February 2008

01 February

We have just had two New Zealand guests here, whom we had to meet at the airstrip. This is the closest you can get to the camp by vehicle. We had to boat over the Dambo that we usually cross when going for a walk as that is about 6 feet under water.

On the walk we have just done with them we walked through lots of water, but saw lovely Puku and Impala and a massive warthog, who decided we were rather annoying and rushed off with his tail up in the air, splashing through the puddles.

On the return walk to the airstrip when the guests were leaving we saw two lovely lions lying under a bush. They got up and moved away when they saw us.

We went on one walk before a huge storm, which was most enjoyable although the ground is so wet and slushy. After brunch the guests just relaxed, slept and read-. In the evening they went for a boat ride armed with umbrellas, and got back just before another big storm. They had seen quite a few birds and a couple of puku, the rain being the main concern. The river is very full and fast flowing!

Everything is very, very wet!

02 February

It is slightly sunny for the first time in days and there is a monkey chattering his alarm at something in the nearby trees. The hueglins robin is singing it’s sublime song. It is so clear and true that it transports one into a wonderful operatic bird worl. She is still searching for food for her fat baby and this morning she found a small shongololo which she proceeded to kill and batter until it was as soft as a worm, then flying off with it to her baby. There was a tiny fire finch sitting above her on a small branch singing his head off, with a thin piece of grass in his beak. He is obviously building a nest nearby. There is a tropical bou bou chattering and arguing with his image in the mirror and really getting quite het up although he is not pecking the mirror as the yellow bellied bul bul does.. I think he is waiting for the mirror image to join him in a duet, and when it doesn’t he gets really irritated.

The bird song in this camp is amazing. We are learning to identify the different ones – the paradise flycatcher’s alarm call, the scarlet chested sunbirds shrill chatter, the schalow’s turaco’s hoarse call, the fo-way bird telling us all to go away, as well as the baby wails of the trumpeter hornbills who are haunting the whole camp in search of the ruby red berries they enjoy so much.

22 February

We are back in the bush with delightful Swiss guests-who are remarkably brave to have ‘braved’ this rainy season. It is incredibly wet, and the ground is quite waterlogged. We walked from the airstrip to camp, a really sploshy 3,8km walk, but it is so special to be back, Everything is still startlingly green.

There are so many bird everywhere. We sat and watched a crested barbet taking food to her babies in a nest which she made in an old tree ant nest. She squeezed in and out of the small hole she had made. It’s the first time I’ve seen a nest in another nest. The crested barbet is very attractive with it’s multi coloured feathers, but it has the most annoying call which goes on for ever.
We also saw a stunning paradise flycatcher showing off with his beautiful cinnamon tail as he flashed through the greenery. The scarlet chested sunbird showed glimpses of the brilliant scarlet chest as he flew from branch to branch and calling with his excited chitter chattering call. Two more appeared and it was a breathtaking sight, seeing them all together. Two black backed barbets were sunning themselves on a dead branch, the rising sun lighting their sun pink bellies.

The grass is so long, taller than me in some places. One walks with beautifully lit grass seeds and little reed warblers swaying on the grass stem with a flash of jewels as meyers parrots fly up from the ground. It is all very colourful and dramatic,

We have moved to Francolin Hut as our dear little home has finally succumbed to the elements. So I am in a new space and enjoying getting used to the new sounds and creatures that inhabit this spot! There are many more firefinches, a lone bushbuck female, a tiny little tree mouse, (who dangles like a Christmas decoration from fragile branches) and two little bats who watch us from their upside down perspective, ears and eyes twitching and twinkling as they bob like pom poms.

We are enjoying the bush and camp. Everything is so green and the grass so long, taller than me at times. We don’t see a lot of game, though lion spoor is everywhere, and so well defined in the soft earth, making a dramatic statement that the lions are truly around.

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