Our local bird expert, Peter Lawson shares a lovely story from his most recent bird watching trip at Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate.
It was early morning at Likweti when I decided a coffee break was needed to sharpen my senses whilst listing birds by sound and sight. I took my thermos to a flat granite slab and admired a stunning view from my elevated perch while pouring a mug of steaming coffee.
A Tree Squirrel started a clicking alarm call that rose in intensity into a harsh rattle. My instinct told me a predator was on the prowl and I focused my binoculars to search for the culprit. A sudden movement on the granite slab caught the corner of my eye and in that fleeting moment I could see it was a rodent before it rapidly disappeared. A Fork-tailed Drongo flew low in front of me uttering a loud and repetitive ‘twik’ call, normally used when a predator is in the vicinity. I sat dead still and peered into the tree copse in front of me. A second rodent exploded from the undergrowth and briefly paused before diving into a crevice. It was a dark grey-brown Multimammate Mouse, a nocturnal rodent but obviously disturbed from its nest of vegetation in a rock crevice.
It was still early and cool so I knew the predator was not a snake or Monitor Lizard. Could perhaps be a raptor but too light in the morning to be an owl. As I sat motionless on my stone perch the drongo again uttered its alarm and flitted across a tree stump where something caught my eye. The squirrel was ecstatically shouting a warning and flicking its tail rapidly and the movement brought it into view. I silently followed the direction of its gaze and in the shadow of the tree copse the culprit suddenly came into view. It was long, lithe and somewhat cat-like. I gazed along the back of the small mammal that had large dark spots and a black-tipped tail, introducing itself as a Large-spotted Genet.
This lovely little feline was visible for a short while only, but long enough for me to ignore my coffee that was no longer steaming, but so what. What a find and all due to choosing the right spot for a coffee break on fabulous Likweti.
Text by Peter Lawson.