February 2006

2 February

Two new pride males on the western (roadless) bank (4.25 pm, 4.35 pm). 2 male lions roaring almost directly over the river, but hidden by trees and tall grass – very low pitched, slow rhythm roars, unlike the roars of the lions on this, the east, bank, where the rhythm is faster.

During our study of the lions on both banks, there were two large males on the west bank – our study ended 2000 – these must be different males, since pride males normally last about 3 years in any one pride. The area has been silent for a while, then about a month ago in December, these two males started roaring, i.e. have been roaring a lot for about two months – almost certainly new males. As the TLO’s (The lonely one) roars get less (since September last year, TLO, for reasons as yet unknown, has been roaring much less than he used to), so these begin, very luckily for us. They are no more than 400 m away, probably 350 m. – the width of the river here, and then about 20-30 m.

The nightwatchman has been marking roars almost directly south of the camp – in an area not much used by TLO. More than one lion has been roaring there. Perhaps TLO has found a lioness in that area? This has to be investigated

On the beach and grassy area in front of the lounge are 22 Fulvous tree duck, 4 Egyptian geese (babies have grown), and there were some Spurwing geese there earlier.

All day, constant and varied sounds have accompanied me as I wrote and write here at the desk, ranging from lions, then hippo, then a very large variety of birds – 2 kinds of Bul-Bul, Spurwing wickerings (Ka-wik, ka-wick, ka-wick), then trumpeter hornbills eating the fruit on a nearby tree, then francolin, doves and others.

9 February

5.55 a.m. Notes at dawn – These were the bird sound heard this morning – it’s thundery, with sheet lightening, there has been light rain in the night, it is shirt- sleeves cool, there’s a very light drizzle again, getting heavier..and the river has risen a lot during the night..

Nature notes: Dawn chorus – Ground hornbills, duet singing

Turaco, 2 of them, answered a long way off, loud and raucous – the nesting pair, repeated calls. Shrike, Bou Bou Dove, red-eye Yellow bul bul, hello, hello. The best of them all, Cossypha heuglini (Heuglin’s robin), call building from softish to a crescendo – described by Roberts (1993) as, “one of the best avian singers in the world”.

Black-eyed bul bul (?) – very cheerful! Bottle bird, fairly close – coucal? ‘How’s father’, Cape Turtle dove, fairly far, one nearer – quite a few, close too. Emerald spotted wood dove, quite a few

6.10 a.m., Francolin, red-necked, Black-collared barbet, Trumpeter hornbills. In all 16 different kinds of birds! No snowballs yet (Puff-back shrike). Bird sounds more or less continuous with more than one kind at a time..

6.50 a.m. – end of the dawn chorus?

7.35, Grey Lourie, post dawn chorus

8.35 – Green pigeon, Spurwing goose

Well, that was a rainy dawn in our camp – quite amazing the number of different calls, the variety of calls, the volume of some (Turaco, Heuglin’s Robin) and the frequency with which the calls were made.

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