Today is our last day of respite from the summer heat as high temperatures are forecast for the next six days. Cheryl has established herself as the team sharpshooter and is placed in pole position in the front passenger seat. Colleen is particularly keen to see cheetahs whilst Marion is happy just to be here. We set out again on a cool and partly cloudy day and head up the H10 towards Muntshe.
We start by coming across two particularly foul smelling and dirty hyenas. Constant interesting sightings pop up not least the oh so attractive Pearl-spotted Owlet.
Past Muntshe we turn right and then idle along the S122 that runs behind the mountain. Colleen is on high alert as this is prime cheetah country. But it is birds that grab the attention.
Marion has been accused of nodding off but redeems herself by finding a Black-chested Snake-eagle.
The eccentric Korhaans are always interesting so the Black-bellied Korhaan (now called a Bustard) is an enjoyable encounter.
A stately Juvenile Martial Eagle stares down at us through the foliage….
…….. whilst large flocks of Barn Swallows have arrived from their journey from Europe.
We breakfast at the Mlondozi picnic site and I notice some Vervet monkeys harassing tourists trying to enjoy their breakfasts. I have the perfect defence – a crackling Tazer gun which keeps them at bay. But they are ever watchful and when a packet of Provita biscuits falls to the ground, they are onto it in a flash and then casually sit in a nearby tree munching on their bounty.
One to the monkeys.
We stop to watch some more hyenas on the way back to camp but cannot find some reported lions. Back at Sunset dam the usual birds are busy along the shoreline but some Diederik’s cuckoos are busy eyeing the weaver nests that are being built on a dead tree standing in the water.
This afternoon we have a late start and in error I choose to go to the Duke waterhole via the Gomondwana S130 road. We have to hurry which really goes against my grain as we cannot linger.
Cheryl and Colleen elect to go on the S28 night drive. These drives must be very lucrative for the Park as they are so popular. The quality of the experience depends completely on the competence of the guide as with a knowledgeable one, one can learn so much. We have suffered a number of disasters before we gave up on them. Happily, Cheryl and Colleen enjoy a really good fellow who imparts many interesting facts to them. One being that impala only give birth around midday giving the lambs time to find their feet before the predators become active in the evening,
Whilst on this topic, I have been surprised how, despite the rains, the birth of impala lambs has been spread over three weeks. And there are many bulging ewes who still have to perform. I would have thought that the dropping of lambs would be over a shorter time span especially after the good rain.