Well done Gavin! Caterpillar Invasion! - and birds. Wed 5th Oct 2010 - Mata Mata
On rising today we found a second plague of caterpillars, this time FAR worse than the last. Our adjoining neighbour had left their outside light on so MILLIONS of these creatures had zoned in on the light from everywhere. Hundreds were over our window canvas, many coming through into the kitchen and some through into our bedroom. They were all over our step and on opening the outside door we were faced with a flotilla of crawlies hanging by gossamer threads from the rafters and shrouding the door like a curtain, covering anyone that decided to walk through!
Believe me, I would take one single bat any day to this disgusting invasion. We took pics of the area between our chalets and would have loved to stay around to see the faces of our neighbours when they got up as I am sure that most caterpillars must have wriggled into their chalet.
We left camp at 6am again. It was a sunny 18c, but rather dusty as there was no wind. See sunrise above.
The jackals were the first to greet us. Up to now we had not seen any pygmy falcon, but that was soon remedied when we saw an adult feeding two chicks on the ground (no pics).
Today we also saw Hoopoe again and a couple of Tawny Eagles on riverbed trees.
We drove through all the loops hoping to find the lions again but today only saw the usual antelope candidates. At the second loop we found 3 juvenile lions in the shade, 2 males and 1 female. We did not think these were the same as the previous individuals seen as they looked slightly older. We did not find the main pride again.
As we drove on, Penni suddenly spotted a pair of thrushes in the grass. Our bird book confirmed them to be Ground Scraper Thrushes, which are only shown as occurring in the North tip of the area. They were delightful birds, collecting large beak fulls of grasses.
We also saw Spotted Thick-knees and Common Scimitar bill (no pics) and finally a Yellow-billed Hornbill, which so far had been surprisingly absent on this trip.
We spent some time sitting under a sociable weaver nest, testing ourselves at snapping birds as they busied themselves on repairing their nest, and almost snapping our necks and wrists in the process!.
We then returned to see if the lions were still there, but they had gone.
We also got a Secretary Bird in flight and at 13th Boorgat we watched a stunning Black-breasted Snake Eagle drinking from the waterhole, before flying off.
Apologies for posting so many of this beautiful bird. Temperature was now 36c.
We took pics Gemsbok and saw Pygmy Falcon on the way back to camp, but light was now harsh difficult so only one image is slightly decent and sadly this is the only pics possible of Pygmy's for this trip.
We came across a single, juvenile male lion under a tree about 12km outside of camp. He looked a bit older than those seen with Drefoss, and was developing a good blackish mane. We scoured the area but could see no other lion. Apparently he had been there all day.
We returned to camp around 2.30pm for a cold shower and rest and were back out at 5.30pm. The nearby lion had gone, the sun was already going down and we took sunset pics before proceeding then to Craig Lockhardt.
We saw a PCG looking to roost for the night. In the riverbed were 7 Giraffe heading to drink at the waterhole and a few cars already there. We drove up to join the other vehicles, but light was fading fast. We shot a few pics before conceding we had to return to camp with just 30 minutes before gate closing. On turning the vehicle round, we saw another traffic jam just a little further down the road and lions were approaching the waterhole from the other direction!
Sadly we had no choice but to leave the exciting prospect to unfold and I suspect there were a few late cars getting back to camp!
During the night we had another wind storm and a shower of rain. We had difficulty sleeping as it was so hot and eventually lay on top of the beds in our birthday suits, covered by towels soaked in cold water.
The wind had managed to keep the caterpillars to a minimum!
(The next episode is from our most exciting day of the trip!!!!)
/to be continued…..