The Stripes are the Stars
07.11.2018 - 07.11.2018
All ready to go to see more wildlife this morning:
Ngare Naironya Springs
After breakfast we return to the waterhole, which is now full of zebras coming and going, splashing about, drinking and generally being zebras.
Clouds of dust swirl around in the air as the zebra are spooked by our car or each other at different times.
A hyena appearing on the horizon sends the skittish zebras into a mass exodus.
Once the zebra have vacated the bar, a couple of warthogs saunter down to take a drink.
A couple of Hammerkops also make the most of the fresh water.
We move a short distance to another part of the springs where a steep-sided natural depression with water in the bottom is surrounded by trees. I guess this could be a bit of a death trap if a predator or two were to appear, as there is no easy escape route. The zebra seem acutely aware of the potential danger too – even just the shadows of a hammerkop flying above is enough to spook them.
With the zebra safely out of the way, a couple of Olive Baboons brave the waterhole.
This amazing place is a wildlife-watcher's paradise, and at times it is difficult to know which direction to look – and point the cameras – as there is something exciting going on all around us at all times.
Male impala are territorial, although usually only during the rutting season. You can tell these are two guys, as only males have horns. Impala are extremely agile and can jump up to three metres in height, covering a distance of 10 metres.
Meanwhile, the zebra think it is very much a laughing matter.
As I said in the title, here on these plains the stripes really are the stars. There are zebra everywhere, thousands of them, including some very young foals. Mummy zebras are fiercely protective of their offspring and will fight off any other strange adult who gets too close to her baby.
There is also some love in the air.
These zebra are part of the Great Migration – they tend to be out the front, before the other ungulates, as they will chomp on the taller grass that the wildebeest are unable eat, leaving the shorter grass for them. Easily spooked, thy are constantly on the move, and once one zebra runs, lots of zebra run. I spend ages and take hundreds of photos practising my panning skills, with varying success.
The heavily pregnant zebra on the right looks like she might give birth any moment.
Cape buffalo doing what cape buffalo do best: stare! I do find their gaze rather unnerving.
The buffalo will migrate too, but they don't do the complete circuit as they are unable to cross the biggest rivers.
Being slightly short-sighted, the buffalo are often spooked by warthogs as they confuse them for lions. I can see how the outline, size and colour of the two animals can appear slightly similar if your eyesight is not good. Try squinting at the picture below and you may be able to see what I mean.
Black Faced Vervet Monkeys
Tse Tse Flies
Despite smothering ourselves with Avon's Skin so Soft lotion, which greatly reduces the number of insect bites, we are hugely bothered by the tse tse flies here in this forest. This is the worst swarm of these pesky flies we've ever encountered, and when we stop the car, we can hear them as a constant buzz.
My ankles feel sore and tight, and I soon discover why – the top of my socks have really been digging in to my legs. Oops.
Buffalo lying down
You can see their horns are starting to wear down. Unlike antlers, bovine horns are permanent and do not fall off and regrow.
Malisa goes off the 'main road' along a track that can only be described as 'basic'.
Initially their short stature makes the baby piglets invisible in the long grass (which is why they run with their tails in the air, so that all the members of the family can see each other), it is only when they cross the dirt track behind us that we spot the cute little family.
Spot the Elephant
It is astonishing how easy it is to lose such an enormous animal.
There he is: a large bull elephant appears from behind the bushes.
He is eyeing us with suspicion as he walks along, grabbing some grass to eat as he goes.
Maybe suspicion wasn't his perspective, as he seems to be rather more excited to see us now.
Such an amazing organ, the elephant's trunk (you thought I was talking about something else there, didn't you?) has 150,000 muscles, helping it to eat, pick things up and communicate among other things.
Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. It seems this cheetah most definitely got that memo and has no intention of moving from his shady comfort zone.
The Affectionate Tree
I love the way the trunk of this tree appears to caress the round shapes of the rocky outcrop, bringing a whole new aspect to the expression 'tree hugging'.
His mate was a slow developer and only discovered the appeal of rocks in later life, resulting in a swift U-turn in his growth pattern. Not so much a hug as a desperate grab.
I will leave you with that rocky embrace for this time. Thank you Calabash Adventures, you're the best!