Saturday, July 11, 2015

One More Time!

One of our favorite places to spend a day has been Pilanesberg National Park. It is only about two and a half hours away so we can drive up early, spend the day in the park and still arrive home by early evening. It is almost like being at home and going for a day trip through Zion's National Park, expect instead of deer we see elephants, rhinos, hippos, leopards, wild dogs, zebra, giraffe, and things like that :) plus we see at least a dozen of the deer's interesting cousins.

Pilanesberg has all of the big five animals (which are lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and cape buffalo) and most of the roads there are nicely paved so it's easy to do a self drive and still see a lot. We counted that we have been there at least six times, but decided that we would go again one more time for our anniversary. Even though we have seen lots and lots of African animals in our year and a half here, we never get tired of them and we are never disappointed in Pilanesberg. Here are some of our spottings for the day.
It seems that with their bold markings, zebra would be easy prey, but we are told that, when chased, they will group together and that their markings make it difficult for the predator to tell where one ends and another begins. You can see, even with these two grouped together that would be true.
Hippos are generally in the water during the day, but the morning was cool enough that they were out grazing. If you enlarge the picture you'll notice the birds. The hippo and the oxpecker have a symbiotic relationship, the bird benefitting by feeding, the hippo by having parasites removed.
These two young hippos were having a little tiff about something. In the gift shops I see all of these stuffed hippos that the kids of tourists think are so cute, but hippos actually kill more people each year than lions, hippos, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos combined. 
Wildabeest with a couple of Gemsbock in the background. This one is a blue Wildabeest; there is another variety that we sometimes see that looks quite different.
No idea what this pod was, but we thought the texture was really interesting.
A turtle basking in the sun.
And something else basking in the sun that you wouldn't want to meet. Crocodiles are quite a bit smaller than Alligators and usually not as dangerous, but they can inflict serious damage when they want to.
The warthog are always fun to see. Their necks are so long that they have to kneel to graze, but they can run pretty fast if they think you are getting too interested.
This is an African Fish Eagle--a very large bird, maybe a little smaller than the American Bald Eagle, but it is the biggest bird of prey in Africa. It has a very distinctive call and a very distinctive way of delivering the call. See this picture when he starts.
And how he throws his head back as he finishes his rendition.
And then he flies away.
This little giraffe had a facial deformity--no he's not just chewing--we have several pictures of him and they are the same. Maybe he got kicked when he was young or something. Anyway, the really sad thing was that he was standing vigilantly by a large one that was dead, probably killed by predators. He wasn't a baby but still pretty young so we think it might have been his mother and he was waiting for her to get up.
I don't know the name of these birds, but they were interesting to watch. The female (lower bird) is sitting on eggs so the male goes off to catch food and brings it back for her to eat. Good daddy!
An African Grey Lourie also called the "Go Away Bird." If you heard it you would no way. It sounds like it is saying in a very loud and very obnoxious voice, Go Away! Go Away! Go Away! We have them all around our house and at about 5:00 every morning they start and we wish they would go away!
This is another very interesting little bird to watch--the King Fisher. He will sit patiently watching the water and then suddenly dive to catch a fish.
Once he has one, like this little guy, he will bang the heck out of the fish until he thinks it is good and dead before he swallows it. This fish seemed too big for the bird to swallow but he kept smacking it against the branch long after it was dead. Maybe it helps break it up a little so he can swallow.
And last one is this mother rhino with her cute little baby. We would have liked to see the little baby from the front, but since that would mean the mother would also be heading toward us, we decided a back shot was just fine.

1 comment:

  1. So fun to see the animals, reminds me of when we were there!