This is the third post from our recent trip to the Timbavati with friends, Neville and Sue Kelly in mid-June.
“If you want to go fast go alone,
If you want to go far go together.”
– African Proverb
On our third morning we left camp before sunrise as usual. This Grey Heron was fishing in “hide waterhole” despite the air temperature being icey cold. It did not like us passing by and flew off into a tall dead tree alongside the waterhole.
The Grey Heron settled in the tall dead tree alongside “hide waterhole”. The sun was just starting to rise but it was really nippy.
The Purple Roller is as beautiful as the Lilac-breasted Roller but in a more subtle way. Once it flies you can see the purple feathers on its belly and under its wings. You will not see as many Purple Rollers as you will the ubiquitous Lilac-breasted Rollers.
After a relatively quiet start to the morning, Pat found this Leopardess, Rockfig Junior and her growing cub. Initially, they were in thick bush making it impossible to get a clear shot.
This is where Pat’s knowledge of the bush and animal behaviour was so important. He quickly assessed that she probably had a kill somewhere in the area and Rockfig Junior was taking her cub to feed on the hidden kill.
We drove down the hill closer to the river and Pat stopped the game vehicle where he thought she would come out. Sure enough Rockfig Junior emerged about ten minutes later. She and her cub walked right passed us. She was not perturbed by us but stopped every now and then to assess the lie of the land.
Rockfig Junior and her cub walked some distance apart. That was probably so that if they walked into another predator they could scatter easily.
These Leopards blended into the bush beautifully. If you did not know they were there and they stood still, I doubt you would see them.
“Opportunity doesn’t make appointments,
You have to be ready when it arrives.”
– Tim Fargo
Within a couple of hundred metres of the hidden kill, Rockfig Junior stopped to have a look around.
As many cats do, the cub rubbed itself against its mother. They also stroke each other with their tails.
Rockfig Junior was not taking any chances and was having a good look around once she got closer to the kill. Perhaps she was looking out for Hyaenas in case they had picked up the scent of the kill, even though it was well hidden.
You can see the lithe strength of this Leopardess.
The cub walked ahead of its mother, obviously hungry, but did not know where the kill was and relied on its mother to steer it in the general direction of the hidden feast.
We were privileged to watch these two Leopards for about 45 minutes as they walked through the bush to the hidden kill. Once they had got to the kill and started to pull the hair off the carcass, we decided to leave them to feed in peace. After all the excitement, it was time for a coffee break. As we were driving out of the area and just before we stopped we came across this young male Lion.
He got up when he saw us and started to walk into the bush behind him and then stopped, turned around and came back to his resting place.
He was watching us carefully but seemed relaxed, probably because he had recently fed, judging from the size of his belly.
I must have developed my fondness for this type of scene from my childhood in Zimbabwe. I enjoy the sand roads, even with their corrugations. Somehow they seem to interfere less in the bush than a tar road and you get the feeling of being in a far away place.
Tabi’s crossing. Pat told us that Tabi was the Lioness that produced the white lion cubs first seen in 1975, and this was the spot where they were first seen.
Sue’s Sycamore. Just passed Tabi’s crossing Sue wanted to take a closer look at this huge Sycamore fig tree. I got off the game vehicle to get a closer shot. This Sycamore was on the other side of the dry river bed and it was massive. When I was standing on the bank taking my shots, Pat called to me to say that because the well-fed male we had just seen was not too far away there was possibly a Lioness in the area and I should not linger. Just then I heard movement in the bush next to the riverbed about 20 metres further on. Needless to say that was just the prompt I needed to get by “a” back onto the game vehicle.
A sand road on our way back from seeing Rockfig Junior. The elevated perspective shows you that the area is very flat.
There are big and small things in Timbavati. While we were having coffee this dragonfly stopped on a dead stalk close to the game vehicle. Being a photographer it was irresistible.
Just before “one beer” bridge we found this Giraffe browsing on the treetops just next to Walker’s River Camp. We had Nyala and Impala in the camp. It is wonderful to have all of this life around you.
“Sun glows for a day,
Candle for an hour,
Matchstick for a minute,
But a good day can glow forever.
Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its interconnectedness and let it be.