Satara 1-2nd September

Wednesday, 1st

After a couple of beautiful sunny days, today dawns miserable with a chilly south wind. I need to do some running repairs on the Quantum so seize on the bad day to head for Phalaborwa, some 120kms distant. Because I must travel quickly as well as the animal and bird alike lying low, I have little to report on. Mission accomplished, I am back at Satara by midday..

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This afternoon I again go down the S100 to check on our leopard. I find that he is just finishing off the last of the waterbuck which is now dangling threadlike from his branch. I take a quick photo through the foliage and move on.

Coffee near the bottom of the S100 and then turn about and quietly make my was back. The dangling waterbuck has in the meantime, broken free and I am told that a hyena quickly snapped it up. Our star is sprawled on a lower branch taking a nap.

He then climbs down the tree having enjoyed three days of feasting, something that he would not have had if it had been an impala. His epic struggle on Sunday morning was worth it although I do notice some scrapes and cuts, one across his nose. The last sight I have of him is as he wistfully looks out across the river.

I wonder how long it will be before hunger drives him to his next kill.

Thursday, 2nd

I do marvel at the modern weather forecaster. I consult, a Norwegian outfit that covers the world in the finest detail. To the hour their forecast materialises as it starts to rain in the early hours. Not much – probably 3-5mm but enough to leave puddles on the tarred road. The Satara faithful must be ‘fair weather’ spotters as I arrive second in line at my customary 5.45am.

I reach Sweni in dark, heavily overcast conditions with spots of rain still falling. I creep along at 10kph but all is quiet. At the end of the road I turn south along the S36 but am disappointed to find both sides of the road burnt. I speed up down to the Mwaswitsontso S125 river road.

Mwaswitsontso Riverbed (My Library)

Fortunately no burning here and I really creep along with the sun now almost breaking through. These river roads are so beautiful with great trees lining the banks. The birds are now getting busy and there are the usual animals about too. The following were seen along the road this morning.

Red-crested Korhaan (My Library)
White-browed Scrub-Robin (My Library)
Black-headed Oriole (My Library)
Brown-headed Parrot (My Library)
Double-banded Sandgrouse (My Library)
Green Wood-hoopoe (My Library)
Brown-crowned Tchagara (My Library)
Green-spotted Wood-dove (My Library)

Back on the tar H1-3 I turn right to check nearby Kumana Dam and find a cluster at cars next to some sleeping lionesses.

Kumana Dam

Kumana is getting low but there is enough water to last through to the rainy season.

I turn back towards Satara and stop in at Nkaya Pan which likewise is getting rather low. Two groups of zebra and a lone wildebeest are drinking.

Thanks to people who study these things, it is interesting to learn that zebras group in ‘families of 6-7 individuals, led by a stallion. So even within large zebra herds, grouping of 6 or 7 can clearly be seen. And here at Nkaya Pan there are two groups of zebra – one with 6 and the other with 7.

Back to Satara at 10.30am and I set out to do some long overdue domestics with the sun breaking through and blue sky everywhere..

This evening I head out to Nsemane Dam along the Orpen road H7. I find an African Fish Eagle that swoops down off its perch in a fruitless attempt to catch fish.

Next it flies across the dam wall frightening some Egyptian Geese that come rocketing out of the stream bed in alarm.

I then move back to the main H1-3 road which runs next to the Nwanetsi River for a Km or so. Here I find a Pearl-spotted Owlet next to the road.

Note the interesting “false eyes” that he has on the back of his head to discourage rear attacks.

Just outside camp an anti-poaching helicopter is refueling.