Tuesday, 27 December 2011

27th December – Frustration!

Photo of the Day
One of many buffalo seen today
Morning Drive
(Chad, Herold, Petros and Grant)
10 x lions (Machaton Pride with 2 x giraffe calf kills and 15 x hyenas eating one kill)
1 x buffalo bull – Jaydee, Nkombi Pan
5 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Xinatsi Dam
2 x elephant bulls – Vielmetter, Blue Waxbill
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Motswari, Ingwelala Cutline
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Argyle, Buffalo Pan

Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Godfrey and Herold)
2 x rhinos (2 males)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Java, Machaton Wedge
4 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Western Sohebele
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Western Cutlin
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Dizzy Drive
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Vielmetter Access
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Vielmetter, Double Highway

28th December - Morning Drive
(Chad, Grant, Godfrey and Herold)
10 x wild dogs – Jaydee, Argyle Rd
10 x lions (Machaton Pride) – King’s, Van Wyk’s Crossing
1 x leopard (Umfana male) – Vielmetter, Double Highway
1 x leopard (Makepisi male) – Peru, Giraffe Kill Rd
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Scholtz, River Rd
1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Elephant Wallow
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Western Cutline
3 x elephant bulls – Vielmetter, Bushwillow Way

28th December - Afternoon Drive
(Chad, Grant, Shadrack, Godfrey and Herold)
10 x wild dogs – Peru, Argyle Rd
5 x lions (Jacaranda Pride – 1 lioness, 3 sub-adults and 1 White Xakubasa Pride lioness) – Ingwelala Bridge
2 x rhinos (2 males)
1 x breeding herd of buffalo – Peru, Lion Pan
3 x buffalo bulls – Motswari, Argyle Link
4 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Argyle Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Sohebele Dam
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Lion Pan Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Giraffe Kill Lookout
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Peru, Peru Cutline
3 x elephant bulls – Peru, Sohebele Dam
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Piva Plains

Daily Synopsis
To describe today as a bit frustrating for me would be a slight understatement.  Nothing worked out for me today, and it left me feeling rather upset with my day. 
Being my guests’ last drive, I really wanted some leopard, and tried in the north for Kuhanya, but only found impalas and a herd of buffalo north of Motswari Private Camp.
Buffalo herd in the north
Carrying on a bit further south, past Argyle Dam and saw impalas and waterbuck.  Hearing that a leopard had been found in the north-west corner, I made my way that side – we weren’t sure who it was, but she sounded relaxed?  Making my way there, I soon heard the disappointing news that she was off her perch in a tree and was lost moving into an impenetrable thicket.  That was the last they saw of her, so I settled on a fantastic sighting of a herd of buffalo arriving to drink at Buffalo Pan.

Hippo, buffalo herd at Buffalo Pan, and red-billed and yellow-billed oxpeckers

After coffee at Vyeboom Dam, the water level down from yesterday, I heard that in the south, Umfana male leopard was found east of Entrance Dam – a long distance away from where I was, but worth the trip I thought...well, it would have been had he not been lost too!

Water still coming over Peru Dam, malachite kingfisher with a fish and coffee below Vyeboom Dam

(This is the point that my camera's memory card decided to die on me - so apologies for the lack of photos!)Afternoon saw a fresh start with new guests, and I was hoping to see the Machaton lions that Grant and Petros saw in the morning feasting on a giraffe calf kill on Kings, with 15 hyenas eating another one a short distance off!  Wisely though, as the area was very saturated and the ground was getting destroyed by the vehicles, Kings closed the sighting in the interest of not damaging the area. 
This meant my plans had changed, but I still planned on heading south.  The drive started off well with impala, giraffe, kudu, waterbuck and wildebeest around Argyle Dam.
Going south I bypassed two breeding herds of elephants, a herd of giraffes and a herd of zebras.
South of Entrance Dam we had a massive herd of over 60 elephants spread out feeding in the clearings around the area, which was wonderful to watch.
Deciding to make a now long trip around to the west to go see two rhinos, I headed off in that direction, finding another herd of giraffe and zebras, as well as kudus and impalas before arriving to go see the rhinos....but for some unfathomable reason, they had been left unattended, despite being aware that both Marka and I were responding – light was fading fast and there was no time to even try track them, so I went to console myself with a drink with some impalas and waterbuck.
After drinks we stopped to watch an amazing sight of thousands upon thousands of flying ants emerging from a termite mound...a pity that clearly every termite mound in the area was doing the same, and the next 45 minutes were spent flicking flying ants off my face and legs – not the most enjoyable way to spend an evening!!!
The good news is, tomorrow can only get better...and this time, I really hope some animals play along!!!

Well, it did get better to a degree, but still not the sort of day I was hoping for – maybe it was the lack of lions, and hence hearing that the only reason that Godfrey was back at camp late in the evening was because he had found the White lions on Argyle Rd (at Ingwelala Bridge) on his way back to camp didn’t really help me!
My morning started off checking a bit of Argyle, but the game was a bit scarce – we did see impala, waterbucks, steenbuck and giraffe heading towards Vyeboom Dam, and managed not to get stuck crossing the river – always a good sign!
I was heading towards some buffalo when Johannes told me that he had found Makepisi male leopard near Klipgat Crossing, and I wasn't all that far off, so went to join him, but after less than a minute he got up and walked off down to the thickets on the riverbank and we lost him!
I was rather frustrated with that, but nothing I could do, so went to stop for some coffee.  After coffee, I heard that Herold had found Umfana male leopard near our southern boundary, so I headed over there – Herold actually had a pretty good morning: besides the leopard, her had a big herd of buffalo, elephants, a somewhat distant visual of the Machaton lions and a pack of wild dogs on his way home!
I made my way towards the leopard, navigated another river crossing without getting stuck, but didn’t really see much besides impala and some giraffe.  I was hoping for a better leopard sighting than it turned out to be, but was nice to see him, even if he had lost the whole tip of his tail!  I would assume that some hyenas got hold of him and bit off his tail tip, but he was looking good!  He was very mobile in a thickly vegetated area, and didn’t pause for photos.
Going home we bypassed some large elephant bulls, a herd of wildebeest (now with 6 babies), and a breeding herd of elephants before closing at camp.
On bushwalk, we saw impala and a lone buffalo bull that ran off after we disturbed him in a mudwallow, but it was warm out there – so ending the afternoon rather wet and cold was a stark contrast! 
Heading off for drive, the clouds looked ominous in the west, right in the area the wild dogs were!  I started off with some warthogs, impalas and then some elephants at Sohebele Dam, but as the main purpose of the drive was the dogs, I didn’t spend much time as the storm looked to be coming!  I headed straight west, even tempting the still very wet Mvubu Crossing!
I made it and a while later joined Grant in the rain to watch the dogs resting on the Timbavati side of Argyle Rd.  They got active at one point and headed towards Klaserie, but were still milling about, but as the road had drawn vehicles from Ingwelala and a few private vehicles, I couldn’t take all the activity, so when Grant called to tell me he had rhinos two minutes away, I left to join him.

Wild dogs
The two male rhinos were as wet as us and stood in a relatively open area for a while, so we enjoyed a good sighting of them before heading back northwards.  We saw another herd of elephants that we spent time with before going past Mbali Dam where our large hippo pod had moved back into and enjoyed their antics for a while.

Rhino and elephants
The rain had returned, it was getting dark, so we headed back to camp, only seeing impala, wildebeest and 3 buffalos on the way back to camp for a nice warm shower. 
The weatherman promises a lot more rain tonight, so we shall see!  Oh yes, Herold checked and saw that Scholtz Big Dam and Repair Dam are full, so the Sohebele did flow slightly on Boxing Day! One more big rain should get water to our northern dams!

I was still going to try but after finding one river crossing uncrossable, I gave up and decided to look for Mbali instead; I found nothing, and that was the story of my morning basically – well, besides finding more buffalo!

1 comment:

  1. Feeling your frustration Chad! Do hope that your next post will be better for you. Hopefully a sighting of the white lions too.
    Sue and John