2

Delightful Weekend with Good Friends

We love having our Cape Town friends to visit us in Struisbaai from time to time and last weekend Tony and Sharon came up to spend Saturday and Sunday night with us.  The weather couldn’t have been nicer.

During our many years of friendship, Sharon and I have waked many miles together so it was great to have her company on my daily strolls.   Of course we did the mall, the harbour and the beach but on Sunday we headed toward Cape Agulhas where we planned to meet the guys for coffee at Potpourri.

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It’s compulsory to visit the harbour

We didn’t make it to Potpourri as we bumped into our mutual friend Sheryl who was working in the garden in front of her B&B.  She was delighted to see Sharon and invited us in for coffee. So we rang the guys to join us and spent a few hours with Sheryl and Alan instead

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Sheryl showed us round her beautiful B&B, Agulhas Ocean House

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Each room has stunning sea views

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The en suites are so luxurious

On Monday we drove to Arniston and looked for birds and wildlife on the way.

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We saw a few birds including blue crane, bokmakierie, pied starlings, sparrows and canaries but I’m always delighted to find the Denham’s Bustard

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Also a little bokkie resting in the veld.

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This rock kestrel at the car park overlooking Otter Beach

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View of Otter Beach

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Tony and Sharon enjoying the view

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It was an amazing day

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View from the deck of The Arniston Hotel

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The cake and coffee was to die for

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Not the Banting Diet!

Sadly our friends had to leave when we got back to Struisbaai but it was so good to spend those two days with them.

 

 

 

12

The Long Road to Struisbaai

Since our ‘holiday’ in Italy, The Earl’s health has improved, we’ve sold our Sun Valley Home and had a great holiday with The Rural Family in Kokstad.   There was a hiccup with chest pains in Kokstad but they were caused from Fly Fishing and not his heart!   However, it did prevent us from taking our grandchildren to Tala Game Reserve.

Once that settled down it was time to return to the Fiefdom of Struisbaai.  We decided to take it slowly and take the scenic Garden Route.

6 January 2017

It was raining again this morning.   We were up and packed by 5:30, went to say farewell to the family and then hit the road.

We stopped at Stone Junction in Maclear for breakfast.  It was lovely.  We had eggs, bacon, pork sausage, mushroom and tomato. The coffee was good.

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Delicious Breakfast at Stone Junction, Maclear, Eastern Cape

Our next stop was Queenstown where we fuelled.  The roads were not too bad but we had to look out for cows, goats and donkeys.  The scenery was stunning.

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img_2674We arrived at Casa Mia near Addo Elephant Park at 15:30 had some coffee and rusks and a bit of a rest then went to dinner at Lenmore Family Restaurant about 5km away.   We met a young family – Mom, Dad and five-year-old Noah from England.  They were on a round the world trip.   Tomorrow they’re doing Addo and we gave them some advice as to where to go and what to do.

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Saturday 7 January 2017

The alarm woke me at 5 and I had no trouble in jumping out of bed to ready myself for a day in Addo Elephant Park.   I was not anticipating too much as we were there just a couple of months ago and the sightings were average – no big cats and nothing unusual. But just being in the park again would be enough for me.   We packed our picnic breakfast and set off in high spirits.

It was 6:00 am when we entered the main gate and were slightly put out when we were told that reception would only open at 7:00 and it was there that we had to get our day passes for the game viewing area!  Never mind – we could have breakfast at Cattle Baron  and eat our picnic for lunch – no such luck – The Baron opened even later!

So we went to the waterhole and enjoyed the birds then got our day pass, had a coffee at Barons and set off to find what we could find.

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The Egyptain Geese were feeling frisky

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A good start to the morning

By 10 o’clock we had photographed some lovely birds, kudu and zebra.

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Ant-eating chat

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African Pipit

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Lone Buffalo

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Beautiful Male Kudu

 

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Malachite Sunbird in transitional plumage

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Southern Boubou

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Karoo Scrub-robin

But what we really hoped to find were the Bat Eared Fox cubs that everyone on The Addo Facebook page was raving about.  And we were in luck – a single car was parked on the side of the road to Carol’s Rest and pointed out the den to us.  We spent half an hour enjoying their antics and taking photos and soon there were several other cars joining in the fun.

 

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After that we headed up to the Zuurkop Outlook.   “Look at all the dung beetles and worms on the road,”said Earl  trying hard not to run over any of them.

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The mighty dung beetle cleaning up the landscape

At Zuurkop we hopped of the car and were joined by a few other tourists.  We got chatting to a Mom and daughter, saw some elephants a short distance away and I lingered to look,  a few feet away from Earl while he chatted to some people.  My back was to him and when I heard him call to me to look at something. I turned around and my heart almost stopped.  He was teetering backwards in the most alarming way – I ran – and as he fell I heard a gurgling sound, his eyes rolled back in his head and he dropped flat on his back – out cold.   Crazy thoughts raced through my head – he’s dead – what am I going to say to the girls, I’m not ready to be a widow – I have to get him breathing again – I pinched his nose, put my mouth over his and started blowing what I thought was life back into him – not holding out much hope that it would work – what the hell did I know about CPR – nothing! Suddenly he shook his head, giggled and said, “What’s going on. I’ve just had the most beautiful dream.”                                                                                                                                              I freaked out – “You fainted – I thought you were dead!”

“Keep calm,” said a soothing voice, the lady to whom we had been chatting.  “If you’re calm he’ll be calm.”   I found out later that her name was Ayshia.  She put a pillow under Earl’s head and it was then that I realised he was bleeding.   I ran for the first aid kit, couldn’t find the wipes so Aishia gave me hers, I cleaned it then put a plaster on his wound.  We checked that he wasn’t hurt and he insisted that he was fine.

“I just bent down to pick up a worm to show you,” he said, “I did feel a bit light headed so I must have passed out when I stood up.  I really am fine now.”

Well – it’s not normal to just keel over like that.  I wanted to take him straight to a doctor.   He agreed to let me drive and after we both calmed down I got behind the wheel and drove to reception to get names of doctors.  Not helpful at all – You have to go to Port Elizabeth, they said.

So we drove back to Casa Mia and Earl said his neck was sore.  He just wanted to rest.  I massaged him with Traumeel and gave him an anti inflammatory.   I then asked reception hostess for the name and number of a doctor.  She suggested a practice in Kirkwood.  The reply from them was – the doctors are going off duty now you must go to outpatients at the hospital.

Earl thought he didn’t feel up to driving anywhere. He just wanted to rest.  I allowed him to do this but after consulting with our Jeffrey’s Bay friends who we were due to visit the following day we decided to go straight to St George’s Hospital Outpatients just to be on the safe side.

It was about 3 o’clock on this Saturday afternoon when  we arrived at the hospital. We parked the car and trailer in the street and a car guard offered to give the vehicle a wash.  It really needed it so we agreed.  It cost us R100.

Earl was ushered straight into the emergency room and given an angiogram. I remained behind to fill in forms and it was half an hour later before I was allowed in to see what was going on.  The staff were amazing and after Italy we were delighted that everybody spoke English!!!   A young lady doctor with the gentlest bedside manner broke the news – “I have spoken to the cardiologist and as your husband is a high risk patient he would like to do some more tests and so he must remain in hospital overnight.”

I was devastated.  Stupid thoughts raced through my mind. Where would I go?  We had a trailer – where would I park it – how would I get it off the car.  I have no sense of direction – I will get lost in Port Elizabeth.  You would swear I hadn’t dealt with worse in  Italy!

I heard Earl say to the doctor –“Can’t I just take my wife to a B&B and come back later?”

No – she said.

It must have been the fainting episode that had put me into panic mode.   I felt like I was falling apart – my arms and legs didn’t belong to me, I had to take control of them and instruct them what to do. I had to gear my mind to the right thinking paths. I had to assure my husband that I would cope!

I heard myself say, “I will be fine, Darling.  I can tow a trailer – nothing to it.  And I will find a B&B with space to park it!”

The doctor said, “You can ask the nurses at reception for if they know of accommodation nearby.”

But I started googling.   A few minutes later the doctor reappeared.  She handed me a slip of paper – My fiancé’s parents have a B&B in Summerstrand.  They have space for your trailer and will help you unhitch it.

Wow  –  The Lord once again sent an angel to our aid

I rang the number and made the necessary arrangements.

After getting lost for an half an hour because I entered the address into the GPS incorrectly, I finally made it to the B&B a mere 10 minutes away if you have your mind functioning correctly.

Bev met me at the gate.  “You must be stressed out,” she said and gave me a comforting hug.  Another one of God’s Angels.  She told me she had been a nursing sister and had looked after her own dad who was a heart patient too.   Her stories were most reassuring and she told me that St George’s was an excellent hospital and that E would receive the best care.

After settling myself in I walked to the shopping centre just around the corner and had a glass of wine and some sushi at Taste of Asia.

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I felt much calmer when I went back and was able to contact the girls to give them the news.

Sunday 8 January 2017

I was confident that Earl would be discharged today.  I phoned the hospital and they said, “Your husband had a good night. No pain and no dizziness when mobile.  The doctor still needs to see him but we are don’t see any reason for him to remain another day.”

So I cheerfully packed him some clothes and made my way to Life St George’s arriving around 10 o’clock.   When E saw me he said, “Why have you brought my clothes? I sent you a text to tell you I have to stay another night.” The Port Elizabeth doctor needed to consult with the Cape Town doctor and as it was Sunday it would have to wait till tomorrow.  “Oh, I’m sure that he will let you go and you can stay with me at Le Fishermans and then see him in his rooms tomorrow.”

We got into conversation with the 2 other women in the ward.  They were convinced that they were going home today too.  “I’m not staying here another minute,” said the one next to the window.  “Neither am I,” said the one across the way.   Nobody’s going to make me shower at 4 in the morning again!”  They dug in their heels and prepared for battle against the great doctor.  The staff who were in and out, looked on with knowing smiles.

Earl was first on his list. I introduced myself.   “So your husband has been picking up worms and then keeling over unconscious,” he said.  “Yes, he is not in my good books at the moment.”

He asked me my version of the story and then checked the dosage of his medication.  He said to stop taking the Cardicor so now all Earl needs to take is Pritor for blood pressure, cardio aspirin and Crestor for cholesterol.

I asked him if Earl could be discharged and see him in his rooms tomorrow morning.  He was appalled – “Absolutely not,” he looked at me in horror. “I need to monitor this man’s heart!”

“But I thought everything was fine.”

“No it’s not.  There is something strange about his cardiogram”  He spoke to the attending staff member – “how was he last night?” – and he looked at the chart. “No irregularities” said the nurse.   But he wanted to see if the strange thing came up again and he wanted to know if it was a new phenomenon or whether it had been seen on his angiograms before.  That is why he needed to speak E’s cardiologist in Cape Town.

He then went to speak to each of the other patients in turn.  Each of them begged to be discharged.  He wasn’t having any of it.  “Doctor, I promise it won’t happen again,” said the one old duck.   “O really,” came the reply “and how did this happen in the first place?”  “I don’t know, Doctor.”  “And neither do I so that’s why you’re staying so I can work out how to fix you!” And that was that.

When he left and the nurse returned to check on the patients, she smiled and said – so you’re staying, you’re  staying and you’re staying!
I said, “Now ladies – I hope I can trust you with my husband.”

“Ha ha,” said Mrs wont’t shower at 4 am.  “We’re too weak to do anything.  Your husband has more energy than either of us – can you trust him with us!”

At 11 I left and went to the coffee shop for breakfast.   I phoned each daughter to break the news – Laurie – Oh no man – now listen all this travelling around has to stop.  You have to make dad take it easy.  No more travelling for the next six months!”

Lisa – “So hasn’t the bypass worked?”   “Yes it has darling. This is something new.”  “Oh well then it’s good the doctor is doing something about it.”

Lauren – “Oh dear – How are you handling it? Are you taking strain –  Don’t worry – it will all work out.”

After several long conversations I finally drove home.   On the way the phone rang.  I stopped to answer.  A friend of mine when she heard I was in Port Elizabeth asked her friend who lives nearby to contact me.  I also knew Brenda when she lived in Cape Town so it was great to hear from her.  We arranged to meet for coffee later in the afternoon.

So after I’d visited E she collected me from Le Fishermans and we went to the Beach Hotel which was wonderful. We sat on the deck on comfy couches and chatted and chatted.

 

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Thanks for a lovely afternoon, Brenda

Monday 9 January 2017

I packed up but left everything in the room and by 8 o’clock I was ready for breakfast.   I was the only guest there and Bev provided a delicious meal.  I started with Greek Yogurt sweetened with something delicious she makes herself.   I added some fruit to this.  Then she asked how I would like my eggs – medium – and it was served with bacon, tomato and fried zucchini – fabulous.  The coffee was excellent too.

I then dashed off to the hospital with high hopes the The Earl would be ready for discharge.  I was allowed in but when the doctor arrived was asked to wait in the foyer.    But all was well. The two cardiologists had consulted and they concluded that the strange pattern in Earl’s cardiogram was normal for him  – so no further intervention needed. The fainting was simply due to a fluctuation in blood pressure when he stood up too quickly.

So after 2 nights of excellent care – in English! – we went back to Le Fisherman’s, hitched up the trailer, bade farewell to my amazing hostess and headed to Jbay.

We had a great time with our friends there and the following day stopped at Great Brak for a visit with relatives.  We are now back and settled in good old Struisbaai!

 

 

 

 

8

Spending Quality Time With Friends

We recently had our very good friends, Heather and Peter, spend time with us.  It was an enormously happy time and the Weather Man obliged us with some stunning sunny days.

It was great to show them the improvements we’ve made to our home although they’re not quite finished yet. We enjoyed meals together, immersed ourselves in catching up on each other’s lives and it was a treat to take them to our favourite birding spots.  We have so many shared interests so it was great to have an extended time together to enjoy each other.

The sunny days made it all the more exciting and although winter birding is not as productive as spring and summer we managed to do pretty well each day.   Tuesday found us on the Arniston Road.

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Jackal Buzzard

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Rock Kestrel

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Denham’s bustard

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Denham’s in the foreground – steenbok in the background

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There were hundreds of our national bird, the blue crane in the farmlands

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A malachite sunbird enjoying the aloes

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A bee, his only competition

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Cloud Cisticola?  Not sure about this LBJ’s identity

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The Arniston Hotel where we enjoyed a great lunch

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Arniston

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Arniston fishermen coming in from a day at sea

On Wednesday we chilled at home till later in the afternoon when we set off to Agulhas Light house.  On the way we enjoyed some birds and then went to see the light house museum.

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There were literally dozens of African Black Oystercatchers on the rocks

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A little egret soaking up the sun

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Enjoying the lighthouse museum

After the museum we took a drive to Suiderstrand picking up a couple of birds and enjoying the views.

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The famous “Pietie se huis” which is now part of the Agulhas National Park Rest Camp.

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A Black Shouldered Kite with a hapless mouse for dinner

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Bokmakierie

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In the evening we introduced our old best friends to our new best friends over a stunning braai of ribs, chops and sausage

The next day we took off down the Elim Road and were thrilled with all the birds we found before having lunch at The Black Oystercatcher Wine Estate

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A gaggle of Spur-winged geese

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Cape Robin singing happily

 

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A delight to find a fish eagle

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Scores of Denham’s Bustards about

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Flamingos on the Salt Pans

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The Black Oystercatcher

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Lunch was excellent – we all had the sticky chicken salad

The sun was setting when we returned and so we popped in at the harbour to see how the boats had done.  A few fish were caught but not as much as the fishermen had hoped!

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Sunset

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One of the ski-boats returning from a day at sea

Friday’s weather matched our mood as we bade farewell to our friends as they made their way back to Cape Town on a cold and wet day.

What a delight to have been able to share those few days with our dearest friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

Wild Adventure Chapter 13

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15 March

Lady Grum-Peigh was first in the queue with the Frend-Leighs close behind.  She raced out of the office, permit in hand and jumped into the Land Rover.  “We’ve beaten our friends!” said the Earl excitedly.  “We’ll be the first to see the lions!”

“Slow down,”said her Ladyship.  “You’ll miss the good stuff on the way!” He ignored her and gleefully overtook the campers from Kalahari Tented Camp who’d got out first.

Then suddenly a wild cat appeared and crossed the road in front of them.   The Earl screeched the breaks and yelled instructions to his poor wife but she still missed the photo! The kitty toddled off into the veld.  The Earl turned the vehicle and said, “Keep the camera on him.” Tufts of grass kept hiding him preventing good shots.  The Earl was furious.   “Why didn’t you get him – he was right there!”

“Did you get any?” asked Lady G-P calmly.

“No!”
“Well, he was on your side of the car!”
“But I was driving!”
“I’m tired of you yelling at me I’m getting out right here!”

“Well don’t let the hyena get you,” said the Earl and there right next to her door she spotted him and they both burst out laughing.

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Come out and play, Lady G-P – I won’t eat you.

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Look at my innocent eyes

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Oh well – I guess I’ll have to find somebody else

Other cars including the Frend-Leighs were now ahead of them so the Earl slowed down and enjoyed the birdlife.

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A secretary bird marching determinedly through the veldt

There were no lions or cheetahs at the waterholes but they saw tawnies on the kill.

 

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They made breakfast at Kamqua picnic site and then  made their way back.  There was a sleeping lion near Dalkeith but otherwise no big cats.

But the other creatures seen were fun.

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Rock Kestrel

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Pin-tailed Whydah

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Brown Snake Eagle

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Common Buzzard

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A Journey of Giraffe

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Wildebeest competing with Butterflies for a drinking rights

Back at camp they had a salad for lunch, the Earl had a nap, Lady G-P did some chores and Mrs Leigh prepped lamb stew for dinner. She and Mr Leigh went out again later in the afternoon but the G-Ps stayed to pack up as, sadly, it was our last night in the park.

4

Wild Adventure Chapter 12 Mata Mata Day 2

14 March 2016

Mata Mata Camp offered way more luxury than the unfenced rustic Rooiputs.  Showering in the morning was now possible and Lady Peigh and Mrs Leigh were first up and finished at the ablution block before the other campers awoke.  Now they had to check out of camp and the gate attendant did not open the office till 6:30 on the dot!

Mr and Mrs Frend-Leigh was first out the gate and indicated to the Grum-Peighs that they were following lion tracks.   They followed them to 14th Waterhole but the cats were not there.  A return to Dalkeith produced no luck either.

Clearly the lions had killed the previous night as they found a tawny eagle eating their leftovers.    It then flew up into a tree to join its friend and they got some photos.

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It was also good to see giraffe about.  The leopard was nowhere to be found.

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Back at camp the Earl cooked breakfast.

In the afternoon they all went out again.  Nothing much was seen but a common buzzard was nice to see.

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Other birds gave them pleasure too.

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Red-headed finch

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White-faced scops owl

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Wattled Starling

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Lilac-breasted Roller

So after a rather slow day they returned to camp and enjoyed a meal together before retiring for the night.

0

Wild Adventure Chapter 11 Off to Mata Mata

13 March 2016

By 6:30 the Frend-Leighs and Grum-Peighs are packed up and ready to leave Rooiputs.  Although it had stormed in the night it kindly let up for them to pack up without getting wet.

The Frend-Leighs left first as they wanted to get a good site at Mata Mata.  Their large-lensed cameras were packed so they wouldn’t be stopping for anything but the most exciting sightings.

The Grum-Peighs were thus able to follow at a more leisurely pace.  There was a lot of water lying around and they found bokkies drinking at the puddles.  They took the dune road and found a total of 16 korhaans.

Then there was a lovely sighing  Mom and Dad Jackal with their pup.

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It was great to see giraffe on the Mata Mata road and there was plenty of game around.

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“Why are there cars parked up ahead,” called Lady G-P. They looked into the bush but couldn’t see anything.  The Lord G-P said – “Look – there in the tree – leopard!

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Wow – what a great sighting.  They were about to move on when suddenly he stood up on the branch.

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I don’t think I like this spot anymore

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Let me find a more comfortable perch

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There’s a cosy hollow here – this is where I’m staying for the rest of the day

At 10:30 they arrived at Mata Mata and set up camp.  The Frend-Leighs had found a lovely shady site.

At 4:30 the Grum-Peighs were ready for another drive but the Leighs decided not to go out. It was a long way to the waterholes but the drive was rewarding.

 

They enjoyed the  little steenbok that were about and one chose to pose beautifully.

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The highlight of the afternoon was seeing a lanner at Dalkeith – he had caught a sparrow and was devouring it on the ground.

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At 14th waterhole they were delighted to find an African harrier-hawk.

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They found the leopard in the tree again but he had moved and was difficult to see. However, they managed to point him out to two other cars who were most grateful as they had not yet seen leopard.

In the evening the Earl found some good steaks at the new improved Mata Mata shop and that is what they had on the braai for supper.

 

2

Wild Adventure Chapter 10 Last day at Rooiputs

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12 March

“What will today, hold in store for us, I  wonder?” said Lady Grum-Peigh as they climbed into the Land Rover for their morning drive.  “It’s our last day at Rooiputs and boy, I’m going to miss it!”
They headed straight to Kij Kij arriving around 7 ish.  “Oh look there!” called the Earl. “Two male lions!”  That was a wonderful surprise. They were lying a little way off from the waterhole, one on each side of the road.

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One of the big boys

Suddenly Mr Frend-Leigh started his Pathfinder and raced toward them.  “It’s a brown hyena,” said the Earl excitedly. And they weaved through the parked cars to get a better view.  But the poor creature was spooked by seeing the lions and instead of going for his morning drink he headed away and up a dune.

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Oh no! What are those two doing here.  I’m off!

Then the lions were up and making their way to the waterhole as if to say – hey – nobody drinks from here but us!

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After the lions had had a good long drink they moved off into the shade and settled down for a long morning nap. The G-Ps and Leighs went on towards Melkvlei.

“What’s moving over there – oh great – Bat-eared fox!”

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Posing for his portrait at last

One of the foxes stopped and stared straight at them. “At last you’re posing for me, you elusive creature,” said Lady G-P who had seen a few but not managed to get any decent photographs.

There was a lot of game about and they saw many kori bustards and jackals.   “That eagle looks different,” called the Earl

“It’s a tawny,” said Lady Peigh “The blond version!”

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At Melkvlei Lord Peigh cooked a delicious Banting Breakfast but the Leighs continued on a bit further preferring to have muesli in the car a little later. They also had a lot of packing up to do so would return to the lions and then head home.

After breakfast the Grum-Peighs took a slow drive and enjoyed all the usual game and birds.   Then about 1 km from Rooiputs the Earl said, “Look at those gemsbok.  They’re standing stock still – there must be a predator somewhere close.”  They scanned the dunes with their binoculars – Nada.  Then her ladyship dropped her eye to a lower level and nearly fell out of the window – “They’re right there,” she whispered “under the tree.”

“What? where?” whined his Lordship.

“They’re so well camouflaged – three cheetahs – in the shade just where the gemsbok are standing.”

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A very wary gemsbok keeps a close eye on the cheetahs

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One lifts her head to see what all the fuss is about

His lordship finally finds them and is amazed at how well they could hide.

At about 5 that afternoon they returned to the spot with the Frend-Leighs.  They were on the move and then they flopped down under a tree.  They stayed with them hoping they would get up to go to the waterhole but they had to leave at quarter to 7 to get in before dark.

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Thinking about getting up

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I could do with a drink

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I love you dear cheetah

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They returned to camp and Mrs Frend-Leigh took out the leftover chili con cairn and they shared the meal with Jan.  Everything was packed up as far as possible for departure to Mata Mata the next morning and then they turned in for the night.