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

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