Barn Owl Luck

In tales of old superstition it is said that when a birds dropping lands on your head, luck is on its way to you. This is something my friend Nina and I can confirm on our Kruger mission one January in the park. The wonderful thing about Kruger is if you spend enough time in the park you can be sure to experience some incredible things. If you add the superstition of a bird dropping to the experience it proves to be even more rewarding.

Nina and I had been in the park for a few days already when we finally made it to our destination at Lower Sabie camp in the south of the Kruger Park. Having traveled a lengthy distance this particular day we decided to not make a ‘braai’ or barbecue for dinner as we had planned but rather to go to the camp restaurant to get a quick bite to eat. When we arrived at the restaurant we were fascinated to notice the snow-white barn owl flying around in the beams of the high roof in the outdoor restaurant area. We took some photos of the owl before taking our seat in the restaurant. It appeared that we were not the only lazy people this evening- the place was filled with other tourists enjoying their meals. It was not long after we sat down that we noticed the owl was visibly active flying around and most likely also having his dinner. He swooped in and out of the dining area and amazed all of us with his beautiful flight each time.

Before we could make a move or know any better the owl dropped down in a swift, swooping motion and as it passed directly over our heads, he released a large dropping – all over our heads and table. It happened so quickly, we were a bit confused in the beginning as to what had just happened. Horrified, we realized the messy truth. It was not a wonderful feeling to say the least and it felt like even the music in the restaurant went quiet. All eyes were now on us. I remember thinking of what to say – and all that came out was “Well, this can only bring us luck.” Thank goodness the gift from the majestic owl arrived before our food had. Between the hysterical laughter and realization of what just happened we knew we had to ask for our food to be packed to go so we could go home to have proper showers before we could even think of eating. What an experience that was. We laughed uncontrollably. I think some of the other tourists might have thought we were a little insane.

The next morning started early-on route to Tamboti camp close to Orpen gate. It was not long after we left Lower Sabie that we knew there was something lucky in our owl dropping from the night before. About five minutes after leaving our camp we saw two beautiful male lions walking down the Sabi River bank- heading right towards our vehicle. We had an incredible encounter, watching these two brothers interact and then cross the road in front of our car. We then continued on to seeing herds of elephant, buffalo, rare Southern ground horn bills and then something neither one of us has ever witnessed in the park before – a cheetah kill. When we stopped at the dam on the H-7 road to Orpen gate we admired all the life around the water. In the distance we saw 2 cheetahs taking shelter from the hot African afternoon sun. We were delighted by this view and felt very blessed to have seen them- when they finally stood up we knew something extraordinary was about to unfold. In a matter of seconds the cheetahs circled around a herd of impalas and at what seemed to be the speed of light, chased them into a dizzy circle. I remember the sharp tail in the air of the cheetah and then the cloud of dust as it took the impala to the ground! A Kill! The sighting itself was very far away-but it still managed to fill us with both adrenaline and excitement.

What an incredible day drive to have witnessed all these animals. We felt blessed to have been in the right place at the right time and of course for the barn owl and the luck that rained down on us the night before.

The Barn Owl in the restaurant roof
The scene of the crime

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