Tuesday, 1 November 2011

31st October: Welcome Back!

Pic of the Day.
Morning Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Shadrack.)

Leopard ( Kuhanya) / Motswari – Xinatsi Dam Rd North.
Lion ( 3 x Sohobele Males) / Karans – Top Rd East.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Karans – Majavi Dam.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / JayDee – Ngulube Link East.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Karans – Bottom Rd.

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant, Herold & Shadrack.)

Lion ( 3 x Sohobele Males) / Karans – Top Rd East.
Lion ( Mafikizolo Male) / JayDee – Tshabalala Rd.
Leopard ( Unknown Female) / Peru – Sohobele Plains.
Leopard ( Khlakiso's son) / Peru – Giraffe Kill Rd.
Rhino ( Male)
Rhino ( Tshangula)
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Buchner.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Buchner.
Elephant ( Kambaku's) / Buchner.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Buchner.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Buchner.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Mbali – Antheap Corner Rd.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boy) / De Luca – Mpela Mpela.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Buchner.
Buffalo ( Dagha Boys) / Buchner.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Buchner.
Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / Buchner.

Daily Synopsis.

With things slowly picking up drive by drive the mornings expectations were once again getting higher. Having guests arrive late yesterday and miss afternoon drive this was to be their first so for Jacky and myself anything and everything was new and exciting. Herold decided that he woulddd try follow up on Kuhanya around Motswari and headed off to the North of camp to check hefavouritete haunts. Shadrack in need of Rhino headed directly to the West where they had two sightings of Rhino the day before.

Being the last out we decided to check Xinatsi Dam ( Magic Dam) on our way to see if the Sohobele Lions were still with their Buffalo carcass. While casually driving along chatting to our new guests, the ever composed and relaxed as a cucumber voice of Jacky casually expressed that there was a Leopard. Stopping and looking to where he pointed on the right there sat Kuhanya, naturally, up in a Marula Tree watching the world pass by down below her. I think my guests jaws hit the floor as this was the very first animal we had seen! This never bodes well as the expectations are suddenly raised. None the less it was a great sighting and I can honestly say the best I've had for the month! The sighting only got better when she started to call out every now and then obviously still in pursuit of her male companion. It's great to see how our little girl is all grown up now and looking to start a family of her own. With the magic of the dam working for us once more we left the sighting for the others to enjoy while we continued our journey towards the Sohobele's.

Passing through Kudu Pan clearing we picked up a very nice herd of Zebra that was very relaxed with our presence. We once again delayed our trip to spend a little time with them as they went about grooming on another and generally interacting.

Setting off once more we were now very close to arriving at the sight of the Sohobele's when we again found something to distract us from our goal. This time it was a small herd of Dagha Boys resting at Majavi Dam. This sighting was further enhanced by the presence of a clan of six Hyena that were also milling around the waters edge, with some of them having been actually resting in the water. This was a good sign as if the Lions were not present then they would be off fighting over the nearby carcass instead of weighing up their odds in killing their own Buffalo. At the rate we were going there was a good chance we would not make it to the Lions with this in mind we set off directly in their direction.

Arriving on scene they were all still to be found on the road. They had rolled the carcass over to access the meat on the spine and dragged it to the base of a nearby Apple leaf Tree. Truth be told there was not much left on the carcass but they still guarded it from the eight surrounding Hyena and the ever mounting vultures. This was interesting to sit and watch as their tolerance was both tested by bird and Hyena. With the Hyena eventually realising they would still have to wait a while longer they moved off to rest under some nearby vegetation. The Lions then also relaxed and fell asleep next to their prised carcass. We took this as our cue to head for morning coffee lest we fall victim to sleep as well.

Resuming after coffee with not much time left we still managed to find ourselves a small breeding herd of Buffalo and a fair amount of general game. I hope our guests don't think this is typical of every drive!

With everyone having a fairly productive morning it looks like we may be turning the corner on our quiet period. This however will only be completed though when our Elephant return and as of yet we are still looking. Maybe this afternoon.

So having had a very successful morning and with our guests staying five nights we decided to head up to Buchner in the far North East corner for the afternoon, see if we could find ourselves an Elephant or two. I love heading up there and although many of the times that I visit we see very little it is just a beautiful piece of property with the most amazing landscape. Having said that it has always been good for big game and it is seldom that we have not seen one or two of either Elephant, Buffalo or Rhino. With the sky once again breaking and following the pattern of the last few afternoons we were in for a sunny afternoon. At least this would guarantee us the best sundowner spot in the entire reserve if nothing else!

We got off to a good start finding a couple of different groups of Buffalo Bulls. It was made that much better by the fact that the rest of the reserve sounded dead and it would appear our decision was a good one. Things then started to shift with Herold finding a Rhino, unfortunately it was not relaxed and ran off after only getting a brief visual. This was to be the same when he visited a Impala kill that had been found earlier in the morning by Johannes. On approach the female Leopard took one look at them and disappeared off into the bush. At least Herold's sighting of the Sohobele's was a good one and he had all three of them feeding on the very little bit that was left of the Buffalo carcass.

Shadrack had himself a very busy afternoon and seem to be in all the right places at the right time. He started like we did, with a couple of Dagha Boys which he promptly followed up with Khlakiso's son who seems to like a particular termite mound in the Tsharalumi River as he has been now found resting there in the afternoon on a number of occasions. With a number of stations responding to him it brought eyes into the area and with that came a run of finds! First it was one of the Mafikizolo Males who was very relaxed and lay nicely out in the open for the guys to view even though he was alone and there was no apparent sign of the rest of his pride. This sighting then led to Tshangula, our large male Rhino, being found. Not bad for an afternoon in the Mid West!

Hearing all of this action over the radio serious doubt was starting to creep into our decision but having travelled in the opposite direction there was no turning back now. So we continued on our way trying to pay as little attention to the radio as possible. We picked up on a few more groups of Dagha Boys along the way and it looked like this would be our afternoon. This was until we nearly reached our Northern Boundary with the Kruger where we picked up on a nice group of Elephant Bulls. Half the fun of this sighting was actually the challenge of getting to them and everybody on board was witness to the great capabilities of Land Rover. Finding our way in through the maze of drainage lines we spent some quality time with OUR Elephant. Wanting to get to the koppies before sunset we eventually left our gentle giants to go about their business.

Shortly before arriving at the koppies we found fresh tracks for a breeding herd of Elephant in a riverbed. We did not have to look far as they were feeding in amongst the koppies where we were going to stop for drinks. On our approach they all conveniently moved off to the Western side allowing us to scale the top of the koppie for our intended sundowner. This we now enjoyed looking over the herd with it's many youngsters down below us feeding on the plain. Double bonus was the huge herd of Buffalo feeding to the East of us off on the hills in the Kruger. There could not have been a more perfect spot to stop for a drink and all the worries of about how much the others were seeing and had we made the right decision suddenly disappeared.

Our trip North certainly paid off as we found another three groups of Elephant Bulls and also another smaller herd of Buffalo once setting off from drinks. Being the only Elephant found within the reserve Jacky and I were duly satisfied. So what if we didn't find Rhino, that after all is what tomorrow is for!

How could I forget! The highlight of our trip, well for me that is, was finding a Pennant Winged Nightjar on the way home! This was only the second time in my life to see one and I'm not sure how it can be classified as a local summer resident! None the less, we had a great view of it as it flew around the car hawking insects. What makes this nightjar unmistakable is the broad white stripe across the primaries, and elongated inner primaries which trail well behind the bird. Who says the bush does not hold a surprise for you on every drive.

1 comment:

  1. hello tchad

    beautiful light on te pictures