Saturday, 5 November 2011

04th November: Icing On The Cake!

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack & Herold)

Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Tawny Eagle.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Peru – Pan Rd.
Leopard ( Klakiso's Son) / Peru – Illegal Crossing.
Leopard ( Mbali) / JayDee – Ndlovu Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / JayDee – Ndlovu Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Shadrack, Herold & Chad.)

Leopard ( Klakiso's Two Youngsters) / Peru – Giraffe Kill Rd.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Mbali – Impala Rd.
Lion ( Mafikizolo Pride) / Scholtz – Scholtz River Rd.
Lion ( Machaton Pride: 3 x Female & 7 x Cubs) / Kings – Eagle Owl Plains.

Daily Synopsis.

Having wrapped up the “ Big Five” for our guests the previous evening we could now afford to work on the quality of the sighting. Having seen a Leopard only very briefly and at extreme speed our focus for the morning was to find one of our more relaxed individuals. If time permitted we would also try revisit the Elephant as we had seen them late and the light was not ideal for photo's.

While all three of us checked in and around Motswari we did not come up with any sign of our spotted friends. Spreading the net a little further we all started to drift to various corners of the North. Shadrack was the first to strike it lucky when he located the Wilddog, unfortunately they had moved so far North that he only got a brief view as they crossed the boundary into Ingwelala. Herold was next and he located on a nice group of very relaxed Dagha Boys.

Our morning was filled with a lot of the smaller things and we were racking up a fair count on the feathered front.  

This pattern shifted and the birds were slowly replaced by lizards with us finding a nice variety of these often overlooked reptiles.

With everyone looking for Leopard it once again looked like we would go another drive without seeing this very elusive cat. So when the call came in that a relaxed female Leopard had been found every man and his dog was responding. I felt sorry for the Leopard as she was sure to be the focus of attention for the rest of the morning. Hearing that it was the ever relaxed grand-dame herself, I knew Mbali could handle it. With us being in a good position we were able to get into the sighting quite quickly and when Shadrack found Klakiso's son not that far away that also re-leaved a little pressure from the sighting. We joined the sighting as she made her way along a drainage line clearly in hunting mode. Nothing had caught her eye yet but she was visibly scouting the area. Although it was a difficult area she did afford us some great views as she stood on high vantage points and on a number of occasions walked right up alongside the vehicle. Having had an extremely good sighting we moved off to allow others the same. We latter heard that she found a herd of Impala that she stalked but unfortunately was not successful in catching. None the less I could not have thought of a better Leopard to break our dry spell and I was extremely glad to see her and looking in such good condition.

Herold and Shadrack chose to view the young male and from what they recounted to me it also was a great sighting with him being very relaxed with the vehicle and sitting out in the open on top of a termite mound for them all to view.

Having run out of time we all made our way back to camp happy that for now it appeared our spots were back.

Having received new guests in the afternoon we were back at the beginning and once again looking for all things great and small. Being a rather warm afternoon we chose to spend the first part of our afternoon around water. We first checked the areas around Sohobele and Argyle Dams before heading towards the Tsharalumi River to check on Mbali Dam and head down towards Makulu Dam. We were quite surprised with the temperature being as high as it was that the water spots were as quiet as they were and apart from a nice herd of Impala the bush was not offering up much. Hoping our luck would change along the Tsharalumi we snaked our way South along its course. Approaching the area where they had had Klakiso's son in the morning we could hear Frankolins alarm calling and immediately thought they could see the Leopard. Being in the riverbed wee thought we would not be able to get a view as the vegetation in that particular spot is composed of mostly high reeds. As we pulled into the the area of the source of the commotion we were pleasantly surprised to find not one but both Klakiso's offspring sitting up in a Weeping Boerbean alongside the river. We immediately killed the engine hoping not to scare them off as they are a little skittish at times but they hardly paid us any attention. Watching them they looked like they could be one of our relaxed Leopards. Pushing our luck a little further we approached closer. The young male then made his way down the tree but he did not scurry off but slowly ambled passed the front of the vehicle down into the riverbed. The other remained in the tree posing for photo's. Given time both these Leopards are going to be great and we will be able to approach them without a problem, they have such chilled personalities. Eventually it decided to head down the tree and join the brother on the opposite bank sitting in the shade of the riverine bush. Having had a great sighting of these fast becoming habituated Leopards we headed off.

It was not long till our next sighting and a reason we chose the Tsharalumi River, Elephant. Days like today one is nearly guaranteed a sighting of these gentle giants. With ever ones attention focused on the Machaton Pride that had been found in the South we were able to spend the majority of our afternoon with them as they did not draw any attention. Hearing that the Lion sighting was quietening down and still wanting to stop for drinks before heading in their direction we left our Elephant to go about there business.

Resuming after drinks we heard that the Machatons had got mobile during our break. Hearing they were heading towards the Machaton riverbed we had to move if we wanted to get a view. On this occasion our timing had been a little off as we caught them just having crossed Eagle Owl Plains and down into the Riverbed. Having only spent five minutes with them we could hardly call it a sighting and it will have to be something that we will have to follow up in the morning.

Having had a great drive one could feel only a little disappointed at the Lion sighting but heading for a Bush Braai dinner out under the African skies that would soon be forgotten.

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