Posted by: tim ellis | September 19, 2015

South Africa’s Rare Mammals – Saturday 19th September 2015

Augrabies Flat Lizard//

The restaurant doesn’t open for breakfast until 7:15, so the plan is to take a walk back up to the falls to look for the Augrabies Flat Lizard. This is somewhat curtailed by the lack of water in the chalets. I have just enough to flush the loo and lather soap over my hands, but not enough to rinse it off again! However I still manage a quick trip up, and am just about to give up when I spot a tail twitch in the corner of a large rock by the side of the path – success! Looping back towards breakfast I also manage to catch a Pale Wing Starling with wings akimbo displaying the pale patches that give it the name.

The Orange River//

We set off in the bus, with early sightings of Baboons, Vervet Monkeys and a lot of runners, as there is some sort of race going on in the park. (Toby says they also do this in the Kruger, where, no doubt the presence of the Lions encourages the competitors not to dawdle). We visit a couple of viewpoints which overlook the Orange river, where we find more Augrabies Flat Lizards and are able to look down on a Fish Eagle while incorporating a coffee stop. We are hoping to find Mountain Zebra here (It’s the only place they can be found in South Africa) but without success – we do see giraffe, which we hadn’t seen before on the trip, although they are a long way off. Much closer, and therefore more exciting, are the Namaqua Sandgrouse, including one couple with a chick.

Namaqua Sandgrouse//

Back to camp for an early dinner (5:00 pm) as we have a night drive booked at 7:00 pm. Since this a national park trip, we aren’t sure how many participants there will be, so we turn up early to ensure good seats, It turns out to be just the four of us, with a driver/guide called Richard. We tell him we are interested in small mammals but not to ignore any leopards he might find. The first few sightings are quite brief as the animals disappear as soon as they are spotted (including an Eagle Owl which flies away from it’s roadside perch. Margaret and I are on the right side of the vehicle and manage to see it, Neville and Mary are not so lucky). As we progress things become a little more co-operative, if not always close enough to make photography viable. However we see much closer Giraffes than earlier, some Scrub Hare and Red Rock Rabbits (another first for the trip, as are the Klipspringer) and, finally some Mountain Zebra – a long way off and well hidden against the trees, but visible with binoculars. Richard rounds off the trip with some Astronomy and local geology.



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