Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 06/07/2012

To Bee or Not To Bee




Little Bee Eater, originally uploaded by http://andrewskelton.net.

Leaving the river behind, we head to a nearby small hill where we’ve just been told a young leopard has been spotted within the hour, fingers crossed. A track circuits the hill but it’s around 100m away from the bushline so we’re already at a disadvantage as we drive around, even though the grass here is relatively short. With every meter that passes, the expectation that we might finally see the holy grail of The Big Five is diminishing but we continue to scan the tree line regardlessly. With not tall trees or obvious rocky outcrops for the animal to rest upon, we finally return to the spot where we’d started and we all silently come to the conclusion that that was our last opportunity and we’re now hoping to see The Big Four… Lions (check), Elephant (check), Water Buffalo (check), Rhino (unchecked).

With miles to cover and lunchtime approaching we head back towards camp; halfway home and we stop to try and help a vehicle that has become bogged down in some thick black mud. We’re the first on the scene and try to pull the landrover out of its sticky mire but so entrenched in the mud is the car, the metal hook on the towbar breaks. Within 5 mins other cars turn up from the same camp so we are bade farewell and we’re on our way home.

We’re back to camp by 1pm, and my stomach is certainly telling me it is in need of some sustenance but before we head off for lunch there’s just one more photo opportunity, a malachite kingfisher perched on a branch overhanging the river that borders our camp, just outside our tent.

Lunchtime and it’s time to relax. I’ve decided to copy two memory cards across to one of the 32gb cards in my camera (remember there are two slots in the 1D4). There are now three days worth of photos on this one card, but looking at how many.photos I can take with this card it doesn’t look like I’ll run out of space for the remainder of the trip as the camera is now report that instead of being able to take 1999 photos, it has space for 1948 images… despite having transferred 10gb from the two cards already! I might have over anticipated how many images I would be taking when I bought the two extra cards..

After another delicious meal, I decide to have a walk around camp to see what flowers are out that I might be able to photograph. There’s only the intense indigo flowers of the buganvilia to photograph but I manage to witness another of natures great spectacles. Dotted along the bank, hanging from branches over the river are dozens of weaver bird nests but they’re all too far away to take any meaningful images however I manage to locate one that’s close to a sturdy footbridge and watch whilst one of the birds threads a piece of grass into the nest, working it like anyone proficient in needlecraft in amongst the other threads. The nest dangled precariously from a branch attached by several pieces of grass from where the bird.constructs what looks.like an upside down plant pot, the entrance to the nest via a small hole underneath the amazing construct.. The hole at the bottom stops the rainwater entering the nest as well as helping keep the nest clean, all remains being dumped out via the hole. The ground of the camp is teaming with bird life, not just the yellow and black Weaver birds, calls echo around the site though the birds themselves remain elusively hidden in the various bushes and trees. At night the trees overhanging our tent seems to reverberate with the chattering calls of small birds as they start to roost, and they’re as difficult to see in the tree as the leopards have been!

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