A heightened sense of adventure begins as soon as one turns off a tarred road. This is part of the dirt road that takes one on a short-cut through the Mpofu Nature Reserve.
This is a typical road in the Kat River district.
Bulbuls are among the more cheerful birds that visit our garden: they are lively, loud, and quite cheeky in their antics. I grew up with the Black-eyed Bulbuls (now known as Dark-capped Bulbuls) for they are common in the eastern regions of South Africa.
They are often seen either in pairs or small parties that make short work of any fruit on offer. These birds also eat insects, flower petals and nectar – often visiting the nectar feeder in the garden.
It is the bright orange eye-ring of the African Red-eyed Bulbul that makes it look so attractive. They are more common in the drier western and central parts of the country. This one was photographed at the Augrabies National Park.
I am always happy to see the cheerful Cape Bulbuls with their conspicuous white eye-rings. They inhabit the Karoo and can also be seen in the Addo Elephant National Park.
Then there is another favourite bird which is heard in our garden more often than seen. It used to be called a Sombre Bulbul, but now goes by the moniker of Sombre Greenbul. They are difficult to see because their dull olive green and grey colouring helps them to blend into the thick bush that they favour.
It is in the Kruger National Park that I have made the acquaintance of another bulbul that has had to change its name: the Terrestrial Bulbul is now a Terrestrial Brownbul!
They are cute, curious creatures that can provide a lot of pleasure. Vervet monkeys are the primates you are most likely to have very close encounters with in the Mountain Zebra National Park – whether you are camping, caravanning or staying in a chalet.
There is plenty of natural food, such as berries, flowers, leaves and insects, about for them to eat so don’t spoil the relationship by offering them food – no matter how entertaining it might be for you. Of course they will eat it BUT this means that they will hang around the tents, caravans or chalets for more handouts and here is where their relationship with people sours; their presence stops being a delight; and they are regarded as pests. Why? They are quick to take advantage of an open door, window, tent flap or unattended vehicle with anything edible in sight and will whip in and take food, even if you are right there. Some people shout, scream, yell or even throw stones at them – while others laugh at the antics (until it happens to them).
This monkey moves away nonchalantly – and will be back in a tick if there is even the smallest chance of getting hold of the food left out in the open. It is better for all concerned to keep doors, windows or tent flaps closed and to ensure that all food is secure against these roaming monkeys.
The vervet monkeys that roam around the rest camp are interesting to look at.
Yet actually look more splendid sunning themselves out in the veld.
Signs in the rest camp urge people not to feed the monkeys – for their sake and for the sake of other visitors, this is one to adhere to!
There is a lookout point on the Kranskop Loop which I have circled on the map of the Mountain Zebra National Park.
One is allowed to leave one’s vehicle to enjoy both a leg stretch and the beautiful views. For some reason I photographed a large termite mound there during our visit in 2014:
Perhaps it was because it is the only one on the edge of the parking area; or it might have been because there is clear evidence of fairly recent repairs to the mound, which you can see in the foreground; it may also have been simply because I find such mounds fascinating. The white spots on the top in this photograph are bird droppings. I thought no more of this picture until our return to the same place in 2016 and I photographed it again:
The small rock on the left is still there; there are leaves on the tiny shrub next to it; and the mound looks in a state of good repair – the community within must be functioning well. Naturally, I photographed it again in 2018:
The small rock and the tiny shrub are still there; the larger shrub on the left has grown larger, actually covering part of the mound – which still looks in a state of good repair. There is no sign of the thorns in the background that are visible in the previous photograph. In 2019, the mound looked like this:
Of course I had never thought of standing at the same place each time I photographed the mound! From this perspective though, you can still see the small rock and the tiny shrub – the other plants that had been growing around the base of the mound have disappeared; the shrub on the left has grown and the thorns are visible – they probably were there before but were hidden from where I was standing. The mound shows some signs of repair, although there are several holes visible on the dome. I photographed it again in 2020:
The little rock remains in place, although the tiny shrub now almost hides it; the thorns are more visible as the shrub on the left appears to have died off; and the actual shape of the termite mound has altered a little. There are signs of repair on the left and the holes on the dome are no longer as obvious. I simply had to photograph this termite mound again on our most recent visit. So, in 2021 it looks like this:
Again, the perspective is different, yet the mound struck me at the time as having ‘shrunk’ a little. The little rock remains firmly in place; the tiny shrub has grown, while the one on the left has dried out so that the thorns behind are clearly visible. There is a bulge on the left where more repair work has been carried out and bird droppings adorn the dome once more.