Leaving SOPA Lodge at daybreak our guides go the last known location of the latest wild dog sightings. WOW! We immediately see the pack on the hillside.
They walk down to cross the road.
One even lays down between the cars—maybe an expression of dominance?
They continue to hang out and watch us for several hours. It’s amazing how they can blend into the hillside, almost ghost-like.
Even big elephants tend not to turn their back on these guys.
Another lilac breasted roller perches on an old tree as we pass. These are beautiful birds with their 7 colors. The state bird of Swaziland, I think they are my favorite. Plus, they tend to pose for us. OK. They’re just hunting, but it works for a great picture!
A zebra crosses our path in front of a giant termite mound.
Here the red dirt makes the mounds really beautiful. Some are thousands of years old and they are hard as rock. The spring rains tend to wash some of the external dirt off. This is a signal for the outside termites to swarm. They take off in search of new places to start colonies. In Zimbabwe we saw this event and the camp hosts came to sweep up the termites who fell at the night lights. The locals picked off their wings, fried them and said their were delicious. (We weren’t as adventurous then so we were perfectly happy when they didn’t offer any. We now have awakened a bit of the Anthony Bourdain in us so we wish we could say, “Yup, they really did taste nutty.”)
A mother and baby Maasai giraffe wander not too far from the dog pack. Even though everything must eat, we hope they are aware.
We find a black-faced grouse family,
As we drive under a water python curled in an acacia tree. We pass underneath the big snake and he didn’t flex a muscle. Huge, fellow. And how many have we missed?
As we pass through the woodlands our car is engulfed by tsetse flies. These are nasty biting flies that feed on vertebrate blood. That would be bad enough but they are also vectors for human sleeping sickness. Our guides warned us they were in the park and we should not wear the Maasai colors—red or blue. These colors seem to particularly attract them. Anyhow, we were able to corral and kill the ones in the car. One met his end on a window and made a good picture….
As we leave the woodlands we see a Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl. Pink eye lids! This is the largest African owl and the third heaviest owl in the world. It has a wingspan of almost five feet. This is an apex avian predator and hunts mostly in the evening.
We end the day with what else- a baobab at sunset. Beautiful.