A stone’s throw from where the landrovers leave for game drive ( Varty Camp car park): a Green Backed Heron sits on her nest. Here on the north eastern corner of Camp Dam she has begun the annual spring ritual of rearing young. This time, however, it’s different because she’s let us in on the secret and now a small portion of the world is watching.
We didn’t see her building the nest. It’s small, detailed and easy to overlook at this waterfront that’s filled with a few crocodiles, a dozen hippos and, more often than not, an African Fish Eagle greedily eyeing the waters below. You can also miss a lot at 5:30am.
Usually the big stuff catches your eye around Londolozi: lions killing buffalo and leopards hoisting impalas into trees, but more frequently it’s the ‘theatre of the little’ that’s fascinating. It would have been special to see the male Heron flying in with his trophy sticks; pausing for the female to accept and then carefully arrange them into a suitable shape to hold the two blue green eggs. We missed the courtship but we’ve got front row seats to the incubation period and we’re anticipating our first glimpse of the hatchlings.
It’s a dangerous business raising young in the bushveld and victories are normally few and far between. She is going to have to be really smart to get this brood right and so far I suspect she’s off to a good start. The Acacia Nilotica she chose has several thousand vicious thorns protecting the nursery. It’s also situated precariously close to the water and any would be assailants risk taking a plunge. I can’t imagine a monitor lizard will be able to get in there and I don’t believe a Large Spotted Genet would even dare. Location is everything as the saying goes and other than the Londolozi guests, rangers and bloggers, I’m hopeful that the nestlings will go unnoticed.
I’ve already bemoaned the fact, in a previous story, that Rangers can be woefully out of touch with current world affairs. When we do get to the news it seems to be the same old stuff: Pastor Jones trying to set the world on fire, conflicting religious views in the middle east and China steadily growing ever stronger. Another sportsman is in the news for infidelities and they are still scrutinising Lindsay Lohans troubled life.
Unfortunately my television at home is on the blink again, but I can cheerfully tell you that in this Heronry I’ve found a far more interesting and less troublesome story. I guess that part of the joy of living in this crazy world is that there are always other stories to take your mind of the present worries. And what’s more, if you really wanted to you could escape the craziness and come and join us in watching this pair of Green Backed Herons battling against their own odds…
Thank you to Eric and Patti for spotting the nest…
Written by: Tom Imrie