I have had an assortment of visitors go for a game drive with me, many of them human, but also innumerable insects and way too many arachnids. There is nothing more disconcerting to me than having a spider run across the windscreen when I am driving and then have the audacity to try to come through the window and ride shotgun with me. I have driven through many webs – spiders love to spin their webs over the road and you end up smacking into their web and acquiring a grumpy little eight-legged passenger. On my last trip here with hubby, we had a particular failed game drive, the thought of which still gives me the shivers, close to Python Dam where we went through so many webs one night that I couldn’t actually even concentrate on the drive. For once in my life, I couldn’t wait to get back to the Lodge. Eeek.
I have never been much of a fan of spiders. Don’t get me wrong, I am not the “grab a blowtorch” or “move out the house” type when it comes to spiders, I simply prefer to keep a proper social distance of two metres when we are in the same space. Living in the bush, you do get more used to them and I leave them be, but I still get that primeval shiver up my spine when a particularly scary hairy comes too close! The golden orbs that seem to be very prevalent at the moment are a little more considerate. They realise that the cars will continually break down their webs and after one or two failed attempts, they build them a little higher in the trees, making it a bit easier for me and for them. Live and let live seems to be the motto that both sides live by. There was one that misjudged the height slightly on this particular game drive (the Landy is a little taller than most) and he swung in and out of the driver side window like a pendulum. Driving and shutting the window, while at the same time ensuring that he remained on the outside added a whole new level to my driving skills!
Anyway, Harold was not a spider, but rather a grasshopper. He avoided taxi fare by sitting on my rear view mirror and behaving well enough not to annoy me and get himself removed. I didn’t really mind – he was a pretty cute fellow and being alone in the Bush, the company was quite welcome.
Our Estate is split into three farms and the fences between our neighbouring farms have been removed, allowing the animals to roam more freely and you never know what you will see on a game drive. Harold and I headed up Impala road and onto Leadwood towards jackal plain. Every few minutes you see Impala and on most game drives giraffe, zebra and warthogs. Today was no exception – the animals were out and about in their numbers. I absolutely love the black backed jackals that frolic on the plain and try to ambush the Egyptian geese and other birds that tend to flock to the open plains there. The two older Black Backed Jackals, Jack and Jill were out and about and causing mischief as always.
During our game drive together, apart from the usual suspects, Harold and I saw a herd of Wildebeest, a group of ground hornbills – which I’m always happy to see as they are on the endangered list and then a phalanx of maribou stalks. I honestly had no idea what the collective noun for storks was, so here is a little English lesson for you too: “clatter”, “filth”, “muster”, “phalanx”, or “swoop” of storks. The Maribou stork is not a pretty bird whichever way you look at him. He’s not elegant, or handsome and I have yet to find any characteristics that are endearing. His entire claim to fame seems to be that he is part of the “Ugly Five”. Most visitors to Africa can name the Big 5 and will spend their time at a game lodge in the hope of seeing these five animals – Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Elephant and Rhino.
Allow me to introduce you to the The Ugly 5:
Harold kept me company for about two hours. When we got to the dam, I decided to stop and check up on him. At that point, he had seen enough and decided to hop off and explore the dam and surrounds on foot. He vanished into the long grass.