Ground Hornbill Day!

Off to Satara today, a drive of roughly 100km but fortunately on tar roads, but before then one last look at Lake Panic. All the usual participants were present again but this time I spent my time watching the activity rather than photographing it. Watching the Herons and Darters catch then swallow huge fish was most entertaining, how they swallow them is a science in itself. The herons and Darters maneuvre then swallow them head first while the Kingfishers knock them out on a tree before rotating and swallowing. The Eagles on the other hand grasp them firmly in their talons and bite chunks off them, quite brutal.
It was a fairly routine drive with little of real interest even the Impala were fairly sparse! But then we spotted something in the road around 100metres away. As we approached we noticed that were large birds, soon it was apparent that they were Southern Ground Hornbills, a group of five adults and one juvenile. These really are a strange looking bird, almost flightless with bright red faces and huge bills. Their eyes are adorned with long eyelashes as if they have put some make-up on! Further along the route we spotted another group of three, then a further group of another five. At Mazhini waterhole there was a huge herd of Buffalo quenching their thirst and generally occupying the whole area, they could be seen far onto the horizon. That was it until we got to Satara.
A brief walk around the perimeter was called for and sundowners at the bar followed. Something was spotted at the water hole, was it a Lion, a Leopard – no – but a rather large Owl.

Darter Ground Hornbill Mazhini Waterhole

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