Tuesday, 31 July 2012

30 July - Late Out!

Photo of the Day

Morning Drive
(Grant, Petros, Shadrack & Andrea)

Rhino x 2
Buffalo (2 Daghaboys) / Woza Woza Cutline Junction Lion Pan lInk 2
Buffalo (Breeding Herd) / Argyle Road, North of Woza Woza
Elephant (1 Old Female) / Peru - Legavaan Road
Lion (2 Males) / Scholtz - Scholtz Access Road
Leopard (Makepisi male) / Peru - Shlaru Road Junction Pan Road

Afternoon Drive
(Grant, Petros, Shadrack & Andrea)

Lion (2 males) / Scholtz - Scholtz Access Road
Elephant (5 Kambaku) / Motswari - Reception Road
Elephant (Breeding Herd) / Scholtz - Samantra Entrance
Buffalo (Breeding Herd) / Vielmeter - Vielmeter Trough

I started out much later this morning as my guests were staying at Machaton Cottage and we were just out for a bumble before breakfast. It was a grey morning with the occasional drop of rain so game was sparse. After having had a good cat afternoon yesterday - I was out looking for the big and grey! Moshe from Simbavati had found two rhinos more to the west of the reserve so I headed there first. They were two beautiful sub-adults, a little apprehensive of us, but relaxed enough for a good viewing. They edged a little closer to investigate us, and then thought better and moved off. 

We carried on our way slowly back up to camp, still along the west and found a very old female elephant all on her own. It was a difficult view as she remained hidden behind trees! Moving further we found two old Daghaboys - one without a tail! They slowly fed south away from us and although we watched them for a short while.

The morning seemed to bring out the larger creatures of the bush as we had seen rhino, buffalo, elephant and finally a lovely group of giraffe! With news guests this afternoon, who knows what the bush will bring???

Late seemed to be the word of the day as the afternoon drive started later than usual as well, so please forgive the lack of photos today. Things were made easier by having a group of male elephant on our reception road! We watched them ripping up trees in their usual manner and dust bathing. 

Knowing that the lion were still flat cat, bellies full, we headed down south for a quick view. They were so full, they did not even bat an eyelid when we approached and refused to pose for pictures. The light was already fading fast and as we shot off for sundowners, we came across a small herd of elephant with a baby struggling to use his trunk. After a couple of feeble attempts to strip a mopane branch of its leaves, the youngster gave up and began biting the foliage off with the mouth - it was too precious.

 It was a rather jam-packed but a short drive and en route home we bumped into the breeding herd of buffalo as well - unfortunately by then it was dark so we will have to try again in the morning! 

Sunday, 29 July 2012

29 July - Copious Cats & Airborne Impala

Photo of the day
 Morning Drive
(Grant & Andrea)

Lion (x 2 males) / Scholtz - Scholtz River Road
Leopard (Mbali and Machaton Male) / Mbali - Buffalo Kill
Elephant (Breeding Herd) / Vielmeter - Elephant Dam
Elephant (1 Kambaku) / Scholtz - Scholtz River Road

Afternoon Drive
(Grant, Petros, Shadrack & Andrea)

Elephant (3 Kambaku) / Motswari - Hanger Road
Leopard (Shindzuti male) / Peru - Piva Plains
Leopard (Makepisi Male) / Peru - Woza Woza Cutline Junction with Pan Road
Lion (2 Males) / Scholtz - Scholtz River Road

While Chad is down in CT for the book, it's Andrea back on blog! With last night's drive ending with lion calls but no lion, it was a huge relief all round that two were found on Scholtz this morning. These cats have certainly been giving us the run around recently, and even today had chosen a rather difficult spot for us to view! However, it was great to see the two of them, full-bellied and healthy. Where the female that they had been mating with a few days ago is, we don't know. 

We sat with them for a good part of the morning, however, lions being lions, they gave us only the occasional glance and groom before lying flat cat again. Heading out of the area for a drinks stop we came across a bull elephant moving at quite a speed - he clearly did not want to be seen and quickly crossed the riverbed away from us. As we made our way down to Java Dam for drinks, a herd of impala took fright and gave us quite a performance of jumping, stotting and flying.

I wanted to head back via Giraffe Kill/Mbali RIver Road in hopes of finding leopard and just as well I did, as I neared Lion Pan,one of the Simbavati guys called in Mbali female and Machaton Male. They were mating again! I rushed on, however the sighting was a very difficult one as they kept ducking down into very thick Termanalia bush - to be fair we were interrupting their moment.

The only glimpse of Machaton Male

Mbali looking for Machaton male

 With guests only for one drive, the pressure was on. Drive started well with 3 Kambaku very close to camp. They were very relaxed, slowly feeding north parallel to the airstrip. After some time at Argyle Dam with hippos, crocs and an African Jacana we heading towards Piva Plain wanting to help Grant who had found drag marks close by.

As we moved onto the plains, we found Shindzuti male leopard stalking impala. He was quite relaxed to start with and then decided he had had enough and slunk off into impenetrable mopane thicket. While in the sighting with Shindzuti, Grant found Makepisi male which meant enough leopards all round.

Shindzuti male

Shindzuti eyeing some impala

Shaddy had picked up on the two lions from the morning who were very close to one of the private land owners house which made for a quick but awesome sighting as the two males were back to the buffalo kill they had made. The road back was quiet except for a civet who quickly dashed across the road. Definitely a day for cats!

28th July – Lion Frustrations!

Photo of the Day

Rhino calf getting bigger each week!

Morning Drive

(Chad, Grant, Andrea and Marka)

2 x rhinos (female and female calf)

2 x rhinos (male and female)

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Argyle, Mangova Rd

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Kings, Eagle Owl Plains

2 x buffalo bulls – Peru, Concrete Crossing

Afternoon Drive

(Chad, Grant, Andrea and Peter)

1 x breeding herd of elephants – Motswari, Camp Dam

3 x elephant bulls – Argyle, Buffalo Pan Access

1 x elephant bull – Karans, Northern Access

1 x elephant bull – Borneo, Mananga Cutline

8 x elephant bulls – Scholtz, Gravel Pits Rd

3 x elephant bulls – Scholtz, Big Dam

1 x elephant bull – Scholtz, Mananga Cutline

Daily Synopsis

Apologies if this is a bit of a shortened blog today, but I am off to Cape Town in a bit (for finalising the coffee-table book!), so Andrea will be taking over the blog for the next  couple of days (and believe I missed out on mating leopards this morning, so do check her blog update tomorrow for news on that!).

It was a windy and chilly morning in comparison to yesterday, and a day that saw us needing lions – so with tracks for a male in the central area and reports of roaring lions in the east, we were confident we would get lucky, but as the tracks either didn’t lead to anything or crossed off the boundary, our frustrations grew!  Arriving to find empty hyena den didn’t bode well either, but as the morning moved on, the viewing picked up

Adult hyena
Some other animals were out to play though; we had some nice giraffe and a wonderful elephants down on Eagle Owl Plains, and nice impala herds in the south along with the odd male kudu or kudu herd.

Giraffe, elephants and impala
A crash of rhinos had been found back in the north, so I headed back that way, and actually found another two rhinos on route; they were a bit nervous in the wind, so I decided not to push them and rather go and see the female and calf instead.

Two rhinos
These two rhinos were their usual relaxed selves and we had a great view of them as they fed and rested right next to the road.

Andrea in action with the mother rhino and her calf
On the way home, there was an abundance of game along Peru Entrance road – zebras, giraffes, impalas and buffalo bulls that rounded off a great morning.

Giraffe, zebras and buffalo at Concrete Crossing
The afternoon was still windy, and it was rather quiet, but then driving in the east often can be!  We did see some enjoyable scenery and a bit of game that included hippos, zebras and wildebeest, and a really relaxed jackal sleeping on one of their airstrips.

Impala lilies, black backed jackal and zebra herd
Trying the hyena den once more we had a bit better luck, and saw one of the bigger cubs out and about before he too moved off, so we went for a drink.

Sunet at the hyena den
After sundowners, Grant reported the lions roaring in the east again, so together with him and Andrea, we tried to locate them, but they didn’t roar again which made things difficult...so we ended up without lions, but all in all, it was still an enjoyable day!

Sundowners at Hide dam