« Chapter Thirty-One - Real Trouble | Main | 48 - An Unwelcomed Surprise »

Harry's Tales: Just For Kicks

Harry Wroth breaks a vital rule for visitors of Kruger Park, South Africa, and consequently has a lucky escape.

We were driving slowly along a gravel road onour farm, which was what we called Kruger Park. Ahead of us in the middle of the narrow road we saw a Lilac Breasted Roller with a huge black/green coloured grasshopper in its beak. The grasshopper was larger than the Roller's body..

The bird was repeatedly passing the grasshopper through its beak. We assumed was a softening up operation. Iintermittently it was also clobbering the grasshopper's head on a stony surface.

"He can't possibly swallow that huge grasshopper,'' I said. It's bigger than he is, and possibly heavier.''

We were in for a surprise. The Roller, after ten minutes of softening up, started to swallow its prey. Within a minute the grasshopper had disappeared down the Roller's throat. We thought would have satisfied the bird, but no. Waste not, want not. The Roller proceeded to pick up and swallow the six legs of the grasshopper which had earlier been broken off. The bird then took a few running steps and took flight to the top of a high bush at the roadside.

On another narrow gravel road in acacia country we came upon a group of giraffes. One of them was standing some two metres from the roadside. We edged slowly past him, then, wanting some action, I broke a rule of the Park. I disturbed an animal. I changed down to a lower gear and revved the engine, sending up a spurt of stones behind the combi.

The huge giraffe reacted with lightning speed, kicking with his right hind leg at the vehicle. It was more of a sweep than a kick. The hoof flashed past at mid window height without touching the vehicle. That hoof could have ripped the vehicle, injuring my passengers.

I had behave idiotically. A lesson had been learned. Animals do not recognise a car as a car. It is merely a moving object, and in this case the object was being offensive. We had been extremely lucky.

Keep your distance from the animals in the park. Treat them with due respect. After all, it is their home. You are merely a guest.

We were en route to Olifant's Camp, keeping as close as possible to the course of the Letaba river. As we entered a spur road, a Landrover emerged from the view point and disappeared behind us.

At the view area we saw some large crocodiles which were basking in the sun. On a dead tree across the dam was a pair of Fish Eagles and a very wary Egyptian goose with a large brood of chicks scurrying away for cover from the eagles as quickly as they could.

On the ground in the parking area was a flock of tern-like birds. We had never seen this kind before. Out came the Roberts Bird bible. We concurred that they were Redwing Pratincole. We had a PI, which is a bird watching term for a positive identification. After a while we moved on.

We returned to the main road. The Landrover was there, apparently waiting for us.

We stopped, and I spoke to the vheicle's driver and sole occupant. "We have just seen a flock of Redwing Pratincole!.''

"Thank God,'' said he. "I have a confirmation!"

Birdwatchers delight in "maiden'' sightings of species.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.