Breaking Free From Lockdown. A Gecko Road Trip. Day 21 Letaba

It’s 08:15 and still a chilly 16 degrees C this morning. The skies are cloudy but it won’t be for long. Bring a fleece and throw it off later when the sun starts warming up. All aboard for a virtual game drive. We’re following our friends to see what we can find out there in the African bush!

Where are the animals hiding? Why aren’t the birds singing? It’s half past nine and we’ve seen nothing but trees, rocks and bush!

Oh no – what’s that trumpeting sound? Alec is calling on the Walkie Talkie, “Did you hear that? My heart nearly stopped. Look up ahead.”

Uh oh – Do we pass or wait until he moves further into the bush.

The Earl takes the mike, “He’s very relaxed. Just drive on past.

Listen to Alec’s reply, “Cathy says to wait till he goes further into the bush!”

Don’t worry, we won’t put your lives in danger. It’s okay to go now, he’s moved deeper into the bush! Always remember give elephants a wide berth – don’t upset them, they’re bigger than you!

There is no point continuing on this road. We took it to Phalaborwa gate on Friday and it was dead. Let’s get back onto the tar road and then turn right after the bridge and do some river loops.

Listen do you hear that? It’s a fish eagle and there she is. You’ll need to look through your binoculars

What a lovely bird
Now she’s flown to join her mate

Wow, the tar road is finding us more animals. Alec has stopped up ahead. He’s seen a buffalo.

A single buffalo munching on dry grass

Look at the starling keeping close to the buffalo’s feet Why do you think she’s doing that?

Yes – she knows he will disturb grasshoppers and other insects for her to catch and eat.

It’s always worth stopping on a bridge. Cathy’s found something already,

Do you see his two black stripes on the breast? The female only has one. This is a male pied kingfisher.

Watch those swallows flying – oh look one has landed on the railing.

It’s a wire-tailed swallow

These swallows are resident in the Limpopo province all year round. They are always near water.

Oh look right down there on the bank of the river? Do you see those beautiful buck? They’re usually seen in rocky areas and they are very agile rock climbers. Their Afrikaans name, Klipspringer, means rock jumper. They’re away from their rocks because they’re thirsty and heading down for a drink.

Klipspringers – Male and female – they mate for life
And this bird with a hammer like crest is called a Hamerkop

The hamerkop will stand at the water’s edge and snatch prey from the water or the land. He will also probe in the mud for aquatic creatures but then he will wash his prey before eating it.

Okay, it’s time to move on. Alec goes first. Uh oh, what’s he seen now. “Road block ahead!”

Alec stops well clear of the elephants

We’re letting all the elephants cross over but they’re heading down the road we want to take. And they’ve got babies. It’s wise to give them a wide berth as they’re very protective of their young. Let’s just go very carefully down that road and hope they’re not blocking it.

They’re watching us and we’re watching them
I’m warning you don’t come near our babies

We’ll just sneak slowly past and cross through the water. Hold tight as we negotiate the rough road across the river. Yes, Earl, I know you think it’s fun, but it won’t be funny having an elephant push you from behind!

Look over there. Terrapins sunning themselves on the flat rocks.

The Earl snaps a shot

Here you can see why it’s called Letaba – the river of sand

No water in this section of the river

Look over there on the river bank – some kudu. But the male is hiding and won’t pose for a photograph.

Alec snaps a shot of a beautiful female kudu

I hope you have enjoyed the morning drive.

It’s now after three-o’clock. Bring a packed snack for this afternoon’s birding drive. We’re taking the main road and then half the Mingerhout drive and back. We will stop for birds and creatures so have you binoculars ready. Alec and Cathy are driving to the bird hide. We won’t be in tandem this afternoon.

Wow there is a whole bird party here.

Southern Black Tit
Brown-crowned Tchagra
Crested Barbet
African Hoopoe

Wasn’t that fun seeing so many birds. It’s a pity we couldn’t get good photos of them all. Now let’s look down on the river to see what we can find. I think I see a grey heron.

Isn’t he posing nicely

Earl, are we going back now? Wait – those stones are moving. They’re not stones – they’re birds! They camouflage very well.

Mom tells the babies to sit still but they gather close together. She keeps a close eye on them
Dad moves on to distract us

Let’s head back and see what Cathy and Alec have seen at the bird hide. Take a look at Cathy’s photos of the hippo’s entertainment.

Open wide
Hands up

Thanks for riding along with us once again. See you all tomorrow.

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