January 25, 2022

After the long drive yesterday we decided we would just do some short drives today and otherwise relax in the camp. I woke up before my 5am (probably got to do with fact that I was asleep before 10pm) and H woke up shortly after 5am. We headed out around 5:30am just as the sun was rising.

We headed for Mestel Dam which is north of the camp. We had coffee there and had seen some nice bird life but the game was pretty sparse. At that point we only had seen impala and wildebeest and in the end we only added elephant to the morning drive and no other game. The grass is very high and unless something is in the road or walks across the road as you drive by, I reckon you won’t see it. From some research I found out that Pretoriuskop is the highest camp (in terms of altitude) and has the highest rainfall. That explains the high grass and very thick bush.

The bird life though is pretty good and despite the poor occurrence of game, we did quite a few birds to the trip list which now stands at 126. In addition, on the morning drive we added number 499 on my lifer list – European Honey Buzzard. You might ask what happened to 498 because I was on 497 yesterday. When I got back to camp and was updating my list, I noticed I had missed off one bird on my masterlist so I was actually on 499 after the morning drive.

We went out again at 3:30pm. The entire day it was overcast though it never rained. The temperature was also pretty mild for this time of the year – peaking again at 28 C. This evening’s drive was even worse for game viewing. We saw one old bull elephant and some waterbuck at the Shitlhave Dam. However, the big thing was that about 3-4 kms from camp I spotted a Eurasian Hobby which took me to 500 birds!

It was a much longer process though than it took to write! I saw the bird, looked through my binoculars and said Eurasian Hobby but H never believed me. She thought I had confirmation bias because earlier in the day I had a Whatsapp conversation with my one son (M). I had said it was going to be tough to get to 500 because I had seen all the common stuff so it was going to have to be something harder to ID. My son has recently been to KNP (earlier in Jan) and had seen the Eurasian Hobby so he said all I needed to do was see that. So H simply didn’t believe me and thought I was partly joking. We basically spent 10 minutes making 100% sure it was the Eurasian Hobby – didn’t want to get to 500 with a false ID! I had my doubts I could get there during this trip but I am very pleased I did. To get to 600 is going to be somewhat harder though and will definitely require a pelagic.

Beautiful evening tonight. Not a breath of wind and the clouds lifted/broke slightly so we had an amazing pink sky and sunset while I made the braai. Chicken sosaties on the braai along with some potatoes in the coals. Lovely meal to finish a relaxing day.

Until tomorrow … P & H

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