We have seen quite a few eland around but this magnificent fellow is something else, he is huge, an old male in his latter years of life, in all his glory. We are convinced he is on steroids due to his size lol. We sit with him for a while sharing his world before moving off, leaving him to enjoy his rest in peace.
All of a sudden Pete calls ‘snake’ and moves the vehicle to the side, we almost ran over a cobra. The cobra was obviously not impressed at being so rudely shocked and made his feelings know, rearing up, hood out, eyes looking right at us with menace - we know what he is thinking - shall I spit or not. Pete keeps his window up and I have the camera in font of my eyes just in case.
We came round the other side of him to capture the sun through his hooded area, beautiful bands of coral.
Driving a little further a lioness and her three cups saunter by, doing their own thing, maybe moving home. She is not part of a pride, a lone girl, bringing up her children as many single mother do - doing everything to ensure their survival, the chance of growth into adulthood, not a easy journey for them.
Every now and then the cubs sit down for a rest or a drink from a puddle before catching up with mum who is marching on expecting them to be obedient, to follow. Then things change, the cubs stay by the puddle, not following - why?
We watch mum, alert, looking, she has seen something. It is amazing, without words the cubs know to stay where they are as she heads off in the direction of what she has seen.
We follow her with our eyes, a warthog - possible dinner for the family. She gets quite close before being seen by the warthog, she give a quick chase but misses and then returns to where the warthog was resting. Pete explains to us she is looking for baby warthogs, easy prey, enough to feed the cubs. Alas this time she is out of luck, the larder is empty.
She reruns to her children empty handed and nuzzles up to them as if to say - I am sorry I missed and they return the nuzzle in response assuring her it is OK, they know she tried, they still trust her.
Then they all get up and continue on their journey. She heads off into the bush but she has to be careful, she is in the territory of the large pride of lions we saw last night. Last year her litter of cubs were killed by this large group. As she enters the wooded area she approaches a tree and using her paws leaves a scent mark to let others know of her presence. I wonder if the sent mark just says ‘I am here’ or could it say ‘I am just passing through’?
When we saw the large pride last night they looked like they were thinking of finding dinner. With such a large group to feed, hunting must be a daily task. On the off chance we thought we would go and find out, and here they are, with their kill, not long since it happened. I am fascinated, in my minds eyes organised chaos, blood on faces, gore, but no, some lion are resting, others feeding, no bloody faces, not gruesome. Pete explains the blood is removed early in the kill, drunk while still fresh, a great source of essential elements. The soft innards are next to go then the meat.
We move around the kill to see what is going on and low and behold, looking into the stomach cavity a cub is inside - small enough to have a prime dining seat, you can just see it’s face on the right hand side of the cavity. We sat watching for about a hour, leaving to find a location for our breakfast at 9:15, coffee, bacon and sausages calling.
Driving through Leopard Gorge we found the Rock Hyrax
Then checking around I saw a Yellow Weaver bird in the process of building a new home - dead chuffed with this pic.
Back for one last photo of the Rock Hyrax before moving on.
With breakfast demolished, coffee drunk, legs stretched we want to know how much of the buffalo is left so head on back to the lion kill to find out. In one hour the lions have managed to eat a fair bit more, their stomachs are heaving but they keep on eating as if this is their last meal.
Time to explore other trees, patches of scrub, scan the horizon for other wonders. Another bird :) and silly me has forgotten to ask what it is - derrrrrrr.
And here we have a young Marshall Eagle. Most birds I know are hatched and looked after their mum or both parents for a short period of time before heading off to start their own adventure, This guy is a little different, he will stay with his mum for about 7 years, she will continue to feed him for around 5 years then make him do his own work when she has another baby to look after.
This wee guy makes me think of a bandit with his eyes hidden from view.
I tried to get a pic the other day of a Hartebeest to show you how it got it’s name but was not very successful. This time I am a bit more lucky. It is pretty obvious really, look at the shape of the horns, they make a heart shape.
and here he is in his formal pose
and off to the side his wife and baby.
Now for a long time I cannot get my Gazelle right, Thompsons, Grants, Roberts, etc. Now I know two of them but checking their bums.
This is a Grant’s Gazelle, if you look at the bum the white area is above the tail (he is also bigger but that is not much help unless you see the two standing side by side).
Here we have the Thompson Gazelle - you can see the white area stops below the tail.
Earlier we had an eland who we thought was on steroids due to his size and now we find an old male Waterbuck, a really big boy, is he on steroids too or is there something in the water <g>.
Time to head back through Leopard Gorge and all the Rock Hyrax have come out to watch the world go by.
This guy is a Steppe Eagle, just landed in from Russia, they are all starting to arrive now. It is not normal to see them in trees, they prefer ant hills and the like, more familiar to them.
The night is drawing in, the sky darkening and Pete has an idea. Can we find some ellies in the sunset - of course we can :) I am really proud of these pics - camera not on auto, not on scene mode just me playing with buttons, learning :)
I cheated on this one and put the camera into scene mode lol.
Another day over, my memory bank heavy with things to think about - to reprocess and put into storage for retrieval later when I need to come back to Africa through my imagination.