Kina and Gustav, the Swedish overlander couple, stayed with us again at Simon’s house. They intended to stay one night before moving on to the coast. We flew Tim the Lanner in the morning and he is fitter than ever before and his acrobatics are spectacular. He still has his quirky attitude and loves to land on people’s heads. There are a couple of wild Tawny Eagles that have started perching nearby, planning to steal scraps from Tim. As Tim showed off, we noticed a large number of vultures descending fast. We didn’t want to leave Stima, the new young Lanner Falcon, alone at the house as a stray cat roams the area. So we put him in the car between our Swedish friends and off we went to find the kill.
On our way, friends from the ranch, Gray Cullen and Suze, came to check on Stima. They had cameras and decided to join us, too. We got to the spot to find two dead calves covered in vultures and eagles. The vultures took flight and I photographed them as they soared above the car. Then Simon asked me to quickly divert my attention to an eagle that was sitting in a tree just next to the dead calf. I took a couple of photos and we got closer. Simon got very excited and demanded I take as many photographs as possible. He said he thought it was a Greater Spotted Eagle. He only sees them come through once every two-to-three years so it really was special. It cooperated by letting us get quite close and just flying between nearby trees.
Suze and Gray invited us all to lunch and we had a feast. They had bought a football for Tuli, a captive cheetah that lives on the ranch, and were intending to bring it to her that afternoon so we all went along. We all piled into Gray’s car and were driving along when Simon said excitedly “cheetah!” A little further down the road, there she was, beautiful. We stopped the car and spent the following half-hour quietly watching as she stalked impalas and an oryx through the bush. She didn’t catch anything and disappeared into the trees so we continued on our way to see Tuli.
We arrived to find Tuli lying by the pool. She stood up as we approached and gave Gray an intense look that made him back off a bit. Suze drew Tuli’s attention away from Gray by throwing the ball which she ran after, pounced on, and held it in a lock with her teeth sunk in. She held that pose for at least five minutes, wanting to make sure the ball was dead. We quickly realised that there would be no game unless we got the ball from her but we were all a little nervous to try and take it. I was one of the only people wearing proper shoes and trousers, so I went forward to claim the ball. As I got close, she turned and growled at me, making me jump back. I approached again and managed to slowly draw the ball away with my foot. The game was on! I kicked it into the distance and off she went and everyone joined in.
After our long and exciting day, we all crashed out early. I think Gustav and Kina are glad they spent the extra day here and we’re grateful for the amazing luck they brought us.
(For copyright reasons, we can’t post the pictures on the blog that we may want to publish at a later stage.)