Posted by: tim ellis | December 26, 2012

Just Cats:- Saturday 20th October 2012

Early Morning Visitors

Alarm worked! As I lock up my hut, I see a flash of lightning – It’s ok, there are ponchos on the bus. As I reach Leon and Jason’s hut, the first spots of rain arrive – they soon have their own swimming pool just outside the cabin, and the decision is made to take breakfast at 7:00 and see what the weather is like then. We stay put and drink more coffee until the worst of the storm passes and it is safe to return without a soaking. I sit and read on my porch where I am joined by several small sparrow-like birds.

The rain has virtually stopped when we go for breakfast, where the waiter impresses us with his entirely random distribution of cutlery (before we’ve even ordered) – everyone gets 1 or 2 knives, 0-2 forks, and I have the only spoon. The rain has completely stopped by the time we have eaten, so we will hit the road at 8:30.

As I return to my cabin after breakfast I see what I assume to be a domestic cat watching the birds between mine and Doreen’s huts. Jason says he doesn’t think there are any domestic cats here, and African wildcat are the same size. I’m not certain that the colour was right, but it had run off before I could get a picture…

Egyptian slit-faced bat

It is spitting again at 8:30, but we set off anyway. We manage to add some new species to our list, including black backed jackal, spotted hyaena (if you don’t count the one we saw in the camp on the first night) and an Egyptian slit faced bat (roosting in a tree). We also see some grey hornbills that look to be collecting material for nesting. Apparently the male seals the female in the nest with mud, and she looses all her feathers while locked away. A sort of “Fifty Shades of Grey Hornbill”…

Leopard

Leon gets news of a leopard kill nearby, so we take a quick pit stop back at camp, then head out to see what we can find. We reach the site, and are told it has gone to ground near a tree, apparently having killed a warthog. After much looking, we finally spot it when a twitching tail gives it away – it is low down and difficult to spot amongst the bushes and long grass, and as we watch it often disappears for some time before re-emerging. Eventually it walks a short distance across the front of the tree before hiding in another bush. We watch for a while longer, but eventually need to get back as we have another sunset tour booked

It starts to spit with rain again just before the tour. We are joined by 5 others, and our guide is Excellent – which is quite a name to live up to! Leon has tipped him off about the leopard, so we head off that way, pausing to watch a hippo leave the pool to defecate. There I s no sign of the leopard, so we break out the torches but generally only see hoofstock (mostly zebra) until we reach the dam, where a large crocodile is lying across the road. Fortunately, it decides to move on, allowing us to continue without any problem.

Lions at Night

As we reach the main road, Excellent turns away from the camp and puts his foot down. He has been tipped off by one of the other drivers about a group of 4 young male lions on, or by the side of the road – we are able to see these, but have no time left for further lamping, as we are already late and there is a later tour waiting for our torches!

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