Unfortunately, Andy had to go home today. It is amazing how a mutual passion can create a bond so quickly. Over the past 3 days we had never been short of discussion topics and being on a trip with another photographer gives you the opportunity to spend as much time with an animal as you’d like, without the usual pang of guilt I feel for making Hans wait endlessly until I’m satisfied with a shot (if ever..). Anyway, thanks Andy, for being such great company!
So, that morning, I left with Elvis and Morgan on my own. What luxury! Even before we left we found this Giant Land Snail in the parking lot. It is amazing how may colors the shell has on close inspection! So even before I left on game drive I was already completely covered in sand from laying on the ground to capture the beauty of this little creature.
As we went on our way, the early morning sun turned the world golden all around. The soil and shrubs were still brown and dry (see the giraffe picture on the right) but you cuold feel the change happening. Tiny little grasses were peeping out of the soil and the shrubs bore the first faint green miniscule leaves.
The Laughing Doves bathed in that golden sun and much to our surprise we found a Goshawk, pruning its feathers, totally at ease. A Crowned Plover, who was doing the same, stopped his feather combing to check us out.
It did seem like a particularly good birding day as one after the other beautiful bird allowed us to stop and take our time to capture its beauty. A little Bunting (of which I forgot the real name was singing his little head off and the Crimson Breasted Shrike really made a striking appearance, even allowing me an in flight shot with which I was really happy! Pelicans soared in the sky above the Marshland and an Eagle was harrassed by a Fork tailed Drongo. Elvis told me a story that he witnessed once that a huge bird of prey was attacked by 6 of these little black birds, pecking him non-stop, attacking him on the back of the head as well as on the breast, until the huge Eagle fell from the sky, mortually wounded and died. (of course this could be a ‘slightly’ modified tourist story…)
One other fantastic animal that is plentiful in Mashatu is Africa’s largest antilope; the Eland. Especially the big bulls are immense! Have a look at the picture below that shows one of them and compare them with the Impalas. They are huge! When they run they can jump to amazing heights!! The Kudu (picture below in the middle) seems small compared to these giants.
Another highlight of the day was to see the huge Monitor Lizard hunting in one of the permanent pools in the riverbed. Amazing what efficient hunters they are. One second it swam through the water; a quick flip of the tail and next thing I knew it came out of the water on the side I was shooting birds, with a wriggling fish between his jaws…..