12 Hour Water Hole Count!

Here is a detailed account that I typed out while I was in a cement hideaway box today. I had to sit in a super uncomfortable plastic green chair and count the wildlife that is on CCF’s game reserve.
No pictures yet. Sorry! Internet is too slow.

**** Taken from the ipad ******

Today is 12 hour water hole count day. I’m planning to journal as I sit in front of the watering hole. It’s 6:29am. W e woke up at 4:20am to get ready for this. I packed my backpack full of snacks and water. There is no toilet so we need to go to in the bush to relieve ourselves. The watering hole I’m at is called Hog’s Heaven.

Just so we are all clear – this place is FREEZING COLD. I have on a sweater, fleece, and jacket and I’m still cold. We are supposed to remain silent so that animals will come.

Right now it’s 6:34am. No sign of animals except for some birds here and there flying around getting a drink of water. No birds big enough to record.

My hideaway is literally a green box built out of concrete with cement floors and two green plastic chairs. It has a slit in the front so that people sitting on the inside can look out. The door is literally a hole cut in the cement. It’s a wooden frame with black mesh on it. There is nothing glamorous about this.

There are three other watering holes: Erik es Pos (two story hideaway), Kindergarten, and Cycle Damn (the prettiest one). Here we go…I will try to give frequent timed updates.

No action at the waterhole, plenty of beautiful birds drinking water.

5 zebras arrived at the water hole. 4 adults and 1 subadult. They walked out tentatively and slowly and headed straight to salt lick. They fought over the salt-lick – there was a bit of hind leg kicking involved.

I was cursing myself for not having all my equipment out. Each time I dug into our bag, the zebras’ ears perked up. I had to dig to get my longer zoom lens (perk and stare) and then my binoculars (ears perk, stare, and freeze). My fingers were freezing cold after observing them.

Zebras left slowly. We are waiting. It is so cold. Thankfully the sun is out a bit now. It hasn’t completely risen yet so the hide is still cold. We have realized that we are a bit too noisy and may have scared them off.

A adult oryx showed up. They may be my favorite game animal They are a type of antelope.

I love the coloring on the oryx. It’s body is cream – an even beige. There is a wonderful, solidly black stripe ribbons along the torso of its body. Its tale is also black and swishy. My favorite body feature of the oryx is its face. It is a beautiful mix of white and black. The muzzle is white and there is a burnt cup of black atop the muzzle with two stripes running along the sides of its face. The eyes and ears are white – with a little tuft of black on top its head.

Our friend Mr. Oryx has been licking salt non-stop for 25 minutes now.

The sun is finally coming inside our hideaway. My arms and toes are beginning to thaw. But, its not warm enough for me to take off my 3 layers of jackets yet. Man.

Our friend Mr. Oryx spent about 15 minutes not moving, skittishly staring into space. He then spent another 10 minutes standing by the watering hole doing nothing. I’ve decided to name him Mr. Indecisive. He finally, after much standing around, decided to get a drink of water.

In the middle of the oryx’s indecision, a large male warthog showed up. Boy, was he a mean looking scrubby thing. Behind him came a mother warthog with two little baby warthogs. They came in and dashed toward the watering hole.

Our hour long oryx finally left. Before he left, he charged at the warthog. My goodness they are ugly.

Temperature is much warmer. A lot happened in the last 15minutes. We had two wart hogs come very close the hideaway. One had a MVB stache and looked me straight in the eye and ran away. Then, as he was leaving, another one came, ran around and left.

4 oryx showed up and sauntered toward the watering hole. They spent most of their time licking salt. I guess herbivores really like salt.

As these guys came, 9 zebras showed up to our left. I started one of them by lunging for my camera. They generally stayed out of the way of the oryx. They stood to the side and hung around. They finally approached the watering hole after the oryx left.

Zebras still here drinking. Some have hid behind the water tank and some are camouflaging in the trees. There is one brave soul licking salt.

A flurry of activity. We were waiting for the warthogs to leave and a flurry of warthogs arrived dashing in from our left. A streamline of little feet pattered by. A family of 6 showed up (4 babies). Then as we were recording this another family of 5 dashed by us on the right side. They all headed straight for the watering hole.

There were a group of 6 beautiful birds that showed up, we had no idea who they were.

More activity in the past half an hour. A group of 30 guinea fowl showed up in a large flock. 4 more oryx showed up to drink water. Then, stealthily, out of the woodwork, 5 majestic elands showed up. They look like cows with with a loose chicken neck. The elands are beautiful. They amble slowly, have huge humps and horns.

Then, out of the bush came 5 kudu. They are beautiful. They have a black face with a thin white stripe across the eyes. They came gracefully and slowly toward the watering hole and dipped down to drink. They are just so beautiful.

The warthogs just keep on coming. They keep running out of the bush towards the hole in flocks of 5 or 6.

This whole scene in front of me is just so beautifully pastoral. We are looking at a bunch of animals, who I don’t think know we are here. They are standing around, grazing, doing their herbivore activity.

A group of zebras came in and laid down in the back. Chilling, just having a good time.

Oh man. This is insane. At around 10:53, all our amazing zebras, elands, oryx, guinea fowl, and warthogs darted off because of some noise. Our watering hole was empty for quite a bit. I wonder what scared them off? At any rate, 5 warthogs returned to the watering hole.

We also tested the sound system. Any noise we make in the hideaway is actually quite loud. So, if we talk I don’t think animals would really want to come.

Had to “go” in the African bush. It was a bit intimidating.

Well, we are at our half-way point. Thus far, we have only had 2 oryx return and a bunch of warthogs running in and out. I guess there’s a reason why this watering hole is called “hog heaven.” I am hoping for some other type of animal. Maybe some giraffe?

One lone warthog, sipping at at the hole.

My partner kills a horsefly with a rock. Makes a resounding thud on hideaway.
No animals at hole.

Some lone warthogs dart in and out. Watering hole has generally become very, very quiet. Is it because it’s the hottest time of day right now?

Joy of joys! Some elands show up (5 of them) and 5 kudus come. A lot of nasty warthogs pass on through. Why are there so many? The animals are not seeming to mind all the noise that we are making.

There is an errant bee that flew into our enclosure.

This one bee keeps flying inside to harass me. I’ve left the hideaway three times to escape it.

CCF staff (Jenny) just drove up and checked in on us.

It’s now wam. All my layers are off. My pant legs are rolled up and there is no sign of activity at the watering hole. Probably scared off by the car. We’ll see when wildlife returns.

I told my partner that I would give her one million Namibian dollars that the next animal coming to the waterhole would be a warthog. I’m wrong. I lost one million dollars. Instead we got an oryx who literally sauntered up close to our hideaway, pooped, and left. That is, ladies and gentlemen, what I would call and “poop and run.”

Amazing. A herd of approximately 30 elands showed up en mass at our water hole. They showed up in a troupe formation and jostled each other as they drank and licked salt. Awesome. It was like a train of animals slowly crawling out of the Acacia bush one right after the other. Here they are, idly splashing and swaying their tails back and forth.

Elands still grazing. Oryx came to join them.
A lone baboon made a large yelping noise and crossed the street, lingering only for a little while. He didn’t really stay.

CCF car came and scared away all our wildlife. Back to square one.

I’ve taken to reading the book “The fault in our stars” on the ipad.. It’s actually quite relaxing to read in the slanted afternoon light.

An eland and warthog came to visit. Things here sort of remind me of the Australian outback (also filled with Acacia trees).

Slow going now. Going to head back to my book.

Just as thought life at the water couldn’t get more exciting…we get our most exciting viewing of the day – a baby giraffe! It sauntered it. First we saw its shadow, and got really excited. We waited for a couple of minutes, and then it surfaced. This adorable giraffe. It walked over to the waterhole and was deciding whether or not to take a drink. Finally, it did. It had the vulnerable knobby knees bow when it dipped its head. We took many photos.

It left, slowly walking away in the African sunset. What a gorgeous end, I thought. But no, it was not the end. After the giraffe waltzed off, in came a herd of 9 Elands. They came very close to our hideaway. We were able to hear the clicks of its hooves (a sound that someone described to me and I hadn’t heard before). Here they are now, licking the salt.

As I was about to close this, there are 3 zebras just waltzing toward the water hole. Will this wonder ever stop? All we need to watch to end this is a predator come in and make a kill on one of these prey animals.

It’s now the patient waiting game at the water-hole. We have an oryx waiting and a herd of now 10 zebras waiting as well for the elands to stop drinking. Crazy.

The air is starting to get chilly again. It appears that the elands have won the water hole waiting game as most of the zebras have moved on down the dirt path.

The sun is setting. The hideaway is darkening once more. Our time here draws to a close. I was wrong. Some zebra are still wandering about. The ipad is now a strange bluish glow that illuminates the hideaway.

I have to say. These 12 hours went by very, very quickly. It was good to be at peace and just observing nature. I thought it was going to be painful, but it was enjoyable and fun! Who knew water hole counting could be so restorative, calming, and meditative. Zebras are grazing, Elands are drinking, and the light is fading. What else will this twilight hour bring?

5 thoughts on “12 Hour Water Hole Count!

  1. “Ms. Melyan is so cool!” -Dylan D.
    We love reading about your adventures. It sounds like you’re having the experience of a lifetime!

  2. The play by play of the (in)action at the water hole had me in stitches! I loved the descriptions of all the animals and was making a “movie in my mind” as I read. Glad you were able to be in a zen-like trance AND that you did not have any warthog encounters during shi shi time! Stay safe…we miss you. 😉

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