Sun dappled silhouette screened by camelthorn jumble
a spotted queen perches on her throne, prone on her tier.
Hidden by the leafy carpet, her meal hung close-by,
she is lithe and aloof, a regal figure barely clear.
She hushes spectators, her gaze leaves them humble.
The camera records her – she is my leopard.
Yes, we were still not over our leopard sighting. You can probably tell that this is not a frequent happening in our lives!
After quick stops at the watering holes at Samevloeiing for the sunrise
and at Leeudril for the chaos of birds coming in for water and having to duck the Lanner Falcons patrolling the area,
with this juvenile Steppe Buzzard watching the bedlam from his perch nearby
we went straight to the LIT-site and found our lady still in residence, but much higher up in the tree and very difficult to see.
As on this day I wanted to do some serious LBJ-hunting, we turned around at this point and started crawling back toward Twee Rivieren. At one stage, while we were idling along, my beanbag came off the windowsill, landed on the sand embankment, bounced in under the Landy and exploded under the rear tyre, beyond recognition and repair!
This was a major disaster as the digiscope was unusable without this piece of equipment. Without much hope of finding a replacement at Twee Rivieren, but full of hope of finding something with which a plan could be made, we headed back to camp. Still travelling slowly, we found Grey-backed Sparrowlark (lifer), Brubru, Kalahari Scrub-robin and Pearl-spotted Owlet on the way in. I also got pix of more PC goshawks.
At the last waterhole at Twee Rivieren this young eland bull stood around uncertain of what to do – the water had dried up.
I was hoping for a 2-kg bag of rice to make-do as a stand-in for my busted beanbag, but the best available in the shop were 500-g bags of slitpeas. The shop had for sale ONE and only one of those oven gloves that consist of two pouches joined by a strip of material – two bags of splitpeas into each pouch, the whole contraption rolled up end-over-end and see… another plan comes together!
I had earlier promised Sherry-Lee that we would visit the museum at Auchterlonie, so that became the new objective (with LBJs still a firm second objective). The trip via Leeudril and Houmoed provided stunning views of Steppe Buzzard overhead
and a tolerant Martial Eagle
while the Chat Flycatchers, hovering four-five at a time over the dunes before pouncing on some insect down in the sand, was a long-awaited sight – I was lucky to get close enough to these ever-moving hunters for some more decent pix. We were fortunate too in getting shots of a small flock of Cape Penduline-tits hidden deep in a dry bush, not fantastic pix, but good enough to ID.
See if you can spot them – there are four tits in this bush
This steenbok interrupted the birding a bit as SO always has to have a conversation with all small antelopes…
The little museum held a magic of its own and showed again what difficulties this land held for pioneers as recently as the 1930s!
Rock is plentiful and this house was built using materials available in the immediate area: Camelthorn branches or trunks were used for the rafters; dune reed for the thatching; strips cut from gemsbok and hartebeest skins were used to tie things down and the floor was made from a mixture of mud, gravel and crushed anthill material, then covered by dung.
This construction was achieved by first soaking the mixture of the mud, gravel and anthill compound, then spreading this over the area where the floor was to be. It is pounded until a solid, flat surface was achieved. It was then covered with wet cow dung which formed a protective layer over the important compounded base.
It was a practice to treat the floor with cow dung at least once a month. Cow dung had to be fresh. It was placed in a bucket and mixed with water with hand or a stick until it became quite thin. The mixture was then placed on the floor and evenly applied to it with a worn-out broom. In some instances this mixture was applied to the floor by hand using the side of the palm or the finger tips, depending on the amount of dung available and the skill of the person applying the dung layer.
When bits of cow dung flooring began to peal off from the floor, it was a reminder that the floor was due for a new cow dung application. The floor was always kept clean during daytime by lightly sweeping it with a soft broom made from a well-beaten besembos (Crotalaria spartiodes
People who experienced growing up on cow dung floors say they loved its feel so much that they often preferred to sleep on it without any bedding – a cement floor gave a cold feeling but a cow dung floor was warm.
The well was dug by drilling holes in the rock with a hand drill and then blasting with dynamite. As fuse was expensive, the fuse, of a length considered adequate to give the “miner” enough time to get out before the blast, was lit in the hole! Imagine the scramble to get out in time! The rubble were later removed by hand-loading it into buckets lowered from above.
Achterlonie has also become the final resting place for one Frans Rossouw, a fellow that was born 6 days before me and who died in 2005. Who was he and why was this spot chosen as his last resting place, I wonder…
Some clear shots of a Spike-heeled Lark and some napping Namaqua doves rounded off another (our final) day in this bountiful desert.
So, the Kgalagadi leaves me 11 short of the 400-mark. But with two days left at Augrabies, I am sure this milestone is still reachable on this trip!