We were packed up and ready to go just at gate opening time. It was chilly and we needed our jerseys and I had a knee rug for extra cosiness.
First up near 13th waterhole were giraffes – about 8 or so.
We were cruising slowly toward 13th when I yelled stop – owls. Earl reversed back and well-hidden deep in a thorn tree were two sleeping white-faced scops owls. Photography was difficult but we managed to get one or two good shots. After spending some time with them we moved on to 13th where we met Norma and her friend whose name now escapes me. We knew they were keen on birds so took them back to the owl tree. Before they turned around they told another couple and they too followed to the spot!
About 10km past 13th we came upon the same group of cheetahs seen yesterday. Lots of jackals were about and it looked like they were finishing off a meal. They were quite far away so pics not too great.
This cute juvenile marico caught our attention.
I can’t resist posting more adorable ground squirrel.
At 10 o’clock we stopped for breakfast at Kamqa Picnic site – it was quite windy and cold but we found a sheltered table.
My elusive Black-breasted snake eagle flew over us and I managed to get him in the air but oh how I longed for him to be in a tree!
The steenbok in the park are obliging about posing.
At a waterhole we met a mother and daughter in a CY car and stopped to chat. It turned out that they were in a borrowed 4X4 and not from Belville at all. They lived right in our area and the daughter Mia was at school with our Lauren! Small world.
Just as we came over the crest of a hill, Earl slammed on breaks and said, “Look behind” – Slithering slowly across the road was a cobra. Heather managed to get some shots. Earl did not want to reverse as it would be difficult for a following car to see us just below the crest of the hill.
We arrived at Nossob at around 3:30 and once again check in was smooth and painless. But directions to our chalet – 11b were somewhat vague but we finally found it on the top of a rise with a stunning view across the camp. The neighbours were sweet but kept appearing to beg for scraps. So hard to resist but wild things must fend for themselves!
After unpacking Heather and I checked out the hide and spent about an hour enjoying the little things – rufous vented titbabbler flitted in a tree in front of our eyes but never sat still enough for a photo.
However, the drongo said – forget about him – I’m a handsome chap – take me.
A jackal obliged with a pic of himself having an sundowner and a wood sandpiper strutted about proudly in the puddles.
We also watched some raptors flying high overhead, and identified two tawnies. But they were too far for a photograph.
Our first sighting this morning on our way to do Marie se pad was this bold fellow walking toward us on the road. He had no intention of shooting off into the bush and obligingly spent some time with us.
Our first bird was superb for so early in the morning – a special in Kgalagadi – a red-necked falcon.
Not long after we saw a strange looking raptor way across the terrain perched peacefully in a tree. The light was bad and we could barely make out what it was. But we all have good binoculars and after consulting books and debating among ourselves there was only one bird it could be – A palm-nut vulture. But later we found out that we had it totally wrong and it was a pale form tawny eagle. How confusing these raptors can be!
Kori bustards are everywhere in Kgalagadi but I could not resist putting this one in. He had been very busy stamping about the countryside and came up nice and close because the grass was giving him some protection.
This lark, I am convinced is a fawn-coloured lark – but I could be seriously wrong – all larks look the same!
I was looking in the bird book puzzling over said lark when Earl stopped and said – look at this strange cat! OMIGOSH – It wasn’t a lion – it wasn’t a African wild cat – It does exist! Right there on the side of the road – well camouflaged in the fawn coloured long dry grass was the creature we’ve been seeking on every game park trip – A CARACAL!
It was 10:30 and we were 5km from Nossob. He stood stock still and stared at us for quite some time. Then somebody else came by and we pointed him out. They looked until he started moving then drove off. We had him to ourselves again and followed him until he disappeared into the bush.
WOW – That was surely the highlight of the whole trip – a caracal at last!
We returned to Nossob for breakfast and then went out again straight after, deciding to see how far north we could get. The roads were quite good but the sightings were sparse. However, what we did see was interesting
The problem with travelling in this direction is that one runs out of picnic sites and ablutions – so with the car door for our only protection we took turns to do the unthinkable, near Bedinkt Waterhole. But oooh what a relief when it was all safely accomplished without a predator coming to investigate!
Of course we saw the usual beautiful gemsbok, springbok, wildebeest and steenbok from time to time but no cats. But this morning’s caracal had us on a high that we still haven’t come down from.
A bird that for me is iconic in the arid regions is Namaqua sandgrouse and although we’d seen hundreds at the water holes we hadn’t yet had a close encounter with them until travelling back on the dune road we found 2 male and 2 females. They were on the road but quickly scurried for cover in the dune grass.
We also got bat-eared foxes but too far for a pic.