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- Dreams are the wings of my life - Travelling in paradise
Dreams are the wings of my life - Travelling in paradise
- Topic Author
I am new here. However, I want to post one day out of my Kruger story. It is the day with some of my most spectacular bird sightings.
If you want to read more about just follow the link in my signature.
Fourth day, Kills by the small ones . . . , Tuesday
I was right and did not freeze to death tonight. Again, it is unbelievable cold inside the bungalow and I am freezing until I am standing below the shower. A shower and shaving, a civilized start in a new day.
Today I will go to Satara to stay there for two nights.
I take the Matjulu Loop again but there are no sightings until I come to H3 where I meet an elephant bull in mast. First, he seems to consider what to do with me but recognises charging me will not be exactly what he is looking for and so he decides to move away.
I will go via Biyamiti weir now.
I turn into S118 and see some birds. Once a Fork-tailed drongo is attacking a Yellow-billed hornbill and at the weir, a crocodile and a Malachite kingfisher are waiting for me.
However, the next sight is an unpleasant one. A Yellow-billed hornbill is lying dead on the road. This poor bird will never spread its wings and fly above my beloved African savannah.
I spend some time next to this unlucky bird then I go on to Renosterkoppies dam. Here I can see a Red-billed oxpecker riding on a warthog. Compared to the usual sights on buffalos, rhinos, kudus or giraffes it looks more like Pony riding.
In the vicinity are some kudus, wildebeest and zebras. They are coming close by and I take pictures until they leave.
I drive on to stop soon again, when a Yellow-billed hornbill catches a caterpillar. This remembers me that I have missed breakfast again.
My next stop is at Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Tablet. Here I am alone and I will follow the small paths behind the parking area. However, they seem to be used as natural restrooms and I avoid going further. No, not being afraid meeting a leopard. I am afraid to step into something and this will not be a snake. When other cars arrive, I am leaving after unsuccessfully trying to take some pictures of butterflies. Nevertheless, other nice sightings are waiting for me.
On my way back I follow the S114 again and I'm driving in the direction to Skukuza. A few hundred meters ahead, the T-junction H1-1 a steel-blue car flags me down. A black family of five is waiting and the father asks me whether I have seen an elephant in the near. I tell them I saw none but a few kilometres ahead at Renosterkoppies dam there is always something interesting to see and I ask them whether they know where this is. They do not and I ask them to show me their map, but they do not have any. I am showing them the way on my map and finally give it to them as a present. They are very happy and tell me they have never been in Kruger before.
They seem to be everything but not rich. Instead of this, they are full of expectations. I can see the bright in the eyes of the children and their mother. Her father expresses the proud that he could manage to take his family to the park and fulfil their long lasting dream.
It does not have to be beautiful sights all the time to feel something special.
I ask them whether they have something to drink for the children - they have not. Therefore, I go to my boot and take out all my water and give it to them but keep the beer for myself. Some more words and then we drive on.
On the tarred road, I see a Southern ground hornbill walking along the street. When I am following him and I take some pictures, he finds a snake. Some fast steps and he gets it. He takes it at the head and she is fighting for her live. Curling her body around his bill and winding off again and back. The hornbill tries to swallow her when the snake is still living. But when the snake has already disappeared by half she comes out again and falls to the ground. Billi is catching her again and this time there is no way back.
Right place, right time as Lourens would say.
Does anybody know why I make the hornbill male and the snake female?
Anne-Marie a friend from Switzerland means “because it is always a male who catches the female”. Maybe at animal kingdom, . . . I didn’t see that in this way till today but I will think it over . . .
Actually, I come to the following conclusion:
In German we have three “Artikel”: der, die, das.
der = male - the bird = der Vogel - the Ground hornbill = the Bird = der Vogel = der = male
die = female - the snake = die Schlange - whatever it was = the snake = die Schlange = die = female
das = neuter - the house = das Haus . . . . . . . . . . . . . no animal = uninteresting
At Skukuza after I have refilled my finances with cash I do some shopping. Beside a lot of Coke, water and beer, I fill my stock on smoked mussels and oysters. I can also add a can of sardines to have some kind of variety.
Then I take some pictures of the Wahlberg’s epaulette fruit bats that are hanging below the roof of the buma next to the restaurant. These flying foxes with their big brown eyes look so cute.
When I go back to my car, I meet a man I have already noticed at the reception area. He is wearing a shirt in leopard style and a headband in the same make. He looks like a Zulu-king. I will call him ´Siyabona´ that means ´Hello´ in Zulu. We change some words and I ask him whether he is Zulu. We have a nice talk trying to find out things that are similar or different between Bavarians and Zulus. A very nice person; I like him. After wishing ´Ngikufisela inhlanhla´ what means ´Good luck´ I am back on the tar road.
I'm already driving the H11 for some hundreds meters when I see in the rear-view mirror a Ground hornbill crossing the street. I turn and get it in the bright light very close. Sometimes too close, because the camera is focusing only from a distance of at least 1.8 meters.
Later at a low water bridge, I see some water terrapins and try to get a picture of a Reed cormorant when a Nile monitor comes out of the water carrying a living fish, at least three-times a big as his head. Some cars are already waiting for passing but I stand my ground block the road and take my pictures. Unfortunately, it goes over the rocks and I cannot see it any longer.
Therefore, I concentrate back on the cormorant that is spreading his plumage now to let it dry by the sun.
Shortly after I have re-opened the bridge, I see a Tawny eagle and later an elephant with two broken tusks, standing in the shadow. I spend some time with him until he comes out and is standing in the bright light of the sun. A very peaceful fellow that comes quite close, for many others around it seems to close to my car. They become afraid and move on even if they are standing some more paces away then me.
I get some nice pictures and when he crosses the street walking deeper into the bush later on, I leave too.
Rush hour at Silolweni Dam: A breading herd of elephants, giraffes, hippos, waterbucks, fish eagle and herons are present. Above all a group of spoonbills is circling. Mystically they are circling and they entice me repeatedly to focus my camera on them and taking pictures. My eyes are following these birds taking with them my thoughts and dreams. Like so often, I close my eyes, listen to the sound that is coming in and is telling me of beautiful Africa.
I remember when I have been here for the first time - yesterday when I was young.
Does anybody know me personally? Yes? Okay . . . Maybe it was the day before yesterday, or just between.
At this visit, I took the first picture of a Southern yellow-billed hornbill and a video of a Waterbuck young drinking at his mother. I still remember where I was standing with the car, but the bush where Billi was sitting on is mostly gone.
It is stunning how many places and scenes I can remember. Where I have seen my first leopard, elephant, lion, . . . . in the wild. Or where I took my first picture or video of them.
Unfortunately, I always remember more the missed shoots and I still add on to these memories during these days. I just have to remember the pangolins!
When the elephants leave, I am driving back to the tarred road to cut their way but miss half of the herd that has already crossed it. Mostly I concentrate on a youngster who is walking alone torn between to be by his own and being afraid loosing his mother.
After passing Tshokwane following the H1-3, I meet our relatives. A troop of baboons is waiting next to the road. I cannot take so many good pictures because of the bad light but it is always entertaining watching them. One looks like he is dreaming of African and I join him by dreaming too.
Dreaming of Africa
I could stay with these interesting creatures for hours. Listen to their permanent short sounds of soft grunting telling the other members of the group their location or satisfaction. They are so entertaining and I always spend a lot of time with them. As I remember, I never saw baboons and did not stop to spend some time with these funny members of the bush and some of my best pictures show baboons.
However, every now and then cars are stopping beside me. When they see I “only” take photos of baboons they drive on and leave me back with a complaining expression on their face. However, I know this . . .
I move on and soon I see some elephants and buffalos close together in the N'waswitsontso River bed and closer to the road are some elephant cows with a young that is trying to drink.
I branch off and on the way to the Southernmost Baobab I am stopped by baboons again - this time they are in good light.
At this big tree, I remember when I was here last time . . . . and on the way back I meet the baboons again and stay with them for some more time.
My next stop is with two buffaloes close to the road. The big one is not willing to lift his head even if I am waiting for a long time. He is busy with feeding only and ignores me totally, although he moves so close that I have to drive back a few meters.
It is going to be late, I drive on, and on the remaining way to Satara, I see a lot of birds and among them a Bateleur.
At Satara, I am awarded with Bungalow A25. A beautiful bungalow, very luxury, even with microwave but compared to the G-Bungalows the view from the veranda is rather disappointing. It goes inside the A-circle. There will come no hyena along a fence.
Dinner today: ?
Smoked mussels and oysters, you think?
It is sardines and smoked mussels to make the day really different.
So, I do not need the microwave.
My neighbour is coming asking for a corkscrew, to open his red wine. I can help him. He opens the bottle and invites me for a glass. But there is no time because I have to leave to join the night drive. Therefore, we postpone it to tomorrow.
When I arrive at the reception area, everybody is already waiting for me and so we can start within minutes. Our ranger is Jock.
First, we see an African wildcat, a Black-backed jackal and a mouse that is running in front of the landrover. In the headlights, it appears like being white. Later we meet a Steenbok that seems to be quite interested in us.
Two Italians on my side of the 4x4, especially the boy, are very good game spooters. They see everything and so I relax and just wait for their call to stop. Then I bring my camera up and try to get what I see. Today I am tired, my eyes become heavy, and sometimes I take a short nap. That is no problem because the Italians will see everything and their repeating call “Stop!” keeps my awake . . . or maybe sometimes wakes me up. When everybody thinks the boy made a mistake and there is nothing, we have to find out, he is right again: Large-spotted Genet in a tree.
We can see it very clearly when it moves along the branches. We are watching it and the genet is watching us. We are in a favour because we have our spotlights and cameras and can take some pictures to store these special moments. On our way, back to camp Jock detects a Serval and later a Scrub hare is running in front of the 4x4.
We are back in camp at 10 p.m. and I am very tired. However, sitting in the bed with the map I still make some plans.
On the top of my list for tomorrow: S100, the N´wanetsi River Road. A road, with many things to remember.
During the night, I hear some kind of peep many times out of different directions. A mouse or a bat seems to share the room with me. I close my large camera bag not to have a passenger for tomorrow wish them a good night and sleep well.
My favourite of the day:
- Topic Author
Welcome to the forum!
I love your pictures of the Ground Hornbill with the snake!
It was just the "Disable BBCode in this post" was selected to the tags were not being recognised. I have unticked this option to allow the images. Cheers, Gordon[img] tags were not being recognised. I have unticked this option to allow the images.
- Topic Author
Yes, this was an unique moment and I was lucky to capture it in these pictures.
Gordon wrote: . . . I love your pictures of the Ground Hornbill with the snake! . . .
- Topic Author
Thank you Camby for the nice words.
Camby wrote: Ludwig, this sounds like a really memorable day!
I read some of your full report, but I haven't finished yet. Thanks for putting so much effort into it, It was sooooo good!!!
I am still working on and extending it. Finaly this story will become the framework of my book.