We have just been on a ‘dawn patrol’ which was really quite beautiful. We left camp at dawn, just as first light broke. It was sooo cold that I could not even feel my hands, but as soon as the sun rose it was a bit warmer. We bundu-bashed through some truly beautiful African bush with plains on one side, trees and hills in the distance and Combretum and Miombo woodland on the other side.
The light was absolutely fantastic, ranging from pink to mauve to peach, and the tree trunks lit up like gold with the rising sun – really magnificent scenery. We then came to a golden plain, backlit real, real gold! Rocking across like ancient rocking horses were six Lichtensteins Hartebeeste which disappeared into the tree line. It was as if they had never been!
We walked through to the trees, and a very seductively persistent honey guide really appealed to us to go after some honey. We apologised and went another way, where we came to a pan, still with plenty of water in it. There was fresh Leopard spoor at the water’s edge…plus lots of Warthog spoor, and also Puku and Impala.
Chris (the road builder) is looking for a place to put another road, one that will meander along the Mushingashi River. It would be a wonderful road, and the scenery second to none as it is an untouched piece of bush!!! We walked for about half an hour, then went back to the Land Cruiser, which was looking like a ship in a sea of grass. We started to trundle back as it became warmer, stopping to watch a lone Lichtensteins Hartebeeste plus vast herds of Impala. Where were they when we went past the first time? They had appeared as if by magic
We stopped at a beautiful tree, which on inspection was two trees growing together, a fig tree and a Brachistigia. I could not tell which trunk was which, they were so intertwined! Underneath we saw some fresh lion spoor, a lioness and a cub, heading across the plain. So we tracked them for a bit, but soon lost the spoor in the hard ground. Stopping for some lovely hot coffee and tasty home-made bread sandwiches, we chatted and explored nearby, then decided to head back to camp, by which time we were discarding all the layers of clothing we had on. It was a really lovely outing with the cold dawn more than compensated for by the beauty of the scenery!!
I am about to put a sign on my reed bathroom door, “Enter with caution- bird sitting on eggs!!, as the little Yellow-bellied Sunbird is now sitting on her eggs. I have watched the whole procedure, from the tiniest twist of spider web on a fragile branch, to the whole fistful of dried twigs, leaves and flowers (very artistic is our sunbird!!)- It looked for all the world as if one had tossed a handful of dried leaves and they were caught in a spider’s web. There, poking out of the little down surrounded opening, is the rather bossy little curved beak, and very beady eye. She does not move when I go in, or shower, so thankfully- she must feel quite safe. It is rather novel, sharing a bathroom with a little sunbird!!!
I do actually feel as if I live in a Beatrix Potter world, when the camp is quiet. The little squirrel is sitting, with his tail curved over his back in true squirrel fashion, little mouth chewing away at fifty to the dozen, on some fallen seed or other. The black and white Southern Boubou leading the way, chattering along the path I am walking along, telling me all sorts of mysterious things!! Or the Schalows Turaco, in all her “Flapper” glamour, pouting red beak, beautifully made up eyes, and stars in her hairpiece, looking at herself in the bird bath (she really is exceedingly vain)! Simple Simon, the camp Hippo, resting in his pig-like fashion in some cosy nook in the camp of which he has several. He usually chooses the one closest to the activity when we are busy, which means we have to circumnavigate him, to keep things running smoothly!!!
You have to approach our bathroom with extreme caution, as Madame Sunbird is on her eggs, and keeps a very sharp beak and beady eye on all proceedings through that reed door! Grimpy (the hippo that eats our sausage tree sausages), was outside our door last night, chewing in a very noisy and vulgar fashion, and I had to creep round the back of the hut to get home!!! He was not even vaguely irritated when I shone my torch on him after nipping into our hut. He was about 4 metres away, chewing and watching with his little orange eyes. Mr Boss Bustle (there really is no other way to describe the way a Porcupine walks!!) came around and made a great deal of noise walking through the dry leaves, obviously late for the sausage. He is usually earlier than Grimpy, and takes the sausage off into the Palm Trees for a nibble. He looked quite disconsolate at finding only left-overs and bristled in quite an alarming fashion, before bustling off. I watched him for quite a while by torchlight.
It’s bat night time, the soft whoosh of the bats as they swoop onto the sausage tree flowers, and the soft plop as the flowers fall. The leopard was in evidence last night, so there as no bushbuck quietly chomping, just their alarm barks all over the place!!!