Nossob 2-6th December

Nossob 2-6th December

Mata-Mata up the Auob River is a lovely camp but our time is limited and it is either that or Nossob. I choose the latter for two main reasons – the amazing Cubietjie Quap and Marie se Gat. Sadly both are to disappoint.

Thursday, 2nd

Steven and I proceed slowly up the Nossob riverbed heading north. Again, many interesting sightings line the route.

The beautiful Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters are plentiful
Black-backed Jackal

The weather forecast tells us that today is the end of the present heatwave so the prosepcts for Nossob look good. We arrive in midday heat and move into our chalet. I am again in pursuit of my Black-faced Waxbills and quickly set up my little water dish and a sprinkling of bird seed.

Later we venture out to the dubiously named “Marie se Gat” – a water trough some 10km’s south of Nossob. We disappointingly find that there is no water as the borehole is non-functional so the prospect of some good bird photos is dashed. However, surprisingly an Abdim’s Stork is posing all by itself which is gratifying as one seldom sees these birds.

On the way back to camp we pass another lovely Spotted Eagle Owl.

Back at camp we find that my water dish has been confiscated whilst within a hundred meters is the artificial water trough that attracts bird and animal to the Nossob hide. The logic of it all escapes me.

Back in 2014 on our last visit here we visited “Cubietjie Quap” (Jackal’s Lair), a water trough right next to the road and some 10km north of the camp. This provided me with one of my lifetime experiences as, at close range, we could watch the sandgrouse and doves flocking in to snatch a drink before being driven off by jackals and Lanner Falcons. This morning the surrounding trees are filled with Cape Turtle doves which suddenly swoop down and mob the water trough in their thousands.

Whereas in 2014 when the Lanner Falcons made their attacks over the water trough itself, today they are attacking the doves in the bush and trees. A sudden scattering of the doves indicate that a Falcon is about but it is just not possible to photograph them. Way back in 2014 and starting at about 8am, flocks of Namaqua and Burchell’s Sandgrouse would swoop down to the trough.
Burchell’s Sandgrouse

But today there is an added problem. The Grouse arrive on time but there are now five Black-backed Jackals there to meet them. Which means that the Sandgrouse do not even land but head off for other water sources. Disappointing.

Jackal attempting to catch a Cape Turtle Dove (2014)

As the day warms all manner of small birds arrive to slake their thirsts. Finches, whydahs, queleas, doves, weavers, waxbills – but the jackals are making such a nuisance of themselves as to spoil the spectacle.

Red- headed and Scaley-throated Finches
Ground Squirrel

We return to Nossob later in the morning and all the time clouds are building up from the north-west. Again, in the late afternoon we head for Marie se Gat where we sit quietly looking out at the darkening expanse of the riverbed. Suddenly Steven explodes with “Leopard” and sure enough on the road ahead of us, a young female is gazing past.

She then strolls past us and goes to lie on the open sand.
So magnificent.

And the great benefit of Kgalagadi is that we have this whole scene to ourselves, soaking up the harsh beauty of the place in perfect peace. Kgalagadi really has a lot going for it.

Another Spotted Eagle Owl sits in the sandy road ahead of us.

We head back to a dark Nossob with rain beginning to fall. During the night 20mm falls which for this part of the world is a lot. Next morning Steven and I go walkabouts within the soaked camp photographing birds.

A juvenile Gabar Goshawk
Male Pririt Batis
Spotted Thick-knees

Every now and then we are driven back for shelter as a shower of rain sweeps over the camp. Whilst of course rain such as this is a blessing for the Park, it puts paid to all the water points and our star attraction of Cubitjie Quap remains now deserted to the remainder of our time at Nossob. Great puddles and pools of water collect at various spots and back at Marie se Gat we later find a great Tawny Eagle just standing in the water enjoying himself.

Nossob Camp is renowned for its White-faced Owls, something that I have seen in Kruger but always in thick bush. Steven and I manage to locate one and in the evening twilight and with the aid of a torch we manage to get some good photos.

So although we enjoyed Nossob, the poorly functioning Cubietjie Quap and Marie se Gat rather disappointed. On Monday, 6th December we begin our 160km trip southward back to Twee Rivieren where we will spend another two nights before exiting the Park. Along the road and in fresh, damp conditions after the rain, we stop for the odd distraction.
Scaley-throated Finches
Juvenile Pale-chanting Goshawk

Again, we arrive back at Twee Rivieren at about midday with the heat building up.