21 October 2015

Enjoy the little guys

As a regular national parks visitor it never ceases to amaze me how so many visitors get fixated on seeing the big five to the exclusion of all else. There are so many beautiful and interesting birds, animals and reptiles to see that it seems a shame to limit your options.

 Striped field mice and a Kalahari Tree Skink cohabiting quite amicably. Lijersdraai, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Ground agama. According to the bushmen if the agama climb a bush and look north it will rain within 24 hours. In this case they were absolutely right - that night we had a good old fashioned thunder storm.

I've seen many foreign tourists haring around Addo looking for the lions, in the hopes of finding them conveniently posing for alongside the road. It doesn't work that way. Generally they leave disappointed. Sue and I adopt the approach of enjoying everything we see.

This little Bar-throated Apalis is extremely difficult to photograph, as they usually frequent thick scrub and never seem to stop and take a break. If you don't take time out to look for them you might just miss a special sighting.

I can sit and watch the little guys for hours. Let's face it, you get more action from a few active striped field mice than you could ever hope to get from a pride of sleeping lions. Don't get me wrong, coming across lions in the wild still gives me a thrill, but there is a limit to how long I can sit and watch them sleep. When they are on move or hunting they are awesome - but they probably sleep for about 20 hours a day.

This shot was taken at Lijersdraai, in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, a short while after leaving a lion sighting at Kwang. This was really a special moment, watching the interaction between the Striped Field Mice and the Sociable Weavers.

On one trip to Addo Sue and I came to a quick stop when we spied some Karoo rats on the side of the road. We sat there for quite a long time watching then and enjoying their antics. A few cars drew up alongside us and the eager occupants wanted to know what we were looking at. "Rats," came the short reply and their interest waned like a popped balloon.

A striped field mouse taking a big chance out in the open. Marie se Draai, Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park.

When going into the bush look for the little guys, they might be small, but they are interesting and can give you plenty of viewing pleasure. And if you prefer lions, scroll down the page and meet the ladies from Kwang.


Jonker Fourie said...

It is amazing how many people miss these little things

sonia a. mascaro said...

Great pictures, Max!
I always love to see your country!

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