June 18th, Tenth day, Fighting in the dark . . . , Monday – Part 2
A short stop at Lower Sabie camp. But I can’t find the guy with the slingshot.
Then it goes to the bridge crossing the Sabie.
Here I see a Goliath heron. I’m following it with the camera when it suddenly jumps forward covering the surface in front of it with its wings and darts its bill into the water. When it comes out again a struggling fish is in its bill. The heron is holding it mid-body and if you have a look at the fish it seems it is only some kind of surprised not panic by knowing its fate. But we all know. As long as animals are not crying on most of them you can’t see the pain on their expression.
It takes a long time till the fish is in the right position and can be swallowed and then it has left this world behind - for ever.
Some meters behind my car a Giant kingfisher has landed and I try to get some pics of him. I can come closer and closer till I have to stop because my camera only works at a range of more than 1.8 meters distance. Beautiful! I tell him if he remains here I will take special pics of him and make him famous. After that he is posing like a fashion model and I have to come to the question: Is he really male?
Once he closes his eyes by covering it with his nictitating membrane. Then he shows his bright eyes again and I can see the bridge, the river, the banks and the blue sky mirroring.
When we both have done our part of the work he flies away to new grounds and I concentrate on the heron again. It seems he will also become famous. A soft wind is blowing and brings up his feathers to a unique composition and I shoot off.
Duke waterhole would be a good choice now. Here I meet beside some wildebeest, Vervet monkeys and Warthogs the first Ostriches of this journey. But first I try to get some pictures of an African wattled lapwing that is walking in good light.
Go on to Nhlanganzwani dam. An elephant is moving away when I come but some others are splashing in the water in the distance. On the opposite bank many hippos are lying in and next to the water.
I’m following the Nhlowa road – S28 now and I see some duikers, a Secretary bird and many other birds. Then a big herd of Impalas and many zebras are completing the beauty of this road.
When I meet some warthogs most of them are running away but one is more interested in me than frighten and stays.
When I’m still standing there trying to get my pictures I suddenly see an elephant quite close angular behind me. These very small animals are often overlooked by keen photographers I suppose and move on fast.
I c see the warthog is leaving too. Was it working with the elephant and has put a trap for me?
Shortly after coming to the H4-2 again I’m approaching the bridge crossing the Vurhami River next to Gesanftombi dam. But today there is no easy crossing the river. Traffic jam at the bridge.
In the shadow of the concrete dam nine lions are lying lazy on the stairs of the dam. The riverbed and the dam that were so beautiful when I was here last time are nearly totally dry and only a small brackish pool remains below the dam.
I drive on to Crocodile Bridge camp. I will come back later when it will be less crowded. When checking in I ask whether Daniel is at the hippo pool today. He is.
I get the key for bungalow #2 but drive on without having a look for it towards the hippo pool at the Crocodile River.
In the past I always came to teh hippo pool and Crocodile Bridge via the S25 – Crocodile River Road. Staying the night before at Berg-en-Dal it was always a highlight following this road along the Crocodile River. When I was planning my trips I always tried to put this on the very beginning. So when I travelled in Kruger before I arrived there most of the time I was travelling this road in my fantasy seeing so many pictures of these surroundings from the past. But when I started with this then it was the first what was over. But not at this time. I already had so many beautiful sights and adventures and Crocodile River Road is still to come. But today it “only” goes a few kilometres on this road till the S27 branches off.
As everybody knows who red “Seventh day, Climbing elephants . . .” of this report I have some pictures with me showing Daniel. I will bring them to him and I look forward to meet him again. It is already late in the afternoon when I go to the left into S27 the road that leads to the pool. Here halfway a ranger is coming in my direction pushing his bicycle.
I stop and go to him. We shake hands. It’s so great to see him again. He remembers me immediately. We are talking and I give him my present. One of the pictures showing him is framed in a wooden picture-frame covert with glass. Asking him “You know who this is?” he answers “It’s me!” He tells me when these pictures were taken because the tree where he was sitting under has lost one of its bigger branches over the last years and so it’s easy for him determining the date.
He takes the framed one very carefully and tells me he will push his bicycle till he is at home not to destroy the picture.
We change some more words. He tells me where he sees a leopard in the morning from time to time when he comes along with his bicycle (Daniel, not the leopard!
) and some more interesting things.
Finally I go back to my car and we are going on in different directions. In the outside mirror I can see him pushing his bicycle walking home slowly. Tomorrow we will meet again.
My destination is still the hippo pool. When I’m here I take many pictures of the vicinity . . .
I stay here for a while then I drive back towards the dam. I hope there will be less traffic at the lions.
Hope can change a lot but not everything - especially at lion sightings. There is still heavy traffic and it is difficult to get a space where I can see the lions.
I’m at the Vurhami bridge for some time and waiting for any movement of the lions. I suppose they will come down to the small pool between the dam and the bridge. I’m still standing there when more and more cars arrive.
One of them is a micro bus. It is behind me and I try to let him pass to give him the best place in front of me. That means I’m driving backwards and can’t see anything of the lions now. When he passes me I drive a little more backwards to give him more space. What I have not seen he has a trailer and I run into it. Cost me some because of the damage on my car . . . .
Later when some cars have left I drive to the other side of the bridge and park here. I’m looking for a place where I can see the pool and I can find the only spot where no balustrade is between my camera and the expected place the lion will come to drink. Here I wait for more than an hour to get the expected pictures.
Many cars arrive and sometimes there are three parallel lines formed on the bridge. Between them many 4x4 loaded with tourists. It’s funny watching the newcomers. Do you know this feeling if you are at the scene and other come trying to see what you were already watching for a certain time? Is it predominance? But it is different if you have found this animal. First you enjoy being alone with your sight. But when you are going to leave and an other car comes then you are some kind of satisfied by showing them “your sight”
I’m waiting, writing my diary, eating and drinking, reading, waiting, watching tourists, waiting . . . . I nearly forget about the lions . . . . . and I’m still standing here when a lady disturbs my daydreams asking me to move a little bit further . . . to give up the place where I have been waiting for so long. . . . driving to where I would have the balustrade in the focus when the lions will come . . . .
I refuse to do this and the woman in the other car seems to be quite upset. There are some but no kind words in Afrikaans that I don’t understand like @%$*&^%! and @##@*&7. . . . .
My Afrikaans very poor but I have some fantasy . . .
If I follow Meandering Mouse’s signature “The shortest distance between people is laughter”, I have to tell you there is no laughter and we are very far from each other at this moment.
Finally the lions don’t come down and all the waiting and argument were for nothing.
On the way to the camp I take some pictures of a vulture sitting in an old tree against the dark sky in the fading light of a beautiful day.
The bungalow is super. So nice and clean like I have never seen it in Kruger before.
Put some of my stuff in and decide to fill-up my stock.
Go to the shop shortly after 6 p.m. and have to learn: The shops at Kruger are closing at 7 p.m., but at Crocodile Bridge it’s different. Here they close at 6 p.m..
But someone inside the shop sees me and they re-open. A nice guy helps me to get my stuff. I only have to tell what I want and he jumps on and brings it. What a brilliant service!
I even find a diary the same make I have. I have been looking for this in every camp and now I find it accidentally in this small shop. When paying we are talking and I see a beautiful picture of a leopard next to the cash-point. This makes me to tell them about the cheetahs in the tree. They don’t belief me and argue that was a leopard. I say no, they say leopard again. No cheetah, they say leopard again.
If you know I always have my equipment with me. This is very hard to stand but sometimes useful.
I take out my Hard-drive and show them the cheetahs and they tell me: “It’s cheetah!” That’s what I told them. We go through many pictures and when I leave they have worked some overtime.
Coming back to the bungalow a couple tries to take some pics of the moon and a star very close by.
It looks so beautiful, but my neighbors are not satisfied with their results because of their camera.
After a few minutes when they have left I try to make the same pictures. Then I go to my neighbors to show them the result and they are happy when I promise I will send them the pics.
When back we learned this was a special constellation of Moon and Venus and it will happen next time in four hundred years.
Will try to be there in Kruger and see it again.
They invite me for a beer. It’s my first “Black Label” and we talk for a long while. It is so nice to talk to them and I feel as if I have met good old friends again. They are from Witbank and have the woman’s mother with them. He is a doctor (would have needed him yesterday) and he tells me my other neighbor at #1 is the brother of Christian Bernard the famous South African. So I secured if things will happen like the night before.
They also seem to enjoy our talk very much and there is nearly no time for them to have a proper look for their braii. So I leave after two hours to give them more time.
Dinner? Mussels and oysters you think? No!
But you are very close.
I’m supposed to eat this when my nice neighbor brings me a plate with braii when I’m phoning with my girl friend.
A very special day: The constellation of the Moon and Venus and braii instead of mussels and oysters.
A day to remember - especially because of these nice neighbors.
By the way. During these days I had to learn the upset woman in the car at the lions and the nice neighbor were the same. After we have changed some nice emails after returning she told me she was in this car and what she was thinking about me at the lions when I refused to move only one meter. She also gave me some impressions what she was telling me and her passengers and what could mean @%$*&^%! and @##@*&7. . . . . .
Not surprisingly it fits quite well with my impression.
To avoid misunderstandings like this in future she is planning to make a plate for me like this: Eccentric Photographer At Work - Please Pass.
I recommended adding: But he is quite nice if you meet him twice.
And not to forget: She is also the nice lady I mentioned this morning explaining the Eagle-Owl.
Before I went to my neighbors I had put my purchase in the bungalow and the Whisky and Coke into the freezing compartment of the refrigerator. Do you remember my Berg-en-Dal experiences? They are now completed by “what happens to whisky and Coke by putting it in the freezer”.
It doesn’t do so much to the whisky because of the alcohol but the Coke is frozen.
After a day temperature of 33° now it’s only 20° and . . . . . yes! I’m freezing again. Maybe the main influence today comes from the very cold whisky-Coke I have to drink . . . . So I add more whisky . . . . . only to warm me up . . . .
My favourites of the day:
To be continued . . .