Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Sabie Park Winter News

My house in winter.
I arrived at Sabie Park late on the 6th August to meet with Jon & Sheila Mayo who filled me in on all the latest happenings. And what happenings they were! A pride of Lions had jumped the fence & killed a Blue Wildebeest on my land just behind my house! The Sabie Park warden contacted the vet at Kruger & they darted three of the Lions & sent them back. The only problem is, they missed two of them & Sheila saw two Lionesses from the veranda two days later, lurking under some undergrowth! They must have gone back, because they were not seen again inside Sabie Park.

 The view from the veranda looking into Kruger.

I had been away only three weeks, but there were some changes in the scenery. It was winter now with only small patches of greenery evident. 
 A herd of Elephants crossing the Sabie River.
 This was a daily ritual, with more & more
 animals involved each day.

 They are on my side of the river. 
They shouldn't be here!

Elephants were crossing the Sabie River daily & feeding on the Sabie Park side. One evening I counted 38 animals on our side of the river, but so far, our security fence was keeping them at bay. 

 White Rhino coming to drink in late afternoon.

White Rhino was also seen a couple of times coming down to the river to drink in the late afternoon.

Mother Giraffe sans baby!

 The baby Giraffe born in June did not survive. Prey to the resident Leopard. 

Baby Bushbuck thriving & gaining
 rapid independence from Mum!

However the baby Bushbuck on my land is thriving. It is so much bigger now than a few weeks ago.

Blue Wildebeest.
A did a bit of birding around Sabie Park & recorded the usual species but nothing rare or special. However, I did miss a Bat Hawk at dusk at the picnic site!

Green - backed Heron.
 Helmeted Guineafowl are increasing
 inside Sabie Park.
 Crested Francolin.
Natal Francolin will wake you up every morning
 just before dawn.
 No need for an alarm clock here!

 Crowned Hornbill is an uncommon winter visitor.

Brown headed Parrot is common.
Laughing Dove, surprisingly uncommon 
inside Sabie Park.
 Bearded Woodpecker in my garden.

 Giant Kingfisher along the river.
 Brown headed Kingfisher is common.
Purple Roller, an uncommon winter visitor
 to Sabie Park's more open areas.
 Burchell's Coucal is an ever present along the river.
 Black headed Oriole.
 Paradise Flycatcher coming into full
 summer plumage.
 Sombre Bulbul
 Terrestrial Brownbul.
 White browed Scrub-Robin.
 Common Puffback Shrike.

 The very noisy Arrowmarked Babbler.
 Male Chinspot Batis.
 Marico Sunbird.
 Collared Sunbird which is largely confined 
to the riverine forest.
Slender Weaver.
The very common Blue Waxbill.

September was unusual in that high temperatures became the norm. 38 degrees Celsius was recorded on more than one day. This was a very unusual situation for this time of year. Days were filled with bright sunlight. It was hot & the ever present threat of a bush fire became increasingly ominous. 
 As the month progressed more & more Elephants 
were in & around the river,
 feeding & just cooling off.

 This is one of the two big males which first found
Sabie Park to their liking!
The only problem is, he is in my driveway!
 My drivway on some mornings!

Jon taking a photo! That is his car by the way!
Elephants became a daily event inside Sabie Park. First two males broke through the fence & fed for over a week around the house. I was woken up several times by trees been felled & broken & Elephants eating throughout the night. 

 Elephant damage on my land.

I don't know what I am smiling about! 
Just look at the damage! I have lost around 20 trees.
I was woken up one morning by a herd of 8 Elephants
all females & young. 
These pictures were taken from my bedroom window!
 She has seen me naked in the window!
No wonder she is pissed off!

Just in case you forgot it was just outside my bedroom!
 They just kept on coming!
This little one came really close to the open window!

It was now time for me to get showered & dressed. I was pretty sure there were Elephants all around the house, so I went on to the veranda to check.

Video links from Jon & Sheila Mayo: 

Please note when you click on the link One Drive will open, but then press F5 to refresh the page & the video will commence.

Yep! They were there alright!
 A final tally of 26!

Hrrrm! Not an Elephant!
Photo courtesy of Jon & Sheila Mayo.
Away from the Elephant action, things were going along more or less in a normal fashion. I was having a double carport built, but things got a little delayed, as the workers were not too keen on working on it at the moment! 

Holes for the foundations of the car port.
Photo courtesy of Jon & Sheila Mayo.
The half built carport! 

The baby Bushbuck was thriving & also becoming increasingly tame. It spends most of its time in the thickets next to the veranda.

Baby Bushbuck.

A Common Duiker has once again taken up
 residence behind the house.

The troop of Banded Mongooses was much in evidence throughout September. They even invaded the house one afternoon!
 Always on the lookout.
 This troop is ten strong.

The much smaller but no less interesting
Dwarf Mongoose.
 The uncommon White-tailed Mongoose.
If you don't believe me, there is the white tail!
Both photos taken at night with a flashlight.
Unbelievably, I have five species of mongoose on my land: White-tailed (nocturnal); Slender; Banded; Dwarf & Water Mongoose.

There was one other significant event in September, but I will place that on another post. Bushfire! 

I left Sabie Park on 20th September & flew back to the UAE. It had been quite a full & interesting six weeks one way & the other!

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