Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Trip to South Africa - Part 6 Amakhala The Last Bit

So onto the last bit of Amakhala. The last 4 game drives proved interesting with more Elephant, Giraffe, Rhino, Antelope, Wildebeest and another Cheetah sighting. We did add a Cape Cobra which was quite exciting:
During one of the drives we left our trust Land Rover and boarded a boat for a short run on the river, this resulted in some great additions to our bird list:
Masked Weaver:
 African Darter:
 Black-crowned Night Heron:
 Malachite Kingfisher:
 Black Duck:

As well as a few Green Wood-hoopoe, sadly no photo of these, they just wouldn't come close enough! But late on this African Hoopoe did:
Another bird seen quite often was the Rufous-naped Lark, again it proved difficult to photograph, as as you might imaging, creeping up on a bird in a 2 ton Land Rover isn't easy, but I did get one in the end,
Rufous-naped Lark:
I mentioned that we saw plenty of Rhino and I had decided not to repeat photos but this baby surely deserves a place on the blog:
There were quite a few birds seen regularly, but as I said seeing and photographing wasn't always easy, so here's another fairly common bird that I finally manged to get on camera:
Fork-tailed Drongo:
We had one more Lion encounter,this time a Lion and Lioness, but we couldn't get any closer than this:

So back to birds on the reserve.
Secretary Bird:
Crowned Lapwing & Chick:

Denham's Bustard:
Pale Chanting Goshawk:
Three Banded Plover:
African Shelduck:
Secretary Bird:
Southern Tcharga:
Egyptian Goose: (They were everywhere!!)
Cape Turtle Dove:
Finally there was an animal that I had hoped we might see, but never thought we would as they are particularly difficult to find during the day:

So that concludes our time a Amakhala, we now headed back along the Garden Route and looked forward to a 3 night stay in Knysna.

Monday, 27 October 2014

A Trip to South Africa - Part 5 Amakhala Continued

The second day at Amakhala proved interesting with some mist about and a heavy due on the grass, this shot was taken after we had driven up and out of the basin where the lodges are situated:
Once in the clear though we came across this new born Kudu:
This Pearl-breasted Swallow stopped for a drink in one of the puddles left from yesterdays rain:
Nearby the African Pipit was managing to get some nesting material from the dew laden grasses:
As we drove around we went in and out of the mist making for some interesting photos;
You've heard of Gorillas in the mist, well these are the avian variety!

With more sightings of Wildebeest, Impala, Cape Starling, Mousebird, Shrike, Flycatcher, Pipits it was a great start to the day, then we had two firsts in quick succession. Firstly an:
Ant-eating Chat:
and then a
Just behind the Buffalo on a tree was this Black-headed Heron:
After this we had our first Giraffe encounter, I took loads of pictures so choosing which one to put here was very difficult (the rest and all the bird photos will be on Flickr shortly):
Two birds that we had seen plenty of but had been difficult to photograph for various reasons, were the two varieties of the Double Collared Sunbird, this one is;
Greater Double Collared Sunbird:
We continued to come across various Antelope during our drive, we again found a lone Bull Elephant, I won't repeat photographs now, I'll just add new species, so our next new species are;
Blacksmith Lapwing:
Crowned Lapwing (Plover):
In between the above we did see our first Pied Starling, but the photo isn't worth putting up on here.
As we drove on we spotted our first Rhino in the distance, but not easy to get to as there was a river in between! But out trusty guide Jason managed to get us there and we cautiously approached, the two Rhinos though were determined to keep their backsides pointed at us!

 Until we got just a little too close and had to beat a hasty retreat!
After this we headed back for breakfast, not before getting some more photos of the,
Cape Longclaw:

During our lunch break we found what turned out to be a permanent resident by the door of our lodge:
Then whilst chilling out on out veranda a Jackal Buzzard paid us a visit:

I think that will do for this post!

Friday, 24 October 2014

A Trip to South Africa - Part 4 Cheetah Video

Before moving on to the rest of the South Africa posts, I just thought I'd pop this video up. The quality isn't great (I'm better at photographs than videos) I could blame the weather though!

A Trip to South Africa - Part 3 Still Amakhala Day 1

Well this is still day one at Amakhala, just realised missed a couple of things before we got back for Breakfast on day 1, a much closer encounter with a lone Bull Elephant:
our first Kingfisher of the trip,
Pied Kingfisher:
then on our way back in an opportunity to photograph some Oryx (Gemsbok):

After Breakfast and Lunch the weather improved and the Sun made an appearance, so we couldn't wait to get out on the next game drive. Mind you the morning had been so good we didn't think that the afternoon would be able to match it. We got off to a quiet start with the tracks being rather slippy after the mornings rain, so the Land Rover was sliding about all over the place, I have to say it was great fun especially traversing some steep hillsides, we had every confidence in our driver though, Jason was brilliant.

So wildlife wise a great start was a posing,
Speckled Mousebird:
and a Leopard Tortoise having a drink in a puddle:
This Fiscal Flycatcher was our first of many sightings over the next few days:
Antelope were abundant as we progressed and provided we didn't get too close, which Jason was very good in judging, you could get some decent photos (well I think so anyway!)
One of the most common birds around was the:
Helmeted Guinea Fowl:
We saw these continually during our 3 weeks in South Africa, in the Bush, by the Roadside, Parks, Gardens, everywhere. Anyway next up for our first sighting was the stunning,
Cape Longclaw:
followed by the rather drab
Yellow Billed Duck:
The new bird sightings kept coming:
Yellow-fronted Canary:
Red-necked Spurfowl:

At this point things got a bit exciting! The Eland in the earlier photograph in this post was minding his own business grazing away, when a young Lion shot out of the bush and went for it, this took us completely by surprise and I didn't get any photos of the chase, but the Eland managed to get away, the whole thing could have only lasted about 30 seconds if that. The disgruntled Lion then turned around and headed towards us, giving us the once over and must have decided that he would need a tin-opener to get us out of the Land Rover and he moved on. Not before I took a few for the album though!

After this excitement we headed to a safe spot for that great South African ritual the Sundowner. This involved in our case snacks and a Beer (In Tina and Jo's case a Gin and Tonic) brought along by Jason in a cool box, whilst the sunset, very civilised. After this we drove back to the lodges to get ready for a wonderful three course meal.

Life is tough, but someone has to do it!