Tuesday, 27 September 2011

26th September: Airstrips.

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Herold & Grant.)

Lion ( 2 x Jacaranda Females & Cub + Timbavati Female) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Mbali – Western Cutline.
Leopard ( Mbali) / Mbali – Woza Woza Cutline.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / Peru – Lily Pan Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Motswari – Motswari Airstrip.
Rhino ( Rose & Maria + Unknown Male)

Afternoon Drive.

Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Peru – Long Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Java – Java Airstrip.
Rhino ( Rose & Maria + Unknown Male)

Daily Synopsis.

Waking to our first crystal clear day in a over a week and not a breath of wind to add to it, our expectations for morning drive were high. As we got an earlier start than Herold we decided to head to the North and check the area around Vyeboom Dam. Along the way we heard Herold get mobile and it was not long before he contacted to let me know that if we wanted to see Lions we should turn around and head back to Motswari Airstrip. Clearly the pride had chosen to sleep off their indigestion in the riverbed and only got mobile once the sun had come up. We were very keen to see the Lions specially as the young cub was travelling with them and had not be stashed away in the thick vegetation of the Sohobele riverbed. First though, we had to follow up on a drag mark that we came across at about the same time Herold contacted us. Jacky and I went on to foot and after assessing the tracks we decided that it had been dragged to the North. Judging from the size of the drag mark we knew that we were looking at something Impala size, this was later confirmed when we found the light fawn coloured hair for an Impala. We were not the only one's following the tracks as we also found Hyena tracks on top of the drag mark. We followed the drag mark a considerable distance that lead us to believe it was a male Leopard we were following. Unfortunately we had to suspend our tracking as we followed it so far that it crossed our Northern boundary into Ingwelala. A little frustrating as we don't actually know how the story ended, did the hyena catch up and steal the kill or did the Leopard manage to hoist it to safety.

After missing out on the drag mark we decided that spending some quality time with the Lions and their cub would be the best thing to raise the spirits of all aboard. With the sighting not drawing much attention we were able to spend considerable time with them as they slowly made their way to the North East. The course they are heading will take them back to their core territory, unfortunately once again out of ours. As we watched the cub tried to rope all the adults in to playing along in it's games of stalk and pounce with mixed results. Mom showed the most patience and would partake here and there, she also tried to get her sister involved but that was very short lived.

Having had a great sighting we decided to head off in search of other wonders. Hearing that they had Rhino in the West we turned in their general direction undecided whether we would or wouldn't respond. As if to help us make that decision Mbali popped up alongside the road. It must have been fate that we would find a Leopard this morning and who better than my favourite the old lady herself! She was casually walking alongside a drainage line marking her territory, which by the looks of things is extremely big. Her teats are still swollen and the tell tale signs of matted hair lead us to believe she still has cubs stashed away some where. Chad believes we will find these when he heads on leave on Wednesday, lets hope so! As she entered hunt mode we took the opportunity to leave her having had a great sighting.

Still drifting West and having finished coffee with time to spare we decided to head to the area they had the Rhino and try our luck. We were once again not to be disappointed and we found the three of them happily feeding in the area they had been left.

Herold chose to rather visit a nice breeding herd of Elephant with many young and will follow up on the Rhino this afternoon. He also found himself a couple of Buffalo before closing down at camp. So this afternoon looks like we will be swapping objectives with us wanting to find Elephant and Buffalo.

Our afternoon got off to a great start as a couple of Buffalo lazed about in the riverbed in front of the lodge while our guest ate lunch thus reducing our afternoons task to finding a breeding herd of Elephant. With the increase in temperature we fancied our chances along the Tsharalumi River, it was also the direction that that the herds were heading during morning drive. Being in no rush we took it nice and easy checking the area around the lodge where we found ourselves a nice herd of Kudu and a large herd of Giraffe that had themselves spread out feeding along the Sohobele River. Keeping to the river we checked both Argyle and Sohobele Dams where we found ourselves a nice group of Elephant Bulls and the ever reliable Crocodile that rests on the island in Sohobele Dam.

Leaving the water our drive took on more of a birding expedition with us finding a nice pair of Tawny Eagles and shortly after a Walhbergs Eagle. It was nice to see the two one after the other as it highlighted the difference's between the two very nicely.

While we made our way South along the Tsharalumi Herold headed out West in search of his Rhino. He was lucky as another station managed to relocate on the three Rhino from the morning and he could take things as they came as he knew what he was looking for had been found.

We had to wait a little longer and it was only when the staff at Java, our self catering camp, radioed in that they had a big herd of Elephant drinking at the trough at the camp, that we could accelerate our arrival to that area. We arrived at the perfect time, the sun was slowly sinking below the horizon and the Elephant were moving through a relatively open area parallel to the airstrip. With only one other station responding we were able to spend the rest of our drive with them and effectively became a herd member for about an hour or so!

We chose Java airstrip for our evenings sundowner it seemed fitting as the airstrips had yielded so much for us today!

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