31 July 2023

Mabula morning

21 May 2023 - Mabula Game Lodge; Day 3

We all slept well and were up early and warmly dressed for the morning drive. We started off through the hills looking for spotted cats without success. We did get a flock of Green Pigeon as the sun slowly rose

African Green Pigeon (Treron calvus)

We did discover this Katydid species on my son's jacket after doing a u-turn on the road

Katydid sp.

We flushed a Lark that landed in the road and after a few images and discussion agreed it was a Flappet Lark - great to see on up close and on the ground as they are normally specks in the air when displaying

Flappet Lark (Mirafra rufocinnamomea)

Heading back toward the plains, a Black-winged Kite in the early morning sun

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

A couple of Blue Wildebeest provided some entertainment, as they chased each other around the plains - not sure if this was to get warm or just banter

Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus)

We stopped for morning coffee on the plains where we enjoyed a few Giraffe strolling by. The youngster's pose reminds me of a Sea Horse..

Cape Giraffe (Giraffa c. giraffa)

The mother and calf were still in the same area

White Rhinocerus (Chiromantis xerampelina)

We found a 'Stick Insect' in the car and returned it to where it was more camouflaged on the plains

Mantis sp.

There was news of Buffalo not to far away, so we packed up and headed in that direction, stopping briefly for a few more Plain-backed Pipit. No Buffy Pipits on this trip - also a reason to return again..

Plain-backed Pipit (Anthus leucophrys)

And a lone bull Red Hartebeest

Red Hartebeest (Alcelaphus b. caama)

We managed to locate the Buffalo and enjoyed some time with them as they grazed whilst walking before passing on either side of the vehicle

African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

A few of the bovine's had passengers in the form of Red-billed Oxpecker's

Red-billed Oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus)

It was time to head back for breakfast and to pack, so we detoured where we found the Aardvark, but found a mob of Banded Mongoose lounging and feeding on the side of the road. Other collective nouns for these terrestrial carnivorous mammals are; a pack, a gang or a troop - but I prefer a mob!

Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo)

Whilst enjoying the antics of the Mongeese, a pair of African Hawk-Eagles passed by overhead

African Hawk-Eagle (Aquila spilogaster)

It was then back to the lodge for brunch and to pack for the journey home. It was a great weekend in the bush with good friends - but we need to come back for that Aardwolf that eluded us.....

Among the beasts

20 May 2023 - Mabula Game Lodge; Day 2

Our good friend Richard Crawshaw and his partner Shirley Newlands invited my family up to their lodge at Mabula, just north of Pretoria for the weekend. We left on Friday afternoon and arrived in time for sundowners at the Lodge followed by a braai after the sun set.

We were up early for a morning game drive and had to dress warmly as it was pretty chilly in the pre-dawn on the back of the open game drive vehicle. We stopped for a Black-backed Jackal in the road

Black-backed Jackal (Lupulella mesomelas)

As well as a couple of Plain-backed Pipit's warming in the early morning sun

Plain-backed Pipit (Anthus leucophrys)

Along with Sabota Lark

Sabota Lark (Calendulauda sabota)

We heard on the radio that Wild Dog had been seen and we managed to track them down resting in a recently burnt area. What a privilege to see these painted wolves and how they interact with each other, even when resting.

African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)

We then had a morning coffee stop at one of the dams with a Nile Croc cruising by

Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)

It was then back to the Lodge, finding a few more Black-backed Jackal

Black-backed Jackal (Lupulella mesomelas)

and Rufous-naped Lark before enjoying a late breakfast 

Rufous-naped Lark (Mirafra africana)

After breakfast, I had a walk in the garden where I found Tree Squirrel on the roof

Tree Squirrel (Paraxerus cepapi)

Familiar Chat in and around our cars

Familiar Chat (Oenanthe familiaris)

and a Golden-tailed Woodpecker banging away in a tree

Golden-tailed Woodpecker (Campethera abingoni)

As is customary, we packed the coolers for the afternoon drive and headed out again to the plains where we spent time with a number of White Rhino's and how they should look. This is only because Mabula has a active anti-Rhino poaching unit on patrol everyday to protect these magnificent beasts

White Rhinocerus (Chiromantis xerampelina)

Whilst enjoying the Rhino, an African Hawk-Eagle passed by overhead

African Hawk-Eagle (Aquila spilogaster)

On the fringes of the plain, a flock of Southern Pied Babbler's provided some entertainment

Southern Pied Babbler (Turdoides bicolor)

We bumped into a mother and calf in late afternoon sun

White Rhinocerus (Chiromantis xerampelina)

We continued driving while the sun sank toward the horizon and stopped for an obliging pair of Double-banded Sandgrouse, before heading to our sundown spot, a little later than planned

Female Double-banded Sandgrouse (Pterocles bicinctus)

Male Double-banded Sandgrouse (Pterocles bicinctus)

Surprising a Black-backed Jackal on the plain, but no sign of any of the Aardwolf that are frequently seen on these plains

Slow pan Black-backed Jackal (Lupulella mesomelas)

However, the sunset was most enjoyable despite the cold setting in

Mabula sunset

We had a slow drive back to the Lodge with spotlights and were fortunate to get a distant Brown Hyena as it loped along. This was hand-held at some ridiculous ISO

Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea)

Not much further, even more excitement, as we found a digging Aardvark on the side of the road that provided extended views before doing its disappearing trick..That was special!

Aaardvark (Orycteropus afer)

Last, but not least was a really obliging Fiery-necked Nightjar that was roosting in a tree next to the road and not far from the lodge. One ID feature I learned was that Fiery-necked has a pale base to it's rectal bristles and this can be seen in the last images

Fiery-necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus pectoralis)

It was an exciting end to the day which of course we celebrated after thawing out back at the lodge

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...