We slept very well and did not race up this morning but still managed to leave camp by 5.45 am. We began by checking out the Letaba bridge – quiet today but Waterbuck and Hippo about. Back on the tar we drove south and then west onto the Phalaborwa Gate road where we were soon joined by a Hyena and a Grey Loerie.
As we approached the N’waswitsonto bridge there was a very strong carrion smell but, try as we might, we could not find its source. Not even a Vulture or two to give us a clue. Moving on we were soon stopped by a large herd of Buffalo crossing the road.
What an impressive sight they are.
Heading west we found Giraffe, some Impala rams sparring,
plenty of Vultures perched in a tree,
Ellies, Black-backed Jackal,
Hyena and a charming group of Dassies in the rocky area at the junction of the tar and the S51 track to Sable hide.
Close to the hide a Monitor Lizard was sunning itself on a rock near the DamMonitor Lizard Close-up
, on Flickr
and we parked up by the Hide to look out across the water. We have always been very lucky with sightings here and today would not be different. As we opened up the hide windows, we saw a herd of Ellies making their way down to the water where they kept us entertained for a good while.
A few birds also around – Pied Wagtail, Grey Heron, Blacksmith Plover and a Black Kite.
It was time to move on and we drove to the Gate as we needed to do another big food shop and the Spar at Phalaborwa is excellent. Before shopping we popped into the Wild Side Coffee Shop for our breakfast. If you have never tried this little establishment, you must do. It is excellent and the gift shop is also very good.
By the time we had stocked up in the supermarket, the temperature had reached 33 degrees and we needed to get back to camp as quickly as possible to get it all into the fridge and freezer. Ironically, the road was very quiet so we did not take too long to get back to Letaba.
The day was quite warm (mid 30’s) and we opted for siesta before driving out again. SO does it the proper way but I am so reluctant to miss anything that I slouch in a chair on the stoep and doze. Awoke at one stage to see the resident Bushbucks just in front of me. They are so gentle and very cute.
We did not plan a long sunset drive, just along to the Letaba Bridge and meander along the river bank as there are so many lay-bys to stop in. Always plenty to see along here, several Crocodiles both in and out of the water,
Yellow-billed Storks, Hadeda Ibis,
Sandpipers, Egrets, Blacksmith Plovers, Egyptian Geese, Impala, Woodland Kingfishers, Red-billed Wood Hoopoe,
Waterbuck, Hippos, a trio of Giraffe,
and a displaying Korhaan. What a kamikaze act this is! We love these birds, not jewelled colours but exquisite patterns on their feathers and their strange calls which you often hear before you spot them. But their courtship dance is something else. We had been told about it by guides but had never actually seen it. As the trip progressed, we saw the display over and over again and it gave us the title for our TR. It does make you wonder just how these acts evolve. Surely the Korhaan did not wake up one day and think ‘Let’s try this stunt to impress the females’.
Just before returning to camp, we drove down to the little river crossing on the sand road south of Letaba where some new residents were enjoying the water– Terrapins, Egyptian Geese, Three-banded Plovers and 2 Cape Buffalo cooling down from the heat of the day.
As we prepared the braai for the evening, we caught up with Bert and SO for a final chat as they would be leaving the Park in the morning. He had just received a text from a friend in the Netherlands telling him that it was snowing so they were not looking forward to the dramatic temperature change on their return.