Chorus of complaint.
I was sitting on the wooden deck of my tent in the far north of Kruger National Park, lazily paging through my work diary, when a pair of Collard Sunbirds came fluttering happily past. Naturally I soon lost all interest in my long overdue admin and sat back in my rather comfy camp chair and watched the two gorgeous little green and yellow sunbirds do their thing.
It was late afternoon and a calm, gentle breeze was blowing - providing the bush around me with a distinct tranquilness about it. I let my mind wonder and soon found myself deep in thought about not very much at all, when a dramatic increase in bird activity and noise brought me back to the present.
A Grey Backed Camaroptera and two shiny blue Meve's Starlings had joined the pair of Collard Sunbirds on a dead Umbrella Thorn tree (that had been pushed over by a particularly large elephant bull not too long prior) and the five of them were alarm calling their little hearts out! I watched them for a bit, wondering what it was that may be upsetting them so, when a nearby tree squirrel joined the chorus of complaint. Now, fully intrigued, I decided to get up and go have a closer look.
I hadn't even made it down the steps leading off my deck when I saw it. A very large and very mean looking Mozambique Spitting Cobra. I had seen this particular dark brown, slithering fiend a few times before. She was slowly moving towards one of the nearby bushes and soon disappeared into the dense undergrowth.
I walked closer to the tangled weave of acacia thorn, grass and fallen tree leafs in order to try and get a better look at her and to make sure that her intended trajectory was indeed in the opposite direction to my tent. Spotting her though proved to be quite the mission.
As I got closer to the epicentre of unhappiness, the tree squirrel (who was still going nuts) looked up at me and gave me the 'Man! There is a snake there!' look before jumping to a slightly higher branch and redoubling its vocal efforts. After some time patiently scanning the undergrowth I saw the spitting cobra lying still almost perfectly camouflaged and decided to leave her be. I slowly returned to my camp chair and reluctantly picked up my work diary while I considered the unique mixture of emotions that snakes invoke in us humans.
Eventually the sunbirds, camaroptera and starlings flew off leaving the tree squirrel alone in his valiant task of making the world aware of the Mozambique Spitting Cobra's presence. This was not my first encounter with this cobra and certainly wouldn't be my last. Funny though...I never saw that tree squirrel again...
So next time you hear a chorus of complaint go have a look! The chances are, you will find something quite interesting, both big or small.