests – an implausibility of wildesbeest, a business of mongooses, and a skulk of black-backed jackals...and yes, those are the correct terms!

an implausability of wildebeest, a skulk of black-backed jackals, and a business of dwarf mongooses
Carrying on to the west, hoping for a leopard or two, we did find some spots, but only in the form of giraffe.  We also saw many grey duikers, steenbok, kudus, vervet monkeys, warthog, tree squirrel, impala and another animal I had been hoping for, a dazzle of zebras.

Hamerkop and kudu
After a cup of coffee, we carried along the western boundary, hoping to bump into some rhinos or lions whose tracks had crossed from Voel Dam into Klaserie.  Sadly though, we didn’t actually see much besides impalas, and one quarter of an impala sleeping in a tree.  Argyle Jnr leopardess was still at the kill, and we saw approximately ten spots of her as she crept through some long grass!  It is extremely concerning for me to see how this leopards behaviour has changed since I saw her 5 weeks ago – then I was parked not 10m from her as she fed on her kill without a care in the world for my presence.  Now, she is moving away at an approach from over 30m away!  I hope that this phase is temporary and not irreversible, but I guess time will tell.  Seeing as she didn’t want to be seen, we left her and didn’t put any pressure on her.

Seeing as i didn't get photos of the leopard, here is a photo of a windmill and the moon...very relaxed
Shortly before closing down at the lodge, we found some waterbuck, a journey of giraffes, a parade of elephant bulls, impala, a troop of baboons at the camp, as well as another large elephant bull at reception.  During breakfast, three elephant bulls wandered past opposite the camp – so while we lacked cats, the drive was still quite a diverse one.
Journey of giraffes
I received new guests in the afternoon, and as they had been on many safaris before (and with my first-time safari goers arriving late), they said they just wanted to enjoy the smaller things and didn’t want to race around for sightings.  That suited me just great and we enjoyed a very chilled afternoon that ended up having some lovely sightings.
We took it easy in the north and got to see those three large elephant bulls that had been near the lodge earlier and got to spend some time with them.
After that, we headed to Argyle Dam and enjoyed some birding, as well as a herd of giraffes and impalas nearby.

Egyptian goose
Bumbling about in the north, we headed to the beautiful Vyeboom Dam and continued with some more birds, kudu, a distant raft of hippos and some crocodiles.  From there we carried on to the west and saw a nice spotted hyena walking about, clearly on the prowl.  Some elephant trumpeted to our north, and I wondered about the presence of a predator, but chose to rather check the area after dark and went to see if our Argyle Jnr would play along, but alas, she was not to be found, so I conceded defeat and went for a drink at Voel Dam with some lovely Saddle-billed storks, woolly necked stocks and a flock of African Spoonbills.

Hyena and a red-crested korhaan
I had no sooner gotten mobile when Marka called in that he had Argyle male leopard and Shongile female leopard mating not far from me, on the road I was on!  I suddenly told the guests that for the next few minutes, I might be racing a bit more than I had promised; they didn’t mind.
Within a few minutes, I joined Marka and pulled up to relocate the leopards; the first I found was the male – it wasn't Argyle male, but he seemed quite relaxed and scent marked a bush without caring too much about our presence.  Then the female leopard appeared and seemed preoccupied with following a scent-trail and she walked straight past us – this leopard was definitely not Shongile, and while my first opinion was possibly Mbali, she was too young and I left the sighting baffled as to which leopards these were!
Either way, we enjoyed some time with them, but didn’t get to see them mating, and I wonder if they were indeed a mating pair?  They sadly chose to walk along the thick riverbed towards Concrete Crossing, then crossed at the low level bridge and moved off to the north.  We sadly had to leave to give Herold a chance before they disappeared, but my guests were happy, and I enjoyed seeing these leopards.

Un-named male leopard following Klakisa female
We ended off the night drive ticking off another hyena, three elephant bulls at the camp as well as two porcupines!  So all in all, not a bad afternoon for us.  After checking some photos with what I saw of the leopards, I managed to identify the female leopard as Klakisa (who still ahs two dependent cubs), but the male’s ID eluded us: the first impression for all of us was Gijima male, but the only photo I got does not seem to support this ID – it is possibly the unknown male that we saw Mbali female with last month – who he is and where he is territorial is a mystery, but he might explain the presence of male leopard tracks over Mbali and Peru properties in the north?
Its wonderful to have all these new faces in our area, and know that while they probably are resident within our reserve, we still know nothing about them – not many places that have this mix of wild and “relaxed” leopards...we are very lucky indeed!

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