"What's at the Scavenger Hide?" I asked Marg.
"Eagles," she replied.
"Anything else?" I persisted, though eagles were fine with me.
So, once again at 0-Dark-Thirty we walked down a stone pathway into a photo hide at Zimanga Private Game Reserve carrying our cameras and big lenses. I had two cameras, one with a 150-600mm lens and one with an 18-400 lenses. I figured I had the distances covered well.
We locked our cameras onto the provided tripods with their gimbal heads and settled in to wait until it was light enough to see something. I would hand-hold the camera with the smaller lens.
We could see Margarite check a depression in the ground and she signaled that it had been "baited."
Our first visitor was a black-backed jackel. It entered stage left and went immediately to the depression, selected an item, and left.
There was scarcely enough light for shooting photos with my big lens and they came out dark. I lightened them considerably to make the jackel visible.
Next, a Marabou stork arrived. Yes, these storks are scavengers and I frequently saw them on carcasses right in the middle of a mess of vultures.
The lack of feathers on their necks and face is ideal, in that it prevents blood and offal from clotting on them, is they had them.
The stork selects a tasty item from the supply and swallows it.
A tawny eagle arrives to the picnic.
Then, a Cape vulture joins the fun.
This photo is from inside the hide. The visor aids in keeping the sun from shining directly inside, thus revealing the photographers sitting there.
A batch of Pied crows arrives in scene.
This crow is quite suspicious and approaches the hide.
It's pretty sure there's something inside the rocks and glass.
The eagle makes an attempt at getting to the pile of goodies.
It retreats to a limb buried in the ground for a perch.
The stork apparently doesn't care much for the eagle, but shows no problem with the vultures.
I took hundreds of photos from this hide, and with a couple exceptions, there is no particular sequence of events. In the photo below, the stork, eagle, and vulture are joined by a greater blue-eared starling.
The stork became the center of attention. I don't know if it knew we were inside or if it could see its reflection in the glass.
Several times it came close, looked at the glass, hopped on the roof where it clomped around on a piece of metal, then startled us by jumping down right in front of it.
|I know you're in there....|
The vultures didn't care much for the eagle either. I wondered if eagles snatched baby vultures and storks from nests, thereby earning the enmity of those species.
Another Marabou stork arrived and ate breakfast.
The eagle is not happy that the vulture has taken the prime spot on the limb.
A different tawny eagle on a different limb.
Now the stork decides it doesn't want the new eagle on the branch.
So, the smaller eagle departs.
This vulture must have heard our smothered laughter.
|Look at those beautiful breast feathers.|
|A greater blue-eared starling|
In the photo below you cam see the two branch perches, one on either side of the feeding grounds.
And, back to the lodge we go for breakfast.
This afternoon, we return to the lagoon hide for our final shoot at Zimanga. We will stay the night, then depart for King Shaka Airport in Durban the next morning and flights to Johannesburg.
Laura and Holly will fly home from Johannesburg while Marg and I head to Kenya and two tented camps.
|I haven't had any luck finding Zimanga near the town of Mkuza on a map. From Richard's Bay on the Elephant Coast, we are inland.|
|Durban is in bold face print on the east coast|