Breaking Free from Lockdown. A Gecko Road Trip. Day 15

Our day began with owls once again.   Before we joined Alec and Cathy on the S50 we quickly drove to Mooiplaas picnic site as the windscreen was not quite clean enough and The Earl wanted to get out and wipe it.   When we stopped I noticed some people pointing and looking into a tree.  I went over and they showed me where two lovely little owls were cuddled up together.

We caught up with Alec and Cathy at one of the waterholes.  They had found kori bustards but they were quite far away.  The Earl got an amusing photo of a windmill and a heron.

We followed on after Cathy and Alec and they alerted us to a small antelope than had been frightened by a wildebeest.

Steenbok nervously looking to see if the wild one hadn’t followed him.

It was fairly quiet for most of our drive but we enjoyed the usual favourites and had fun trying to photograph the ever active chestnut-backed sparrow-larks.

Magpie shrike
Yellow-billed Hornbill looking gorgeous in the bronzed Mopane
Two birds in one tree – Hornbill and Starling
Beauty of the Park – Lilac-breasted Roller
Female chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark
Male chestnut-backed sparrow-lark
An elephant has an advantage at such water tanks

When we were back on the H1-6 Cathy called us on the walkie-talkie. “We have a lioness,” she said. We crept up to where they were parked, found the culprit, snapped her portrait and then made room for others who arrived on the scene.

I consider myself to be a fairly tolerant person but there is one thing that really annoys me and that is bad driving in a game reserve. There are strict speed limits of 50 km/hr on the tar roads and 40 on gravel. Most tourists go even slower than that otherwise much would be missed. Today I was taking a photo of a lovely zebra crossing when a white Polo sped past and right up to the zebra not bothering to wait for them all to cross over. What an idiot!

Who wouldn’t want to wait for these gentle creatures. The Polo took the first gap to get through.

Soon after this there was another roadblock and I wondered if the Polo would be squashed but obviously he’d made it through.

You don’t mess with a giant
This was where the ellies were headed

We had the highest temperatures so far this trip with the maximum going up to 37 degrees C. At 11 we stopped at Mopani for breakfast and then sat in the cool of the foyer to check emails, social media and to blog.

Back at camp we discovered a hippo napping in the bush near the fence – a photo was impossible. He stayed there until just before we left for our afternoon drive when he awoke, yawned and took his leave. I have no idea why he would be out of the water in the heat of the day.

When I went to check on the woodowl in the camp kitchen, he was still there and this time with his eyes open.

We left for our afternoon drive at quarter to four and followed the H14 in the hope of finding a hyaena den we’d seen on a previous visit. It was very quiet and at half past four we turned around without having seen much. Cathy was driving their vehicle and took the lead. We hung back to take photos of a korhaan.

Female Red-crested Korhaan – We saw the male a little further on but he would not pose for a photo shoot

During a discussion about sightings in Kruger, Alec complained that he and Cathy had never had a proper leopard sighting in the park. “Just a distant spot and a tail disappearing,” he said. “I don’t believe people see them as often as they brag.”

I didn’t want to tell him that on one trip to Kruger we saw more leopards than lions. I didn’t want to increase his envy.

“I promise you, Alec and Cathy,” I said. “You will see leopards this year. You absolutely will” And when they almost did last week their response was – We are never going to see one!”

We were quite far behind when the walkie-talkie crackled and Alec called excitedly. “We have a leopard. At long last we have a leopard!”

As quickly as we could we caught up and found them with huge grins on their faces.

“He’s gone, hasn’t he?” I said. Cathy was in the driver’s seat. “Yes,” she replied. “I noticed something coming toward us and said to Alec – It’s a leopard! I stopped and snapped a shot through the windscreen. Then she walked to Alec’s side of the car and he took the camera but in his excitement didn’t get the whole animal in!” She laughed.

Cathy’s leopard
Too quick for Alec’s shot

I was over the moon that they finally got their leopard but slightly disappointed that Earl and I dipped on it this time!

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