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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please, Your Majesty, may I go down to drink?
Now let me think – I’ll check with my brother
NO! Get out of here or we’ll have you for breakfast!
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.
We’re just out of jail and very thirsty – May we have a drink please sire?
Oh sure – if you want to be steak!
So they turned tail and headed back to the hill.
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.
We were thrilled to find two meerkats – but only one photograph is worth posting.
Life is good in Addo Elephant Park
Jackals are usually on a mission but this one must have had a tough night as he is settling for a nap
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
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
And just to make our day a bushbuck came to visit