A Thief in the Desert …

Dawie’s News from the Kgalagadi Photo Tour:

Our morning started with a long trip up the Auob River. Because of the long distance to Mata Mata and back we took a packed lunch with us.

As we left the Lodge we found two Cape Foxes chasing each other around and around. The light was very dull as the sun was not up, and the photos that we managed to grab are more record shots than images worthy of display.

On the way we decided not to stop for any of the animals that we had already seen, and to rather try to reach our destination for the day.

However, as we neared the Dune Road we did stop briefly for Bat-eared Foxes. They always look so very appealing with their huge ears, and a few photographs in the grey light were really mandatory. The two animals scurried across the road, and stopped quite a distance from us.

The sun peeped across the horizon as we reached the dunes, and just as we rounded a bend we found an oryx bathed in the earliest golden rays of the sun. He looked magnificent. Shortly after we found a Kori Bustard and after a few photographs we continued along the Dune Road.

We arrived at a fork, and made a decision to take the left fork to a waterhole. A few metres along we spotted large lion tracks leading to the waterhole, and about a kilometre further on we found the lion enjoying an early drink. He finished his drink as we arrived and moved away. But there is a picnic spot on a ridge that overlooks the waterhole and from there we had a clear view of the large black-maned cat.

Birdlife along the road was very rewarding, and we stopped for big and small – Crimson-breasted Shrikes, a Lappet-faced Vulture, a Greater Kestrel, and a Martial Eagle that stopped for a drink.

In addition Plains game could be spotted all along the route. Oryx of course, as well as Springbok and Wildebeest and Hartebeest were spotted regularly.

We also saw plenty of tracks, and we hoped to photograph Meerkats. They don’t mind vehicles in the area, and often venture right up to the vehicles out of curiosity. The result was some awesome photographs of meerkats and also of Ground Squirrels.

After our packed lunch we headed to Twee Rivieren for fuel. On the way we stopped frequently for different animals.

We wanted to concentrate on back lighting during our late afternoon drive. With the dramatic late afternoon sun, and the dusty conditions the scene is set for some outstanding backlit photography. With this in mind we stopped for ostriches as they kicked up dust and as the sun grew lower in the sky the scene was almost perfect for our tasks. The ostriches dust-bathed, and put on quite a show as they flapped and dug in the sand.

We moved on and practised more backlit images with oryx and springbok.

Then we found a Honey Badger. He was digging around a tree, and as he dug on one side of the tree, he would dash to the opposite side to dig there, and then back again to dig on the near side. This pattern continued, with the Badger dashing back and forth, back and forth, while we tried to work out what he was trying to catch. After about twenty minutes the Badger dug on one side of the tree and suddenly a rodent popped out on the other side. With that a Pale Chanting Goshawk swooped down and grabbed the prey. The Honey Badger was furious, and showed his upset in no uncertain terms. What a shame to lose to a thief – after all that hard work!

Tomorrow we may try to track that male lion again …