I have been to lots of holiday locations where there is a possibility of coming across a rather non user friendly critter but in the majority of occasions they are no threat. Here in the African bush I wasn't quite as confident. I had been given due warning to keep a lookout for Puff Adders particularly as they are so well camouflaged against the sandy soil. They tend not to move when you approach and will strike out if they feel threatened. Although they are not the most venomous they are responsible for the most human fatalities in Africa as a result of snake bite. Never given them a thought in The Gambia though, think again Dave!
Anyway, with one eye on the ground the other up in the air I set off first thing to see what I could find.
The Omaruru river flows alongside the property at Otjohotozu so first place was to check that out, with recent rains virtually non existent the wide river bed was dry save a few damp patches. In the distance though I spotted a new bird for me, a Groundscraper Thrush.
Unfortunately it had spotted me too and was in no mood to let me get any closer than about 50 metres, still a good start as it was another "lifer".
A dead tree gave me views of a Bearded Woodpecker which turned out to be the best I'd get.
Another "lifer" in the form of a Damara Hornbill but again the view wasn't anywhere near perfect.
and so it continued. Some great new birds, Crimson-breasted Shrike
More frustration as a photographer! Dideric Cuckoo.
I suppose as the vegetation is as it is it's hardly surprising you get lots of branches in your images. Ashy Tit.
When I wasn't grumbling to myself about the twigs it was the height of the subject from the ground!
This Rock Martin was on top of a flag pole.
The Cardinals Woodpecker up a tree.
as was the Red-billed Buffalo-weaver
Even the Cape Turtle Dove was a new species for me but one I was ignoring totally by the end of the holiday as they are so numeric.
After breakfast I decided to explore a gravel pit not far from the house. Better luck here as the two Blacksmith's Plover were showing well once they accepted my being present, however, there was a new challenge now. The sun was beaming down and the heat so intense I was soon getting distortion from the hot air in my images.
Earlier images proved a bit better.
and it also helps to try and get closer.
To my delight I spotted a single Three-banded Plover and that too allowed fairly close approach
A smart little bird.
The Plovers were more disturbed by the arrival of a Yellow-billed Kite than by me
but as they had all flown from the pool I decided to call it a morning and retreated back to base to check out the images on my latest pice of kit..a laptop ! Is there any end to what I carry on holiday, even I acknowledge cuts need to be made as I'm getting too old to manage the weight!
Anyway, I kept out of the sun for several hours before deciding to venture out again in the afternoon when the heat wasn't anywhere near as bad. In fact the sky had clouded over so it was fairly dull. Still so far I had had a reasonable day and so had Claire soaking up the sun at Gas Mark 8 .
I decided to venture all the way to some distant rocks in search of the Rockrunner.
It was a long walk and for the first time I considered the wisdom of bringing my 600mm f4 lens and not the lighter weight 500 version. Too late now I should have taken the advice offered by some but not all who commented on a couple forums.
The reach is nullified when it gets too hot ( distortion) and it's a damn site more exhausting carrying it because I take a fairly heavy tripod and head too.
I saw a couple of things but nothing of note on the way and it looked like I was going to draw a blank. I was even spending a lot of time on the Adoma Lizard population now, always a good fall back solution.
That's when I heard it.
And it wasn't a bird.
There was a presence nearby but I didn't know what.
I heard a rustle in the bushes.
I was along way from the farmhouse and all alone.
I'm in the bush and I know that this is Leopard country. Perfect terrain and they are most certainly about. Pad marks had been seen by the staff only that morning.
I took refuge on top of a boulder and wondered what fate would deal me and then it suddenly made an appearance.
Zebras don't harm you do they?
This one gave me a long hard look before vanishing, probably more scared of me I'm sure. Ironically they don't realise in unarmed combat I wouldn't stand a chance with one! Good job they don't know it.
Anyway, I stayed on the boulder until it had chance to get a long way from me!
That was it then for this visit to Erongo.
I returned for dinner, a few beers and bed.
I didn't consider going out with the camera the following morning. It was breakfast and away.
We were heading for Grootberg Lodge, by "Google" calculations about 380 kms away and a five and a half hour journey away.
Another exciting prospect ahead then !