We left the Lodge this morning after a hearty breakfast and about forty minutes before sunrise.
We were not on a mission to track down anything in particular and were happy to simply enjoy the African bush and see what various animals would appear – an did the bush ever show off today!
We found leopard tracks almost as soon as we left the Lodge, but couldn’t locate the actual animal. But that could have been because we spent so much of our time photographing birds. One has to experience the amazing bird life here to appreciate quite what I mean … so many species, so many colourful, beautiful birds, wow! It really is a birding paradise!
We photographed a number of raptors including Tawny Eagles, Bateleurs, African Hawk Eagles – the list is very long but someone kept count and we managed to photograph 43 different bird species on that one drive!
Then we heard of a young leopard and made our way there. He was sleeping peacefully but lifted his head from time to time, giving us a chance for some great shots. What a healthy young cat. In fact he is so young that he has not yet left his mother. We checked the area for her, but she was not there. Maybe she was out hunting or patrolling her territory.
This afternoon we went in search of Wild Dogs that were reported to be in the area. While on our way to them we photographed Southern Ground Hornbills as they walked along in that typical ungainly manner. Occasionally they made that deep uuuggghhh sound that so typifies them. They foraged for food as they wandered along, and then one used its beak to dig deep into the ground and pulled out a mouse! It tossed the mouse into the air, creating perfect photos for us.
Then we saw the dogs getting up in the distance and starting to greet one another. We rushed there, but when they had finished their greeting they napped for another 30 minutes or so. We waited patiently – and were rewarded.
The dogs decided it was time for action. They started to hunt. We followed them, cameras photographing every move, as the pack ran through long grass, stopped for some water and then continued their hunt – all the way into dense bush where we could not follow.
We returned to the young male leopard that we saw earlier and to our delight his mother arrived. She took him and the two started to walk swiftly and with determination.
As it was late we followed the duo for a short distance but as soon as they went into thick bush we turned towards the Lodge. However, in the morning we plan to try to find mother and son again because we probably believe that mom was leading her youngster to a kill …