Thursday, 21 June 2012

20th June – Mbali Still has the Skill to Kill!

Photo of the Day
Nthombi female atop a fallen tree
Morning Drive

(Grant and Chad)

1 x leopard (Nthombi female) – Vielmetter, Grasslands Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Kings, Little Ridge

1 x elephant bull – Kings, Little Ridge

1 x buffalo bull – Motswari, Camp Dam

Afternoon Drive

(Shadrack and Chad)

1 x leopard (Mbali with impala kill) – Java, Java Dam Access

1 x leopard (unidentified relaxed female) – Karans, Moeniejag Crossing

Daily Synopsis
Heading to coffee at 6am, I was quite surprised to see just how eager my guests were to get out, as they had all already finished up with their coffee, and this allowed us to get on the road a bit earlier to enjoy the most magic time of the day – the African Sunrise!
Stopping on the airstrip, we sat and watched in awe as the sky around as became painted with an array of colours that were difficult to comprehend and capture on camera!

Gorgeous Sunsrise

After enjoying that, we moved towards Argyle Dam, finding fresh leopard tracks and a drag mark indicating a recent kill, albeit a small one. We began tracking but soon identified the unfortunate victim as being a guineafowl, but the leopard had moved off already and Petros continued tracking; I also had tried my hand as there were track for the same leopard walking up and down near the dam wall, but as all the baboons were quite content, we knew that he was nowhere in view.

At the dam, we enjoyed the usual bird life and hippos; one individual arrived back at the dam after the nights feeding and we also got to see the mother hippo and her 2 week old baby popping its head out from time to time. Petros had no luck with the leopard, but it wasn't the end of the world, as Cynet had found Nthombi leopardess near Elephant Dam, and we decided to make the trip south to see her. Along the way, we saw a few herds of impalas, steenbuck and some kudus, but it was once again generally quiet out there.

Grazing hippo, hippo and baby, grey heron and impalas on Piva Plains

Eventually the line-up cleared for the leopard and we could make our way into the sighting, and it was well-timed, as we had the best sighting of the morning; we arrived to find the gorgeous gl restin up in a marula tree in lovely late-morning light, and she soon became alert and after a few minutes decided that it was time to move off, and descended the tree and moved south.

Nthombi leopardess resting up a marula tree before coming down

As she was walking around looking for a meal of sorts, she came walking right past us a couple of times and was using a number of dead trees as vantage points to scout the area, also scent-marking them once down!

Nthombi using dead trees to scout the area

It was a great sighting of her, but as she walked past a herd of elephants, we decided to part company with her to enjoy the elephants –first there was a large elephant bull in musthe, which we decided to avoid, but a bit further down the road, we found a large breeding herd and enjoyed some good time with them and the calves; always a treat.

Breeding herd of elephants

Making our way back to the lodge, we didn’t see all that much, but did see more steenbuck, impalas and duiker, as well as a stunning saddle-billed stork. At breakfast at the lodge, a lone buffalo bull arrived at the waterhole to quench his thirst on what turned out to be a warm day.

Saddle-billed stork, female

Shadrack joined the fray in the afternoon, and as usual, he didn’t disappoint...well, not his guests anyway! After a quiet start to the drive, he did find some impalas alarm calling, and on following up, found the granny, Mbali leopardess, with a fresh, fresh impala kill! They watched as she caught her breathe and began feeding on the kill. If that wasn't enough for his guests first drive, he found another leopard on the way home; we suspect it might have been Java Dam female, but she was looking a bit sick to Shaddy; walking very gingerly as if she had been bitten by a snake or something?

Whilst Shaddy was seeing all this, I was having a much quieter drive; in fact, a very quiet drive. Despite this though, we still enjoyed some nice sightings and added several new species to our list. We enjoyed sightings of steenbuck, impala, a herd of waterbuck, a lone male giraffe, warthogs, kudus and a well camouflaged baby crocodile as we made our way to Mahlolwa Clearing for a wonderful sunset.

Giraffe, kudus and a crocodile

Having drinks to end off the day the same way that we started it was magic, and despite the animals not all playing along, we had a wonderful day. While enjoying drinks, a hyena came wandering up to us, and once we had finished off and got back in the car, she came and sniffed around right where we had been!

Sunset and the crew watching a hyena before it came to sniff around for a G&T no doubt

We ended the evening off with several hippos feeding on the grass on the opposite side of Argyle Dam, but was nice to see them out the water again.

The forecast is for cooler weather tomorrow, but as our weatherman is known for his rubbish predictions, I am sure it will likely be a scorcher...or snowing!

1 comment:

  1. This blog is totally awe-inspiring! With some really beautiful scenic shots and some classic shots -- especially of the hippo by the river, the gone impalas, the determined leopard look, the warm and calm sunsets and the hyena in the dark -- makes it outstanding! I know I didnt mention the the other wild beauties.... Fantastic work!