2nd December 2012
Having had a fairly easy day yesterday, we made an effort to get up and about somewhat earlier. Despite light rain and feeling definitely on the cool side, we managed to get on the road by 6am. We kept to the tar roads and headed south. Grey Lourie sat close to the road, a large Bull Elephant on his way up from the river, Giraffe, Yellow-billed Stork, several White-backed Vultures perched in the trees, Red-crested Korhaan and a Spotted Hyena on his way back home.
We paused on the bridge but did not get out as it was still cold and wet outside. We continued on to Ngotso Dam and stopped for a coffee break. Although it was fairly quiet, it was nice to just sit and soak up our surroundings but a few Zebra
and Wildebeest came down for a drink as we waited.
Over the years we have had some amazing sightings along the main road between Olifants and Satara but today all the wildlife must have been hunkering down trying to keep warm. We decided to take the sand road towards Timbavati where we spotted 2 Bull Elephant, Baboons, a small raptor (possibly a Honey Buzzard),
and Giraffe. Heading north again we drove up to Piet Grobler Dam with a few Giraffe,
Zebra, Hippos in the water and a Dung Beetle manoeuvring a ball across the road.
We turned south again and called in at Ratelpan Hide – plenty of Hippos
but some lovely birds as well – Goliath Heron,
Green-backed Heron, Pied Kingfisher, Marsh Sandpiper and Red Bishops.
We were beginning to feel a bit peckish by now so back in the car we headed south along the S39 and S40 pausing to watch Zebra, Wildebeest,
a very engaging group of 14 Giraffes, Warthogs, European Roller,
and more Ellies as well as some lovely flowers (lilies?).
A quick stop to check out Girivana where Blacksmith Plovers and Egyptian Geese were resting before heading off to Nsemani Dam. Lots of hippos in the water together with Elephants
and a large group of Wattled Starlings. Just a short journey now into Satara and ordered brunch. This is such a busy restaurant and I am sure it will improve greatly when the new franchisee takes over...I will leave it at that.
Back in the car we passed a small group of Buffalo and turned onto the S100 which we often find is ‘all or nothing’. Today it was closer to the latter but a small troop of baboons, a Bull Elephant, Waterbuck and 2 Saddle-billed Storks
kept our attention. At the end of the road we turned south towards N’wanetsi passing Waterbuck and more Ellies
before reaching the picnic site for a comfort break. Just to illustrate the ‘right place, right time’ saying, driving back along exactly the same route but northwards, we saw lots more – Elephants, Crocodile,
Grey Heron, Black Crake, Terrapins, Hadeda Ibis, Giraffe, Waterbuck, Buffalo
At Gudzani some White-faced Whistling Ducks joined the party. We kept to the S41 heading north and began to see more and more Vultures in the sky. Eventually they began to land in a group of trees.
We stopped and waited, the number of birds increasing all the time. We were certain they could see something we couldn’t and we sat for quite a while almost expecting a predator to emerge from the bush. We were joined by another vehicle who had been travelling south and noticed the Vultures accumulating also. Eventually we decided we would have to make a move as we needed to get back to Olifants.
As usual we found large herds of Zebra along this road, often with Wildebeest close by, Giraffe, Waterbuck and Steenbok also. From the bridge we found more Waterbuck and Hippo, Grey Heron
and Egyptian Geese feeding
and a Fish Eagle overhead. Our final spot for the day was a Sharpes Grysbok.
For certain we had earned a generous sundowner and tasty braai – what a full day it had been.