Autumn Adventure – A day at Kumasinga

The first place we went to after arriving at the uMkhuze Game Reserve on the 19th of March (well, after we checked into our chalet in Mantuma Camp) was the Kumasinga Hide; in our opinion one of the best photographic hides available in any of South Africa’s public reserves. Before our trip we had planned to spend a day in the hide if conditions seemed right, so when Joubert got these photographs of European Bee-eaters splashing in the waterhole our minds were made up.

On the 21st of March, a public holiday in South Africa, we set out from Mantuma Camp at 5am when the gates opened and headed straight for Kumasinga Hide, only about 4km out of camp. We arrived in the pitch dark and settled in for the day ahead. Not long after, Marilize made sure we each had a bowl of porridge and a hot cup of coffee to set the day off to a great start.

Slowly the sunrise started to light the scene in front of us while birdsong started to fill the air.

With it still quiet at the waterhole but with a beautiful glow to the morning I used the opportunity to take a few pictures of the hide.

Shortly after I took my seat again, the birds started arriving for their morning drink.

Just before 8am the first mammals (apart from us) arrived on the scene, but didn’t venture down for a drink.

For more than the next hour-and-a-half it was mostly birds providing the entertainment, with the star of the show undoubtedly being a glamorous Purple-crested Turaco.

By now it was 09:30 and the day started to heat up. Two Nyala bulls put in an appearance at opposite sides of the waterhole, making it difficult for Joubert and me, and a few other photographers who were in the hide at the time, to decide where to focus.

A lone Blue Wildebeest bull arrived as well, but didn’t stay long.

A troop of Vervet Monkeys entered the stage from the left and passed all along the edge of the waterhole to the other side.

One of the Nyala bulls had a special act in store for us. He proceeded to a particular spot on the edge of the waterhole and thoroughly covered his horns with mud. Perhaps the show was more for the benefit of other nyalas than for us.

His performance completed, the Nyala vacated the stage for the herd of Impalas that had finally mustered the courage for a drink of water.

The next actor on the Kumasinga platform really got the attention of every person in attendance with his surprise appearance. We’re going to keep a few photos of this very confiding Eastern Natal Green Snake on the backburner until the next post on de Wets Wild.

An animal that usually sticks around only for a second or two before slipping away, especially when they see a camera it seems, is the Slender Mongoose. What a wonderful opportunity to see this one so calmly going about its business all around the waterhole.

Despite the clouds building up the mid-day heat was oppressive and a seemingly constant stream of Nyalas and Impalas were now making their way to the water.

Another magnificent Nyala bull strode confidently down to the water and, after quenching his thirst, went to the same spot the other bull did earlier and proceeded to attack the mud in the same fashion.

This younger bull tried to imitate the master’s strange behaviour on a different patch of land.

Several birds also came down to the water for a drink in the heat of the day, and Joubert got some excellent practice taking photographs of birds in flight thanks to a pair of Fork-tailed Drongos regularly splashing into the waterhole to cool off.

Next, a family of Warthogs arrived noisily and, after drinking, also cooled down in the waterhole as if they didn’t have a care in the world.

Around 1pm another big Nyala bull, strutting his stuff for all his rivals, had his drink and then proceeded to, as the others before him, cover his horns with mud at the designated spot.

Shortly after the flock of European Bee-eaters came around the waterhole again, allowing Joubert another chance to get shots of them as they cooled down in the dark water.

Traffic at the waterhole gradually decreased as the afternoon wore on…

but our slithery friend paid us another visit!

By dusk only the Marsh Terrapins were still around to keep us company.

And by the time darkness fell, and a leopard started rasping behind us (in the same general direction as the car!) it was time for us to head back to camp.

 

32 thoughts on “Autumn Adventure – A day at Kumasinga

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks a lot, Tracy!

      No, this snake wasn’t hiding at all. On our continent there are so many predators that eat snakes that they’re very cautious by nature, even the most venomous types – unlike some other parts of the world where the snakes hardly seem to hide. So to see this one moving with such confidence and that among people just shows that it was feeling quite at home and very safe.

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  1. naturebackin

    Wonderful! I felt as though I was there with you. It is interesting to see that many of the trees beyond the waterhole are no more and it is pretty much open ground. Back in the day we used to watch the animals approach through the trees of the sand forest. Joubert got some brilliant photos of birds in flight – he must be thrilled especially with the bee-eaters. Beautiful shots of the other animals and birds too and I particularly enjoyed the nyalas.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks Carol for giving an interesting glimpse into what Kumasinga’s surrounds looked like. I wonder whether the elephants are to “blame” for the fact that the forest around the waterhole has been cleared?

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      1. naturebackin

        Yes I was wondering too. It makes me think about the hides and artificial waterholes in some parks that have been closed partly because the heavy traffic of animals to and fro leads to the destruction of the surrounding vegetation.

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        1. de Wets Wild Post author

          Balancing the needs of tourists, which is sorely needed to fund the protection of the area in the first place, with those of conserving the environment that attracts the tourists in the first place, cannot be easy.

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  2. wetanddustyroads

    Dit was nou ‘n dag vol heerlike afwagting! Ek het van daardie Nyala foto’s gehou waar hulle met die horings in die modder “speel” … en dis interessant dat dit nie net een was nie, maar ‘n paar van hulle. Ek sien jy het vir Tannie Frannie gese die slang is nie giftig nie … ek sal egter maar ver weg staan (en waarskynlik nie eens ‘n foto kan neem nie 😬).
    Dankie dat julle soveel mooi foto’s gedeel het – ek het dit nou baie geniet!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Nee Tannie Frannie, die Natalse Groenslang is heeltemal onskadelik vir mense. Maar as mens nie met hom bekend is nie moet jy maar eerder jou afstand hou, jy wil hom nie met n Groen Mamba verwar nie!

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  3. H.J. for avian101

    Wow! That’s a lot of pictures, quite an album. I see that you and your partner have been shooting everything that moved. Great shots all. They have many birds in that place. Thank you, D. and Joubert. I enjoyed your post. 🙂

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  4. lois

    What a day, indeed. The Turaco is a pretty bird, but then he spreads his wings and what a surprise with all that color. You guys must have been both exhilarated and exhausted by the days end.

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  5. sustainabilitea

    What an amazing day! Joubert, you get some excellent actions shots and I also enjoyed seeing the inside of the hide, although I can imagine it got quite hot!! The Turaco is really interesting and has great color. But my favorite is the Nyala’s designated mud spot. Made me chuckle and for some reason my head is itching now. 🙂

    Just ordered our tickets for the LA 7″s tournament at the end of August. My husband’s thinking about costumes and we’re both very excited!!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      😀
      It’s like my head starts to itch just at the mention of the word “lice”…
      Thankfully the way the hide is built over the water, with those vents in the floor, means it is much cooler inside even on a hot day!

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    2. de Wets Wild Post author

      You’re going to start counting the sleeps to the tournament pretty soon! Did you get tickets for every day? Are you going in springbok jerseys or wearing a silver fern?

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      1. sustainabilitea

        Unfortunately I don’t have a Boks jersey or I’d be wearing it. Maybe I can pick up a flag there or wear green. We’ll see. The tournament is just the men, the last of the season before the worlds in South Africa. We have tickets for both days so it’s going to be quite a weekend.

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      2. sustainabilitea

        My husband said to tell you that back when he was playing rugby, they played a team from Lusaka in Windsor, Ontario in a tournament. I know it’s not in South Africa but it’s as close as he got to playing a team from SA. 🙂

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