It’s Monday 27th November 2006 and the Bwana Reporting


It’s Monday 27th November 2006 and the Bwana Reporting

Robin here – I decided  to take the opportunity of navigating a new route to the Palm grove site  on the Mushilashi River on Thursday, taking advantage of a few dry days and in preparation for next year’s safaris to this distant and isolated area.

clearing a routein the Miombo woodland

Our expedition consisted of two land cruisers, Zambian Wildlife Authority personnel and RPS  field staff. We departed Nkwali early for Kapiri Kwa Mfumu west of Nkwali . Once this hill was reached it required me to scout ahead of the landcruisers on foot using a compass and gps, surveying a suitable route along rather spectacular ridge lines and through “Miombo” woodland. Some of the tree species are putting out new leaf and the Prince of Wales feathers Brachystegia bohmii  were particularly beautiful with their emerging new leaflets. Chin spot batis, racquet tailed rollers, various cuckoos, white breasted cuckoo shrike and black breasted bustard were most interested in our safari into their domain.

mossi net suspended from tree We over-nighted on a high sand bank of the Mushilashi River a large ground sheet was laid out, three fires made and my trusty mossie net hung from a dead tree. Two holes were dug into the sand river, one created a fresh water point and the second hole was excavated for bathing. It had been extremely humid during the day and it was a pleasure to strip off and pour a bucket of cold water over my head. Two field staff was drafted to prepare the evening meal of Nsima with cabbage, tomatoes, corned beef and a large pot of tea was made. We were famished and the meal was very well received.

Nsima with cabbage, tomatoes, corned beef   kettle on fire

There was time for me to explore the river bed for game tracks. I was able to then lie under the stars reflecting on various other recce’s I had done during the last season in various parts of the valley. At nine o clock, large storm clouds began drifting in from the north and east with continuous flashes of lightning and huge rolls of thunder. Two tents were hurriedly erected before the first gusts of storm winds touched us. Feeling now satisfied with preparations we retired once more whereupon huge storms and high winds lashed our tents. The tents, much to our consternation, were of course dry season tents, which immediately began shipping water and leaking. A very uncomfortable night was spent lying in leaky tents. I was rather concerned that our location in the river bed, although on a raised sand bank, could be somewhat fraught in the event of the river flooding. I must say I did spend some time in the night waiting for the sound of rushing water.

Xerophyta Friday morning, beautiful and clear, large areas of spider lilies “Lapeirousa sp” and Siphonochilus kirkii had emerged during the night as well as Xerophyta. See photos.

spider lilly Lapeirousa sp   spider lilly Siphonochilus kirkii

We continued with our cross country recce reaching the Palm Grove by mid afternoon. As the scout and I walking into the river bed, a leopard bounded away towards the palm grove and various baboon sentries and monkeys began calling.

Lunch, with a similar menu to dinner, was consumed and we set off for the return trip to Nkwali. I did notice that some of the field staff had collected various pieces of bark and roots to take home and when asked what they were for this led to some laughter and ribald comments.

On returning to Nkwali I came across couple of interesting spiders – the smaller one looks like a golden orb spider and the second, larger specimen, we think is a wolf spider – if anyone has other ideas do let us know.

golden orb spider   wolf spider

Stay well and happy days

Robin.

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