April 2010

24 April

The baby Hueglin’s robin is becoming very tame, and comes right up to my foot. There was an elephant outside my hut last night, right against the wall and a bit too close for comfort. There are tiny baby squirrels at the bird tables. The barbets scream when there is no fruit put out for them. A very lonely little francolin sits around in the camp all day while the equally lonely old hippo is still sitting in front of the camp, breathing deeply…

On the trail camera last night was our young bushbuck male and the lonely elephant. He was outside my hut for maybe an hour just standing around, I don’t think he feels very well. His tummy rumbles and gurgles and makes the wierdest squishing noises. All he does is eat a few leaves and then move away, eats a few more leaves and comes back to the same spot next to my hut. I hope he is okay.

25 April

Today is a cold, overcast, grey day, with lots of wind and heavy cloud cover –  a nice day to stay in bed! The four grey headed gulls are doing their mindless upstream flight, downstream float. I’m sure the lonely hippo stays in front of the camp as I am company for him, as I potter around the “dining” all day. He certainly watches me with grave intensity, most of the day. He now has a scar on his eyebrow and nostril. We are becoming quite ‘pally’. From being a real bully, he is now a lonely old man……

A Hyena called from just over the Mushingashi, but there is no lion sounds at all. The Kafue river is dropping, but the Mushingashi still seems very high.

27 April

Wow, what an interesting night! Firstly I was woken up by the nearby sounds of a dramatic duel between two hippos. There was some serious bellowing and roaring, which went on for hours. I finally fell asleep listening to it but then woke up to the sounds of heavy breathing near my hut. It was a bit menacing, and unidentifiable!! hhhmmmm…I wasn’t too keen to get up and have a look, so I put my head under my pillow and fell asleep again, only to be woken shortly afterwards by three elephant near my hut. One made a ferocious tummy rumble that sounded like a growl, and then became a gentle gurgle. I could see all three of them, all within touching distance if I had been on the veranda!! They breath in a heavy, whispery way. Happily I was safely under my mosquito net, and hopefully NOT visible.  Thankfully they did not break any trees down, and just ate leaves, leaving lots of them on the paths. In the fading moonlight they looked like three ghosts, gently flapping their ears… but oh my goodness… they are HUGE!! Apart from tummy rumbles and whispery breaths they are so quiet!

Then I heard a horrid gurgling sound and this morning discovered that two lion had been through the camp. They killed a young puku right outside Sunset hut. The heavy breathing I heard earlier must have been the two lions.

I woke up at dawn to a cold blustery morning, lots of heavy grey clouds making their way across the sky. The hueglins robins joyful call making all seem fine and normal again. There were lots of little firefinches in the branches of the bush that the elephants had been enjoying during the night. Our lonely little francolin is rushing about in the undergrowth. After all the night’s drama I do feel a tad sleepy this morning, I must say.

Steven, one of our staff, came to tell me there were three lion near the campsite while Patson watched them. I ran up there with my camera and Patson said they had lain down in the grass. We crept up slowly, but could not see them in the waving grass. We tried by all means to see them, standing on tiptoe, then on a log. Eventually Patson said he would go and get “Eric” our vehicle and started to walk away with Musango and Steven following. I waited a bit longer when suddenly three lion jumped up, growling ferociously, about 60 to 70 metres from me. I got such a fright! They were moving away, really growling loudly, then one turned back and looked at me. I stood absolutely still, and then he walked off and followed the others into the campsite. I did not get any great photo shots, but records of the occasion. They must have been watching us all along!

Our friendly, lonely hippo is still resting in the water in front of the camp, sometimes watching me, winking and twitching his ears, other times watching the other hippos. The baby hueglins robin is now so tame she sits by my foot, where she is right now. It is the dearest little thing. It seems like a few lonely, single folk around the camp at the moment… there is a lone blacksmith plover in front of the camp, who sits near the boat bobbing up and down as he digs for tasty snacks, quite unconcerned when I get close to him. The lonely little francolin who haunts the underbush near our hut… I wonder where the others are?

29 April

The Elephant with an upset tummy was in camp again last night, standing about making the most alarming tummy noises. By the looks of his poo he has eaten far too many Marulas but he just stands about all night, mainly around my hut eating a few leaves and dropping a few on the paths. In the morning is nowhere to be seen. He comes and goes as silently as a great grey ghost. It is quite beautiful to see him in the bright moonlight. This morning there is a family of francolin running around near the campfire spot, having lots of chattering, churring conversations, fluffing up some ashy sand and rushing about, being really very vocal this morning.

We have been having very grey, overcast days lately, with sporadic splashes of brilliant sunlight. The winter flowering cassia in front of the ‘dining’ is starting to bloom, which is always the herald of winter. What a lovely herald! The first busy bumblebee is buzzing about. They love the yellow cassia flowers and flit from bloom to bloom, taking nectar I guess.

29 April

I just watched the little finfoot swimming upstream again. She does this every morning. She swims against the strong current, and I wonder where she is going to with such determination, her little head swaying, snakelike, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards…. paddling away and, leaving a silver wake in the mirror calm waters.

Stalky, the rejected hippo, is sitting in front of the camp, his little ears poking pinkly out of the water as he breathes deeply every few minutes. There is still a water lily or two in the river,  but the main group of lilies have disappeared. It is a shame as they are so beautiful, especially in this crystal clear early morning light.

Last night was mesmerisingly beautiful. The moonlight was as bright as day and the sounds of lions nearby echoed in the clear night air. A big male impala came and nibbled at the branches near my veranda. He became a mystical beast as his horns turned to pure silver in the moonlight. Something soft-footed walked past. Maybe a civet or jackal, but it was too low down for me to see over the veranda wall. An owl grunted deeply in the nearby Mushingashi. He was still doing his sounds as the sun came up joining the moon in the most amazingly coloured dawn sky. A really beautiful night and dawn.

Oh no! Another rather menacing looking hippo is approaching Stalky and doing a strange chomping movement with his mouth as if he is chewing water. (I would imagine this is quite difficult to do). Stalky has retreated underwater with just a ripple to show where he was and the newcomer is snorting in a very disturbing manner. I will let you know what happens…

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