Thursday, June 27, 2013

An Uneventful(?) Day at Xakanaxa

With adrenalin still pumping after our awesome day before, we set out in our Land Rover the next day with high hopes of more cats.  We had spent time in Toronto 'managing expectations' but it was hard to keep those expectations under control after our incredible luck. It turns out the 26 was a 'relatively' uneventful day.

There were some highlights, though.

We saw a small herd of tsessebe, a type of antelope we'd never heard of before.  It's the second fastest animal on earth, after cheetahs.  We also saw a lovely herd of kudu - this time nicely in the open.  Before this, we had really believed one guide who said there were two sides to every tree: the side facing you and the side the kudus were on!  

Other animals included wildebeest and bushbuck. We also saw many impala.  They are such a beautiful animal, but often get treated nonchalantly because they're so ubiquitous.  We saw one poor impala up in a tree!  Dragged there by a leopard whod killed it.  We stopped by the tree on the way in both in the morning and the afternoon but the leopard was never there.  

We saw an absolutely gigantic herd of Cape buffalo, numbering maybe 500.  Our guide Water said there had been no buffalo at all until this herd.  There were baboon and elephants, hippos and crocodiles, wildebeest, waterbuck and bushbuck.
For me the highlight was coming upon a small herd of zebra.  They just might be my favourite animal of all.  They were beautiful, their shiny coats glistening in the sun.

Then we came upon a large pond of water with all kinds of birds.  There were yellow-billed and saddle-billed stork, marabou stocks, greater egrets, watted crane (with wings folded back to look like a long tail) and pelicans.  There was a brief pas de deux as a crocodile swam into shallow water, approaching a group of storks.  They didn't look very worried, as the croc already had a fish in its mouth.  One bird in its direct path took a small step backwards, but other than that, the birds totally ignored the croc.  

When we arrived, there were just two pelicans among the other birds.  Then they started flying in from another pond.  They came and they came and they came.  They flew in single file and did a sharp U-turn to land.  As they turned their white wings glinted in the sun against the beautiful blue sky.      Spectacularly beautiful.  Soon there were so many, we couldn't figure out how they could fit on the shore.  

As I look back on this message, I realize just how eventful this day had been.  Later in the airport, I heard a woman talking about their two days and all the things they hadn't seen.  It read like the list above.  

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