Another night gone and a new day had begun.
We did not kill ourselves trying to get out of the gates as soon as they opened. One thing I have noticed is that all our best sightings have usually been later in the morning and/or midday.
SO is not a morning person and I have learned over the years to enjoy the first few hours, waiting for him to awaken, around the camp.
The early morning bird chorus, the rustle of frogs and insects as diurnal creatures exchange places with the creatures of the night.
Once our goody bag was packed and SO had had his second cup of coffee, we headed off on our morning drive.
The camp ‘bokkies’ gamboled about as the birds cheered them on with their morning song. We passed an elephant and a tad further a rhino family. We stopped to watch a family of dwarf mongoose go about their daily ritual. Little ones shrieked in protest at the monstrosity that had disturbed their daily play.
Back on the move, enjoying the peace, SO suddenly hit the brakes – hard. Grabbing a camera he fired off two quick shots. No time to focus. I was battling to peer over his shoulder to see what he had seen.
What…What.” – I asked.
Then I spotted it. Twisting and sliding across the road, tongue flicking in and out with lightening strokes - a slender snake. Desperate to get out of harms way it slithered rapidly into the grass and disappeared from view.
This was definitely not expected. We have seen various snakes on our visits, but this was our first skaapsteeker in KNP.
(This id could be incorrect – and any help here would be appreciated. Although the photo is not very clear).
On the bridge a couple of cars had stopped so we didn’t spend much time looking up and down the river bed. The same three buffalo were wandering through the bush and a family of giraffe where clipping and shaping the tree tops.
We headed back to the lion kill on the off chance the hyena and vulture might still be there. The lion were not to be seen – but the vulture and the smell of death still dominated the area.
Not a hyena in sight. In fact neither sign nor sound of hyena in the area at all.
We continued our journey towards Afsaal along the dust roads. It was very peaceful and we had the opportunity to stop at enjoy the sightings without interruptions from other vehicles.
The dung beetles were out in full force. Industrious little creatures - some rolling there dung balls whilst others bickered and fought amongst themselves on the rhino middens.
At Afsaal - Mr Spock was better hidden in his tree – but we soon sighted him – paid our respects, then left him/her in peace.
A bush buck made her wary way through the picnic spot into the surrounding bushes. The hornbills and starlings making their presence known by there unique call as they performed for hand outs.
Small beetles scuttled to safety – leaving miniature tracks and roads across the sand.
The shongolola’s curled up in the trees – out of harms way.
Having had our morning “leg stretch” we wended our way homewards. A few detours on the way to dams and water holes where small antelope stood like statures until the camera was raised – then they darted into the distance as if the hounds of hell where on their heels.
Giraffe and zebra had no such problem. The giraffe peering down at us from their lofty height – giving us disdainful looks from under their beautiful eyelashes. Zebra’s swatted and kicked at flies that buzzed around their bellies and faces, turning their rounded rumps in our direction.
Impala and other antelope melted into the trees, cautiously watching us as we watched them. The ever present henny pennies and guinea fowl scuttled across the road, keeping us on our toes. Tortoises and terrapins slowly making their way into the grass or sunning themselves next to the pools of water. The sparkling white frog nests glistening in the sun its image reflecting on the ponds surface like a full moon shining across the murky brown water.
Arriving at the bridge – a traffic jam of note – the leopard had been spotted in the distant tree. Earlier that morning it was a dubious sighting at best – now it was a confirmed leopard sighting. We had not choice but to sit and wait it out – we had been “parked” in.
The next moments perhaps should not have amused me – but it did. I had a good chuckle at what transpired on the blocked bridge – SO was not amused.