Tuesday, 20 December 2011

20th December – Shongile Shows Herself!

Photo of the Day
Shongile - gorgeous girl!
Morning Drive
(Chad, Godfrey, and Marka)
1 x leopard (Shongile Female) – Motswari, Sharalumi Access
1 x leopard (Makepisi Young Male) – Peru, Lion Pan
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Java-Mbali
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Motswari, Bush Braai Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Argyle, Umbabat Cutline
1 x buffalo bull – Scholtz, Mananga Cutline

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Godfrey, Marka and Herold)
1 x leopard (Makepisi male) – Peru, Illegal Crossing
2 x rhino (females)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Mbali, Western Cutline
4 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Rudy’s Rd
2 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Peru Dam
1 x buffalo bull – Peru, Illegal Crossing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Sean’s Clearing
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Mvubu Crossing

Daily Synopsis
This feels like one of Grant’s blogs where he has to make up stuff to fill out the events of the morning drive – and well, as he says, the less said about it, the better!
It was far from productive, but it was still enjoyable, and we headed east to chance our luck – the wild dogs had been that side yesterday, maybe we would get lucky with the Sohebele males, or rhinos, or maybe even the cheetah that the guys sometimes see there would pop up...after two hours I was just hoping an impala would pop up!  One thing we did see was rain!  Admittedly not a lot, and it was actually quite refreshing to be honest.  Heading to the furthest reaches of the east, we saw a sum total of two steenbuck, one buffalo bull in the thickest mopane forest ever, and a herd of impalas! 
Moving to Hide Dam, we tried checking to see if we could find where the hyenas had moved their den site too, but no luck – only adding a kudu and a cup of coffee to the list!
Heading towards some elephants Johannes had found, we couldn’t even find them, so popped in to see Klakisa’s young son, officially named Makepisi male (in honour of a friend and fellow guide from the Timbavati that tragically lost his life last month), as he was hanging around Lion Pan – same place he was seen last night!  But, as was the story of our morning, as we arrived, he crossed the road straight to the Nhlaralumi...in the thickest part possible!  We had a short sighting as he walked into the riverbed and then left the area – possible he has a kill nearby?

Makepisi young male at Lion Pan

Carrying on home, we saw more impalas, another kudu, an uncooperative giraffe, and an uncooperative herd of buffalo moving away from Sohebele Dam.

Paradise whydah and herd of buffalo leaving Sohebele Dam
The lucky of my morning continued, and I had no sooner closed down when Johannes let me know that a leopard was sleeping in a tree near his camp – I had nothing better to do (well, besides eating breakfast), so popped out to see Kuhanya – turned out not to be Kuhanya, but Shongile female instead!  Wasn't two days ago I was talking to Petros and speculating on how often she actually pops onto Motswari, as we hadn’t seen her around for ages!

Shongile putting on a show for me
So while the morning wasn't as planned, we enjoyed some of the smaller things – porcupine quills, spiders, termites and still enjoyed it.
Having such great and chilled guests, we had a “free” afternoon – we didn’t need anything, so just took our time about things and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Having warmed up considerably during the day, I decided to check the big dams, and began at Argyle Dam, although admittedly, its not looking so big at the moment!
Besides the usual impala and waterbucks there, there were two other rather strange animals that I had never seen in the area; two rhinos!  I almost couldn’t believe it, so wasn't surprised when they ran off, but stopped on Piva Plains – so I went a bit closer and viewed them for a while until Johannes arrived – thinking they were skittish, I advised the guys not to approach too closely – quite a surprise then that the two spent the afternoon on the clearing and seemed to show no interest in the vehicles after that!

Waterbuck and rhinos

Also interesting was seeing my first carmine bee-eaters of the season – although I’m still waiting for my first European roller!
Carrying on, we found some very grumpy looking buffalo bulls before going to see the hippos in Peru Dam that put on a great show of snorting and yawning as we watched; two buffalo bulls resting in the water nearby added a new dimension to viewing these hippos on foot! 
Grumpy buffalo bull
Carrying on to look for Makepisi male leopard, we headed along the Nhlaralumi, but spent some nice time watching a variety of birds as we went, as well as some impalas.

African spoonbills, yellow-billed storks and baby impalas
We checked around Lion Pan, Illegal Crossing and Klipgat, but had no luck, so went towards Leoaprd Rock Hide for an enjoyable sundowner – almost as enjoyable for me as listening to a woodlands kingfisher that seemed to have a stutter in his call – funniest thing I heard all day!!!
After drinks, it was no surprise that Herold had moved into the area to look for the leopard, and well, as usual for him, he found him at the mud wallows in the area!  I thus headed back there and actually had a very nice sighting of the relaxed young male – even if it was dark!

Makepisi young male - what a beauty!
Carrying on home we didn’t have luck with anything else besides two Sharpe’s grysbok, but it was still a great afternoon; nice and relaxed with some more good viewing!
Just need to find some lions tomorrow now...

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