Hennie van Heerden's Wildlife Diary

November 26, 2010

MalaMalachite Kingfisher

Filed under: 2010,November — Hennie van Heerden @ 4:32 pm

Could anyone wish for a more beautiful beginning of a day?ย  To the left you see the sunrise over the airstrip in Mala Mala. With a start like that, it just had to become a fantastic day… And so it did.

Everywhere in the reserve you see gigantic termite mounts. The constructions are enormous and can be as much as a hundred years old. They serve multiple purposes. They are look out posts for many animals like Cheetah, Leopard and even Lions. And often enough it’s not only termites that live in them. I’ve seen Jackal andย Hyena that had dug out their den in them. But it is often also home to a very small and ever so cute little animal: the Dwarf Mongoose. By the way, what would you say is the plurial of Mongoose in english? Mongoose, Mongooses, Mongeese? It’s a question that comes up every time I’m in Africa and nobody seems to know the answer to ๐Ÿ™‚

This morning we passed a huge mount and all of a sudden two tiny little ears stuck out. A little face appeared just over the rim of one of the larger holes in the mount. And then another, and another. So cute!! As many as 5 of them appeared at once but I bet there were still at least as many of them hiding underground. Lovely little line-up.

One of the things I had been ‘harassing’ Matt about was Kingfishers. Any species of them, but favorite of all are Malachite and Pygmee. Both of them tiny and hard to spot. But this morning we were really successful! A wonderful Malachite jumped from one reed stem to another. Difficult to capture, but just the sight of it was magnificent! So for the next visit to Mala Mala, only the Pygmee remains to be wished for ๐Ÿ™‚

As we went on we drove over a dirt road with rather high grass on either side. Nobody was really expecting something there when a tiny movement caused us to stop. Still it was hard to see what was in the grass…
Until he lifted his beautiful head! The son of the Matshipiri Female Leopard was lying there, totally silent, hoping we would move on. In recent posts I’ve already told the story of this ever so gorgeous, but a bit lazy little gentleman. But he is so absolutely beautiful, he could get away with murder (so to speak).

But our little hero is, without his mother, not yet entirely confident yet and he was clearly ill at ease in our company. So quite soon we left him alone. Sure I would have liked to spend a little more time with him, but I don’t believe in getting a picture at the expense of the well-being of the animal. I’m sure he’ll be around for a long time in Mala Mala. He looks like he’ll become the favorite of the females pretty soon and I’m sure that one day, he’ll dominate many of them soon. So, we’ll meet again!

Still the surprises of the morning drive weren’t over yet. We found a Side-Striped Jackal which is prettyย special in Mala Mala (good for another 200 points, see previous posts). The Black-backed Jackal is common but the Side striped I’ve only seen once before. He’s much bigger than the Black-backed, and is about the size of a Coyote (I guess, as I’ve never seen a real wild Coyote before). We only had a very short chance as the Jackal took off immediately the minute he saw us. But still….

During the afternoon drive we spent time with an enormous but gentle looking White Rhino, who was having guests.. Red Billed Oxpeckers cleaned his ears, his nose and even…. eh, let’s not go there.. ๐Ÿ™‚ But it seems like a good co-operation where both host as guests seem pretty content with.

When the day started to end, we arrived at the beautiful Windmill area. Much to our surprise we found 3 of the Styx pride lions there. Apparently they came back from the south to join again with their big sisters. They were relaxing in the late afternoon sun and formed quite a pretty picture. To the right the young male as he was slowly dozing off in the warm sun rays.

One of the nice things of having dinner at Mala Mala is that when you enter the bar for pre-dinner drinks, all of the rangers stand up for the ladies that enter. Wow.. I really could get used to that!! It really makes you feel special, certainly since we, as females, are totally so not used to that anymore. I’m sure that many people think it’s old-fashioned or out-of-date, but I secretely admit that I enjoyed it every evening! ๐Ÿ™‚


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