Thursday, 24th May DAY 7

It is a beautifully still, clear morning and the tactic today is to let the pack blaze ahead down the S100 Nwanetsi while we sedately follow behind. So as we join the river we stop to watch the sun break over the horizon at 6.25am – all mauves, purples, golds and reds.

Again, we marvel at the purity and serenity of the bushveld. So far, far from the ‘madding crowds’ and so incredibly therapeutic on the soul. I often say that there cannot be a greater goal in life than……… CONTENTMENT, and that we have here aplenty. After our coffee and rusks we creep on down this splendid road but whereas everyone else seems to be seeing lions and leopards, we just see the usual but in such a setting we don’t complain.

Two saddlebills are perched on a dry tree and I photograph them taking off.

Coming to the T junction we turn right and head towards (S41) Nwanetsi and Singita. At the first causeway Warren reported to us that he had seen a female Painted Snipe so I take up a good vantage point and play my bird caller. But nothing happens and after a while I give up and move on. We stop at the next causeway and have breakfast searching all the while for our snipe. But all is quiet.

We move on and next to the road find four agitated Lilac Breasted Rollers that are circling a dead tree making their raucous calls and giving a good display of their ‘rolling’ flight.

We realise that the source of their agitation are two Purple Rollers perched in the same tree.

So these ‘birds of a feather’ also seem to have a problem and ultimately the lilacs give way to the bigger purples.

We reach Nwanetsi and try and get to the main Singita Lodge but find the entrance road blocked by a remote controlled boom. So our plans to get our internet backlog sorted are thwarted. And we don’t want to embarrass Warren by making a forced entry.

We next take the road down to the Sweni causeway and hide (S37). Parking on the causeway one can certainly see that the Sweni has recently been in flood. Large pools of water stretch up and downstream with the banks lined with reedy grass.

Three-banded Plover

I get my caller going and after a couple of minutes see a small bird flying down from near the hide directly towards us. About 10m from us it dives down into the grass verge just below us and I see that it is unmistakably a male Painted Snipe. How thrilling but……. no more coaxing will get him to show himself as, true to their ways, he skulks in the thick grass. I am determined to get him and resolve to return early some other day. A really very beautiful bird.

We drive back to Warren’s staff quarters where we frustratingly can receive incoming mail but can’t send. Amazingly happy community here with everyone so content and friendly.

Back at camp (H6) it feels a little pre-frontal as the temperature rises to a pleasant warmth. Really this lowveld winter is just wonderful.

We hear from a neighbour in camp that there is a resident White-Faced Owl in a large tree some 5Km along the tarred road to Nwanetsi (H6). So at 4pm we take off to track him down.

Verreaux’s (Giant Eagle) Owl

We frustratingly cannot find the exact tree as the directions were a bit vague but this setback is amply compensated for by discovering three large Verreaux’s (Giant Eagle) Owls in another tree. They really put on a show for us and we spend a very enthralling 40 minutes with them. Elated we head back to camp after a great day.