Even though we have been to Botswana five times, we always see new behaviors, do something different, experience firsts and so on. This trip we had a number of firsts.
Normally ones sees a single jackal, or a pair. This time we encountered five jackals together, and we had a great time watching these animals play fighting, pushing and cavorting around.
Night drives – with the tracker shining a spotlight around the 180 degrees in front of the vehicle – can be quite interesting. It is not unusual for an elephant to be right in the vehicle’s path, which results in a huge roar which startles everyone. There are creatures who are usually only seen in the spotlight at night, and we were fortunate to see three for the first time. The African wild cat looked just like your own house cat, with its’ ringed tail. Then the spring hare bouncing along was a treat to watch – Tom called it an African kangaroo! Thirdly we saw a caracal, which resembles a European lynx.
We often see these spurfowls or francolins singly or in pairs. This time we saw mother and dad with two little ones in beautiful morning light.
Driving along Tom and AT spotted a large bush containing dozens of screeching starlings. Tom said it might be a snake. Sure enough we spotted a seldom seen – and highly toxic – black mamba looking for a meal. The snake poked its’ head above the branches – Tom said they can raise up half of their total length! Then it quickly slid its way towards the base of a large tree and disappeared around it. The snake was at least 6″ long and quite big around.
We spotted a large number of vultures circling around a certain area. So naturally we drove to that area. Sadly the vultures were circling above a female adult elephant who gad just given birth, and the infant was still born. The mother was pushing the little one trying to arouse it – to no avail. A very sad scene indeed.
Tom spotted a hawk-eagle high in a tree. Then we saw a monkey climbing up the tree toward the eagle, which eventually flew away, giving the monkey a long dirty glare. The hawk eagle was a first for us, and certainly the encounter was as well.
We have seen this beautiful bird in the past, usually flying in circles high above, or occasionally in a far away tree. This time was different. Tom spotted this one sitting on a branch on the other side of a smallish pond (pan) of water. It had its’ wings spread, and he guessed that the eagle had bathed and was drying out its’ wings. So we took a few images and waited for it to fly. No such luck. So Tom drove the vehicle across the pan to the other side. Now we had a great view of the eagle – but no flight. Eventually AT got off his seat and started to approach the bird – and it finally flew.
Overall some neat firsts. Each safari is different and always bring new experiences.