Tau Pan, Nov 2018

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November was exceptionally hot and dry, even by usual regional averages for the time of year. As a result, there was almost continual action at the camp waterhole. The Tau Pan pride of lions were there on a daily basis, sometimes all together and other times in smaller groups.

Three of the resident lionesses decided to park off under the luggage rack at Tau Pan airstrip. Luckily they were spotted by the guides and they flashed lights to warn the pilot as he was about to get out of his plane! Another time the same lionesses killed an oryx right at the airstrip. One day we were watching wildebeest herding towards water and saw them unexpectedly divert. We followed up and sure enough there were lions lying in wait for them. One day we found the pride eating on a carcass that we suspected had been brought down by a nomadic lioness who was waiting nearby. It looked as though the larger pride had driven her off her kill. White-backed vultures, hooded vultures and yellow-billed kites were circling above.

A female leopard was spotted a few times in the camp area and also resting in a tree near to the airstrip. Separately, a young tom leopard was also seen near to camp. He was relaxed enough that we were able to spend nearly an hour photographing him on one occasion.

One early morning before game drive we were surprised by two young male cheetah brothers who showed up at Room 6 and then headed straight to the waterhole for a drink. They repeated this behaviour a week or so later so we hope that we will see more of this handsome pair.

A large solitary bull elephant has been living by camp for a few months and on a daily basis he was going to the waterhole to drink and bathe, putting on a high tea show for the guests.

Bat-eared foxes and black-backed jackals have dens in the Tau Pan area and both species were nursing young. Other smaller mammals seen included African wild cat and honey badgers. Guests were fascinated to see the bat eared foxed catching and eating scorpions.

Kudu were often drinking at the waterhole; carefully circling the area and sniffing first to check for lions. A lovely journey of twelve giraffe were often seen, towering above the shrubs and bushes as they made their way between the camp waterhole and the pan where they enjoyed browsing. A big male red hartebeest was seen resting under a shady camelthorn tree.

There were plenty of bird species in the area, and especially around the waterhole where there was almost constant raptor hunting. Yellow-billed kites chased cape turtle doves, Tawny eagles and bateleurs preyed on Burchell’s sandgrouse. Enormous flocks of red-billed quelea gathered and these were hawked by gabar goshawks. Guests enjoyed watching the spectacular mating ritual of the male red-crested korhaan which flies straight up and then suddenly tumbles to the ground as though shot, before gliding to land.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

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