May 2006

10 May

The weather is perfect, the camp stunning at this time of year….

I know I am back in the bush, and it’s the little things that make one feel so at home, showing a client a picture in a book, only to discover a beautiful little tree frog, sitting on the book watching us with unblinking big black eyes, his head tilted at an inquisitive angle….beautiful in the lamplight….glinting gold! The little barred owl flitting silently from twig to branch, just visible in the moonlight, making his soft churring sound, and being answered from a nearby, invisible friend….sound getting louder as they realise they ARE friends!!! A soft, plopping noise as a lizard falls from the rafter, obviously unhurt, as he is still twitching his tail angrily, whilst a rather smug fat lizard sits on the newly vacated rafter…. The sounds of the hippos chumping, chuckling, haha-ing as they leave the river at dusk, The sunsets which are breathtaking with colours mingling and matching until its a cacaphony of colours, not sounds….the golds being predominant….and reds and oranges…so well blended with unlikely turquoise and blue and grey… The whispering of leaves falling, rustles of monkeys munching Machinga-chinga berries, wind disturbing drying leaves, waxbills fluttering amongst them….touches of red and blue…

..and today I am making Machinga-chinga juice which is the most wonderful colour, brilliant ruby red, very good for one, as it is like cranberry juice, and also making some Marula jelly…. I make a cocktail for the guests with a tot of Vodka, tot of Machinga-chinga juice, tot of Mazoe Orange, and ice and water, and it looks like a sunset in a glass…and is quite delicious…try one, using cranberry juice instead of M-c juice! I’m sure you will enjoy it!

11 May

…an amazing night, I have been watching a black maned lion on the
other bank since first light….MOST IMPRESSIVE …I am off to check the airstrip (footing) to see whether the maintenance has been completed …three Ground Hornbills in the Sausage tree above me as I write….

What a Dramatic Night…

….a most dramatic evening is unfolding…. The sky is ablaze with the most amazing flame colours and two huge males are roaring right on the opposite bank, thank goodness a river separates us, as I saw the one this morning, a veritable giant among lions, and there is a low moaning coming from our camp side, sounding rather close for comfort, near the mouth of the Mushingashi….

I am in the office sewing up some sheets, and debating whether to sleep in camp tonight because the elephant is browsing at the other side of our hut…..You would be revelling in the proximity and volume of these two lions roaring….such a shame no clients are here…..there is a rustling near the dining room, and I am hoping it is a hippo….the lions were in our camp last night, we found spoor near Anthill House….

I will end off now, am going to stand near the kitchen fire, (bravely!!!) and see what Nightwatch Steven suggests….

12 May

Well, the night continued dramatic and noisy with another war of roars, until about ten, when it diminished slowly to some lowly grumblings …as the opposite bank crew wandered downstream and our crowd made a few half roars, and halfhearted mumbling moans, then, apart from a few moans from either bank, nothing until I was awoken at about three am, by a cough, I got a fright, got up to look out of my window, and there was a huge lion walking towards the campsite…. the moon was a sinking silver, and all I could see was the shape, and very distinctive walk…a fairly fleeting glimpse! and then shortly after that a noisome hippo stood outside the front door, slurping and slobbering over a rather aged sausage, fallen from the sausage tree….then a tiny firefinch landed on the wire at my small window with a guineafowl feather in it’s beak…bigger than the little bird, but wonderful colouring….reds, blacks and white…

On a sadder note, I found our little mouse and one of her babies starved to death in our red trunk in the bedroom. Someone must have left the trunk open for some reason, then closed it, and she was trapped inside…she did a lot of damage to clothes in her desperate attempts to escape, I feel very sad, but it explains where she had gone, because I had missed her……I hope another will come in her place, she was a beautiful little creature, awful to see two little skin and bone bodies at the bottom of the trunk… One must be more careful when leaving containers open that are sealed when closed…just in case.

The Staff have circled the lion tracks going past our hut, such a shame no-one here to see and be amazed by them…Just seen them on my way down this am….

13th May

A lot of elephant trumpeting going on at the campsite, the staff say it is three elephants, having a wrangle… About ten hippo in a holy hippo huddle on this side of the Mushingashi trees…

Game Scouts are on a patrol in the downstream area…heard a shot at 2.30 this afternoon downstream.

Hueglins Robin is sitting giving a concert in the bird table tree….a vituoso performance, throat control amazing…. Starfish (a squirrel) and two little Starfish are all very happy and scratchy, tail fluffing and relaxed, grooming each other with eager thoroughness…

16 May

It is just possible that the Lonely One is coming back…there were some half-hearted roars from Spring No: 3 early this morning, and now soft moaning sounds as the lion comes closer to camp, it’s 7.50 am and the last sounds were from this side of Spring No: 2, I wish I had a spare guide to walk with me, but they are all too busy…I walked as far as the Mushingashi alone, but felt nervous to go further on my own!!! The other lions are roaring way over the other side of the mine, very faint and far away…. The staff think it is the old lion that used to be here all by itself….I am so hoping it is him coming back, that would be wonderful…

…and as I write a huge, shiny grey pink hippo had just emerged out of the long grass near the francolin bird bath, I have called the staff, and they are all standing watching…he really is enormous…and has opened his mouth at us….we are all just standing watching each other, now he is moving back into the grass, but in no hurry, just a step at a time….I think a tad too close for comfort when I see his vast mass…
Quite an exciting morning in all….

It’s quite nice, cohabiting with a hippo, he is still here, just gently grazing, stopping every now and again to stare at us…guests would be having a field day with photographs…and he is HUGE…right outside River House, I can see him as I type…I’ve told Joel to stay put, just in case…he is cleaning out River House!

The hippo has just rushed at great speed into the water in front of the camp, and Lackson says he is fighting, there are lots of waves and noise going on…very dramatic…and yes! there are two hippos chasing each other…

30 May

I now know why I built that little shelter outside “Nest” house( one of the chalets), I thought it was to sit in the shade on the old leadwood log, and watch the many birds building their different nets, but the real reason was exposed yesterday…the resident hippo was fast asleep under the roof, his head resting on the log, gently snoring, his little pig like foot crossed over and resting on the other ‘trotter’, an occasional ear twitch, an occasional eye opening, the whole day he rested, and snored,, we just had to approach the camp with caution from other angles!!!The birds continued building, and chattering, and fluttering around, but nothing disturbed the sleeping beauty…he just slept on like a baby!!! …and was no-where to be seen at dawn this morning!

Squirrels have used the office area as a playground this afternoon….Starfish, Pufftail and Fusspot (who stops and starts fussing at the slightest movement), tail twitching, and shrieking displeasure and nervousness, whilst Starfish, in her usual inimitable fashion, just starfishes onto the nearest tree trunk, and Pufftail does just that….puffs up the tail, and sits watching…very carefully, and darts off at the slightest sign of anything not quite right!!! have got to know them quite well now!!! Terrific little creatures, great fun, and very cheeky with the birds, there has just been a stand-off with Starfish and a Tropical BruBru shrike, I’m sorry to tell you the BruBru won, Starfish retreated!!!

31 May

All is VERY WELL with the world…lions roaring up near Spring No;3,
leopard in camp, hyenas near Vultures Nest, three Francolins in camp, one making the ‘baby mewing’ sound …love the sounds.. three pied kingfishers swooping over the camp, “Flapper” Schalows Turaco and three similarly dressed chums having a ball at the birdbath…a first to have so many!!! Fish Eagles calling, wind blowing, Impalas rutting…….perfect!

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