October 2010

02 October

We just had such a wonderful day. It is lucky that it happens like this sometimes…

We got up at 5am and went for an early game drive as we had heard lion roaring and moaning in two different places. The first bit of the drive proved fruitless, so we went to another spot and watched some white fronted bee-eaters flying with insect filled beaks to their nests. They nest in holes in the banks of the rivers. There are two lots of bee-eaters there including the little bee-eaters, which look pure gold when the sun shines on them.

We crossed the sandy dry river bed and heard a soft lion moan very close by. We stood really still and out of the bushes in a truly theatrical way came a massive male lion, golden black mane blowing softly in the breeze. He roared full volume as he walked into the wind, big head up, pursing his lips. We must have been about 80 metres from him, so it was really a wonderful sight. Our guests said they would rather go for a walk, rather than follow him by car, so we ambled and meandered through the lovely early morning light. All the trees we filled with bright, new leaves. We saw some brilliant plum coloured starlings, flitting ruby jewel-like through the trees. A big group of gingery puku, all totally relaxed, grazed heads down. One occasionally lifted its head to test the air. We walked through an anthilly area- where we saw two hippo on the bank grazing. Gosh, but they are huge. As they were ambling towards us we climbed up onto an anthill and watched them, but they then went into ..hhhmmmm….”lets just stand and contemplate this blade of grass” mode and stood around for ages. Whilst we were watching them a flock of guineafowl came around the corner of the anthill. They obviously realised that we were not “proper” and started that slightly alarmed clucking sound they make, while very cautiously watching us, heads on one side and rushing in various directions towards the river. I could watch them for hours as their colours are beautiful. That blue on their heads is so vibrant. A nosy warthog popped his head around the side too. He was obviously in touch with the guineafowl as he was also very cautious. He grunted and put his tail up and rushed away. We decided to leave the almost stationary hippos and crept around the back of the anthill and wandered off along the riverine bush.

The area was really very pretty. We saw some shalows turacos, creeping mouselike in a nearby tree. I was again impressed by the colours…scarlet, royal blue, emerald green. We crossed the river bed. I was so exciting… slowly going down steep root stepped sides into a veritable fairyland of exposed fantasy roots, beautifully etched old logs, shady, sandy riverbed, pebbled in patches while wondering if there was a lion or leopard resting in the shadows. Up the other side, onto a dusty, dry plain with a herd of Impala resting in the shade of a small tree, then followed a very noisy honey guide, who stayed in the trees along the riverbed, and we finally found some bees going into a crevice of a gnarled old tree. It’s always so amazing when everything works as it should… honey guide calling… one follows… and hey presto there are the bees..

A burst of beautiful yellow blooms in a tree. Leopard orchid in full bloom. What a beautiful sight. Pale yellow petals dotted with leopard like spots, a profusion of blossoms nestled into the branch of a Brachistigea tree,and the tiniest, daintiest little flowers on the ground, almost fairylike in their fragility.

We slowly wandered back to the vehicle with a steady breeze blowing behind us so that the heat wasn’t too bad. Puku were standing in the shade watching us with mild curiousity and impala were also standing in the shade across the river, too relaxed to do more than give us a cursory glance.

We had nice long drink of water before climbing into Eric (our game drive vehicle) and slowly drove back, stopping to watch two fork tailed drongos swooping about near an insect filled bush, three grey louries perched in a tree, raising their crests in a chatty manner, little common duiker lying in a shady spot, so perfectly camouflaged. We spotted some lion tracks on the road and quite obvious tracks of a kill. Lion tracks, drag marks, disturbed grass! We stopped the car and followed as far as we  could, but the ground was too hard and we soon lost all signs. It was getting hot by now so we came back to camp and a lovely brunch, then a much deserved rest.

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