Friday, 25th January
Sweni (S126) is our favourite Satara road but it is only 9Km from camp. This means that if we leave camp at 4.30am we will travel a good deal of the way in darkness – not good for photography. So today we leave the gates at 5am and make rapid progress southward.
1 Km beyond the H6 Nwanetsi turnoff we spy ahead, lying in the road the unmistakeable pose of a leopard.
Quickly slowing we creep closer and despite the poor light, manage a couple of photos before it rises and disappears into the grass on the right. Coming to the spot we scan the grassland but there is no sign of the cat. We then look down – straight into the eyes of our leopard in the long grass just meters away.
It turns away and noisily begins gnawing on a bone taking little interest in us. We sit for 20 minutes by ourselves listening and watching our man just meters below us and every now and then he steals a glance through the grass towards us.
Eventually cars begin arriving and having eaten his fill, the leopard strolls along close to the road and disappears under a culvert. And there he stays presumably cool and comfortable for the day whilst the traffic thunders past overhead.
Rather late, we amble along Sweni and then double back. Back on the main tar road we head back north towards camp when we come across this scene.
Presumably lacking a telephoto lens, this lass improvises by crossing the road on foot to get closer to a herd of ellies. And then as we approach camp a youngster comes riding down the road on a…… motorbike. Rather bemused we settle back in camp.
This afternoon we go down the S100 Nwanetsi River road but see precious little.
The veld is rapidly drying out but hope is that the weather forecast is correct and that rain falls tomorrow evening. A pre-rain eruption of flying ants along the road seems to support this but strangely there are no birds feeding off them.
Last night when I went for my late night shower, I was startled when an African Wildcat shot out from beneath my feet. It had been lying like a domestic cat close to some other campers waiting for titbits.
Saturday, 26th January
We decide to give Sweni another try today and in cool, cloudy weather we travel slowly to the Welverdiend water point. Nothing at all is stirring today except at the waterpoint a hyena is chewing on a large vertebra.
Here the hyena’s famed jaw strength was really put on show as he tore off pieces of bone. I do think though they our breakfast was a bit more tasty.
Back in camp it begins to rain lightly but only a couple of mm’s fall. The main rainfall is predicted this evening. This afternoon is cool so at 2pm I take off down the S100 Nwanetsi River road which is really beautiful especially with so little traffic.
I am trying to track down a few special birds to photograph but am unsuccessful. However, there is much of interest and I enjoy a couple of very pleasant hours.
Spotted Flycatcher and baby Vervet Monkey
Heavy rain clouds are sweeping across the plains from the south and I return to camp in rain. But with the elements battling against El Nino the heavy rain that Kruger so desperately needs is just not forthcoming.
Despite our lack of success, we are absolutely loving it here and what comfort it is to know that five more months stretch out before us.
Yesterday we had that the girl photographing ellies on foot, we had the motorcyclist and this evening we have someone in camp playing a trumpet of all things in the dusk. So humans and not the animals seem to be providing the unusual behaviour at present. All is still again as I write and we hope so much that the rain forecast for midnight reaches Satara.