Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Big Three ... and Then Some

We rose at 4:25 on Monday morning. You need an early start to avoid the worst of the heat. And early morning brings the best light for photographing the dunes. The drive to the biggest dunes is about 60 kilometers, so we had plenty of time to look for critters.

Our primary objective was to complete the "big three" of the Namib: springbok (which we had already seen), oryx, and ostrich.

As you can see from the photos, we succeeded. Seeing the oryx was a particular thrill; they are beautiful creatures.

By the way, our guide emphasized that ostriches are not to be messed with. With strong legs and sharp feet, they can put you in a world of hurt if you anger them. Another random fact about ostriches is that you can see them a looong way off, at least in against a red desert.

Of course, the big three aren't the only critters. We saw more jackals in the early morning, a cape rabbit, numerous birds (including more thick knees), lizards, a gorgeous sand snake, a gerbil, and lots of speed-walking beetles. The desert is a tough place to make a living, but there is still plenty of life.

Among the more unusual sightings during lunch were a large number of desert mice, and a lizard and a cape sparrow fighting over some fruit.

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