August 2010

04 August

I did not plan to e-mail this evening, being tired, but an elephant woke me up and I have been adrenalin filled ever since, as he breathes, loudly, with a slow rhythm. He gurgles, defecates, breaks branches, pulls off the leaves and bark, cracks other branches, chews loudly with stomach rumblings, also loudly, a few feet from my head.

I got out of bed, held tightly to my rifle for hours (or so it seemed). Later I loaded it, VERY quietly, and stood some more in the room as far away as possible from the leviathan sounds. I got lost in the room in the dark, but eventually found, by feel, a pair of shoes. I slid into them QUIETLY, only to find later that they were the wrong way round,. I slipped into the bathroom and when I thought the sounds had ceased, slipped back into bed with a computer and notepad to find that he was still near. I was worried when he went silent, and he’s still is…

05 August

We just spent the night at the Fly Camp with two nice Dutch people.  We went down “riding the rainbow” and saw three lazy elephants, one which gave us a marvellous view of his mouth. He was facing us and reaching up to tug a branch down.  tusks on either side of the branch, his grey trunk twisted round the branch and big, pink open mouth allowing us told even see his top teeth.

We had an enchanting afternoon watching a tiny, serious little Scops owl, a minute bird with such a serious little face. He would open one eye and look at us with a jaded expression, then turn his head away, bored with these gawping humans!!!Truly, if he hadn’t moved a tufted tiny ear we would never have seen him. He was huddled against a trunk of a Combretum Frangrans, on a tiny branch, almost invisible. The markings on a Scops owl are almost identical to the markings on the bark of a tree trunk. Throughout the night he called his sharp little call and was answered by no less than five Scops owls during the whole night. We heard distant lion roars, and a faint hyena call, but otherwise it was the night of Scops owls.

Whilst walking back to meet the boat at Island #3 we heard kudu alarm calls, but they were quite far away and getting further. We meandered to the waters edge, I went right down to the water, then got nervous and climbed up with the others onto the higher bank. From the top of the bank we had a beautiful view of a really huge crocodile ‘hanging’ in the water. When we moved he dived under water, making huge muddy swirl. It was a very big creature.

06 August

Another delightful evening. Last night on the way to the room I saw a giant rat. I don’t think it was Samwell, who is anything but shy, and quite happily goes about his business whilst we watch him. This one was quite shy, peeping at me from behind her paws, and then hiding behind a tiny bush and watching me with twinkly eyes. It is such a dainty creature, and moves very gracefully.

07 August

I went on a nice walk this morning following FRESH lion tracks. We did not find them, but we were on red alert for most of the walk. We saw some amazing woodpeckers with at least 15 in the same area at one stage,

We had an amazing walk this morning  following FRESH lion tracks, and came to a grove of trees consisting mainly  of Combretum Frangrans with a couple of Jackalsbessies. Suddenly we were surrounded by ‘pinnochio’ type laughter. There must have been at least 15 woodpeckers around us, laughing and tapping away. Wherever we looked we could see little red capped / black capped woodpeckers knocking on wood, then darting to another tree, with a gleeful laughing call, and tapping away again. There were also other birds around… a pair of reb billed woodhoopoe, so beautiful in the sunlight, a flock of white helmet shrike, a pair of chinspot batis, lovely emerald spotted wood doves, with emeralds gleaming jewel like as the light touched them. It was just a wonderful party of, and for, birds. We were on red alert for the lions, but sat and watched this bird celebration for a good 20 minutes before reluctantly moving off to look for lions.

Last night on a game drive we saw a beautiful leopard which was totally unconcerned by us. We also watched a white tailed mongoose sitting contemplating his environment with a very pensive look on his little fox-like face.

21 August

The amazing thing about the wattled plovers is that they have cold, goat-like eyes, but apart from that, they are lovely. We also have quite a few hammerkops around at the moment. There is a pair building (or should I say adding to an already huge construction), a nest downstream. The other day we saw two medium sized monitor lizards lying on the branches near the nest, so we stopped the boat and threw stones at the monitors until they dropped into the river. They were just lying waiting for the hammerkops to fly away, so that they could eat the eggs. I DO NOT like monitor lizards. They are mean,egg eating machines.

23 August

We had such an exciting night. Bushbuck were running around the camp barking their alarming alarm calls. There were lion moaning sounds all over the place. Thiss morning a lion roared right outside the one hut, very close to us. The campers got up and saw that there were three lionesses outside their tent. They got back in smartly and waited a while before walking over here. All the guests have gone for a game drive to try to see the lions. I think there are two still in camp, so will have my camera handy.

27 August

As we sit here there is a lion roaring nearby. He is getting closer,  which is so exciting. As we have not heard them for a few nights it is even more exciting! We miss them when they are absent for more than a day or two. There is a bushbuck in the kitchen trying to steal some beans in a pot. They are so beautiful and love my kitchen, so we never close the kitchen doors, but what a noise they make whilst trying to steal something tasty. Otherwise it is a beautiful silent bush night with more stars than you can imagine – really beautiful!

28 August

Well, what a dawn…. lions roaring near the Dambo house, then towards the boat and also over the Mushingashi as well as over the Kafue. Lions nearby and everywhere. Suddenly there is silence. I watch the red headed weaver making his nest with his bright red head, so busy, and desperate to impress his dull little wife.

I hear a lion moaning near the car park and then see a lioness walking through the camp, past River House, then past the hammock in front of the camp. She was very relaxed. (See Charlotte’s photo in the August gallery)

The lioness has just walked past our hut now, about three metres away. Too close to take a photo. The puku are making their alarm calls. It is very exciting, and beautiful, as the sun is rising and making everything turn to gold. The birds are singing like opera singers throughout the camp. It is a perfect dawn, and wonderful to see and hear ALL the lions. One would not have known where to walk this morning. We would have been spoilt for choice.

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