May 2011

07 May

It was a lovely evening drive after such a trying day…the road is awful, no doubt about that, but the night sky was beautiful, and the car headlights picked up a spotted eagle 0owl who flew on soft wings up into a branch overhanging the road. It watched us with baleful big eyes. We stopped underneath the branch and watched him for a while. A lynx or caracal, (we only got a brief glimpse of his golden body) rushed across the road, tufted ears alert and short tail raised. An irritated, very fluffed up genet, ran along the road looking like an irate bottle brush. Only the sinuous side movement showing his lovely black spots. We saw a couple of bright red glowing eyes as bushbabies jumped about their aboreal night kingdom.

Then… the star of the show…. a porcupine in the middle of the road. I expected him to disappear into the bush, but no, we were in for a show! He stayed in the middle of the road and then did a sort of side step, all quills quivering, little snub nose to the ground and tiny eyes star bright. He stopped and turned around and did the same thing in the opposite direction! What was he up to? The next thing he put his nose right down… and charged the car! I could not believe it. Then he rushed away, stopped and turned his back on us, showing his prickly backside as he rattled his quills at us. He did this routine about five times, by which time I was laughing so much I had tears in my eyes. Another vehicle approached, overtook our stationary vehicle and he trundled off into the bush on the side of the road, looking over his shoulder in a baleful and disgruntled manner. He had not finished attacking this silly white thing on the road. It was a  lovely show.

We finally got to camp. The staff had been terrific and everyone was sitting down to a scrumptious supper. As we sat and chatted, we watched a night sky that was so full of stars it almost took your breath away. We were serenaded by peaceful hippo grunts until we also trundled off to sleep.

We were awoken by close and very loud lion roars. Two of them were venting their territorial rights with magnificent voice. We got up early and went on a boat dawn patrol. The river was heavy with mist and the sun’s rays slipped through the mist in golden slices. We heard one more magnificent roar, but search as we did, there was no glimpse of these lions.

A tree dassie, (the first time I have ever seen one in daylight) was basking in the morning sun. It was an amazing sight,  big, plumply fat, with golden eyebrows. He sat on a branch and with the agility of a monkey climbed further up the tree, What a thrill. He really was so relaxed. He went behind a branch and had a peer at these funny mortals before our drift took him from sight. The haunting cry of the fish eagle and an answering echo from his mate, and such a lovely sight as they sit on picturesquely dead branches, with the sun highlighting that snowy white head and chest. They are majestic birds. There are lots of birds everywhere, and hearing the birdsong as you drift down the silken still river with every tree mirror-imaged. It must be one of the wonders of this wild world – lucky us!

10 May

Last night was quite exciting. We sat around the fire for a while, quite amazed at the stars, which are like another layer of sky. They are so, so many, and so bright, with a sliver of a moon rising. Shortly after all going to bed I heard the funniest stomp, stomp sound!. I sat up in bed and tried to figure out the sounds and eventually worked out it was a hippo  eating a sausage which had fallen from the sausage tree. He must have been banging it on the ground before he started that snuffling, snorting, scrunching enjoyment of the delicious sausage. He kept up the sounds for quite a while, then came past my hut, and started his lawn-mowering grazing right next to the solar panels. I drifted off to sleep to the soporific sounds of a hippo grazing, only to be woken up shortly afterwards by some loud sniffs near my head on opposite side of the grass wall, thankfully. As I could not identify the sniff I was a tad nervous, especially as I had not closed my door. Anyway, I listened carefully, and the sniffing went past and in front of my hut. Whispery footsteps sounded up towards the kitchen. Hmmmm, I waited a while and then slowly got up, closed the door then jumped back into bed and listened.

Some nearby lion roars broke the stillness. They came closer and closer, very dramatic sounds on a still, clear night. They were answered bythen some far away roars. For a long time there were close and distant lion roars. In the distance i heard a hyena followed by two bushbabies which set up a real crying racket. Gosh, what a night!

A while ago we had moved the trail camera to the dining area, and this morning, on checking the film, I found that a leopard had walked through the front area. You can see the tables behind him! He must have been the ‘sniffer’ and had walked right up to the camera, about one metre from where we had been sitting earlier that evening. …hhhmmmm…..lovely to have the ‘sniffer’ identified though.  (See the trail camera pictures of the “sniffer”)

20 May

the bush is startlingly beautiful at the moment as the season changes from emerald to gold…and the moon is full, As the hippos walk towards the river in the early dawn, they look like pure silver with the moon, a giant silver ball as it sinks to the horizon,  reflecting off their backs. It is really so beautiful. The lions are roaring nearby, loud and rasping, .the distant cry of a large bushbaby. The amazing-pre-dawn silence and stillness, just before the chorus of birdsong begins and the first streaks of golden sunlight hit the dew covered grasses brings us back into another diamond encrusted dawn again.

A lion walked through the camp last night, roaring. The volume of sound on a still cold night is amazing. His big footprints are embedded in the soft sand along the paths. His voice woke us all up  and we were glad to be snuggled in warm beds under our duvets.

24 May

Charlotte beckoned me to come to the door of our hut. There were 2 lionesses which she had heard walking through the grass. They are not worried by the camp and are relaxed. They calmly crossed through the little dry stream and over the river, marking. It is their territory.

29 May

At 1h00 some lions were roaring about 4 kms east of the camp, probably near the big fig tree. They are now roaring right in the camp (3h50 ). They are patrolling and probably marking their territory. Now they are moving away towards the north (04h00)

It is great that they, like all the other animals and birds just seem to ignore the camp and walk in and through it quite casually.

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