29th November 2012
This morning the sun was shining brightly and after a quick breakfast we headed south towards Kanniedood and then planned to continue south along the S50 for a while. This would be our last full day in the north so wanted to make the best of our time here. Impala and Nyala were happily feeding along the river bed. As we paused alongside another vehicle, the driver pointed out a Giant Eagle Owl hiding in a large tree.
What impressive birds these are. We stayed for a while trying for some decent pictures but moved away when more cars stopped so that they could get a better view of the Owl. The Woodland Kingfishers offered splashes of colour in the bushes and trees and we paused again to listen to their distinctive call.
A tortoise crossed in front of our car and we could hear Fish Eagles calling nearby. Stopping at various little loops along this road we found Warthogs, Waterbuck,
a large Hippo pool, Boomslang,
Egyptian Geese, Wood Hoopoe and a large herd of Buffalo across the river.
It seemed a good opportunity to stop for a coffee break and watch the Buff interact.
The birds were out in force this morning – Greater Egret, Yellow-billed Stork,
Grey Heron, Goliath Heron,
Hammerkop, Jacana, Egyptian Geese, Arrow-marked Babblers, Blue Waxbill
(reading other TRs, people seem to see these beautiful birds much more often than us – in fact we have only seen them in Shing camp and in the area nearby. Do they migrate in the winter and we miss them for that reason?), Golden-tailed Woodpeckers, Marabou,
Grey Hornbill, Saddle-billed Storks,
and a Giraffe in a hurry to get someplace.
We were really spoiled for choice today and it was fantastic to see them all.
Back on the road we had another treat in store – a leopard on the ground!
Whilst I love lions, I have to say, the leopard is something else. They have such a presence about them. It was fairly well hidden and hard to photograph but what a great day this was turning out to be. We sat with him (or her) for a while, at least until another car stopped and we pointed out the leopard and moved on to make way for them to enjoy his company.
The temperature had now risen to 37 degrees and continuing south there was less and less shade so we made the decision to turn around and drive slowly back to camp. A small breeding herd of Elephant were cooling off in the reedbeds and Impala Lambs were in the shade.
Lots of the wildlife we had seen earlier were still about although the Giant Eagle Owl had moved onto another branch to make way for his offspring. We could hear him calling out though.
SO went for a rest and I started packing up ready to move south again in the morning. It had been another memorable stay at Shingwedzi and we have always been incredibly lucky with sightings in the area. For anyone reading our TR who has not tried Shing, we recommend it wholeheartedly. After the devastation from the floods earlier this year, we will be very interested to see what has changed as we have managed to get a booking for this month.
Our final plan this evening was to find Heksie and WendyA who we knew were here this evening. We had met on previous trips but this time we knew they were on a mission – to get as many photos with Yrs as possible for a fundraising plan. It did not take too long to find them set up alongside the fence and we spent a very enjoyable time catching up on news, future plans etc. I know Heksie has the pictures for this so I hope she is reading and can add to our TR. It was lovely to meet you both again and we are sorry we will miss each other for our next trip.