Lower Sabie 5-6th March

Lower Sabie 5-6th March

Thursday, 5th

I put the video of the night prowling hyena on my photographic Facebook page (richardgrantphotographysa) and the response has been enormous – probably in the order of over 80,000 hits. Of course Lower Sabie management has been roused from their slumbers and even had a crew out yesterday beginning to clear the electric fence. But today they have disappeared and the electric wires remain entangled with foliage and not working. There was a message on the Sanparks Facebook page to say that they were going to trap the hyena but last night Renette’s bag of clothes was ripped open. So it would seem that our hyena is still at large.

A calm, bright morning means Sunset Dam so we position ourselves at 5.30am. After a little delay because of cloud, the scene suddenly is bathed in morning sunlight and I spend the next two hours photographing the passing show..

Grey Heron

A striking feature is the incredible density of the fish population in the water. Should a large bird fly over the surface then a wide band of disturbed fish, fore and aft, stretches across the dam.

Note the disturbed fish in the water
African Spoonbill
Egyptian Goose
Grey Heron riding on a hippo’s back.
And staying there even when the hippo emerges onto the bank.
Three-banded Plover

The entertainment is so stimulating and the time flies by. By 9am the photographic light deteriorates and we return to camp. Despite assurances from management the huge troop of baboons still ranges freely through camp making a nuisance of themselves. I then take off for Komatipoort where I get four new tyres fitted to the Quantum.

By midday it is finally warm enough for a swim, something we have not done lately because of the cool weather. Late afternoon and I am keen to try and photograph the swallows in flight at the pond on the Gomondwana S130 road.

Steenbok (My Library)

We are in position by 5.45pm but all is still with only a nearby flock of White-faced Ducks for company.

White-faced Ducks (My Library)

Suddenly at about 5.20pm the swallows (Barn?) appear and begin skimming over the water scooping up mouthfuls as they touch the surface.

It is quite a sight but incredibly difficult to photograph and we leave a bit disappointed.

We join the main H3 tarred road back to camp but have not gone far before coming across a couple of cars that are tracking a really impressive cheetah.

We follow him for quite a distance trying to snatch a photo through a gap in the bushes. With lovely evening light playing over him, I do manage some good photos. We are not passing up this lovely sight so easily and linger with him – despite the fact that we are going to be late at the gate.

The gate guard though is very affable and despite us being five minutes late, he opens up the gates with good grace.

Friday, 6th

With cloud and light rain forecast for the next few days, we make the most of the clear start and head again for Sunset Dam. We are surprisingly first at the gate at 5.15am and at gate opening I must wake up the sleepy guard. This is the same fellow from last night so I suppose he owed us that after we were late as well.

I am particularly keen to get a good photo of a kingfisher emerging from the water after its dive. But things just do not work out for me as I miss a good chance of a Giant Kingfisher and then the Pieds were uncooperative. Nevertheless, there is never a dull moment and I am kept well entertained.

African Spoonbill

Back again early to camp as a sharp south wind begins blowing, rippling the surface of the dam. After the first difficult neighbour here, we have enjoyed a succession of really decent folks – as is usually the case with campers.

3.30pm sees us moving up the H10 towards Muntshe mountain. We see few animals but the birds keep us busy.

Pearl-spotted Owl

A feature of the grasslands are the Black-shouldered Kites that can be seen hovering and then diving into the grass to catch their prey – usually mice. These are particularly beautiful birds with their snow white plumage resplendent in the evening light.

Black-shouldered Kite
Lilac-breasted Roller (My Library)

Another beautiful autumnal day. Really the climate of the Lowveld is just terrific. We end off at Sunset Dam where some crocodiles are catching the last rays of the sun.