Battered and bruised

25th July 2014
© Horst Kalcher

© Horst Kalcher

Sunday 20th July 2014

Successful morning’s birding at Banyini Pan – Racket tailed rollers on the way and once there white backed duck, pygmy geese and a lifer for me, lesser jacana. The main story for the morning was having to crack open my survival kit. It’s not an exhaustive one but it came up trumps today. It consists of a small amount of para cord, a striker and flint and some tea bags. It was the latter that was required as the duty team had only packed rooibos, there was no breakfast tea.

In the afternoon our birding took us to Luvuvuh West. I think it was no coincidence that it gave us the opportunity to look for a leopard that had been seen earlier in the day sat on a kill. We found him laying up in the shade of a natal mahogany a few hundred metres west of second lookout. He was an old man, battered and bruised from many a cat fight. His eyes were deep set and the brows heavy, whilst he was a magnificent specimen he wasn’t pretty. They say that beauty is only skin deep and its about personality, well I’m afraid he wasn’t winning there either. He bared his teeth and growled at us which meant that we didn’t over stay our welcome.

As we headed to the bridge in search of the Pel’s fishing Owl we saw a herd of elephants heading down for water. As they got closer to the water they broke into an excited run. A quick change of plan as the scene couldn’t have been better for sun downers especially when for good measure you throw in a pair of fish eagles, some waterbuck, a pied kingfisher and a green-backed heron.

After the sun went down we made our way down ambush alley to the bridge through the aroma of potato bush heavy in the night air. Whilst we had no luck with the fishing owl there was no shortage of elephants and buffalos as there were during the day. The night was finished off with a great sighting of a genet foraging in the trampled grass of the flood plain and quite rightly as it was a bird course we closed our account for the day with quite a special bird, a three banded coarser.