Hi, there, 'mites! As you can see from the introductory remarks posted by Di, the Mpongolo atlassers are back... St Anderton is a chilly contrast to the balmy Mpongolo wilderness. I am sitting at my workstation dressed in four layers of clothing...
…including long johns!
Fortunately the affectionately recalled memories from the bush carry me back effortlessly to more temperate times, undertakings and accomplishments that eases the highveld autumn chill from my bones.
I started my sojourn to Mpongolo a day or so before the rest of the atlassing gang. I had a stop-over at Leeupan in mind. I managed to get away from the grindstone at around lunchtime and, in spite of doing some stretches of the trip in helicopter mode, I ran late into Kruger Gate. Getting hung up in a long funeral procession at Hazyview tested my respect for the Dead to the white-knuckle stage!
Whenever I stay over at Skukuza, I take the opportunity to see what they serve up at the Selati restaurant. I chose a delightful chili chicken liver dish shored up by garlic naan bread. The ice cold beer served in a freezer-frosted glass was a balanced, invigorating compliment to the spicy dish.
It was still dark the next morning when I set out for Leeupan. The damage caused by Irina earlier in the month was very evident and blocked roads, barricaded bridges and long detours told a grim story of flood devastation.
The real reason why I do not just kick off with telling the story of the Mpongolo trail is… well, I can’t really say “the find of the trip” as there where so many highlights before, during AND after, but this was a highlight I just have to share! So I’m “forcing” it into the Mpongolo report. I’m sure my atlassing team mates will suffer the detour gladly…
During the summer months, Leeupan has held Allen’s gallinule and African pygmy geese for a number of seasons and they were the reason for me entering KNP from the south. Both found means two easy ticks for my yearlist! The gallinules were again easily spotted amongst the vegetation around the tall dead tree in the left part of the pan, but at an unexciting distance.
As I arrived on the right hand side of the pan as far as the track bordering the pan allows, I spotted a pair of pygmy geese in the shallows. Park. Shoot. Inch closer. Park. Shoot. Inch closer… until I got these shots:
That was not the end of my good fortune… When eventually I had my fill of pygmy geese, I noticed some movement in the vegetation close to the front of my car. Through my binoculars I found myself staring at my second ever sighting of a dwarf bittern! Inch closer. Park. Shoot. Inch closer. Park. Shoot… until I got these shots:
How about that for starters!