Day 4, 11 March 2013, Part 3
Once on the low maintenance road we did not drive far before we heard the special calls of the Red-crested Korhaan. They were everywhere in the dense Mopani and tall grass, we could not see all of them, but we heard all of them! So the hunt was on to spot one. We had a few glimpses and some would disappear as soon as we stop. Finally I could take a photo of one of these beautiful birds frozen like a statue right next to the road.
The Red-crested Korhaan are near-endemic and not threatened, but loss of habitat have decreased numbers. They are usually found alone and prefer living in dry but fairly dense woodland. They are easily overlooked when they are not calling and when the males are looking for a mate they have a beautiful mating display. Nesting is a shallow scrape on the ground usually under a shrub among some leaf-litter. Red-crested Korhaan's mainly eat insects, centipedes and spiders, but will also eat fruits, berries and tree gum.
The condition of these low maintenance roads are for the most part very good and the only places where the road could be considered bad was where water washed across the road and created ditches and at the little streams.
Only now and then the Mopanies open up a little bit, but most of the way featured the beautiful dense Mopani curtain.
We did spot some Impala peeping through the dense Mopani bush.
At the first T-junction we turned north towards the Letaba River, just South of Shimuwi Bushveld Camp where the roads ends and provided a beautiful open view of the river. We saw some old spoor in the sand and a lonely Waterbuck in the riverbed. All along the banks we could see the debris from the January floods.
We turned around and followed the trial south again. Little doves were sitting in the road and took off as we approach and we decided to drive supper slow to see if can ID these little doves. Then this little one sat still for us and I could take a snap and grabbed the I-pad with excitement since I knew this is a “new” birdie! It’s little Namaqua Doves that sat in the road trying to get warm in the overcast morning.
The Namaqua Dove is widespread and a common resident to Southern Africa and often found in pairs. They prefer semi-arid and Savanna and feed on grass seeds and weeds. The Namaqua Dove is a small dove and prey for smaller raptors.
Further down the road we spotted another lifer for us: a pair of Double-banded Sand grouses!
The Double-banded Sandgrouse are not threatened but range from scares to locally common. Their range have expanded through the years due to artificial water holes. They are found in Savanna woodland with a preference to Mopani and feed on seeds.
A Leopard Tortoise crossed the road.
Going through a small river on the other side we saw our first Kudu for the trip and it was two beautiful big bulls that clearly played in the mud a bit. As soon as we stopped they started disappearing among the thick Mopanies, but I did manage taking a few pics.
A few Impala stood in a small clearing. This Impala Ram had Golden Orb Spider web between his horns and gathered his own insects. Needless to say that everywhere we looked was Golden Orb Spider webs with huge spiders sitting waiting for breakfast.
Coming around a corner an Ellie was standing in the road (not the MAD Ellie story yet
), got a fright and took off into the Mopanies. Only now looking at the photos we spotted more Ellies in the Mopani bush.
We heard another Red-crested Korhaan nearby and stopped and he stood still for a second and I could take another picture of these beautiful birds.
Then another Leopard Tortoise crossed the road.
Around 12 o’clock we were at the end of little off-road adventure and at Phalaborwa gate, shopped for a battery invertor to charge the camera’s batteries and other electronics needed to document our First Time at Tsendze!
Back at the Phalaborwa gate an hour later the security personal saw our Rhino stickers again and asked for some more stickers to give to friends and to send home! Exactly what we intended with the stickers in the first place: to raise awareness!
Next up, the MAD Ellie story at Sable Dam…… Day 4, to continue....