31 July 2023

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

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