Bontebok National 6th October

Bontebok National 6th October

It seems to be a pattern that each morning begins overcast but clears at about 9-10am – no doubt following all thhe moisture in the atmosphere after the recent rain.

A little trivia. Bontebok National is the smallest of SA’s 18 National Parks being only almost 3,000hts in extent. As is the case over most of Southern Africa, the nomadic Khoi people once roamed the land with their livestock. So too in the Overberg area. A certain female chieftain, “Lang Elsie” resided where the Park restcamp now stands and held sway here between 1734 – 1800. She and her tribe stayed in their grass huts down near the water’s edge in the photograph above. The Restcamp is therefore named “Lang Elsies Kraal”.

Bontebok Park was founded in 1931 specifically to rescue the beautiful bontebok from extinction. What is it about mankind that they have the urge to blast such beautiful wildlife into oblivion. I am certainly very out of step with most.

I prefer to keep to the road that follows the river. It is well wooded on the one side and has fynbos on the other – the best of both worlds. I soon come across a small herd of Bontebok plodding along the road ahead of me. Amongst them is a young calf, so young that it still has its umbilical cord attached.

Continuing, another Grey Rhebok darts over the road ahead of me.

Back in camp I have been aware of a puddle of water right next to us from which swallows have been collecting mud for nest building. A cursory glance told me that these were Lesser Striped Swallows…… until a closer look shows them to be Greater Striped Swallows. Oh my goodness. I have only seen these in Kruger up near Olifants some 20 years ago. Quivering a little, I settle down to photograph them even though the light is by now quite harsh. Soon they are also joined by two Pearl-breasted Swallows.

Greater Striped Swallow
Pearl-breasted Swallow

Such is the unusual nature of this sighting that I determine to try again early tomorrow when then light is better – before we set out for Storms River.

This evening we go out for the last two hours in the glorious evening light that just adds to the splendour of the scene. I spy a distant conspicuous white dot in the veld and closer inspection reveals it to be a so impressive Denham’s Bustard – skittish as usual and only my ultra extra mega-pixels makes a photo out of it.

Pearl-breasted Swallow

The following photos were taken in Bontebok NP but on a previous trip three years ago. They illustrate the variety and the beauty of the birdlife here.

Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Malachite Sunbird
Olive Woodpecker

Despite having lost the first two days to rain, I feel that we are leaving this delightful Park too soon. It really is a gem particularly the restcamp which is just outstanding in all respects. The staff are so courteous and helpful and I look forward to returning soon.