Satara 23-24th Jan

Wednesday, 23rd January

It is cloudy and dull with a light south wind blowing so we change plan and head down the Nwanetsi River road (S100). Although not as lush as Nwaswisonto, the grass is quite high – enough for many Harlequin Quails to be ticking away as we pass.

The wind drops and the clouds begin to break up making for a most beautiful morning. But although we creep along we see nothing unexpected and I never lift my camera at all. Which is a little disappointing but not unexpected. Like a good fisherman knows, some days they bite and others they don’t. Down near Gudzani Dam a cheetah and cubs are attracting attention but we do not see them at all. The dam itself is bone dry which again shows how erratic has been the rain distribution.

A number of Carmine Bee-eaters are about and I did see some Mosque Swallows.

Of course what is a major attraction at this time of the year is the lack of traffic on the roads. Yesterday we went for three and a half hours along that Nwaswisonto road before we saw our first car.

This afternoon at 4.30pm I go out northward along the H1-4 main tarred road. The further I drive the drier becomes the veld with stunted low grass and by the time I reach the Timbavati turnoff (S127) everything is brown. Of course the water courses which are usually such a feature along this drive are completely dry. Other than some Amur Falcons which I unsuccessfully try and photograph, there is little to see.

Today is our wedding anniversary and I earn “brownie points” by having a celebratory lunch (which was surprisingly good) at the Tindlovu restaurant which took over from Mugg & Bean.  

So, all in all not a very good game spotting day but as always thoroughly pleasant.

Thursday, 24th January

Out we go in the dark at 4.30am and today we are heading again for the Maswisonto (S125) road. This means that we can easily reach this distant road before sunrise at 5.30am.

It is clear and crisp with a light south wind as we start along this oh so beautiful road.

Perhaps those who know the bushveld will understand the therapeutic effect of moving at sunrise through this paradise. It is not just the animals and birds, it is the trees, the pure air and the sounds. At one of the many roadside pools we come across this splendid Comb Duck (I far prefer the old Knob-billed Duck name).

When we set out along this 20Km road it is clear and sunny. Incredibly before we come to its end, clouds race up from the south and it begins to rain thus putting paid to my photographic ambitions. So we hurry along past Muzandzeni picnic spot with the light rain persisting. By the time that we reach the tarred Orpen road (H7) the sky has cleared and the sun burns down again. Rain is forecast for this weekend so I have hopefully set up the rain gauge in camp.

After our customary swim and chats in the pool, we set out for our evening drive to Nsemane Dam out west which has filled considerably since we were last here five weeks ago. A small puddle marks Girivana Dam where we have our evening coffee. Barn Swallows are swirling about a nearby tree which has attracted small moths in its dense foliage. The veld is looking vibrantly green as we idle back to camp with the sun setting behind us.