6:45am. Yes, another early start. This tour has an intense schedule, birding from dawn till dusk and beyond. I'm not sure how I'm doing with these posts, too much detail or not enough? It feels like maybe I'm just listing stuff, sorry if that's the case, but I'm writing them at the end of very long days. It's hard too, to decide what to put in, we see so many incredible sights every day, it would take me hours to write it all down.
For example, this morning we started with a wander through the forest where we saw a Crowned Eagle swoop in hunting monkeys, luckily for the monkeys he missed, but the attack set them off and for the next ten minutes we listened to their alarm calls sounding from up in the trees.
We were early enough to enjoy the dawn chorus too, including what sounded like babies crying in the distance, but is actually the call of the Trumpeter Hornbill. Emergency services have responded to a few calls about abandoned children, only to find a hornbill calling instead.
We saw three species of Snake Eagle; Brown, Southern Banded and Black-chested. Four white rhino, including a mother and calf. The horns on these wild rhinos are incredible, over a metre long and very sharp, nothing like the sad, trimmed ones you see in the zoo. A Crowned Eagle nest with a fledgling. Hippo by the dozens with little baby calves. Narina Trogons.
Around lunch time we made it to the beach, and I walked out onto it to see the Indian Ocean for the first time. The opposite shore I expected to find myself on when I eventually made it to my fourth ocean. The wind was surprisingly warm, and the water lovely sea-green.
Every night at dinner when we do our checklists we have the joke 'anyone see a whale today?' Today it wasn't a joke, we saw Humpbacks, and dolphins too. Not to mention Cape Gannett, another new bird for the list.
Lunch was in the forest, a spot our guide picked because of two birds we needed that had been evading us. I stepped out of the car, scanned the hillside and within thirty seconds I was like 'there's a Woodward's Batis and some Brown Scrub Robin', he couldn't believe it. Finding our targets so quick meant we could spend plenty of time watching the endangered Blue Monkeys that came to visit while we ate lunch.
Before jumping back in the car, we headed to the loo, maybe 300 metres from the car. On the way we spotted some prints, big cat prints, not fresh but a day or two old. Two sizes, means two individuals, these prints belonged to leopard.
Driving back out of the park, we got great views of Hamerkop at their nest, and nesting Goliath Herons too. I spotted a Denham's Bustard off in the distance, another good find.
Back in town we stopped to watch an African Harrier-hawk persistently picking at a tree, while being mobbed by Dark-backed Weavers, eventually finding his prize, a weaver chick, swallowing it down and flying off.
Wildlife is so abundant in South Africa, and in such close proximity to humans that everywhere we go there are Attenborough worthy scenes playing out right in front of us. Seeing the live action versions is such a privilege. Amazing.