Darkness comes quickly during winter and June is winter in South Africa. We can already see the early signs of sunset as Margarite drives us to the Lagoon hide at Zimanga Private Game Reserve.
We photographed birds here at sunrise three days ago, so being here now at sunset seems a fitting way to close out our last day at Zimanga..
Once again, we enter the pole stockade that hides our approach from the birds, walk down the long tunnel, slip off our shoes, and take our places before the window that overlooks a small pond at water level.
I'm watching the reed grass above because there's a malachite kingfisher hopping around in there.
Only five inches long, this kingfisher is sought out by photographers for its colors and its practice of flipping prey in the air and catching it so the head goes down the gullet first.
A black crake, with its red eyes and comical appearance, is quickly becoming one of my favorite birds to photograph. They are between 7.5 to 9 inches long, and subsist on a variety of invertebrates such as frogs and fish, and also seeds. They can be seen perching on warthogs and hippos to search for parasites.
Look at the size of those feet!
Who is the photobomber here? The crake or the Egyptian goose?
The great egret parades around, looking all regal and stuff.
I see some black-headed herons in nearby trees and hope they come down to the pond.
And here is one, fluffing up, flapping its wings, and strutting its stuff. Photo-bombed by a sacred ibis in the background.
Now you can see that dusk is nigh.
Back at the lodge, Margarite joins us for dinner and we have a chance to discuss "things" with her. Our position is that having three or four different parties is a great burden on her and thus she cannot spend time with her guests. She tells us of the other chores she takes care of while her charges are in the various hides.
Everything she says makes perfect sense from the viewpoint of management, i.e., making the best use of an employee's time. It is also true that there is no point in her sitting with us in a hide (which she did not).
On the other side, we felt rushed. In the one game drive we went on, two other parties were with us. That meant all the seats were taken, including one by a non-photographer. Trying to shoot over or around another person in your row might be okay for some, but not for photographers. Having a row to yourself is why they often pay extra.
However, as I kept reminding myself, we came here for the hides, which are well-worth the money and time. We can take game drives elsewhere.
After dinner, it's time to pack as we leave early in the morning for King Shaka airport in Durban, for our flight to Johannesburg. Bags are to be set outside our doors while it's still dark--but not the night before in case the baboons get curious about what's in them.
A few bird photos I found while going through more than 20,000shots taken on the whole trip.
|This bird is a greater honeyguide. It leads humans to bee nests by various means of attracting attention to itself, hoping the humans will open the nest, take the honey, and leave some for the bird.|
|African pied wagtail. The wagtail eats mainly insects, but also invertebrates like tadpoles and small fish. It also eats grass seeds and human food scraps.|
|This little bird in a hurry is a white-fronted canary.|