It’s Monday 8th June 2009 and Robin was delighted

The Its Mondays stories are stacking up – just too much to say! With Keyela’s Shoebill story I had to wait in line and already we have the Photographic Workshop news from David Rogers ready for you!

Robin & Jo at Kalabo Airport

Remember my surprise visit to Liuwa Plain? Well I was like a little girl, high on anticipation and excitement all morning as we flew across Zambia. As I walked across towards Robin at the airport – I was fit to burst. The reaction was perfect. It was all hugs and kisses then more hugs and kisses. And then more. He was so surprised and so happy to see me. Wonderful.

sunset on the Liuwa Plainsunset on Liuwa Plain

Time with Robin – fantastic enough – on top of which a five day safari on the Liuwa Plain – what a treat. There are not many places in the world where you have a 360 degree view of uninterrupted horizon. You can see the curvature of the earth. The sunsets are quite spectacular – 180 degrees of colour as there is nothing to block the light. Of course it is good to have a subject so a strategically placed palm tree or a wildebeest obliged.

I arrived just after the two newly introduced male lions had escaped from their holding boma (pen). They had simply “bashed” their way through the fence. It was quite a hole. After a day of hanging around they ran off south. There was much angst about this and everyone was very worried that they were going to disappear. But 24 hours later they were back and making their way up to the camp area where Lady Liuwa lives. We did not see them as we felt it best to leave them alone but after a night of hearing the roaring close by Robin walked to the edge of camp only to be staring straight at a large male lion. Oops! Slow retreat and deep breath. We are hoping that Lady Liuwa will take the likely lads off elsewhere for mating, cub rearing and general hanging out. Quite frankly having a pride of lions living IN camp is not practical.

family of hyena cooling offred lechwe seen over the water lilies

So back to the safari. What do you see on the Liuwa? Obviously there are lots of wildebeest around. We saw zebra, red lechwe, oribi, steenbok. The dominant predator is the hyena – lots of them. We know of three dens within a 4 km radius of camp. Without lions they are unchallenged and clearly are breeding very successfully. They look fantastic as well. Less fighting (lions) and no bushes to be tearing at their hair. Then there are the birds. Many species and some in good numbers. But like anywhere in the bush – you trundle along and unexpected sights are revealed. Here are a few.

pelicans flying across the moonoribi in the flowers

There is a kitliz plover who unfortunately laid her eggs six inches from the road. And this road is one of three roads out of camp and between two water pans. It cannot really be avoided. So every time we passed she would quickly flick sand over her two eggs, scuttle off and then play the broken wing tactic. Of course the first time we passed, Robin gave us time to watch this procedure but after that, we would pass quickly so as not to keep her away from the eggs. Robin carefully blew the sand off the eggs for a short moment. Quite lovely. But she must have cursed herself for her choice of nest position. There were lots of very dinky kitliz chicks running around so her eggs will no doubt hatch soon!

kitliz plover performing the broken wing tactickitliz plover eggs

Nest number 2 – a lappet-faced vulture. This was in a low tree and so we decided to put some planks across the roof frame and take a look. As quietly as possible (yeah!) we took turns in looking into the nest where a HUGE chick lay low! It was a great moment. Luckily we did not disturb it and off we drove.

scaffolding on the vehicle roof to see the lappet faced vulture's nestlappet faced vulture chick hunkered down in the nest

wawattled crane nestwattled crane

Nest number 3 – another unusual nest – in the middle of the grasslands there is a pile of vegetation material. This is a wattled crane nest. How do we know? Alex the scout saw the crane on the nest earlier in the year when he was on patrol. Wattled cranes are plentiful here but in fact are an endangered species so a great treat so see them in such numbers. Note the line of wildebeest in the background.

Robin walking in the ancient suffritex forest

I was fascinated by the “suffritex” – ancient forest trees that never grow more than six inches high. African bonsai. It is not clear if they are a sub species or a race of the fully grown trees in the woodland pockets that surround the plain. Amazingly these mini versions have the same size fruit as the normal sized trees. Of course there is lots of controversy about the reason for this but it is thought to be either soil conditions with low nutrients, or they grow on sand which cannot support large trees or due to the annual fire on the plains which means they never have a change to grow high. Whatever the reason it is quite extraordinary to be walking through an anciet forest that is ankle high.

cheetahcheetah

There is so much more I want tell you – but I have run out of time/space. I will leave you with a couple of shots of the cheetah, mother with three sub adult cubs that the group before us saw.

Have a wonderful week.

Jo

three hundred wildebeest pass by

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