With an early morning start under my belt I arrived at the #terrapinhide to find another buffalo that had been dragged from the water and killed by spotted hyena, as well as another buffalo kill a short distance away with 2 lions and a lioness feeding – can you imagine what my heart rate did? All within 50 meters of the waterhole!
The lion appeared on the horizon – cameras ready we took a shot, he looked, thought and changed his mind, turning around and departing without coming down to drink – we would have to wait…
The difference in the number of animals coming to the waterhole to drink was immense – the day before there were endless processions, new arrivals and a variety of species – today the few animals that did brave the blazing heat were “spooked” by the dead buffalo and either alarm called endlessly or were far to skittish to even approach the water – a few eventually came down to enjoy a hurried nervous drink.
The constant dives of the woodland kingfisher kept me focused, in addition to ensuring a stiff neck, but still I could not get him pin sharp on a dive – grrrr!
With a few brief excursions to the star bed, swimming pool (to cool down) and Jaci’s tree lodge main building for comfort visits – we waited patiently, all the while enjoying the daily activity of the waterhole and reactions of the animals to the non-moving hulk lying on the bank, close to the water.
The elephants would walk past just spreading their ears as the passed right next to the carcass but the lure of thirst quenching water was greater than curiosity or fear.
Impala and wildebeest would alarm call, scatter, cautiously approach, flee, stand alert – so it went on. The ancient giraffe would stroll on in – with his elevated view & experience the route he chose allowed him to drink until satisfied – undisturbed by the concern around him
With sunset came a buffalo herd – also very cautious – with two sentries standing guard whilst they drank a cloud of thick dust hung over them – with no apparent reason they too scattered only to return as they had to drink.
Then – over the horizon came one male lion, followed by the other – the moment had arrived – or would they turn around again – we started shooting….
They walked down to the water’s edge and started to lap the water – it was actually happening and i was there!! With a wildly beating heart and excitement in the air we kept our fingers on the shutter and the sounds of clicking cameras filled the #terrapinhide – what a moment!
My favourite shot – the grey heron flying past adds drama as well as speed – showing how fast everything happened
I still cannot believe I was lucky enough to be there when the lions came down to drink – along with Marge, Jay, Roberto & Manuela – we were the first & what a fabulous feeling to have been able to share with our guests
The following day we had an early, early morning start – easy to do when excitement levels are high. What would we see at the terrapin hide today? Would the lions come to drink again, were there other visitors to the carcass during the night?
With the suns rising behind us we enjoyed a cup of coffee whilst checking each window for any movement, checked our settings and enjoyed casual conversation – then coming down the bank on the left was a brown hyena – the star of the show for me.
He drank, lay down in the cool watery mud, looked at us a few times, turned around in the muddy water, drank again, lay back, half rolled, drank again and ambled off!
To be able to watch him in his natural surrounding with no indication of concern – he did stare at the terrapin hide a few times, but was not tense or alarmed – was truly fantastic and an unreal experience. For me that is what the terrapin hide offers – a window into the natural way of the waterhole and for those who visit each experience is different and rewarding – it’s like opening a beautifully wrapped present – as the day unfolds, so too are the contents of the “present” revealed – that element of the unknown and surprise is exhilarating
This is why we built the terrapin hide where we did: to allow every guest – with or without a camera – the opportunity to get a “terrapins eye view” of life at the waterhole – with 24 hr access from Jaci’s tree lodge, our guests are welcome to enjoy the terrapin hide
Much of the day was then spent trying to capture that perfect image of the woodlands kingfisher diving to catch baby frogs from the water’s surface
During the day there is a welcome breeze blowing thought the windows and at dusk and dawn the breeze dies down creating huge mirror on the water’s surface – more photographic and creative opportunities = never a dull moment & lots of time to simply soak in the moment, feast one’s eyes and simply enjoy!
Again just as the last rays of light were disappearing one male lion came down to drink – excitement all over again and another incredible end to an eventful and fun day.