23 May 2024

Migrants and invisible Ele's

09 January 2024 - Mabula; Day 3

Only the boys opted for this morning's drive and were entertained with these two Dung Beetle's trying to roll a dung ball uphill. 

There are three types of Dung Beetle; Rollers who roll dung into round balls which is used as a food source or breeding chamber; Tunneler's who bury their dung wherever they find it and Dwellers who neither roll nor burrow, but just live in the dung. The nocturnal African Dung Beetle is one of the few known invertebrates that navigate and orient themselves using the Milky Way

Dung Beetle (Scarabaeus satyrus) - The Roller



This morning's mission was to try find the Ele's, but a migrant Red-backed Shrike warranted a stop

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)



Listening to the chatter on the radio's we got an idea of where the Ele's were and headed in that direction. A calling Woodland Kingfisher caught our attention

Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis)




We made it to where the Ele's were, but they were hidden in thick habitat (amazing that such a large mammal can remain out of sight, when it is so close) - although we could hear them. A Yellow-billed Hornbill peered out from behind a tree trunk

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas)


Unfortunately, we didnt have the luxury of time to wait for the Ele's as we were all departing after breakfast. Heading back to the lodge, we found this cool Wahlberg's Eagle

Wahlberg's Eagle (Hieraaetus wahlbergi)


At the lodge we had breakfast, cleaned up and packed the car and said our goodbyes after an enjoyable and relaxing weekend. On the way out we stopped at reception to pay the levy and photograph a pair of Violet-backed Starlings in the car park

Male Violet-backed Starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster)



Female Violet-backed Starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster)


A slow drive out of the reserve and once back on tar, it was the road back home reminiscing about the great Dec/Jan holiday (coast and bush) we had all enjoyed


The smell of the bush in the rain

08 January 2024 - Mabula; Day 2

We woke to an overcast morning with light drizzle, so no game drive. After breakfast, the drizzle abated, so Richard and I had a walk around the Mabula Reception Area and gardens. A young Bushbuck with wet fur checked us out

Cape Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus)


We managed to connect with a Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird

Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus chrysoconus)



And then a pair of Meyer's Parrots that played hiding-go-seek with us in a massive Bluegum Tree

Mayer's Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri)








Back at the Lodge, the sun was slowly making an appearance, so we relaxed on the patio watching birds come to the bird bath. First up a White-browed Scrub Robin

White-browed Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas leucophrys)



Followed by a noisy flock of Arrow-marked Babbler's - A bath of Babblers!

Arrow-marked Babbler (Turdoides jardineii)





A Tree Squirrel quietly appeared on the scene

Tree Squirrel (Paraxerus cepapi)


Whilst this Skink warmed up in the sun

Skink sp.


Late afternoon the weather had cleared, so we headed out on a drive with the pre-requisite packed cooler boxes. A much quieter drive than yesterday, with a brief view of a family of Coqui Francolin's that disappeared into the grass at speed

Coqui Francolin (Campocolinus coqui)


A Grey Heron fishing in the dam in dramatic light

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)


We enjoyed sundowners with another spectacular African sunset

Mabula Sunset



Before returning to the Lodge with no nocturnal mammals seen this time


22 May 2024

From the Sea to the Bush

07 January 2024 - Mabula; Day 1

It was a rush yesterday to unpack, shop and re-pack for a weekend away in Mabula with our good friends Richard Crawshaw and Shirley Newland. We did enjoy a little lie in before taking a leisurely drive up the N1 to arrive in time for lunch - fortunately, it is not too long a drive.

We unpacked and settled in with a cold one over lunch and catching up on all our December holiday news. The one bit of news I was anxious about was the Flufftail and too my relief, it was still present and calling in our Estate since first being discovered.

We packed the coolers for a late afternoon drive and by chance managed to re-connect with the European Honey Buzzard Richard had found a few days before. It was quite obliging, but there was an added distraction of a couple of White Rhino in a drainage line below

European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)







Continuing on the drive, we headed to the plains to find a pair of Southern Ground Hornbill that were hoovering up all the Dung Beetles in a pile of Rhino dung on the side of the road. The Beetles didnt stand a chance

Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)





Not much further on, a herd of magnificent Sable Antelope grazed nonchalantly next to the road

Sable (Hippotragus niger)




We enjoyed a sundowner stop with a magnificent sunset and a few cold beverages and snacks, before continuing with the spotlight. We managed to find a few Nightjar's - I believe, this one may be a Rufous-cheeked

Possible Rufous-cheeked Nightjar (Caprimulgus rufigena)


Whilst these two are Fiery-necked - lying flat on the road, definitely gives the best perspective

Fiery-necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus pectoralis)



However, the absolute highlight and after a few failed attempts on previous trips, we came across two Aardwolf (Earth Wolf or Termite-eating Hyena) an insectivorous hyaenid species frolicking and playing near their den. The Aardwolf can has a tongue strong enough to withstand the strong bite of termites and can lap up as many as 300,000 termites in a single night.

They were a challenge to photograph just with one hand-held spotlight, but I was still happy with the images I managed to take

Aardwolf (Proteles cristatus)










After prolonged views, we then headed back to the lodge for an enjoyable night around the fire






Migrants and invisible Ele's

09 January 2024 - Mabula; Day 3 Only the boys opted for this morning's drive and were entertained with these two Dung Beetle's tryin...