11.3. Day 3 – Getting into nature’s rhythmDistance covered
: 151 kmRoute travelled
: Nossob river-lower dune road-Auob riverDaily fuel consumption
: 8.6 l/100kmMaximum temperature
: packet of crisps, oats biscuits, Rolo ice-cream, Coke Light, 2 pies (1 chicken and mushroom, 1 venison)Highlights spotted
: porcupine, brown hyena, bat-eared fox, hunting owlFavourite moment
: feeling of booking first ever SANParks activity – night driveBirding lifers
: black-chested snake-eagle, Kalahari scrub-robin, chat flycatcherList of birds for this trip
: black-headed heron, secretary bird, black-chested snake-eagle, rock kestrel, crowned lapwing, laughing dove, spotted eagle-owl, pearl-breasted swallow, cape crow, Kalahari scrub-robin, chat flycatcher, crimson-breasted shrike, dusky sunbird
As became my daily routine (although I prefer the word, tradition), I awoke at 0516 according to my cell – this is about 0511 regular time. I took a relatively cool shower (not only as it was not that hot, but also to save on power); this also kept the showers shorter which saved water, something I felt had some poetic justification being in the desert.
I was a touch low on fuel as the sandy roads were making me use significantly more fuel than expected (giving the driving speeds and style, on a flat tar road I would get closer to 7.6 than 8.6 l/100km – not that I wanted the tar roads, I was just not prepared for the increased fuel usage). As I was too late the previous evening to fill up and I did not want to wait until the pumps opened, I wanted to be out the gate to experience my first sunrise drive in KTP, I rather changed from the plan of doing the long upper dune road and did the LDR instead. Also, I was extremely tired. I was trying to balance being on holiday and doing some work, after all, it’s the few special images I hoped to get that would need to pay for the trip later. The heat was by no means unbearable as a rule, but I remember moving slowly when outside on this day, it was super scorching, and coming from a Paarl/Stellenbosch kid where the schools did not have aircon, this is noteworthy heat. The long driving was also taking a toll – I am accustomed to sharing the driving with SO doing most of the highway stints as she enjoys it, so doing all the km myself was just a little tiring I guess. Working until late (I would download, back up, ID birds and delete the bad images in the evening) and being up with the sun was also working my gizzard into a tickle. So, I decided, I can take it easy today, maybe even nap.
Let's now start with some images. First up are some general images of relatively common guys I saw near TR.
I prefer not to overlook the common: a brown bird or an everyday springbok - it is still a privilege to see wild animals in the wild!
Much like kori bustards, I have a special liking for secretary birds. I reckon it stems from their unique look, but surely their dance when trying to catch a snake must add to their appeal? Anyhow, I saw quite a number of them, however, like so many animals/birds I encounter, that elusive "wow, that is the shot" photograph is still waiting for me on a different trip. This guy was hunting, but did not find his lunch at this bush.
There was little wind so the flies were really a pest - luckily not for me (I did have my shower). Btw, here is a big photographic lesson. Study the picture and then read the rest of this paragraph... Did you see it? I have the white balance set on sunny when much of the time, like with this shot, it was overcast, hence the yellow hue. I like to use custom white balance settings where I actually set the temperature to a specific number based on what my eye sees. In this case, when I am taking many shots over a few hours where the light changes, conditions change, and the camera must be ready for that life changing sighting, I prefer auto white balance (also the only thing on my cameras that I leave on auto). The 1D4 does a good job. However, a week before the trip, while I was testing other equipment, I let a friend borrow my 1D4 while we shot birds together, he changed it. He said he let me know but I probably was more focused on the view from the hide than something about white balance. STUPID! I check battery levels, I check that the camera is in high burst mode, Av, all of it, but I assumed the AWB was fine as I had not adjusted it in a long time. Check, always check.
Gotta love these little guys. I saw fewer than I thought I would outside the camps.
Always a smile when I spot one. The only time I ever really got much success with these little guys was at MZNP last year when there were 4 near my chalet.
First sighting of one for me. I was sure I would see many later, but hey, rather safe and get a shot in now. Anyhow, it's a new birdy for me.
Let this be a hint to the first teeth and first totally exciting part of my trip. Son godin and the organised game drives saw the same guys a few times.