Saturday, 26th May DAY 9

The wintery mist is hanging thickly in the hollows this morning as we head for Sweni (S126). A car stops ahead of us on the tar and says that a leopard has just crossed over.

On Sweni we begin with coffee waiting for the misty sun to rise behind the lala palms.

We then creep along this magnificent road with its grassy expanses and great trees. Despite all being quiet we revel in the beauty of the morning.

We come to the beautiful Welverdiend waterhole halfway along the road.

Here they have acted on my request by trimming away the bush and allowing an unobstructed view of the area large open area dotted with impala, giraffe, zebra, willies, geese.

We spend a happy two hours watching the passing show and determine to get here earlier one morning to enjoy this very special scene. Whilst there a Howick couple tell us of a dead rhino at Nkaya Pan with many vultures and hyenas in attendance.

So this afternoon we go down the tar (H1-3) to Nkaya to have a look. We can only speculate what happened as the rhino is lying with its head away from us and we cannot see if the horns are missing. But Warren told us two rhino were poached on the Singita concession this week and I suspect that the rhino at Nkaya was ambushed as he came down to drink. All the fury wells up in me about the wickedness and stupidity of mankind. I have said before that King Shaka would have put a stop to this overnight but when one has all these bleeding heart liberals (Lawyers for Human Rights) running around then one has not a chance of saving the rhino. Only sheer terror of the consequences of being caught will stop it and a few years of free board and lodging is not going to help one bit.

Unfortunately the light angle is wrong for photography so we decide that we will return at first light tomorrow.

We retrace our steps and turn down the Nwanetsi tarred road and find our three Owls in another tree close to where we found them the other day. My goodness but these birds are just so impressive and we spend a good hour with them.

Interesting was the way that they puff up their chests to emit their deep grunting call. To begin with we were baffled by the high pitched whistle coming from the tree but a little research tells us that the females and young make this sound between grunts.

Our very special Verreaux’s Owl. (Surely the name Giant Eagle Owl is more apt).

Turning for camp, I pause to photograph the Black Crowned Tchagara surely the most beautiful songster of the grasslands.

We return to Satara happy and content after another great day. It occurs to us that we have now been nine days in the Park and have yet to see a cat’s face. Who cares when one is so enjoying this magnificent lifestyle.