2 May - Tamboti - Satara - Tamboti
Although the rains had stopped by morning, the day was still grey and very windy and there was still a lot of moisture in the air. Clearly the warmest place I could be was in my car with the heater going full blast, so I brewed up a big mug of coffee and was if not first out of the gate, very close to it.
Today I again planned to drive some roads that were new to me, the S106 and the S126, en route to Satara. Along the Rabelais Loop (S106), I found fresh lion tracks in the damp sand and followed them until they eventually went off into the tall grass, but there was no other sign of the lions. Later, on the Sweni Road (S126), I spent quite some time enjoying the antics of a group of dwarf mongooses, with quite a few youngsters mock fighting and wrestling. These are such engaging creatures, and since I had seen none in 2000, I really enjoyed this first encounter with them in many years!
Yet another excited report of a lion sighting turned out to be distant ears under a bush, but the day brought other rewards, including a martial eagle and my first ever slender mongoose — or at least the first one that stopped long enough for me to make a positive ID! And at Nsemani Dam I watched some interesting fish eagle behaviour. The eagle was wading in shallow water and seeing off some inquisitive vervets. A bit later, when the eagle tried to fly off, the tables were turned as what appeared to be forktailed drongos began divebombing the eagle. I've no idea what those little birds felt that the eagle was threatening, but they sure were fierce and persistent. The eagle first returned to wading in the shallows and then eventually managed to fly off in another direction.
While it was still chilly that evening, I really enjoyed sitting out under the stars on my tent's deck, using what I'd learned from the Olifants Astronomy Experience to locate the Southern Cross and other features of the night sky and listening to the night sounds. It's always thrilling to hear hyena and lions calling, usually way off in the distance. This evening I was treated to a hyena "serenade" from directly in front of my tent, an unforgettable experience!
: impala, giraffe, emeraldspotted wood dove, crested francolin, doublebanded sandgrouse, grey duiker
: doublebanded sandgrouse, impala, redbilled hornbill, ?brown snake eagle, dwarf mongooses
: pair of purple rollers, glossy starling, waterbuck, giraffe, zebra
: impala, paradise whydah in flight
: impala, laughing doves, lilacbreasted roller, zebra, giraffe, baboons, terrapin, wildebeest, leopard tortoise, purple roller, paradise whydah, distant lioness
: zebra, steenbok, laughing doves, waterbuck
: ellie bull, impala, forktailed drongo, whitebacked vultures
: impala and marabou storks, zebra, martial eagle, waterbuck, hippo, baboons, fish eagle, vervet monkeys
: doublebanded sandgrouse, impala, grey lourie, slender mongoose, waterbuck, giraffe, whitebacked vulture
: impala, wildebeest, marabou storks
Tamboti private road
: slender mongoose