Honey Badger For or Against Chanting Goshawks? …

Dawie’s News from the Kgalagadi Photo Tour:

The Morning of our first full day at this interesting, dynamic game reserve dawned bright and clear. We weren’t sure which direction to follow for our morning drive, but decided to go towards the area that the lions called from the night before.

We found lions tracks and started to follow these when we bumped into a Honey Badger. What a fabulous sighting that turned out to be – and we spent almost three hours as the very active, busy, curious, brave little animal foraged around for food. He moved around us, past us, circled back and forth – he seemed to be everywhere as he searched and searched, digging here, sniffing there. He caught a tortoise, rodents, and a number of geckos. He furiously scratched every promising place that could conceal a meal. Our photographic opportunities were endless.

When the Badger first caught a gecko two Pale Chanting Goshawks arrived and started to scavenge from him. Every bit of any meal that the Badger managed to secure and did not eat was snatched immediately by the birds. Every now and again the Badger would miss a gecko or a rodent and the birds swooped in to grab it. Talk about teamwork! The relationship was fascinating to watch. The Badger finally became a little impatient with the Goshawks and tried to send them away.

When we noticed that the Badger was becoming a little irritable we also decided to leave so as not to add to his stress.

We continued our drive towards a waterhole, passing plenty of Plains animals along the way. Springbok, oryx and ostriches could be seen everywhere. Because the light was quite harsh at this stage we utilised the light to produce very effective High Key photographs. These always look so dramatic and eye-catching.

Eventually we turned back to the Lodge. We saw the Badger on the way back, but he was not as active as earlier. When we saw two more Chanting Goshawks we wondered if they were the same two we had photographed earlier.

Our afternoon game drive followed the same route as the morning. We didn’t expect to see the Honey Badger again, and when we heard that cheetah tracks were visible we opted to go there. We stopped for ostriches – the interaction between the parents and the youngsters kept us occupied for a while.

There is a road that goes from the waterhole directly over the dunes and we were told that the cheetahs were somewhere there as the tracks headed that way. We couldn’t see any sign of the cheetahs but we did find a pride of lions quite far from the waterhole. They were on a ridge and not close enough for particularly good photos but maybe we are just spoiled and a little fussy.

As we headed back toward the waterhole we actually found the cheetahs on a Dune. We hoped that as the afternoon faded to evening the cheetahs would get up and go for a drink. Half our wishes were granted and the cheetahs did get up to start moving around. Thy looked fabulous silhouetted against the evening light as they strolled around the Dune. But they spotted the lions and turned away from the waterhole, and away from our vantage point. Before long they were gone, leaving us with a lovely collection of images.

As it was getting quite dark we headed back to the Lodge slowly. Once again we stopped regularly to photograph the different animals in the evening light. In the morning we plan to return directly to the waterhole hoping that the lions will move closer during the night …