An unusual sighting at Lake Panic

Lake Panic is a hide located a couple of kilometres west of Skukuza in the southern region of the Kruger Park. This is a well known birding and photographic hide.

One afternoon we decided to visit the hide because the light direction is better facing due east in the afternoons. Kingfishers, thickkness and herons abound but there area always surprises!!?!!.

This particular afternoon one of the bird watchers who was leaving showed us where a green snake had entered the water. At first we thought it was a Green Water Snake, but it soon became apparent that it was too big .

We had seen the Burchell’s Coucal earlier, which had been calling its mate for a while some distance away in the reeds. Roberts refers to its call as a ‘cascade of  bubbling notes’ which can turn to loud, explosive and repetitive clucks when aggression is aroused. When alarmed it hisses.

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We heard the loud clucking as the Coucal spotted the Boomslang which by now had climbed into the branches of a low hanging bush above the water. The Coucal flew over to investigate.

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It quickly assessed the situation and decided to tackle the Bloomslang (Afrikaans for Tree Snake). I was amazed as the snake was big and is highly venomous.

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As is often the case, predators attack the hind regions of its prey, particularly if the front end is lethal. That is exactly what this Coucal did.

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In true Bloomslang style, it puffed up its neck to strike a threatening pose. The snake then lunged at the Coucal more to escape than fight.

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The Bloomslang could not get away  as the Coucal has its feet firmly clamped to the rump of the snake.

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Over and over the Bloomslang lunged at  the Coucal trying to get away.

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At one point the Bloomslang managed to get onto a dead thorn tree trunk. The Coucal followed undaunted.

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Eventually, the Bloomslang lunged aggressively enough at the Coucal  causing the bird to fall in the water. The snake made a hasty exit. The bird got itself out of the water to fight another day.

The Coucal is a much more voracious predator than I had given it credit for. This kind of sighting is as intense and exciting as any lion hunt.

Snakes do not always have it their own way. I have seen picture of a Grey Headed Shrike killing a large Bloomslang.

The wonder of the bush is that you never know what you are going to see or when you are going to see it. Usually you come away with a new sense of respect for prey and predator.

I know the shots are nothing more than a record and that the quality is just that, but it was a most unusual sighting which I wanted to share.

It is not always the big stuff that provides the most drama in the bush.

I hope you found the sequence interesting.

I have added another bird category – Vultures.

Have fun

Mike

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