6

Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 4

5 January 2018

Yesterday’s scores were as follows – Simon in the lead with 70 points.  Grandpa has 64 and Shannon 55.  Grandpa was annoyed as at first we scored him the higher score but Si reminded us that we hadn’t entered the Walk points which pushed him ahead. Grandpa hadn’t done the whole walk but he did score for creatures he saw first before he went back to the caravan and none were scored after that!

Today we moved to Skukuza Rest Camp.  It was a beautiful day with temperatures into the thirties.   Packing up the caravan and tent was fast and efficient and we left Berg en Dal at 6:20 and made our way quickly along the tar road arriving at 8:30.  We did not stop much along the way.

Check in at Skukuza was quick and efficient.  We found a campsite next to the swimming pool and an attendant came to help us set up.   We were done quickly and then walked to the shop for ice cream.   It was really hot!  We decided to rest and swim and only to go out after 1 pm.  We were pretty sure the animals would be sleeping in the shade and not showing themselves in the middle of the day.

IMG_1029

Shan enjoying the water – Simon kept hiding from the camera

After the kids and I swam and Grandpa napped we set off to see what we could find.  Today turned out to have long stretches with absolutely no sightings – not even a bird!  Of course there were some interesting things and we were thrilled to get the following:

IMG_1079

Black shouldered kite

IMG_1077

White-headed Vulture

IMG_1072

The monkeys had the kids in fits of laughter

IMG_1069

IMG_1043

The baboons behave like humans!

IMG_1063

Elephants are always fun

IMG_1016

The oddest duck ever – Knob-billed duck

Usually it’s okay to do the distance but today it was really hot and the ‘dry spells’ of no sightings began to work on the patience of the un-caged kids in the back seat.   Concentration was lost, giggling and high jinks took it’s place.   How much longer became the plaintive cry.   And then — up ahead a traffic jam.   A naughty tourist was sitting on the roof of her car – Her binoculars were trained on something in the distance.  We were next to a river with a rocky bank.  “There are supposed to be lions here,” she said.  “But I can’t see them.”   Well if from her vantage point she couldn’t, what chance would we have.  We asked some others and they too said they’re here but out of sight.

Grandpa tried to maneuver the car into a better position and then he said, “What’s that walking toward us!”

All attention went from the elusive lions to what suddenly appeared and we were the first to see him!

IMG_1088

The leopard was quite unconcerned about the interest paid to him by the tourists

We watched this magnificent creature of the wild nonchalantly walking past the cars.  He stopped to sniff and spray and mark his territory and the excitement caused was phenomenal. It was 15 minutes to gate closing time so once we’d absorbed the sighting we made our way quickly back to camp.  What a great way to end our day.

2

Kruger National Park – Day 21

30 November 2017 Lower Sabie to Skukuza

It’s hard to believe that we have been in the park for three weeks now.  Each day has had something special and we are still loving every moment.   We now have the pack up and go routine totally sussed and everything went smoothly for our departure to Skukza this morning.  Pat’s hand is very much better and she felt that she could cope helping Tony with their tent but The Earl insisted on giving a hand – we don’t want her using her wrist too much and causing it more damage!

We hit the tar road at 6:45 and Pat and Tony took the scenic route.   Our first road block – elephants of course.  This photograph is taken through the windscreen but I couldn’t resist the cuteness of the baby rolling on the tar.

IMG_7827

Skukuza is only 35 km from Lower Sabie on the tar road and we did not stop for much as we just wanted to get to camp to set up.  We were just done when Tony phoned to say they had arrived. We met them at reception and took them to our site.  They decided not to join us for brekkie as it looked like rain and they wanted to set up before it came.

The Earl and I went to The Cattle Baron and sat under the Sycamore Fig enjoying the ambience. The service today was slow but when you’re in Africa you don’t really care.  When we finally got our eggs and bacon it was delicious – and the coffee was good.   While we were waiting we watched the starlings, weavers and sparrows in the tree and then The Earl said, “Hey there’s a green pigeon.”  Our first for this trip!  Where had they been hinding?

IMG_7842

This elusibe Green Pigeon and three others posed beautifully for us

IMG_7854

The spectacled weaver has a quizical look

Today was more of a rest day as it turned out to be quite hot – the rain never came.  We took a short afternoon drive and these were the highlights.

IMG_7875

Golden Breasted Bunting – he sang beautifully

IMG_7866

Trumpeter Hornbill

IMG_7865

Dung Beetle cleaning up the bush – such an amazingly hard worker

IMG_7894

Dark form Wahberg’s Eagle – I think

IMG_7887

A useful tool is the elephant’s trunk

P1120198

Can’t resist the cuteness

IMG_7893

What was he thinking getting right into the tree

P1120209

Yellow-billed hornbill

This might sound repetitive – but it was a braai again tonight.  Honestly there’s no better way to eat in the bush!

2

Kruger National Park – Day 3

12 November 2017 – Visit to Letaba and Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Today we decided to do a trip to Letaba Rest Camp and back taking the river loops along the way.  By 6:30 we were ready to leave.

First to greet us this morning was a wildebeest. (Erich, if you’re reading this – we gave him your regards 🙂 )

IMG_4031

Our most exciting sighting of the morning was when we stopped at view point to get a closer view of the river.  Looking down we were delighted to find a grey heron, a hamerkop, two pied kingfishers, two fish eagles and two saddle bill storks fishing in a shallow pond.   We spent a while there enjoying the scene and taking photographs.

IMG_4059

Female Saddle-billed Stork

IMG_4037

IMG_4064

Fish Eagle

The Bug and Mean – oh sorry The Mug and Bean have been a resounding failure in some of the camps and Letaba is one where the restaurant is closed till further notice.  However, there is temporary arrangement in the form of The Rustic Kitchen operating an open air or under canvas restaurant.  What a stunning idea – so much better than the Bug!  You sit at a simple wooden table and your food is cooked in the rustic kitchen and served on tin plates.  Coffee is also served in a tin mug.  It was fun and we enjoyed our fried eggs, venison sausage and grilled tomato!

IMG_4095IMG_4101

The highlight on our return trip was just as we approached the Tsendse bridge we noted a stationary car with his lights flashing.   He’s seen something we thought as he indicated to the car in front of us to stop. Said car ignored and overtook him.  Then I spotted them lying flat on the river bed.   There were five of them. They were so well camouflaged but then one got up and moved his position  – wild dog.   We watched them sleeping for a few minutes and when we saw they were not going to do anything for the rest of the afternoon we left them in peace.

IMG_4110.JPG

Back in camp we had a cup of tea and I started downloading photos and The Earl pottered about sorting out technical stuff to do with the car fridge.  A few hours later we went for another game drive.

On our afternoon drive we found the usual zebra, giraffe, buffalo, elephants, waterbuck etc.   We took the Tropic of Capricorn Loop which produced some lovely sightings.  Sometimes there are stretches of nothing and one can lose concentration as I obviously did at one point.  Omiword – The Earl slammed on breaks.  Did you see that. I looked back and saw a bird of prey on a tree but he flew off.  Darn we missed him and he was on your side – why didn’t you see him.  Maybe because he was so small?   Not that wasn’t it – I’m usually on the lookout for small raptors.  Just a lapse in concentration I’m afraid.

The Earl wanted to carry on but I persuaded him to go back to see if we could find him again – and we did.  He led us a bit of a dance flitting from one tree to another but in the end we got a nice shot of him and were thrilled to identify him as a Gabar Goshawk.

IMG_4146

Other sightings that we enjoyed were the following:

IMG_4074

Tsessebe having a rest

IMG_4068

The Iconic Lilac-breasted Roller

IMG_4065

Heaviest flying bird – the kori bustard

Sadly it was our last night in Tsendze but we really loved this camp and will certainly be back.

 

11

Kruger National Park – Day 2

11 November 2017 – Tsendze

How fantastic to wake to the sounds of the dawn chorus in the bush.  It was already getting light at 4:30 am and that’s when the gate opens.  But we had no intention of making such an early start.  I went to shower at the ablution block just after 5 and we were packed and ready to leave at 6:30

Our first exciting event was an encounter with  Ayres Hawk-eagle.   There were actually two.  The light was bad so the photo is not great but we found this one on a kill.

IMG_3766

 

We also got a good sighting of the common black-shouldered kite – but what a pretty bird.

IMG_3779

 

Elephants, buffalo, hippo, wildebeest and zebra were also on the menu and we got to see a lot of birdlife.   Here are a few photos that we managed to get.

IMG_3863

Lesser-striped swallow

IMG_3914

Hippo

IMG_3869

The uncommon yellow-billed oxpecker – grooming a zebra

IMG_3792

Cute little blue waxbill

IMG_3817

Shy steenbok

IMG_3962

Beautiful giraffe

 

A rarity in the park is an antelope similar to a red hartebeest – the Tsessebe – We found a few of them which was lovely.

IMG_3834

Time wore on and we were getting hungry.  We decided to head back toward Mopani and have something to eat there.  After a few hours of game driving you rather hope that you won’t see anything exciting as all you want is to have a break and get some strong coffee into you.  I yelled at the earl to stop with a couple of interesting birds but either I was too late or he’d lost interest because he just drove on.  Thank Goodness for that because just a few kms from camp we spotted some stationery cars – always a good sign – It has to be a leopard, I said and as we got closer I spotted a tail hanging down from the branch of a tree.  Oh joy – all thoughts of coffee and food disappeared in an instant.   There was a young leopard on a kill up in the tree.  And was she having a delightful breakfast – lucky creature.   If we’d delayed over the birds I’d called we would have missed her as after a minute she slid down the tree, washed her paws and slipped off into the bush!  Gone!  The only evidence were the remains of impala hanging in the tree!

IMG_3841IMG_3848

We lingered long over breakfast at Mopani as its restaurant has such a lovely view over the river.  We saw marabou storks and watched greater striped swallows take off and land back in the branches of the trees again.   There was a lot of activity.  I had a second cup of coffee while the Earl went to another section of the facility to pay accounts and send emails from his laptop.

We like to rest in camp in the middle of the day and it was now just after 11.  We just did one more loop to Mooiplaas Picnic site, spotted some birds and hippos and then did a little river loop where we saw buffalo and elephant.

We got back to camp around 1 o’clock and rested until 3:30 and then went out again.   We saw all the usual suspects and were not expecting anything too exciting.   It was nearing 6 o’clock when we were in sight of this morning’s leopard tree and gate closing is at 6:30.  And what should we see – three cars stopped at the tree.

“They’re probably looking at the carcass,” I said the Earl.

But no as we got closer I saw that the leopard was back.

But wait there’s more – “Look there,” said The Earl,  “There’s another one in the tree.”

IMG_3976

 

And then all hell broke loose as the two leopards started growling and slapping each other.

IMG_3978

IMG_4009

This is my dinner – Be off with you!

 

After a brief skirmish one decided she’d better get out of there and slipped down the tree and disappeared into the bush.  The victor sat in the split in the tree for a few minutes looking for all the world like any domestic kitty cat.

IMG_3984

Then he climbed onto the branch where the impala carcass was and proceeded to finish his meal.

IMG_4015

IMG_3996

Soon other cars appeared and in the end there were five of us watching this amazing sight.   It gets dark quickly in the Kruger and by 6:10 I had enough photographs in good light.  It was time to head quickly back to camp before the gate was locked!   We made it with 10 minutes to spare

3

Gecko, Haenertsburg and Tzaneen

When one is in the misty mountains of The Magoebaskloof, it’s easy to forget that you’re in Africa and that it is Summer.  The temperatures can be very low any time of the year here!

Haenertsburg is a tiny place and there are often problems with electricity.  For most of yesterday afternoon we were without power, it came on again for a short while in the evening then was gone again for the rest of the night.  This morning it was still not on but it didn’t bother us as we were out for most of the day.

How exciting it is to take possession of one’s new caravan!  Our Gecko is simply the best!  We loved our Imagine but we had so many setting up problems, so we decided that something a little simpler and easier on the old bones was required.   Keith and Alison greeted us just before nine this morning and took us through the handing over process.  They also provided us with a superb manual for easy reference.   It was so interesting to find out that the reason they started building their Gecko caravans was because they too had owned an Imagine and after two trips in it decided to make something better!   So they really understood what we were looking for!

We had so much fun learning all the ins and outs about our new van and Keith also took us on a tour of their impressive factory.   The Earl was hugely impressed and you know what a perfectionist he is!

After our orientation we went to Minki’s for an amazing breakfast.   Their coffee was to die for.

IMG_3532

This ‘jug’ of hot coffee was a welcome warmer to the day

 

IMG_2545

The breakfast was excellent

After breakfast we drove 30 km to Tzaneen to shop for Kruger.   On our return we went back to Gecko and packed the caravan.

We had all our gear in the boxes on top of the Ford Everest and we spent about an hour sorting out and packing.  It’s all done and dusted now and we’re ready for departure tomorrow morning.

IMG_3546

I made the super new kingsize bed!

IMG_3543

Alison suggested pantry bags – what a good idea – everything fits in so snugly

IMG_3539

There is packing space in the cupboards, drawers and under the benches — note the aircon!

IMG_3538

It has a loo

IMG_3536

And a shower!

After all this activity we needed more coffee so back we went to Minki’s to pick up the ground coffee and relish we’d ordered. We also indulged in another of their amazing coffees and cappuccinos and shared a slice of delicious carrot cake!

IMG_3570

 

 

The weather cleared in this afternoon and I did a bit of birdwatching around our cottage.  It’s really in a superb spot with a great view of Stanford Lake.   I was thrilled to find a long-crested eagle perched at the top of a tree.

IMG_3569

The view

IMG_3563

Long-crested Eagle

IMG_3568

Taking flight

We have just had a lovely braai of lamb chops, boerewors, sweet potatoes and salad.  It’s not as cold as last night and we have power!  We’ll be off to bed soon as tomorrow is an early start for The Kruger National Park!

6

Share Your World 8 May 2017

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World from Cee.

When you’re alone at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot?

In the summer you might find me barefoot.  Right now I am wearing shoes, but I often kick them off and wear slippers.   I like my feet to be comfortable and in winter I might put on Ugg Boots.  They may be ugly but they’re comfy.  I have the generic version – not the overly expensive ones.

IMG_6909

What was your favorite food when you were a child?

When I was very young, I was an extremely fussy eater but for breakfast I loved my  Jungle Oats. My mother told everyone that if it weren’t for that one meal, I would probably starve because for the rest of the day I would eat very little else.  My uncle teased me constantly and would make me cry by telling me the factory had burned down.

jungle oats

 

Perhaps that’s why I went off it and started on eggs instead.  My sister and I would share a boiled egg – she would eat the white and I would have the yolk!

Yes – I was a very picky eater and would not eat cooked vegetables but being of Greek origin we always had salads with every meal and those I ate quite happily.    For a packed lunch, my mom would give me polony or chunks of cheese and carrot sticks because I wouldn’t eat my peanut butter and jam (jelly to the Americans) sandwiches, although I loved them freshly made.  My mother despaired of me ever eating properly but thinking back, I wonder why she worried – I ate lamb, beef, chicken and fish and plenty of salads.   Pretty healthy I think!   I didn’t like pasta, rice, potato or anything that looked suspicious. I had a fear of food and stressed if I had to eat away from home. This changed when I went away to college.  The food was awful but it was eat it or starve!   I got fat at college but lost it all in my last term – by starving myself!   My fight with food continued into adulthood but only as far as  trying to keep the weight off was concerned.  Finally in my old age I have discovered Low Carb High Fat and it fits in almost exactly with how I used to eat as a child, the only difference being that now I will eat the veggies cooked.picky-eating

Are you a listener or talker?

I enjoy conversation – both listening and talking.   Friends tend to come to me for advice and I do listen but then I try to fix things with lots of advice – not always the right approach.

women chatting

Favorite thing to (pick one):  Photograph?  Write? Or Cook?

I can’t pick one so I’ll tell you what I like to photograph, write about and cook.

I like photographing birds and wildlife.

IMG_1896

A striated (Green-backed) heron

I like cooking omelettes.

omelette

Bacon, onion, tomato and Feta omelette

I like writing about my trips to wild places

computer

“Then suddenly we came upon a leopard languishing on the branch of a tree”

 

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for the wonderful week we had catching up with family at Gariep Dam, Free State.   The weather was pleasant and we just relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company.

IMG_6263.JPG

 

I am looking forward to planning our next trip away in the caravan.

 

4

Wild Adventure Chapter 6 Lions at Kij Kij

8 March

The advantage of staying in a bush camp on the Botswana side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is that there are fewer people in camp and one really gets to commune with nature – it’s living on the edge as there is always a chance that a wild creature could wander past your caravan or tent.  This is what the Frend-Leighs and Grum-Peighs love about Camp Rooiputs Number 2.   It is also closer to the water holes so you get to them before the crowds from Twee Rivieren arrive.  But Rooiputs has the added advantage of being close enough to Twee Rivieren so that when you need to replenish your stocks it’s a quick trip there and back.  On this particular morning the friends decide to check out the Kij Kij Waterhole nice and early and then take the long dune road that connects to another road that takes you to TR.  The plan is then to leave the park and shop at the Kgalagadi Lodge shop – and have breakfast at their restaurant.  There is nothing as good as mixing a bit of rustic living with luxury now and then!

And they are well rewarded when they get to Kij Kij and find some frolicking lions.

IMG_5860

Good Morning Kgalagadi

IMG_5863

This is fun!

P1080619

Come on let’s play!

IMG_5882

Time to go!

The Dune Road is very long and bendy and can be boring but today a honey badger rushed over the road in front of them and they saw 19 Northern Black Korhaan

IMG_5906

The best of the bunch

On the return journey the Grum-Peighs stop for every bird.  Ho-Hum!

IMG_5917

A lesser grey shrike

IMG_5887

The ever-present tawny eagle

P1080647

Southern Masked weaver and Lark-like Bunting

P1080652

Male and female red-headed finch

IMG_5984

Grey-backed sparrowlark

IMG_5959

Male red-headed finch

IMG_5879

Immature Pale Chanting Goshawk

IMG_5889

Jackal

The highlight was seeing a cobra try to invade a sociable weaver nest.

IMG_6007IMG_6024IMG_6061

In the evening the Frend-Leighs and Grum-Peighs had another delicious braai.  There was no sign of stormy weather and the sunset was magnificent.

IMG_6141

The Earl and The Friend bonding in front of the fire

IMG_6150

Sunset

IMG_6164

Camp Rooiputs Number 2 at night

1

#NaBloPoMo 22 -Birthday Surprises

NaBloPoMo

How the weather can change so rapidly is a mystery to me.  It was pouring at bedtime last night and I thought it would go on for a week!  But this morning dawned bright and sunny with not a cloud to be see.  It was, however, still a tad chilly but it warmed up to short and t-shirt temperature by midday.

We did not dash out at dawn but were on safari before 7 am.

IMG_1415

Speckled mousebird catching the early morning rays

IMG_1433

This common waxbill teased me by flitting from tree to tree while I tried to snap his portrait.  After much begging he finally obliged.  Can you see that – oh all right then – expression on his face?

IMG_1417

This red-necked spurfowl is far friendlier and quite likes the attention of the  paparazzi

We had a pleasant drive and then returned to have breakfast at Cattle Baron at 10 before setting off again.

IMG_1476

Because it’s my birthday I was treated to breakfast in a restaurant!

IMG_1685

Warthogs have this cute habit of kneeling down to get closer to their food.

The elephants were having fun today.  At Hapoor we watched herd after herd come down to drink and play in the mud.  The babies always amuse me.

P1070753

Later in the day at another waterhole, we found a small family group having a muddy bath.  The two youngsters were rolling on top of each other and I could almost hear them singing – mud – glorious mud.  If eared that the smaller ellie wouldn’t be able to make it out of the mire but his elders used their trunks to help him out.   It was fascinating to watch.

P1070766

This is fun – really, truly it is!

P1070769

Do I have to get out?

P1070770

Okay, I’m coming

IMG_1620

Don’t forget my brother!

I took a video of the adults helping the baby out and will post it when I’ve worked out how.

We were looking at some creature when I suddenly became aware of a hoep hoep sound behind me.  I knew that sound and turned to look and sure enough there was an African Hoopoe right beside the road.  He was strutting about proudly showing off his catch – a lovely juicy worm

He kept strutting about and calling and I wondered if he was going to give it to his mate but she was nowhere to be seen.

IMG_1632

Look what I’ve got – Aren’t I clever!

IMG_1646-001

And don’t you love my gorgeous crest – I’m such a handsome boy!

Well no other hoopoe made an appearance and for several minutes he continued showing off his catch.  Then all of a sudden a Common Fiscal appeared from nowhere and snatched it from his beak.  Not so smart anymore Mr Hoopoe – that will teach you to be such a show-off!

P1070734

Another fine bird make my day – malachite sunbird

P1070779

And a glossy starling too

IMG_1502

Buffalo are the lions favourite food and these we saw near Zuurkop lookout.  We heard roaring but no sign of the predators looking for lunch.

Our drive produced many of our favourite creatures including zebra, red hartebeest, kudu,jackal and meerkat.   It was four o’clock and we were making our way back to camp on the hapoor loop when up ahead we saw four cars stopped on the road.  “What can you see?” asked Earl.  “Lion” I said, “in the shade on the side of the road.” “No way,” he said.  But soon we were able to get closer and there he was – a single male lion – definitely there to wish me Happy Birthday.   He was like a great big pussy cat washing his face and paws!

IMG_1708

We invited our German neighbours, Ruth and Klaus to join us for a braai this evening. What a lovely way to end our stay in Addo Elephant Park.

IMG_1717

And as I write this post I can hear the lions roaring not too far away!

 

1

#NaBloPoMo 21 – A Wet Day in Addo

NaBloPoMo

Who would believe that we would have rain in Addo Elephant Park in November!  It was so hot on our arrival day but now it is cold and wet!  But this has not dampened our enjoyment of being in the bush.  We are not diehards but we certainly make a plan to make things more comfortable.  Thank Goodness I thought to pack some warm clothes.

It rained throughout last night and was still raining this morning so we stayed in bed a little later – no point rushing out in the cool of the day as the whole day would be cool!  It let up enough to make a hearty breakfast and while Earl was preparing he had a demanding visitor.

IMG_1025

This cheeky fork-tailed drongo asked to share our breakfast

It seems that butter is a delicacy enjoyed both by the drongo and the weavers. Before Earl could stop the drongo he’d taken off with the butter from the egg pan!

After rescuing our breakfast from the birds we sat down to eat and then set off to explore. It rained on and off the entire day!

IMG_1045

Mr Kudu was the first to greet us

We saw elephants frequently and I will just show a few of the special ones here

P1070662

King of the road was this bull leisurely strolling towards us and not given a damn about the cars. This is taken through the windscreen

 

IMG_1075

Don’t worry he was really friendly

IMG_1072

He could have put his trunk right through the window but he was more interested in eating his lunch

P1070658

He uses his trunk with such skill

Of course the warthogs have the run of the park and we saw plenty of them.

We also got up close and personal with red hartebeest and zebra.

P1070710

The babies are adorable

IMG_1159

In spite of the rain the plains were full of game

IMG_1252

The zebra were in playful mood

IMG_1257

And quite affectionate toward each other

The birding was most rewarding – they did not seem to mind the rain.

 

P1070670

Glossy starlings made many appearances

IMG_1102

IMG_1223

Two beautiful spotted thick-knees

P1070717

An orange throated longclaw posed like a model

P1070664

Of course he is a handsome chap!

IMG_1115

A red-necked spurfowl showed off her chicks

IMG_1323

The hyperactive stonechat was hard to get but finally he sat still and obliged me with a half decent photograph

IMG_1319

IMG_1154

The resident Jackal Buzzard shows he’s just as handsome as the visiting steppe buzzard

We exited the south gate and went to the little village of Colchester   just outside the park to do a bit of shopping and had lunch at Taste of Africa – a chicken salad that lacked imagination!

We arrived back at camp at 4 o’clock.  We had every intention of doing a braai for supper as the rain had stopped but by  5 it was raining again so we opted for dinner at the restaurant.  Our venison hotpot was served with mash, butternut and spinach and was to die for!

IMG_1413

Early looking surprised at the excellent food

We’re having trouble with our portable wireless devise so might not be able to do a blog post tomorrow but hopefully I’ll be able to use my phone or Earl’s tablet as a hotspot – depends on how much data is left!

But now I will be going to sleep with the sound of rain on canvas – I do so love my offroad caravan!

 

 

 

 

5

#NaBloPoMo 20 – Lions and more@ Addo

NaBloPoMo

It was the call of the fiery-necked nightjar calling loudly that woke me at a rude hour this morning.  I lay listening to The Good Lord Deliver Us over and over again before reluctantly climbing out of bed and heading to the showers.  Good thing too – because it was already light and gate opening was at 5:30.  We made it to the gate by 5:45.

The weather was somewhat cooler but still warm enough for shorts and t-shirt but I took along a jersey for when the windows were open.  Our first bird of the morning was this summer visitor from Eastern Europe

IMG_0720

Although the steppe buzzards breeds in Eastern Europe they migrate to Southern Africa in summer arriving in October and leaving in April

Another non-breeding summer migrant is the barn swallow

P1070600

These birds start arriving in September and the last ones leave in April

An intra-African migrant Lesser Striped swallow greeted us early this morning.

IMG_0715

Lesser Striped Swallow – present in South Africa from July to March

The Southern Masked weaver is a common resident in South Africa and is not too shy to pose for a portrait.  They can become quite tame and frequent campsites in the hope that they pick up a snack or two from the friendly humans.

P1070612

How those vicious thorns don’t stab them I do not know.

As we drive around the reserve we frequently hear – Willie – come out and fight – scared.  Or that is what the field guides tell us the Sombre bulbul is saying.  But I think it sounds more like. Look out – you can’t find me – whaaaaa.  But today we did find him – right out in the open too.

Another one who calls out loudly and likes to hide is the very pretty little Diderick Cuckoo.   Today Earl found him trying to camouflage in the foliage.

P1070574

The male cuckoo is very good looking – but he and his wife don’t raise their own chicks.  The female chooses a variety of hosts including the southern masked weaver, red bishop, Cape sparrow and Cape wagtail. She lays up to 20 eggs per season so that’s a lot of surrogate mothers she has to find!

It is important to get out into the park early if you want to see predators. Lions are lazy and sleep in a shady spot most of the day.  Today we found two large males at Carol’s Rest and they were just lying there – awake and just staring into the distance.

IMG_0789

Lions Rule

Red Hartebeest, zebra and kudu were waiting, dead still, over the road on the hillside, very aware of the enemy and too scared to come down to drink.

We parked off, had breakfast and drank our coffee while we waited to see if anything would happen.  Warthogs have to be the bravest and cheekiest of animals.  The appeared from the other side of the waterhole so did not consult with the herbivores on the hillside.  They boldly approached their kings and I wondered how the conversation went.

IMG_0830

Please, Your Majesty, may I go down to drink?

IMG_0829

Now let me think – I’ll check with my brother

IMG_0831

NO!  Get out of here or we’ll have you for breakfast!

IMG_0883

The cheek of those subjects!

You would think the others would learn from the warties – but no – all of a sudden a herd of donkeys in prison clothes came racing across the road – then stood dead still in front of their sovereign.

IMG_0847

We’re just out of jail and very thirsty – May we have a drink please sire?

IMG_0875

Oh sure – if you want to be steak!

So they turned tail and headed back to the hill.

P1070633

They have to leave some time – we’ll just have to wait!

We watched these antics for over an hour and then decided to head back to camp.

IMG_0937

We were thrilled to find two meerkats – but only one photograph is worth posting.

IMG_0927

Life is good in Addo Elephant Park

IMG_0771

Jackals are usually on a mission but this one must have had a tough night as he is settling for a nap

P1070595

I’m watching you – please leave me in peace.

Back at camp we decided to follow the jackals example and have a nap before going out in search of more game later in the afternoon.

It was 3 pm when we set off again and I have to eat my words about summer reaching the Eastern Cape ahead of us.  A cold front sneaked up, strong winds blew and the heavens clouded over.   It is calmer as I type but freezing cold!   It will probably rain in the night.

Anyway this did not dampen our spirits and we had an enjoyable game drive.  Surprisingly there we saw no elephants until the very end.

It was great to see a black-shouldered kite

IMG_0952

A greater double-collared sunbird posed and sang for us.

And finally at Hapoor we found a small herd of elephants

We decided to do a small potjie over the fire for tonight’s dinner

IMG_1013

And just to make our day a bushbuck came to visit

IMG_1012