Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Etosha Magic..!

Some people say that lightning doesn’t strike twice, well this morning proved the exception as once again Etosha delivered some true magic. We decided against a pre-breakfast bird walk around the grounds in favour of returning to the spot where we saw the Leopard yesterday evening, in the hope it had made a kill and was still in the area. Well, we left at 6.30am as soon as the gates opened and drove straight there, and were surprised to find that we were totally alone with no other vehicles in sight. Unfortunately there was no sign of the Leopard, so drove on to a nearby waterhole where an African Fish-Eagle was perched in a large tree – a nice addition to our list. 

Then Charly took us on a new track and amazingly the same female Leopard was walking through the grass and bushes and heading towards the track we had just driven along. 

I couldn't believe it when we spotted the same Leopard again..

So we turned around and drove back a little way before killing the engine and watched in awe as it walked out right in front of us and stopped in the middle of the track. It had seen some Springbok out on the open grassland off to our right and crouched right down and crawled across the track with its belly almost touching the floor. 

She crawled across the road, keeping low and out of sight of her prey
She stopped right beside us at one stage....

It waited for a while, peering through the grass and out onto the Springbok herd. Then it crept ever so slowly into the taller grass and out of sight, so we drove forward and watched this amazing animal as it sat gazing intently at its prey. It was maybe 8 - 10 metres away at any one time, oblivious to us and we spent a magical half an hour as it crept parallel to our position and inside the cover of some taller grass and acacias, and more importantly out of sight of the other animals. 

She sat watching a herd of Springbok for quite a while

She had obviously not made a kill during the night and was so intent on watching the herd of animals out on the savannah that we had a very personal and close encounter without disturbing her at all.

When she had crept into taller grass we were about to leave a Lion roared from nearby and we drove back only to find a male walking along the track towards us. Wow!  And he just walked right by us without taking any notice of us at all. Ok well how can you better this? 

The Lion just walked right past us...

So we drove back for breakfast, seeing an African Scops-owl at a day roost and a nice Groundscraper Thrush,  before heading out towards Namutoni (where we would spend 2 nights) in a jeep, with our bags and minibus following on later. It took several hours to travel the 75 or so kilometres as we checked out several waterholes and meandered around a series of tracks through ‘the bush’. At the first a family of Swainson’s Francolins were seen and the male became very inquisitive as he walked in front of us and hopped up on a dead tree right beside us – much to close to photograph!

This Groundscraper Thrush was quite confiding in Halali Camp

This Swainson's Francolin was very close..!

The last waterhole we checked before reaching Namutoni had Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove and Long-tailed Paradise-Whydah – both new for us.  It was wonderful to watch a group of Giraffes drinking at the pool and a young Spotted Hyena also came in as well. 

This morning was good for birds again and we also saw our first Marabou Storks, African Jacana and Western Cattle Egrets. Other birds and animals seen included Ostrich, Lappet-faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, Black-backed Jackal, Red Hartebeest and plenty of others.

Red Hartebeast

After lunch we drove to a couple of nearby waterholes where we had more Giraffes coming down to drink, another Spotted Hyena,  a herd of African Elephants, Greater Kudu, and other animals. We also had nice views of Gabar Goshawk, Kittlitz’s and Chestnut-banded Plovers, Wood Sandpiper, Grey-headed Gull, African Grey Hornbill, a gang of Grey Go-Away-Birds, Red-billed Spurfowl and Helmeted Guineafowl. Another male Lion was seen striding across an open area, and he seemed to be following a distant Lioness.

The Namutoni waterhole was not producing anything this evening, however there were a couple of Elephants in the tall grasses along the boundary fence which caused us a bit of a panic as they were very close indeed and prompted a hasty retreat to the relative safety of our luxurious cabins!

So that was our day, another incredible action-packed Etosha adventure.

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