Sunday, December 23, 2007

A page from my sketchbook; Imagined Landscape (NFS)

Friday, December 14, 2007



We met Marius, our trail leader, and Bento the African tracker, at 'Berg-en-Dal' in the Kruger Park and then drove about 30km off the public road into the hills to the 'Bushman's Camp' enclosure for the three day stay. Here there were simple facilities, round thatches rondavel huts and a central eating Boma.  The huts were raised about 2ft off the ground on stilts - that makes it harder for snakes and other dangerous creatures to get into them.The enclosure, about 100yds diameter was protected by a wonky fence with two strands of barbed wire to keep out lions elephants, rhino and other indigenous animals .
We were woken and rose at 4.30 in the morning, as day broke, and after a quick wash, rusk biscuit and coffee, were ready to walk just after 5.00am. About 2 yards from the camp gate, on the first day Marius pointed out great skid marks where a rhino had made it's 'Midden', it's territorial marks with it's feet. That made me extremely wary as we walked out into the open bush.

We got close to a lot of Rhino A tense minute as this one below sensed our presence and moved towards us.The click of a camera had alerted it. After 500,000,000yrs of being 'Rhino', camera clicks and other metallic/modern type sounds stand out immediately as something out of the ordinary.

LAST EVENING - we spied two Lioness with several cubs.
This lioness kept guard whilst her other female companion fed their little cubs.
  She had suddenly charged, then stopped when the warden shouted, about 25ft away (two or three leaps away) and crouched . We were in a canvas covered truck with open sides , but she was looking us straight in the eyes - so much for saying  the animals are unaware of people in vehicles!!
After sitting motionless for half a minute, looking as calm as a sphinx, she began exercising and unsheathing her claws as we see kittens do when playing and about to pounce, her tail twitching in readiness for the next charge. Mario said "I think we must go!" starting the engine - too right, she chased us for at  least 50 yards along the road, just to show who was in charge.
 These are captured off my video - the battery failed as she ran along the road behind us!!

Earlier the warden had spotted a leopard in the afternoon, only 3 of us in the party of 10 saw it as it slid away so silently into nowhere in a moment. Sorry not time to even raise the camera.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Some of the incredible variety of bird life seen in South Africa, most were in the Kruger Park. Their songs are something one needs to hear, to believe. I bought a CD - "Birds of the Kruger National Park" Volume 1, there are 100 different bird sounds on it. There are 8 types of Cuckoo on this volume!
I don't know the exact details of the different species here so put (type?) when in doubt and in case anyone can enlighten me

Above: "Giant Kingfisher".
This Large chap looks like a cartoon version where his head is too large for his body and body is too large for his legs. But he looks like he means business, He was massive - about 8" or 9" tall. He ignored me, intently spying out his next meal, then after a minute or so was gone . (Crocodiles were in the water below too).
Above: A tiny "African Scops Owl . 17cm tall. Eats insects and spiders mainly.

Above: Cormorant type? bird.

Above: Brown Snake Eagle?

Above: Glossy Blue Starlings

Above: Hoopoe

Hornbill ("Grey" I think?)

Above: "Striped Kingfisher"

Above: Myna bird

Above: Colourful Swallow

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Just returned from South Africa where we had two days walking with Charlie Crowther-Smith my old school friend, and others, on the "Bushmans wilderness trail" in the Kruger National Park. Here's a quick painting of a ' Koppie' (small rocky hill) outside of 'Bushmans Camp'. Painted at about 2.00pm, no animals were at the waterhole because there'd been much rain so they had other sources - but two eagles were circling above. Our walks and encounters with the wildlife at close quarters is another story .....