It’s Monday 11th September 2006 and the Happy Elly

It’s Monday 11th September 2006 and the Happy Elly

Kim is in South Africa – at Garonga now, and I would hope having a massage. It has been a long time since writing to you has fallen on my desk. So hi from Jo. During the rains Kim was away a lot and so I was in the groove of the task. And I would start planning the letter around Wednesday, watching for stories and taking photos if possible. This week I was in Lusaka and then have been busy since my return. So last night I realized that I did not have anything planned. Oh dear.

This morning, as Robin and I were dressing, a large bull elephant could be seen in the distance walking through the tall grass towards our water hole. Dressing completed, we sat on the balcony to watch him.

Has he hit the open area Robin casually commented “He’s a happy elephant”.

“How do you know?” I asked, slightly mystified.

“Look at how his hips are swinging”. A pause as we watch him.

There was a pair of white crowned plovers twittering around on the ground, in direct line of sight.

Robin commented “Lets see how these plovers react to him”.

And within a couple of moments, the lovely sight of the elly walking towards us had been transformed to a happy elly and a potential elly/bird interaction. And I realized why being with Robin (and of course any really good guide) in the bush is so magical. It is all about the detail.

So there I had it. My story for It’s Monday. Lets look at some detail. I asked Emily who had spent a couple of days “off” in the bush photographing. Do you have any detailed shots – and yes – Ems is the detail queen.

fishing partypelicans

Firstly there was a “fishing party” at Lunga Lagoon near Tena Tena. We always use that expression but actually on thinking about it would an outsider have a clue what we were talking about. A party of fishermen? A flotilla of dugout canoes? Or a large number of birds trying to catch the concentrated fish in a drying lagoon? Yes – it’s the birds. The pelicans come through the Valley specifically to join these parties (July – Sep) and then disappear off again.

Giant Eagle owlLeopard Orchid

Praying Mantis Further up the road Emily checked the leopard orchid that houses a giant eagle owl pair each year. And yes – a small fluffy head was poking over the top. Look closely and you will see the chick’s head dropping straight down. Near Nsefu there was a cape turtle dove sitting on his precarious nest (does that really serve as a safe place for a couple of chicks??).

Cape Turtle Dove

chameleon At the camp bar a praying mantis looking like a space invader, was the centre of attention. Returning to Nkwali there were some lazy lions flopping about. The eyes of a lion – had you noticed the white strip below the eye. This reflects light up into the eye and helps them gather light at night. And back at the Nkwali ranch – that evening – a lovely chameleon, poised with all the time in the world, held the attention.

Lion face

The detail of the bush is fascinating and endless. However often you spend time watching, looking, searching there is always more.

As I write this our “happy” bull elephant is shaking the winterthorn tree outside the office. So close I can see all his details.

Happy Monday and Happy Week.


PS the while impala is still up at the Mupadamazi – this is going against all natural selection theories. Surely this impala would have been taken out by now – it is 2 years old ! Unless of course what we don’t know is that white impala are particularly intelligent and fast.

White Impala

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