Meanwhile Satara camp was calling or better to say the ice cream there as besides the heat it got also more and more humid that day so we took a nice break under the shady trees close to the restaurant. After a while we simply had to leave in order to get back in time but we could not leave until we paid Nsemani a visit although we must say that we were a bit disappointed as no elephants were around as we already were looking forward in watching them again bathing in that dam but obviously there were still of lot of hidden puddles to be found in the bush after the wet summer as this year we never saw a single elephant in the periphery of this dam or they even moved to another area.
Anyway it was still lovely to be back at this spot and at least lots of marabou storks could be watched, as well as white-faced ducks, cattle egrets and Egyptian goose but after some time in the midday heat there we still had to leave and were again via the S36 on our way back to Talamati. Close to Rockvale an elephant herd came across but as now in exactly that area the bush was again extreme dense we only could watch only single ellies popping out here and there.
Close to Muzandzeni we watched a woodland kingfisher in a bush but same was not alone on its branch as one of these colourful grasshoppers came closer and closer and finally started to terrorize our woodie friend. It was funny to watch the whole scene as the grasshopper approached up side down the woodie but this critter is for sure not on the menu of the woodie as same ignored this colourful thing completely
and it even changed strategy as it was obvious that it was not feeling very comfortable in sharing its branch with a thing like that and it thought that maybe when I look into another direction I get rid of it.
It definitely did not get rid of the grasshopper but neither moved itself nor the grasshopper decided to jump somewhere else so the grasshopper took over the initiative and simply carried on creeping and crawling upside down over the feet of the woodie and both walked on their ways.
It was indeed a very funny sighting and as the whole scene took place in slow motion we again lost a lot of time and already decided that we will skip our afternoon drive that day and start with an early and comfy braai but as always things came different as originally planned and nevertheless we still had a couple of kilometers to drive.
Finally at Ximangwaneni we found our bathing elephant and same was so sunken in his bathing procedure that sometimes we only could spot a piece of ivory – everything else was diving – After and excessive bath same left and we only realized now that he was one of the guys with the larger tusks but unfortunately we only could get a picture from his right side – He disappeared in the deep vegetation before he at all turned around.
A lot of Carmine bee eaters also made us stop from time to time
and also the ever present European rollers throughout the whole park slowed us – the colourful grasshoppers are for sure on the menu of the rollers -
so that we only got back at 5.00 o’clock in the afternoon and everything we wanted was a peaceful and quiet evening on our verandah and an early night after the whole day on the road.
We just unloaded our car and wanted to start the braai when the Camp Manager of Talamati knocked on our door, introduced himself and invited us for a free sunset drive, as obviously yesterday a larger tour group occupied the remaining chalets in camp and made a lot of noise. Needless to say that we were extreme delighted and did not even think about to deny this very generous offer as moreover we somehow must have missed the noise.
However, this only allowed us some spare time of one hour to relax a bit and to download the already taken pictures to our laptop. To be honest we definitely did not expect to see much whilst we entered the truck as this area is for sure not a summer animal area and unfortunately was this year even quieter than the previous years. It was only the two of us and we were just about to leave camp when the family who stayed in No. 8 arrived which was also invited so in total we were now 5 adults and 2 children plus our guide from Orpen which called himself “Crazy” Kerrin and his girl friend.
After the obligatory briefing Crazy asked what we wanted to see and nearly everyone in the truck replied with “everything”, however, also Crazy informed us not to expect much as presently this area is for sure one of the quietest areas in the park besides one totally crazy elephant which terrorized tourists on the road to Orpen the last two days.
So to avoid Mr. crazy elephant we turned into the direction of Fairfield waterhole – The first half an hour it was still bright and soon we spotted our first scrub hare and a couple of double banded sandgrouse which was already our never seen bird No. 8.
Although Timon mentioned later that we obviously saw this bird earlier but thought it was one of the ever present francolins running around in suicide manner. I must say that Crazy was a very passionate guide and a strolling encyclopedia as he knows everything about the animals which came across. He even picked up one of the plentiful shongololos and explained in detail how you can decide between female and male.
Yellow-billed hornbills as well as baboons came also across but far too soon it was already time to turn around but it was also time to illuminate the flood lights. Crazy in front was operating one and it was also my task to use the other one. As this was our very first sunset drive we were very impressed how the bush looked like at totally darkness and we were thrilled as we always thought you will see in any event nothing and that it would simply be a waste of time but believe me we immediately changed our mind and thought it is definitely a must do to at least to participate in a sunset or night drive during our forthcoming trip.
With now in every bush and tree pointing flood lights we were already on our way back and I wished that this moment would last forever and was already sad that only half an hour remained until this amazing experience will be over. Crazy was eager in pointing his flood light into bushes on eye level and soon he stopped the truck and showed us a chameleon and explained us how to distinguish these little chaps from leaves – He gave us also the hint that they are easier to spot by night with flash lights or torches than by bright daylight.
Only a couple of meters further down the road he spotted the next two chameleons and after a couple of failing attempts we then realized at what to look at to locate the chameleon. Then I had my moment of glory when I spotted on top of a small bush our never seen bird No. 9 during this trip and on top a new owl specie for us – A White faced owl and this evening obviously a very cheeky one.
Far too soon for our liking the drive was over and with enthusiastic minds we said good bye to each other. However, it was now too late to lit the braai and so we had for dinner a fresh salad – the rest from the previous day - and some sandwiches. Very tired we only minutes later fell into our beds and slept like babies this night.Monday, 21. February 2011 – Talamati – Satara
As we had today to move camp again we had a bit more packing to do as usually but with the usual adopted routine over the last 1 ½ weeks this was a minor problem. We soon hit the road again and believe me or not we did not see anything until we reached Ximangwaneni and we were a bit disappointed about the quietness. Please do not get me wrong we already had a very rewarding trip also right from the beginning but when we see nothing even no birds on that stretch of the road it is for sure more than frustrating. Therefore with heavy hearts we decided that we will skip Talamati completely whenever we will return to Kruger in summer.
At Ximangwaneni the grey heron was again awaiting us on the same branch as yesterday and today we could spot a knob-billed duck which at least for us is a rare sighting.
After enjoying the waking up of the bush at this lovely spot again we carried on and at least the sky was today true blue and the sun illuminated this beautiful magpie shrike on a branch perfectly.
This bird even sat still so that Timon could snap happily away and also this red-billed hornbill was willing to pose on this beautiful morning.
A red-backed shrike and the ever present yellow-billed hornbills were the only animals we saw until we turned into the Sweni drive where already kudus and my daily giraffe fix could be satisfied.
and also this white backed vulture was worth a stop as the animal itself together with the background of the blue sky was simply amazing
The ever present impalas never let us down and also the zebras were as always plentiful in that area. As we decided to do the same drive as yesterday we turned into the H6 but if ever possible today it was even quieter than yesterday besides the elephant bulls as they were cheeky as ever.
Hords of Carmine bee eaters flew around and this beautiful tawny eagle on top of the dead branch made me yell “stop” to Timon as also this sort of bird was not often to seen this year.
Timon was in desperate search for animals as his finger needed more activity and due to the lack of animals he even took a picture of this lovely acacia tree.to be continued with more cute reptiles……