AN UNINVITED GUEST

Jack’s picnic site in the heart of the Addo Elephant National Park is a good place to stop for lunch and enjoy a break from driving. Each picnic site is separated from the next by a thick hedge of Spekboom and other indigenous plants, so one does not have to wait long to get close-up views of a variety of shrub-loving birds. We were able to admire a Bar-throated Apalis – a bird heard all over the park, but which is not easily seen whilst one is driving.

It wasn’t long before a Southern Boubou made an appearance.

A pair of Cape Robin-chats came to investigate the pickings.

We are always pleased to see a Sombre Greenbul (I still think of it is a Bulbul!), which is another bird more easily heard than seen when one drives through the park.

These birds have become accustomed to the regular arrival and departure of humans, for they appeared in quick succession to comb the gravel for anything edible the previous party might have left in their wake. Within minutes of our arrival they had retreated to the dense cover of the surrounding shrubbery as we settled down to enjoy our food and conversation.

Shortly afterwards I became aware of the Cape Robin-chats calling loudly behind me – I recognised the alarm call from the many times I have heard it in our garden. One of the pair spread its tail feathers out widely, while the other ruffled its feathers as if to increase its size.

The Southern Boubou emerged from the undergrowth, making a harsh grating alarm call, while the Bar-throated Apalis danced frantically along the top of the Spekboom hedge, snapping its bill and wings – it too was clearly agitated. Something untoward was happening.

I looked up in time to see a Boomslang launching itself from the shrubbery onto the roof shading our picnic table – far too fast for me to focus my camera! We could see no sign of it on the roof, so we continued our picnic until I looked up again and saw its sinuous length squeezed into the space between the roof and the wooden slats below it.

Some of our party felt it was too close for comfort

We decided then than it was time to pack up and continue our game viewing drive.

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20 thoughts on “AN UNINVITED GUEST

  1. A boomslang was in our bird hide in S. Africa. Green and gorgeous, and oh so lethal. My husband keep saying there was a frog in wood, but I was focusing on the hippos. A guy told me, “This is too close for me,” and packed up and left, so I looked and saw him. Scary!

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    • The caretaker at the site tells me that snakes are seen fairly often – not enough to be too concerned about them though. One has to take care not to be nipped by one of those mice.

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  2. We also love spending time at Jack’s because of the wonderful array of habituated birdlife, and next time will keep a close lookout for the boomslang too – spekboom thickets seems to be quite a good place for them to live in!

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    • See my reply to Don above: one has to be observant of the behaviour of the birds. The appearance of snakes there is not unusual, although this was our first experience of one after MANY visits.

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  3. I had never heard of this creature before, so I read about it on Wikipedia. I can understand why you would rather not share a picnic spot with it! Do you know anyone personally who has been bitten by a boomslang? I read that they are timid.

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  4. Some name that. “Boomslang” doesn’t sound so much scary as humorously apt for your description of the thing “launching itself” at your picnic roof. Even the two photographs evoke more curiosity than fear. But I can tell from the last two sentences, as well as from some of the comments, that there would be nothing funny in that scene, either for the birds or for their watchers.

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