It’s Monday 7th February 2011 and a look at the “small” magic of the Luangwa

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This week I thought that we should take a break from the big beasties that appear all too often in its Monday and take a look at the small wonders that mother nature provides us with at this time of the year.

Yellow Nut SedgeLove Grass

As everyone is most probably aware mother nature is a marvellous thing… each year the small delicate flowers and grass seem to go into a sort of hibernation and in October when the landscape is rock solid and parched you can not even begin to imagine how it will transform itself. The first rain hits the ground and is sucked up and within a few minutes looks like it was never even there. Then all of a sudden as if by magic these marvellous green shoots start to appear. More rain, more magic but also more mud!! How on earth does everything survive the harsh African summer?

PovataWild Ginger Flower

With the rain comes the big green and scattered in-between the green are the flowers coming out in whites, purples, reds and all sorts of other colours. The fabulous fire lilies pop up almost as if by magic over night and these red balls of fire are scattered around and bloom for only a few days before disappearing again – all that effort for so little time, but it is worth it because they really are beautiful. The baobabs are also flowering at this time of the year but the flowers only come out at night so are there for only a few special spectators to witness. Beautifully delicate wild ginger flowers decorate the ground and you wonder how they don’t get damaged by the rain drops.

Emperor mothGreen banded swallowtail

The bugs also make an appearance at this time of year – something that most people really worry about before coming out. In my opinion highly underrated, as really they are beautiful. Chongololo’s (millipedes) in all sorts of different shapes and sizes criss cross the pathways, the beetles – who could have ever thought that there would be such a variety… and that is just the dung beetles ferociously rolling their dung balls ready for laying their eggs into. If you take a moment to watch your step and look down on the ground it is amazing the variety that is there to be looked at and enjoyed. The butterflies also come out in force in the most beautiful colours, sizes and varieties and Apollo moths the size of my hand cannot fail to amaze I remember the first time I saw an Emperor moth clinging to the mosquito gauze on my front door I couldn’t believe that it could be real – when I woke up again in the morning and double checked and it really was.

Foam nest Tree FrogBaobab Flower

The frogs are having a great time and are huge fans of the “rains” – plenty of water for them to chill out in and also for them to lay their eggs. Nothing more impressive in my mind though than the foam nest frogs that make elaborate foam nests up in trees above puddles, I can not help but ask myself what would happen if the puddle were to dry up. More to the point what a rude introduction to the world for those tadpoles when they hatch dropping to the ground like that with a big splash!!

Giant Land SnailGiant Land Snail

Giant land snails – they are the other ones that I question, where do they go?? This time of the year they all of a sudden appear as if from no where and slowly wonder around the bush looking for a mate before disappearing off again. They really are huge and that is saying something coming from someone who is half French!!!


Mushrooms take a hold of the trees, sprout from the elephant dung and pop up between the grass. Crickets seem to jump out from every nook and cranny and driving around there are always a few that decide to grab a lift on the windscreen of the car!

Lions EarsCrickets

There really is a plethora of wonders happening around us all the time I do hope that for the bug phobes out there this hasn’t put you off and in fact may have persuaded you that really they aren’t all that bad and in fact pretty amazing.

Poison Ink TopsPoison Ink Tops

On that buggy note I shall bid my fond farewells for yet another fortnight and will look forward to chatting to you all again then.


Fireball Lilly

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