Safari from my backyard – Part 1

With an adjustment to the “new normal” and a lot of gratitude practices being observed, I would like to share one of the things that I am truly grateful for – My Backyard.

I am in a very fortunate position to be able to call South Africa’s bushveld home. This will be my fifth year living and working in some of the private game reserves that form part of the Greater Kruger National Park structure.

A lot of time has been spent in backyards over the last few months and I wanted to reflect on some of the magical moments that I have experienced from my backyard.

I usually rise before the sun. I will open my backdoor and stand outside, feel the cool morning air and take in the silence. After some time things start coming to life. Some things that I enjoy hearing is a confusion of guinea fowl (one of my favourite collective nouns) chattering away somewhere around camp. Of the smaller animas I would notice first are tree squirrels that dash around my backyard, scrambling for fallen marula fruit or tree seeds that may have dropped to the ground. I may even notice a flash of blue or orange as rainbow skinks whip their colourful tails when they run around hoping to grab some insects on the ground.

Helmeted Guineafowl (Juvenile)
Adult Helmeted Guineafowl

For a few weeks I would have the dominant male leopard, Ravenscourt, march past my room just before my morning alarm would ring. He would walk past my door and give a rasping territorial call at 04:20AM. One morning, at pretty much the same time, I had the biggest surprise of my life. I heard leopard activity in my backyard, but it was not the usual territory call.  This was something else. In my sleepy state I managed to put two and two together. This obscure sound was definitely that of mating leopards. I woke up, jumped up in a flash and ran to my door. As I opened it and peeked outside, I saw two leopards finishing their mating ritual just a few meters away from me. The pair gave me a quick glance and moved off on their usual patrol route.

Mating Leopards
Mating Leopards
Mating Leopards

Nyala and bushbuck are some of the antelope species that frequent my back yard the most. Apart from the grassy section, the bush can get extremely thick in the summer months. These antelope usualy feed on the edge of the tree line. This season we have already received more than our seasonal average.

Female Nyala antelope
Male Bushbuck antelope

A lot of people tell me that living in the bush is far too nerve-wracking or simply just too scary for them. What I have learned is that as long as you know how to read the signs of the bush and always watch your back, you should make it out okay. One afternoon I was busy digging out grass outside our rooms as we were going to put up a small wall and braai area. After clearing out most of the grass I decided to take a quick break. I stood up and had a good stretch. I looked up and saw a monkey sitting on the roof. As I was looking at it I saw the monkey’s face tense up in sheer horror. I immediately turned around to face the bush. Before I could even turn around an impala bolted a few meters away from me. I immediately thought “what on earth is coming behind the impala”. Out of the thicket an African Wild Dog came rushing by. The canine was so focused on the impala and chasing at such a high speed, I doubt the wild dog even caught a glimpse of me. I called it a day, packed away my shovel and went back inside.

African Wild Dog
African Wild Dog

I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to witness and experience all these moments literally outside my room on a fairly regular basis. I will continue this post in a follow up post and share some more moments of my magical backyard safari.

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9 Comments on “Safari from my backyard – Part 1

  1. What a wonderful backyard you have! Enjoy every moment of it and store those memories for the years to come. They, along with your fantastic photographs, can be turned into all sorts of things when the time is right.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely amazing!! I could only wish for this to be a dream. You are very privileged to be able to do what you do, and I enjoy all your photography and your blogs. Looking forward to the next one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing, Cal, and thanks for sharing.

    I must admit to being boggled by friends and family who’s afraid of being out-and-about in the bush, when for me being outside my suburban home in the dark is far more scary!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hallo Cal,
    Wie schön, zu lesen, dass es Ravenscourt gut geht. Deine Fotos erinnern uns an die Tage, die wir vor fast genau 1 Jahr noch als letzte Gäste auf der lodge mit dir verbringen durften!
    Freue mich schon auf weitere Posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hallo Martina, es ist verrückt zu denken, wie schnell ein Jahr vergangen ist und wie anders alles dann war. Vielen Dank, dass Sie meinem Blog folgen. Bitte genießen und teilen Sie meine Beiträge. Ich freue mich auf Ihren nächsten besuch. Grüße an alle, Cal

      Like

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