I can’t tear myself away from the bush at the moment. Yesterday afternoon I wanted to go and look for lions but the sky was so ominous that I decided to wait for the storm, which came with a vengeance, massive rolling black clouds, sheets of heavy, soaking rain, scary flashes of lighting and loud thunder that made me jump out of my skin. I finally retired to bed at 6.15pm (There was nothing else to do), to read and write to a few people.
This morning, of course, was glorious. Bright and sunny as I walked through the silent, drippingly damp camp. A bushbuck was drinking at the Library birdbath. She looked at me for a second before continuing with her drink, quite undisturbed. All the birds were waiting for a fruity snack,checking the baskets every few minutes. Luckily I have some mangoes, which they really like, and the pips are too big for the thieving squirrels to carry away, so they last all day!
The plain is alive with cinnamon coloured Impala and their frisky, happy youngsters rushing about. A fish eagle is calling. At the water’s edge in front of the camp are large flocks of open billed storks, spurwing geese and the first seven white faced whistling ducks (my absolute favourite birds!!). I heard their call for the first time yesterday. There a lots of wattled plovers, several surly water dikkops, who are hunched under their tree. The yellow sedges have come up so it is like a yellow and green meadow, really beautiful. Lusaka is not calling me!
At +-4am there was great commotion. Bushbuck alarm calls all over the place, impala alarm calls towards the Campsite, puku alarm calls near our hut. Unfortunately it was just too dark to see anything. It could have been a leopard, but I suspected lions as the alarm sounds were spread out. Anyway, I waited until it was light enough to see who may be prowling about.
I got up at dawn to look for my friend, Samuel, the giant rat, who was nowhere to be found, but heard a lion roar in the far distance over the Kafue River, and some hyena whooping not so far away. Then I heard a funny, not very loud roar near Spring N3. So when the staff arrived we decided to go and see if it may be our snared lion. All trooped into Eric (our vehicle) and off we went. It was a muggy sort of day with heavy clouds, but hot. We found lots of vultures near the Wallow (where we saw the leopard being harassed by those irritated warthogs!), so we stopped. There were three rather bemused looking warthogs, one sitting on his backside, right beside about seven white backed vultures. Strange fellows to be socialising!There were also some white headed vutures and two lappet faced vutures. A ground hornbill was sitting watching the proceedings with a snooty look on his aristocratically wrinkled red face. There was no sign of lions or a kill, but plenty of vultures in the trees as well.
Lots of red gold puku were lying in the short green grass as well as two big grey waterbuck. Then John saw a lion lying under a small tree behind Spring N03. So we edged closer and saw two lions, a young male and a female, lying under the tree. They kept looking to the left so we surmised there must be another lion nearby. Then we saw two golden eyes watching us from a clump of grass. It was a big lioness. There was a spot of excitement when we flushed a big bushpig, who ran with startled speed towards the thicket near the Mushingashi. He was a flash of brown / red / white as he fled. The young male lion jumped up and ran after him but that was all we saw. The young male disappeared into the thicket and wisely stayed there as it must have been much cooler in the shade. The lionesses looked curious, ears up and noses outstretched. Another lioness appeared. OooKay, so now we are getting a picture. This is the group we saw near the Vultures’ Coffee Shop, and near Leopard Beach. The two young lioness got up and walked towards the Mushingashi . We surmised that they had gone to the river bed to be cool as they were all panting. Next thing we heard a strangled cry and the lioness lying nearby got up and started walking fast to the Mushingashi. The young male uttered two roars , not loud, but quite definitely roars, and then came into view looking intently at the spot where we had heard the sound. He also walked fast in that direction, to a backdrop of impala alarm calls. Through a gap in the trees we could see a large herd of impala all looking at a spot which was hidden by the trees.
It was a lovely, dramatic morning, but a bit too hot though to stay any longer, so we bumped our way back to Spring No3 which was alive with european bee-eaters, flying and swooping around the big sausage tree. There were also lots of trumpeter hornbills crying their plaintive cry, some emerald spotted wood doves resting in a dead branch, their emerald spots glinting in the light.
Back to camp…. lovely morning….. lovely day, but the heat and mugginess preclude a heavy storm later I suspect….