Monday, June 2nd, 2014

I woke today to the sound of hippos close by. Ollie once again picks me up at 6:30am for breakfast. We have the same schedule planned today (breakfast from 6am – 7am, first game drive 7am – 10:30am, brunch at 11am, break until 3pm, 3pm snack, 3:30pm – 6:00pm second game drive, 7pm drinks at the fire pit, 7:30pm dinner and drinks at the fire pit before bed). It’s warmer this morning than yesterday. We have the same group on the game drive but it’s Alex and Carol’s last drive before leaving this afternoon. We start the drive seeing a waterbuck, red billed francolin, impalas and helmeted guineafowl. I did not get a photo of the red billed francolin because they moved too fast and I’m already tired of seeing so many impalas.

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We find a paw print of a big male lion that we start tracking. After about 45 minutes we come around the corner and see a young male lion and lioness. The male is about 3-1/2 years old and his mother is about 9 years old. She had three cubs but the other 2 were killed by the big male because the cubs were not his. The young male will go on his own in about 1 year. She has a wound on her left shoulder possibly from being injured during a kill. Ollie radioed the other trucks from our camp that we had found the lions. We waited and watched the lions for about 45 minutes until another truck showed.

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We continue our game drive seeing a copper tail coucal, great white egret and yellow billed stork, and red lechwe. Time for our morning coffee break at dead tree island. The trees are dead from being drowned in 4-5 feet of water during the wet season. In the distance there is a tree full of spoonbill nesting.

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After our break we see a lesser flamingo and the very shy sitatunga. Very hard to get close to these animals to get a good picture since they run away when hearing the vehicle. On the way back to camp for brunch we see a black winged stilt, rufous billed heron, hamerkop nest and a python. The python is the only protected snake and you can be jailed if found that you killed one.

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We make it back for lunch at 10:45am. Ollie pushes me back to my tent about noon and I work on organizing the morning photos plus some writing. I am once again behind on my writing. The afternoon drive is only me, Stuart and Caroline. This is their last game drive before leaving tomorrow morning. Right out of camp we see two go-away birds fighting in a bloody battle. We move on seeing two young impalas born last year grooming each other. When driving, an elephant passes in front of us.

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We hear baboons in the distance barking at something. This is a danger call that a predator is around. We pass two young waterbucks, only about 2-3 months old. One waterbuck is missing a rear left hoof, very surprising it’s still alive.  Ollie finds fresh leopard tracks that we start tracking for about 15 minutes. This could be what the baboons are still barking at.

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I see my first hippo hanging out in the water. In the same water is a grey heron, saddleback stork and great white egret. There are two honey badgers wandering behind the water but I can’t get a picture. We see two more birds, a woodland kingfisher and brown hornbill. The brown hornbill can only fly short distances and mostly a ground bird. It is also endangered.

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We come across two honey badgers, maybe the ones from before. Ollie turns off the vehicle and we sit for about 15 minutes watching them trying to get a good picture. Ollie finds a spot close to the water by some hippos and a family of baboons, finding a tree for the night, to have drinks and watch the sunset.

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We make it back to camp, I get cleaned up and Ollie comes back to take me to the fire pit. Dinner tonight is stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer, main course of beef, pork chop, butternut squash, mashed potatoes and green beans, with apple crumble for desert. It’s only me and 3 staff at the fire pit, when we hear the roar of the big male lion. I asked how close it was and was told “too close”. I’m again the last one at the fire pit. There seems to be a trend starting. I see a shooting star before being escorted to my tent. I made a wish, we’ll see if it comes true. Today was another amazing day. I once again go to sleep hearing frogs, crickets and hippos.

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