It’s Monday 20th July 2009 and marula jam

Before I hand you over to Mark and Jenna at Pumulani, I want to say thank you to everyone who is sending donations for the proposed Katapilla Community School. We have had just under $10,000 in the first 4 days which is fabulous. Another $70,000 to go however, so please do help if you can.

Mark sat the Luangwa safari guides exam in May and passed with flying colours. He will be with us soon as he will be leading a few mobiles. But meanwhile, he sent some news from Malawi.

Mark in the hills behind PumulaniWalking down the hill behind Pumulani

Warm hazy days and cool nights is typical dry season weather on Lake Malawi and the more temperate climate means the edge is off the heat and the humidity drops to more comfortable levels. It’s a dramatic time of year made all the more interesting by misguided individuals who seem to go by the motto of ‘if it can burn – burn it!’ Sadly this applies to most of Africa.

Much of Malawi is ablaze as farmers and villagers burn any grass that is dry enough. The smoke adds to the atmospheric haze and a veil develops over the landscape that filters the suns rays. The light is softened and colours are washed-out.

bush burningcinnamon breasted bunting’s nest

These pyromaniacs have good intentions; the burnt areas produce a beautiful flush of green grass after the first rains and grazing livestock can easily access it. Burning tall dry grass also allows easier access into the woodlands for firewood collectors. Unfortunately the repeated burning slowly destroys woodlands as small trees are killed and scorched bare ground becomes susceptible to erosion and soil loss. The combination of the annual burning with the removal of trees for firewood and charcoal making and clearing for small scale agriculture takes a devastating toll on Africa’s woodlands.

The recent cooler spell has meant that mountain biking and walking have become more popular at Pumulani over the last few weeks. A recent walk uncovered this with three eggs which must be the last nest of the seasonal breeders.

african fish eaglefish eagle's nest

Tragedy has struck the nesting pair of Pel’s fishing owl and the chick is missing, along with its parents. Baboons are the suspected culprits and a troop was seen in the nest tree a few days before the birds departed. They quite possibly ate the chick and the parents have moved off, hopefully to find a new nest site. Another probable culprit is fish eagles – they are known to harass the owls by day and are also likely to make a meal of the exposed chick once the mother has left. It’s a great pity for the owls, although the nest was quite exposed so the chick was always going to be vulnerable to predation.

A pair of african fish eagles have been more successful in breeding and the closest pair to Pumulani have hatched a chick. The nest is situated in a tall tree on the waters edge and from a viewpoint on our walking trail we get a birds-eye-view into it and can observe the female and chick from above.

klipspringer preorbital gland secretionsklipspringer midden

Klipspringers are small agile antelopes that inhabit the rocky slopes around Pumulani. You need to become a bit like one to spot them, it’s a direct correlation: the more rock climbing you do, the more klipspringer you see! A walk to the top of the Pumulani hills will get you into excellent klipspringer habitat. Territorial pairs use dung middens and to mark their territories. The black, shiny substance on the end of the twig in this photograph is the secretion from this gland. The midden (klipspringer toilet) was discovered fairly close to villa 10 where a klipspringer pair is occasionally seen.

Pumulani marula jamfresh fish from the lake

Good food is a big part of our guest experience at Pumulani. With the recent addition of Kate Wright, “Chef Extraordinaire”, to the team there is more focus than ever on producing meals to make your mouth water. Kate’s food is fresh, light and flavourful – “simple yet full of flavour” to quote the chef herself. Focus is on using fresh ingredients including locally grown herbs, lettuces, lemons, tomatoes and daily fresh fish from the lake. The recent crop of marula fruits were collected by the chefs and turned into a delicious marula jam that goes down very well on your morning toast!

hazy light from the smoke in the air

That’s all the news from the Lake, until next time…………..

returning from a sunet sail on the dhow

This entry was posted in 2009, It's Monday. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.