It’s Monday 22nd August 2005 and Shanie’s Turn

Having not put finger to keyboard for sometime, I found myself with the pleasure of writing It’s Monday this week.

With the arrival of regular guests, Paul Deniger and Frank and Barbara Jones came the request that I join them for our annual drive together (some of you may remember previous years when I have joined them and been treated to some spectacular gameviewing). So it was that I traveled up to Nsefu last week to join them and Simon for a couple of drives – and I was not to be disappointed.

The highlights of our forays into the bushes were a lovely sighting of Katava (the one eyed leopard) as she casually strolled out of Nsefu second ebony grove and walked down the road in front of us, seemingly unaware of the alarm she was causing to the resident monkey and baboon troops! We also had a wonderful view of a very relaxed civet, which just sat in the grass and watched us. Great to look at a civet’s face for once, rather than its fast disappearing behind!

Following an excellent mongolian BBQ that evening, we all went to bed only to be woken during the night to the excited whoops of hyena and calls of lions. I knew that they sounded fairly close but it was only in the morning when we saw footprints in front of the Nsefu bar, did we realize how close! a large male lion emerged out of the bush We set out for our morning drive and followed the fresh lion track. To begin with they had conveniently used the road but after a while had veered off into the bush. So we stopped the car and sat and listened to see if the bush would indicate to us what might be going on. After a few moments we heard the low call of a lion off toward Mutanda Plain and Chris’ Tree, so set off in that direction. As we got closer to that area, we became aware of the presence of a huge herd of buffalo – gently mooing and snorting sounds, and a cloud of dust hanging above them in the morning air.

Lion moving towards buffalo – an exciting combination…. Shortly after this a large male lion emerged out of the bush in front of us and crossed the road, heading straight towards the buffalo herd. He looked magnificent as he broke into a trot – his mane swinging and yellow eyes glinting in the sunlight. We continued to follow him speculating about his intentions – “Was he by himself? Had he sent the females of the pride round to the other side of buffalo herd? Were we about to see a spectacular kill?” Excitement rose in the vehicle, cameras were poised as we bumped through the bush behind him….. The result – around the far side of some capparis bushes were his ladies waiting for him, but not in hunting mode – definitely in sleeping mode. With the presence of the females, the male lion seemed to forget all about the herd of buffalo and food, and was definitely more focused on matters of the heart!

lioness (the one with the end of her tail missing) We continued on our drive and the theme of lions continued. We were lucky enough to spot an impala acting in a very disturbed manner. Upon further investigation we came across a lioness (the one with the end of her tail missing) and a tiny little cub. Simon thinks that it can only be 2-3 weeks old and this was probably the first time it had seen a vehicle or humans. At first it seem a little overwhelmed by the large noisy object but then came out from behind its mother, crawling from clump of grass to clump of grass to get a closer look. Then nerves over came it and it quickly ran back to the safety of its mother. Hopefully in a few weeks she will introduce it to the pride and we can keep you up to date with its progress.

fishing partypelican

With the hotter months fast approaching, water levels continue to drop and with that sightings such as fishing parties become more frequent. There was an amazing one at Lunga Lagoon, near Tena Tena, last week with a variety of different birds including yellow billed storks and pelicans. Simon took these great pictures of the different species feeding together, and a pelican coming in to land. Whilst photographing these sights, he saw the unusual activity of a yellow billed kite fishing – a first for him.

yellow billed kite fishingKitlitz Plover

Other interesting photos from Simon this week include the rare sighting of a Kitlitz Plover, elephants dust bathing and a Black Winged Stilt in the sunset.

elephants dust bathingBlack Winged Stilt in the sunset

Cheerio
Shanie

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