Headed out at sunrise, which was at 6.30am, and drove across wide open plains to an area favoured by numerous larks. In pretty quick time we had seen Pink-billed, Spike-heeled, Red-capped, and Eastern Clapper Lark, plus stunning views of Double-banded Courser and Northern Black Korhaan – not a bad haul really.
Following a delicious breakfast, and very close views of Long-billed Crombec in a tree beside our table, we loaded the luggage into the trailer and then walked to the waterhole for one last look.
Upon arrival we were greeted with a huge mass of animals all gathered close to the water: Springbok, Black-faced Impala, Burchell’s Zebra, and our first Greater Kudu. Flocks of Namaqua Sandgrouse were flying in to drink, and both African Palm and Little Swifts flew overhead. We literally had to tear ourselves away and set out on the drive towards Halali, spending the next three hours driving across Etosha. Birds of note on the drive were headlined by Rufous-eared Warbler, with other species such as Ostrich, Kori Bustard, Martial Eagle, Rufous-naped Lark, and our first Red Hartebeest being seen.
We primarily checked out the waterholes en-route and at one there were herds of Burchell’s Zebra, Springbok, Blue Wildebeast and Black-faced Impala. At another we saw Red-billed Teal, Egyptian Goose and flocks of African Quailfinch flying in to drink.
|The waterholes at Etosha were full of mammals this morning|
Upon reaching Halali we were a bit late so dived straight I for lunch, and got interrupted by a flock of White-crested helmetshrikes.
Then after getting our rooms sorted headed straight out on a drive through the Mopane woodland, where our first stop was teeming with birds responding to the owlet tape. Of course, a real Pearl-spotted Owlet flew in and this helped us out a lot as in came a superb Carp’s Black Tit, as well as numerous Grey-headed Sparrows and Red-eyed Bulbuls.
Slowly, more species appeared such as Yellow-bellied Eremomela, several Violet-eared Waxbills, and a pair of stunning Golden-breasted Buntings. The rest of the drive around the woodland was quiet apart fro a Bateleur that Sorrell spotted, until Jenny spotted a Leopard walking through the grassland – unfortunately no-one else could get on it!
Then we drove back out to the open plains, finding our first Red-crested Korhaan, and carried on to where a Leopard had previously been reported earlier in the day. With the temperature dropping we had high hopes of seeing it, maybe a foolish thing as I’ve twitched mammals on these tours before and they usually end up in disappointment. But this afternoon was different and as we pulled up at the spot there was just one other vehicle there.
|Leopard giving us a bit of attention before heading towards the Springbok|
Within a few minutes we had located the Leopard, a large female, sitting behind a small bush in the grassland. How bizarre to see a Leopard in this environment and not a Cheetah, but apparently the herds of Springbok and Impala had left the dry bush and woodlands for the richer harvest of the open plains. And the Leopard had followed them. We spent a while watching the bulky shape of the beast through the bush before all of a sudden, it began walking off to our right.
|Here she goes...|
Then it went into a crouch and began stalking some Springbok that were stupidly walking right towards it. The Leopard crouched down and became invisible and 4 Springbok kept on walking straight towards it. The first one walked right past the hidden predator, but the second one got too close and the Leopard gave a short chase, which proved unsuccessful.
|This female Leopard gave chase to an unwary Springbok|
But boy what an experience to witness nature in the raw! We kept on watching the beast until the sun was just above the horizon before driving quickly back to Halali.
|As the sun began to set we had to leave the Leopard....|
After dinner we spent a pleasant time at the waterhole in the camp, where we saw 2 Black Rhinos, 2 Black-backed Jackals, an African Elephant, and best of all, 2 Cape Foxes.