While writing about the flamingo, gull and pratincole sightings at the dam of miraculous avian production, my mind began drifting through other amazing incidents that body of water has presented to me in the past.

Besides the Grey Headed Gull, Greater Flamingo and Collared Pratincole, there have also been sightings of White Backed Duck, Hottentot Teal, Southern Pochard and Black-Necked Grebe, which I forgot to mention, at this dam.
But the strangest experience I had at this dam and probably one of my top ten, strange encounters in my time in the bush up to now, happened three years ago with some guests I was driving from Geneva. I remember it being a nice sunny day, with a cold strong wind that blew any of the suns heat off you before it could take affect.
It probably sounds like I have time share at the location of this dam, but Yes we were back cruising past the water again. I naturally religiously scan the water and banks for any birds, crocs and others, when a small light coloured blob caught my eye, vigorously bouncing up and down, in time to the ripples being blasted to our shoreline, with thirty or so meters to go.
I could not make out enough detail with my naked, shivering eye, but after hauling out my bins I saw it was a Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill.
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We were obviously instantly transfixed on this mini true life drama unfolding in front of us and began speculating on how this poor drenched soul had ended up in this predicament.
Luckily for the bird the wind was blowing his drenched body along at a fair pace and in our direction. I mentioned that the hornbill could not have been in the water for any lengthy period, prior to our arrival as the, now highly pitied bird could still hold its head above the water. An ability which was rapidly slipping away, increasing our concern for this poor floating wreck, it was now a race against time as I was not willing to disrobe down to my knickers to take the plunge and rescue the bugger, maybe for a Martial Eagle, but hornbill… Nah. As much as I enjoy them, so we waited until he came within reach of the shore, but by now the subdued birds head was beginning to slip deeper into the water. Giving rise to a fair amount of gasping and “oh no’s”.
Image Title PHOTO BY SOPHIE OF GENEVA
We decided to take our coffee break and see what we could do for our newly captive friend, while we enjoyed our coffee with me drying the poor bird out as best as I could.
Image Title PHOTO BY SOPHIE OF GENEVA
After finishing up our coffee, leaving the hornbill wrapped up in a dry portion of the blanket, nestled on the bonnet of the car, which was the only warm part of the vehicle. We continued with our drive and our new feathered friend, was moved cuddled up in the blanket in the passenger’s foot well, giving it some sort of protection from the biting wind.
Upon our return to camp I headed off home with the bird and set to work on it with my wife’s hair drier, blasting him with glorious waves of hot air and blasting the feathers against the grain, enabling the heat to get directly to the hornbills skin. After a bout a minute or so its tail began to rise up and down in rhythm to my wafts of the hair drier, a good and humorous sign.
After somewhere around five to seven minutes, the bird began to gain strength and hung onto it feet allowing it to flap away and warm up those flight muscles.
When I thought it was time I placed the bird on the back of a garden chair and after giving her a shot of sugar water down the gullet in a syringe, she turned around, gave me an unceremonious hard peck on my finger and took off, looking like someone had just flung a dish cloth into the air.
I remember finding it funny that one of my guests had enquired as to how I can justify what I did after me telling them all about my beliefs in non interference with nature, unless the situation was directly caused by man. My response was that the bird would have been fine, until man put a dam in its flight path and that was my justification, I then asked him why he gave me the blanket.
One more hornbill saved from death by water.