Low flying ostrich

wavesSunday, 13 July 2008

It had been a good morning session, the rain now a thing of the past and we were running a fairly firm sand track. The warm afternoon sun baking nicely on our backs, but a cold southerly wind was picking up from the front. There is game in abundance, every kilometre we see steenbok, the odd bat eared fox and even sighted a cape wild cat. The bird life is unbelievable. Ahead on the road were a group of ostrich slowly sauntering into the late afternoon sun. On the dune ahead we could pick out the solitary figure of John looking out for us, as the day was coming to a close, he was signalling the camp to us.

We were now quite close to the ostrich being down wind of them they had not picked us up yet. Finally they did. The one peeled off to the left running the dune line, a weird sight as its body stayed at the same height it sped through the veldt as if it was on rails, but the legs working frantically like two steam locomotive pistons propelling it forward. This long neck and fluffy blob just shot off into the distance with minimal effort. The other ostriches sauntered up the road with real urgency in their stride. The final one headed straight up the dune at pace, sand flying as it sped up , but unbeknown to it, straight ahead just over the crest stood John surveying the country side.

As the ostrich got more and more into its stride its wings seemed to come into action helping it along. Nearing the top all shit broke loose, the ostrich suddenly spotted John, but it was now in overdrive, turbo mode, its wings flapping madly propelling it forward. In mid stride it dropped its left wing as it squawked with fright, leaning over, It’s right leg seemed to cavitate in the sand as it clawed the surface of sand, just hooking the bushes for traction- swivelling on its left leg it managed to do a 90 degree turn, back flapping its wings, creating reverse thrust too keep balance as it skidded sideways. Feathers, sand, shrubs and the rest flying in all directions it managed to zoom past John like a Boeing aborting a landing and head on back down the dune in a state of total shock. Landing, its undercarriage seemed to buckle under the manoeuvre, ploughing chest first into the shrubbery. In a second it regained its posture and sauntered off along the dune, occasionally looking back at John who was totally oblivious to all the commotion that had gone on behind him.

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