It’s September 2000 and …


It’s September 2000 and …

It’s Monday 4th and Down the Hatch!

I will begin with the most unusual sighting of the week…….

Ground Hornbills will usually eat anything from frogs and eggs to small ground dwelling chicks however a couple of days ago Robin had an extraordinary sighting where one took a slender mongoose. The large turkey like bird carried the mongoose around in it’s bill for some time before tipping his head back and gulping it down head first! It took approximately 30 minutes before it completely disappeared down the throat after which the Ground Hornbill appeared to be glued to the spot and couldn’t move for a while.

Jason and Robin have found a Spotted Hyena den not far from Tena Tena a a female with 2 young pups have been sighted on 3 occasions now. It is thought they are approximately 3 months old – covered in black fur with a few spots developing on their legs and small beady eyes. Hyenas are such inquisitive creatures and especially so when young. The pups are very curious of the vehicles and come close to sniff the tyres etc….It will be fascinating to follow their progress – we will definitely keep you in touch with their antics.

European Bee-eaters have been seen in the Nsefu Sector of the park this week – this is quite an early sighting of the migrants who usually appear towards the end of the month of September.

Yesterday, Nsefu had a herd of 2000 buffalo drinking at the river’s edge in front of camp – the herd covered the entire stretch of beach, kicking up clouds of sand as they went. Only a few hours later was one savaged by the famous Nsefu lions and currently there are a pride of nine lioness and cubs tearing their way through the carcass only a few minutes drive from camp.

On my way back from Nsefu last week I met Jason Alfonsi driving towards me at quite a pace – he stopped to tell me that he was en route to see a pack of Wild Dog at Kaliwani Pan so I jumped in the vehicle to join them. The 9 Dogs were lying in the shade of a large Winterthorn Tree – full bellied and very relaxed. We watched them for over an hour while they groomed, slept, drank and chased baboons. I have only ever seen Wild Dog ‘on the trot’ before so it was wonderful to be able to study them for some time.

It’s Monday 11th and Carmines at Nkwali

For the first time in seven years we have Carmine Bee-eaters nesting in the river bank opposite Nkwali Camp. There is quite a colony appearing as the birds start building their nests into the sandy banks. They are extremely active at dawn and dusk when they congregate flying in front of their colony; feeding, calling and socialising. Their colours are magnificent and look fantastic in the early morning light from the bar area and even better from the sand bank only metres away from their nests – wonderful photography opportunities.

Zero Zero, Tena Tena’s most frequently seen leopard, is pregnant. The guides have estimated that she is due to give birth in about three weeks time after a gestation period of approx 100 days.

The hyena den near Tena Tena continues to be active – Robin took some troops to see the pups one morning last week. As he was explaining the breeding patterns of hyenas, out popped a porcupine from the den mouth! The same night they returned to the den and found the pups with their mother as usual – most peculiar.

It’s Monday 18th and Multitudes of Moths!

We have had a wonderful moonlit week in the valley. There is something very special about “full moon” in the bush – the stars seem to disappear and the whole sky is lit up. As you know we use this time for “bush suppers” which has to be one of my favourite ways to spend an evening. Last Thursday, Noodles and her team of Nsefu chefs and waiters set up a Mongolian Bar-B-Que out at the stork colony. The rest of us drove out there on a night drive as the moon rose in the sky – an intense ruby red colour which was quite magnificent. As always, we ate like kings and enjoyed a great evening. In Zambian dialect, R’s are interchangeable with L’s, this caused a little bit of confusion and many laughs as one of the waiters offered us “chocolate loo roll” as pudding! It was chocolate roulade!

We had a rather exciting lunch today at Nkwali. It was delayed for an hour as we watched a lovely herd of ellies drinking, eating, mudding and dusting in the lagoon beside our lunch table. As they moved off the bush buck moved in – at one point there were six of them no further than 20 metres away from us.

At the moment there are large numbers of moths around Nkwali which have all newly emerged – this is tied in with the Sausage Trees which have just dropped their leaves and lasts for only three days every year. For the Carmine Bee-eaters this is like Christmas and they are in camp most of the day eating up the moths from the trees. The tops of the trees around the bar area are completely covered.

It’s Monday 25th and Wartlets!

It is that wonderful time of year when the baby warthogs start appearing from their burrows. Usually between four and six in a litter, they trot behind the female, tails upright. They seem to be born as perfect replicas of the parents only very small in size – they are born complete with warts and hair! Unfortunately these little guys do not last very long and only a couple from each litter will survive the hungry jaws and claws.

The last mobile walking safari of the season has just returned. Lead by Simon and as always organised to perfection by Callie, the group of walkers had wonderful game-viewing a lot of fun. The lions in the Mupamadzi area have been phenomenal this year. On this trip they came across a pride of nine which included males, cubs and lioness. They were snoozing under a shady tree and were unaware of the presence of the walkers for some time before the wind changed, they caught human scent and quickly moved off in the opposite direction. Big adrenaline all round! One night Simon, Callie and their troops counted five owls in camp – Scops, Barred, Pel’s Fishing, Giant Eagle and Pearl Spotted!

There has been a herd of approximately forty eland in the Nsefu sector over the past couple of weeks. Jason from Tena Tena found them on a walk one morning. He was down wind of the herd and managed to get fairly close and watch them for some time. Quite an experience!

The Hyena pups are growing fast and have more and more spots appearing as they approach adolescence. By all accounts they are still very playful and totally unaffected by vehicles and people.

I am going to the Lower Zambezi tomorrow for a few days to visit Sausage Tree and Chiawa Camp and hopefully catch a few Tiger fish while I am there! This will be my first visit to the Lower Zam so am really really looking forward to it!

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