Sandgrouse Magic

Although we may be called ‘JAWAI Leopard Camp’ we are the first to appreciate and enjoy all the smaller animals, which call this marvelous landscape home. It’s not all about the big stuff. A safari experience here at JAWAI is so diverse and layered…it is a cultural, historical and ecological journey.

Take for example this Game Drive:

The focus of the drive had been to spend time with, and photograph, the large flock of over 500 flamingos that had arrived the previous day.

From a birding perspective, flamingoes rank highly amongst the most glorious of our feathered friends. Even non-birders sit momentarily spellbound ogling at the flashes of pink, silenced by the squawks and entranced by the dangling legs. I love Flamingos.

And there is no better backdrop then towering granite hills.

Flamingoes in pink and white
Flamingoes in pink and white
The granite background makes for a stark contrast against the pink flamingoes.
The granite background makes for a stark contrast against the pink flamingoes.
Flamingoes about to fly.
Flamingoes about to fly.
When they take off, you hear a surge of power as the giant wings begin to flap.
When they take off, you hear a surge of power as the giant wings begin to flap.
Flamingoes by the hundreds.
Flamingoes by the hundreds.

A very successful morning, however, was capped off by sighting of a tiny Sandgrouse, no larger than a golf ball. We had been en route to camp when I noticed a Sandgrouse beside the road walking in a rather peculiar fashion. It was almost waddling. At first I thought it to be injured. Turning off the car, we all sat in silence and watched the most wonderful of cameos play out.

The mother Sandgrouse was shading its newly hatched chick. It was trying to walk and the chick was trying to keep up. All you could see, at this stage, was a set of tiny legs poking out from below. Suddenly the mother sensed our presence brushed the chick off and dashed about ten meters away.

I knew that she was reverting into ‘protective mode’ and that our presence would cause her a little stress. We quickly snapped a few incredible images of the motionless chick on the gravelly soil nearby. Its camouflage was simply superb. During this time the nearby mother and started flapping her wings, hitting them on the ground, feigning injury and causing quite a commotion. It was obvious that she was trying to get our attention off of her chick and onto her. She was slowly moving away trying to lure us with her, all this whilst the chick instinctively did not move a muscle. Nature is incredible.

The chick was no larger than a golf ball and the markings on it are simply stunning.
The chick was no larger than a golf ball and the markings on it are simply stunning.
The mother walking so as to shade the chick.
The mother walking so as to shade the chick.
Sher flapped her wings to create a ruckus and divert our attention from the baby.
Sher flapped her wings to create a ruckus and divert our attention from the baby.
Reunited, mother and chick walk away.
Reunited, mother and chick walk away.

We moved the car back about 40 meters, sat quietly and watched as the mother and chick re-united. It was a little piece of morning magic in the JAWAI.

Written and photographed by Adam Bannister

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