Daily Bulletin from Villiers:
We clambered aboard the photographic boats with haze all around us. The haze is caused by the lack of rain and resulting dryness in the area. But the wonderful thing is that the haze provides the most beautiful photographs, and we probably captured every minute of the morning’s sunrise as the bright red-orange orb tinted everything, including the river, with the most vibrant, beautiful colours that changed as the sun rose.
We found a herd of buffalos on a plain near the river, with the sun rising behind them and stopped to capture fabulous silhouette images.
From there we visited the rapids on the river – specifically to photograph the Rock Pratincoles that are found along this river and very few other places.
There were plenty of crocodiles basking in the sun and a few that lurked under the water, with just an eye or nose above the water line. We drifted to within about 2 meters of some of the crocs to get closeups of eyes, teeth, or even scales.
We parked the boat to spend some time with Black-headed Herons, Cormorants, and Yellow-billed Storks. The storks had chicks that squawked loudly to attract their parents that flew back and forth with food for them.
And just around the corner African Skimmers entertained us. The water was too rough for them to skim, but they were very busy flying up and down to engage in tussles in the air. Beaks locked as pairs of duelling birds tried hard to intimidate each other.
On the way back to the houseboat we stopped to watch the African Jacanas on the lily pads. It was fascinating to see how they pulled plants up out of the water to disturb the insects hiding there, and then gobbled the insects as they came out of their sheltered spots.
What else? Well, beautiful blue Half-collared and Malachite Kingfishers looked breathtakingly lovely as they flitted and hovered above the water. Finally, as we returned to the houseboat, a large herd of elephants decided to swim across the river close to the boat.
At around midday the houseboat started the 2.5 hour journey upstream to the haven that is Serondela. On the way we passed an unprecedented amount of game along the banks. There were Tsessebe, hundreds of elephants, uncountable buffalo, and thousands of impala. Actually, at one stage we could see nine different mammal species all at the river’s edge together.
At Serondela we set out to a backwater where we found about a hundred baboons – young, old, mischievous, docile, eating, playing, teasing, jumping – just being typical baboons. We positioned ourselves so that some had back lighting from the late afternoon sun, some had side lighting, and others were bathed in the golden rays of the sun. It was stupendous!
Then suddenly, behind the baboons about 30 elephants arrived to dust bathe and have a final drink before nightfall. So we photographed them against the purples, blues, oranges and reds of the sky.
On the way back to the houseboat we saw Black-crowned Night Herons and Pied Kingfishers in addition to many other species mentioned earlier.
In the morning we would like to return to the backwater …