Hennie van Heerden's Wildlife Diary

November 22, 2010

Red feet….

Filed under: 2010,November — Hennie van Heerden @ 11:32 am

Another day with the car and ranger all to myself!! Fantastic.
We weren’t even a mile outside of camp when the first surprise came in sight: Or rather, we heared all the birds go bezerk; a sure sign that there is a predator somewhere. Matt found the evil-doer: A gigantic Black Mamba nested high up in a tree!! Must admit I was kind of glad that it remained there and that Matt didn’t park the car underneath it !
A little further a Yellow-Billed Hornbill dug into his breakfast; a big scorpion. Hmm.. must be an acquired taste 🙂

The big hippo was still alone in his pool. Meanwhile he was looking a bit better as the slashes in his skin had started to heal. Apparently so had his ego because when we tried to get a little closer to the pool’s side he snorted moodily at us. Kind of funny to see a huge animal like that blowing bubbles from his nostrils..

  We found one of the Styx pride lioness still in the company of a Manyelethi male. The rest of the Styx pride was nowhere in sight which probably meant that they were still in the south, hiding for the Manyelethi brotherhood. Good for them. It’s not safe when the big males are around.
But the lions where not the only cats out that morning!! Much to my excitement we found the Ostrich Koppies Female leopard! Also she is an old friend. I’ve seen her at least 3 out of the 4 visits to Mala Mala. Apparently she had had 3 cubs earlier in the year but unfortunately 2 of them had been killed. The last remaining cub was nowhere to be found for months and believed to also been killed. Fortunately, according to Mala Mala’s Cyberdiary the cub is alive and well and was seen just a couple of weeks ago. But this sighting the Ostrich Koppies Female was alone. She seemed totally relaxed, walked around a bit, jumped up a tree and looked down at us unimpressed 🙂

 We started the afternoon drive at an open space where 2 Bateleur Birds of Prey were sitting in a tree. The light was awesome and I happily snapped away until Matt started to voice-over the movements of the Birds. Juvenile Bateleurs’ feet, when they are still young, are grey but the adult birds have bright red feet. This one’s feet had already changed into bright orange and they seem to hold a magical amazement to the young bird as he kept on looking at them. With Matt’s commentary in the background “Hey dude, check me out, I’ve got red feet. Red Feet!! Cool! I’ve got awesome RED FEET!!!” I was soon reduced to helpless giggles. I was shaking so hard with laughter; no way I could keep the red auto-focus square in the middle!! I’m pretty sure I will never be able to look at a Bateleur again without hearing that squeaky little voice cooing “Red Feet!” in my head 🙂

When we were driving on an agitated sound caught our attention. We saw a couple of Senegal Plovers frantically dancing around, screeming their heads off. An alarm call like that can only mean that there is danger around. On closer inspection we found the reason for the bird’s distress: a snake had slithered towards the nest and threatened the eggs. Incredible how brave these little birds are in defending their nest! The danced around the snake’s head while the serpent attacked time after time.. Unfortunately it was too far away and already too dark to get a real good shot.

As we went on we were surprised by a large herd of elephants bathing in the glow of the afternoon sun. Like I said before, I don’t think that there is a sight as beautiful and mezmerizing as playing elephants. They really seem to be having fun and I swear you can see them smiling.

Our friend the Black-Bellied Korhaan entertained us yet again with his rediculous call while the world turned golden all around us. In Africa it’s only a matter of 15 minutes from sunset to total darkness. So when we drove back into camp across the causeway it was pitch dark. So the rare White-Backed Night Heron was almost impossible to catch.

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