August 5: Can You Top an Aardwolf Sighting? The Kalahari certainly tried…

Yesterday I saw an Aardwolf. How do you top that? Tonight the Kalahari tried its hardest and sent in some of its biggest players. Did they beat the Aardwolf? Not quite…

…But tonight I had the best leopard sighting of my life. We watched as a huge male leopard (called ‘Oscar’, apparently) drank at a waterhole and sniffed around looking for girls. Unlike most leopards, he was totally relaxed and stayed close to us as he tried his hardest to pick up any traces of girl-leopards nearby.

Boldly ignoring the ‘no-entry’ sign…

Drinking…

Sniffing around…

This funny face is called the Flehmen Response. Only done when looking for girls…

My favourite part of the encounter was when a tiny Cape Fox noticed it was just feet away from the Kalahari’s biggest leopard. At first it froze. Then it started looking to the leopard and then looking over its shoulder, as if trying to see if there was any backup around. After much consideration, the little fox began to alarm call. Watching such a teeny little animal trying to intimidate such a big one is pretty priceless and seriously cute. Clearly noting the the leopard was looking for girls and not snacks, it eventually trotted away.

And around the next corner… mating Brown Hyenas. If you know anything about these ridiculously secretive animals, you’ll understand how impossibly cool this sighting was.

And we also saw an Eland. And lots of other Elands.

Love Kalahari!

Sunset Drive Sightings:

Leopard
Brown Hyena
Eland
African Wild Cat
Cape Fox
Bat Eared Fox
Black Backed Jackal
Springhare
Scrubhare
Steenbok
Springbok
Gemsbok
Spotted Eagle Owl
Verreaux’s Eagle Owl
Tawny Eagle
Pale Chanting Goshawk
Ant-Eating Chat
Fawn Coloured Lark
Fiscal Shrike
Sociable Weaver
Kalahari Scrub Robin
Black Chested Prinia

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July 18: The Super-Jackals are Making Shoes Now…

Before the night drive, the camp was buzzing with news of four cheetahs who’d just tried to bring down a wildebeest at the hide.  Later when I went down to see if they were still around, the hide was packed, but no cheetahs. I decided to walk along the perimeter fence to see if I could find them elsewhere. And it worked! Their presence given away by a Tawny Eagle rudely staring directly at them. The four cheetahs were perched on a dune crest.  It’s always so fun to have great sightings right in camp!

Tonight there was a night drive and it started with one guest getting a glimpse of one of the  four cheetahs just outside the camp’s gate. The tracks in the road confirmed what she saw. But of ten people on the drive, just one can add ‘cheetah’ to their list.

Tonight we were tracking lions all over the place. Over the course of the night we followed six different sets of tracks- all of which were extra crispy and fresh.  I love the feeling of following fresh tracks!

Have I ever mentioned how smart Jackals are? They’re smart. They’ve even been coined ‘Super-Jackals’ by the farming community because of their ability to avoid traps and problem solve. And I think that the jackals have started walking around wearing little ‘lion shoes’ to throw us all off. Despite all of the tracks, there were no lions anywhere. But lots of jackals.

Sightings:

Cheetah (for one of us)
Brown Hyena
Eland
African Wild Cat
Gemsbok
Springbok
Wildbeest
Springhare
Bat Eared Fox
Black Backed Jackal
Cape Fox
Spotted Eagle Owl
Barn Owl

July 16: Glowy Golden Cheetahs at First Light

I was sent out to my favourite camp again, so it was up early today for the long drive north. Before the sun rose, we found a lovely Brown Hyena in the road. I absolutely love those few hours in the Kalahari before the sun comes up.

Once the sun was up, we had an incredible sighting of two cheetahs by the roadside. I quickly reached for my camera, because the scene was a photographers dream. Perhaps for the first time i’d snap something that didn’t have to be tampered with to make it look acceptable!

The cheetahs sat like statues, with the glowly golden sun shimmering goldenly on their golden coats of gold, in the golden morning light.  Description has never been my strongpoint. The cheetahs looked all shiny. When we approached, they quietly  lowered themselves and stalked off into the grass and I slipped my camera away before I had the chance to use it. I couldn’t bring myself to spoil the moment.

And after all those incredible sightings, what did I bring out the camera for? This terrible photo of some Springbokkies. Love.

Sightings:

Eland
Brown Hyena
Cheetah
African Wild Cat
Jackal
Ostrich
Springbok
Steenbok
Wildebeest
Gemsbok
Kori Bustard
Spotted Eagle Owl

June 18: Strange Things are Afoot in my Kalahari…

Wow. Odd things are happening in the Kalahari this week. Yesterday morning before dawn, i’m woken by strange noises outside. I flip on the light expecting to see my garden porcupine and instead I find Africa’s largest antelope, an Eland, standing at my front door and peering into my kitchen. And tomorrow, they’re forecasting SNOW.

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By the time there was light for a photo, my pet Eland had moved down the street.

And tonight’s sunset drive was just as weird and wonderful.

First up was the African Wild Cat who pulled off the perfect hunt for us and caught a mouse right by the vehicle.  That was to be the first of SEVENTEEN Wild cats tonight.

At one point we stopped for another WIld Cat, only to find it was with nine others. A whole herd of ten Wild Cats. And none were ducklings either. Ten adult African Wild Cats. I couldn’t believe it and I don’t think i’ll ever see it again. Pretty good going for a solitary cat species…

Another thing i’ll never see again? A perfectly posed Cape Fox. Moments later, it’s joined by a perfectly posed Polecat. They were like BFF’s. Every now and then, the Polecat stopped to dig. So it may be that their beautiful friendship was based on exploitation, the same way a Jackal scoops up mice that escape from a digging Honey Badger. I even took a photo.

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This is going to be one of my favourite photos. Best Friends Forever.

Oh, and then a Brown Hyena ran across the road in front of us.

Love love love Kalahari.

Sightings:

Polecat
Brown Hyena
Cape Fox
Bat Eared Fox
African Wild Cat
Black Backed Jackal
Springhare
Scrubhare
Steenbok
Mouse
Whistling Rat
Gemsbok
Springbok
Wildebeest
Gabar Goshawk
Kori Bustard
Black Chested Snake Eagle
Black Headed Heron
Ostrich
Barn Owl
Spotted Eagle Owl

June 14: Pretty Pink Eyelids and Blue Jelly Bean Teeth

I may have had blue jelly bean teeth and a slight raspberry juice mustache on the night drive tonight. It really does pay to look in mirrors before leaving the house. Fortunately the moon is still gone and it was extra dark.

Our drive tonight started with a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl- an exceptionally huge owl with pretty pink eyelids. It’s fairly common here but not something we see often. This Owl is a serious hunter, often killing other birds such as raptors and the very rare Pel’s Fishing Owl. It’ll even hunts Flamingos in other parts of the Kalahari!

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The Verreaux’s Eagle Owl. A photo I took back in 2008>>>

Sightings:

Brown Hyena
African Wild Cat
Cape Fox
Springhare
Scrub Hare
Springbok
Steenbok
Verreaux’s Eagle Owl
Spotted Eagle Owl
Dikkop

June 10: It Was Cold. That is All.

It was cold tonight. It was very, very cold. It was too cold. But nobody told the animals it was too cold and we had awesome sightings on the night drive tonight. Awesome sightings warm your heart, but not your toes…

Sightings:

Brown Hyena
Small Spotted Genet
African WIld Cat
Jackal
Springhare
Spotted Eagle Owl
Gemsbok
Springbok
Kalahari Moose

May 29: Tonight’s Sightings

Oh dear. I’ve run out of internet. So I’m trying to report tonight’s sightings from my phone. Here goes…

Sunset drive:

Springbok
Wildebeest
Gemsbok
African wild cat
Jackal
Bat eared Fox
Springhare
Scrub Hare
Spotted Eagle Owl

Night Drive:

Brown Hyena
Jackal
Cape Fox
Steenbok
Bat Eared Fox
Spring Hare
Springbok
Spotted Eagle Owl
Verreaux’s Eagle Owl

The Kalahari was completely alive tonight. And it felt like summer again, with warm weather, crickets and barking geckos. Love.

The night drive was made very exciting by a slew of suicidal springhares which had me making emergency stops all night. Like the sort of emergency stops you do on a driving test. 7 of them.

We also had a lovely surprise when we met a Brown Hyena at a waterhole. We watched as it pasted a stalk of grass and then I managed to find the pasting when it left. I get way too excited about hyena anal pastings. I’ll dedicate a whole post to them sometime, and then you’ll see why…

And we counted more than 60 Bat Eared Foxes on the night drive alone…

Love Kalahari.