Saturday, 12 May 2012

11th May: Misty Mornings.

Pic Of The Day.

Morning Drive.

( Grant & Herold.)

Buffalo ( Breeding Herd) / DeLuca – Drongo Drive.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / DeLuca – Western Cutline.
Elephant ( Breeding Herd) / Peru – Woza Woza Cutline.
Elephant ( Kambaku) / Motswari – Marula Pan.
Rhino ( Tshlangula Male)

Afternoon Drive.

( Grant & Herold.)

Lion ( 2 x Mafikizolo Males?) / Peru – Snare Rd.

Daily Synopsis.

Well hello there, Grant here, back from my days off and glad to be back in the bush, although I did spend a couple great days in Kruger. Following the blog it looked like the guys had themselves a good week and I was keen to get back out there and see for myself. With us spending time with Rockfig Jnr and her cub the previous evening it would appear that I had returned to were I'd left off and Chad had not chased off all our wildlife. Something that has changed though is the temperature with it now being rather chilly once the sun goes down in the evenings and as was with this mornings drive one wakes up to misty mornings, a sure sign winter is just around the corner.

This mornings mist was a little different as it was not confined to the lower regions and lay all around like a blanket. It also was a little damper than usual with it condensing on anything that it came into contact with, leaving small droplets of water suspended from everything. This created a very picturesque landscape that I could unfortunately not capture on film due to the lack of light.

Drifting around our winter wonderland both Herold and myself headed off from camp keen to follow up on a herd of Buffalo that had spent the night around the lodge. While Herold checked to the West, Goodman and myself headed to the East. It was not long before we picked up tracks but noticing that the dew had settled on top of the track it looked like we could be in for the long haul. Starting the tracking process we checked roads further to the East only to find that they had already crossed and the tracks were not looking any fresher. With them slowly changing direction to the North we decided to check a pan further to the North East hopefully speed up the tracking process but before reaching it we came across the herd slowly rousing themselves from their resting positions. Obviously they had come to rest soon after crossing the road and had chosen to spend the night in an open clearing, lucky us. With it being a fairly sizeable herd we sat with them a while and watched as they got themselves active and eventually mobile. Having found them early it allowed us time to venture off and look for other wonders. 

Hearing that stations to the West of us had audio for Lions we headed in their direction retracing the steps of the Buffalo from the evening before. It would appear the Lions are on the trail of the Buffalo and heading in our direction but we did not find any trace of them before reaching our traversing boundary and it looks like they are still on our neighbouring property. With conditions being cool and overcast there is a chance they may continue to move through the day and Herold and myself will again check in the afternoon for any sign of them crossing into our area.

Hearing that Tshangula had been found in our central region we turned South and slowly headed in his direction. We were in no rush as he was heading North towards us and there was a fair amount of general game to keep us occupied. My highlight being the Dark Chanting Goshawk with a fresh snake kill. To me it looked like a Stiletto snake but with the light being as it was it made it near impossible for a positive identification. We also had a very nice sighting of a Hippo out of water that was still making his way back towards Argyle Dam.

Eventually finding our way to the Rhino sighting we sat and waited for him to reappear from a thicket he had just walked into. As time passed and he did not reappear we became suspicious that he may have changed direction so we headed off into the thicket to find nothing. Continuing with his general direction it was not long before we picked up his tracks again, it appeared he walked a big circle around us and then continued North. A little further on he made a slight adjustment to his direction and crossed the Tsharalumi River to the West. Judging the distance we had now travelled he had also increased his pace and seemed on a mission. Catching a glimpse of the ridge on his back on the opposite side of the river from us we made a beeline for him before he could give us the slip once again. Catching up with him he was following a scent and would occasionally stop to scent mark himself before missioning on. Sticking with him a fair amount of time he eventually settled and began to feed thus allowing us to get a great sighting of him.

With a coffee break calling our names we headed back North happy with our mornings endeavours. These were to only get better after coffee when we found ourselves a nice herd of Elephant and a pair of Giraffe. There were also a number of other things out there but with time be short we decided we would leave them to the afternoon.

Having had a great morning both Herold and I had no plans on travelling far in the afternoon and we were both keen to follow up and see if the Lions had in fact followed the Buffalo into our traversing area. So while Herold headed off to the West, we once again headed North of camp and retraced the Buffalo tracks hoping to find Lion tracks on top of them. Although we did not find what we were looking for we did happen upon a whole heap of other cool things and had ourselves a little adventure with a riverbed and some thick sand while trying to find ourselves a crocodile. Surviving our adventure we heard that Lion tracks were found in the West and decided to head in their direction to give a hand. As is usual everything would then make itself seen and were continually delayed by the likes of Waterbuck, Zebra, Giraffe and a Wildebeest called Frankie.

With time not on our side we bypassed many of them so that we could get to the area of the tracks and allow ourselves enough time and light to track. Dropping off Goodman with Difference at the sight of the last know tracks there seemed to be some confusion as the tracks appeared to go back and forth and nobody seemed able to determine the actual last direction of movement. Leaving the trackers to their little puzzle Herold and I decided to spread our search a little further to the South East and began checking the roads in the immediate vicinity. Continually checking with the trackers for any progress so as to try get a direction that we could concentrate our search they seemed perplexed and could still not give us a definite answer. It was only a while later that Difference and Goodman heard the alarm calls of Impala that they then found fresh tracks of the Lions running in a Westerly direction from where we had dropped them off. As luck would have it both Herold and I were not far from the area that they believed the alarm calls were originating from and we made our way quickly into the area to check. At one stage I saw this vehicle pop out the bush on my right, cross the road and disappear into the bush on my left, a little bazaar to say the least but when I asked Herold if it was him he explained that it was and that he had just heard the alarm calls and that he was off to see if he could find the herd of Impala so as to see if they would give away the Lions presence. Sticking close to the area it was not long before Herold contacted me to let me know that he in fact had found two large male Lions. At first he was not to sure who they were as they appeared not to be that relaxed around the vehicle and kept moving off but while we followed them we discovered that they were in fact not phased by the vehicles but rather with one another and would keep chasing after one another and when getting close they would turn and scuffle with each other before returning to taking turns in running away from each other. This made following them rather tricky and eventually they had Herold and I drive around in so many circles that we no longer knew where we were or what direction we were heading in. This made directing others to the sighting even that bit more trickier. During all of this however we did have a great sighting of them and I believe the one male is one of the regular males from the Mafikizolo Pride, although he does appear to have a few more scars since I last saw him. The other I have seen on two occasions, once with the Mafikizolo Pride and another time he was alone but I definitely recognised him and his golden colour and golden mane. With other stations eventually finding their way into the sighting we took our leave after what felt like we had been dragged through the bush backwards trying to hold onto them for others to enjoy. It was great intuition on behalf of Difference and Goodman and pure magic from Herold.

I wonder what he can conjure up tomorrow? 

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