Travelling in the Time of Covid – Friday 13th – Lucky for Some

Friday 13 November 2020

Some people won’t even get out of bed on Friday 13th for fear of some dread thing befalling them. Or if they do they blame the date if anything goes wrong! I am not that superstitious but I couldn’t help wondering when I woke up this morning whether the date would have an effect on our sighitings.

I need not have worried. We made a late start today and only left Satara at 9:00 am. Our friends, Jim and Maureen had left much earlier. Just as we were leaving my cell rang. It was Maureen asking where we were and telling us that they would be following the S100.

This road is famous for producing very good sightings so we decided to catch them up and follow them to N’wanetsi Picnic Site for breakfast.

As always we kept a keen eye out for birds and as luck would have it we soon caught up to Jim and Maureen. Maureen had spotted a ‘yellow bird’ Jim knew exactly what it was!

Eurasian Golden Oriole – A first for the Earl and me

They moved on while we stayed a little longer to get our photographs. Then we caught up at another interesting sighting they had.

Female Violet-backed Starling
Mr Violet back was gathering nesting material
What a handsome fellow he is

As we continued I spotted a familiar shape and yelled for the Earl to stop. The bird was trying hard to hide behind a mesh of twigs and leaves but eventually I managed to get a half decent photograph

Pearl-spotted Owlet

Before heading to N’wanetsi for breakfast we visited a Gudzani dam viewpoint and found yellow-billed stork, open bills, blacksmith lapwings and some crocodiles. We then went to have a picnic breakfast at N’wanetsi Picnic Site. This is an unfenced site and is neatly kept by an attendant. The loos are clean and you can get boiling water on tap. It was 12 o’clock when we made our way to Sweni Hide. It was warm today but the hide was pleasantly cool and we were the only people there for over an hour. This turned out to be one of the best experiences we have had this trip. We did not see the Big Five but what we did see was amazing.

What a peaceful scene
An Open Bill waiting to see what he can catch
A patient grey heron not far away
A Yellow-billed Stork relieving an itch
Then finding something to eat

There were a few elephants at one end of the dam and hippos right in front of the hide. The scene kept changing. First one troop of elephants came down to drink, shower and swim then others kept arriving until one lot came right up to the hide and we could hear them munching behind us. We realised some were at the car park and when my camera battery went flat I was too scared to go to the car to fetch my spare. Other people arrived and I asked, “Were the elephants there?”

“Yes,” replied a nervous looking woman.
“And you got out of the car?”

“Yes,” she replied. “Much against my better judgement but they ignored us.”

I would not have been so brave! I would not leave the hide until I was sure there was a safe distance between me and them.

The hippos were also very entertaining today. We took hundreds of photographs and none do justice to the experinece we had watching them in real life.

View from hide
This baby hippo lay sleeping for about half an hour
The hippos were in a frolicking mood
Eventually the baby awoke but had no interest in getting back in the water
Her mum had other ideas. “You’ve had enough sun – now get back in the water!”
Come on now – In you go
No – Don’t turn around – Get back in the water!
The elephants on their way to the hippo area
They make their way up the bank
Don’t worry Baby, I’ll give you a push – One of the hippos opens her mouth to yell at them for intruding.
I love it here, Mum

There was so much to see from the hide that we did not know where to look and what to photograph. I took over 200 pictures. Different groups of animals kept coming and going. First impala, then waterbuck then zebra and kudu. It was awesome to watch the interaction.

Even the baboons joined in the fun
The legavaan was not going to be left out

The birds were also awesome to watch

Green-backed Heron
Red-billed firefinch
Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Once the hide began to fill and it became hotter we decided as one that it was time to leave and make our way back to camp for a rest.

In the evening we had Jim, Maureen and the friends, Har and Chris whom we met at Skukuza, over for a braai.

The Earl and me
Har brought an ice-cold dessert and served it in tin mugs – I don’t know how she made it but it was delicous😃

13 thoughts on “Travelling in the Time of Covid – Friday 13th – Lucky for Some

  1. Don Reid

    What an amazing day you’ve had!
    That Eurasian Golden Oriole is a special sighting – Kruger is one of the few places you have a chance of seeing it
    And all that action at the Sweni hide – a day to treasure!

    Liked by 1 person


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