It’s Monday 11th June 2012 and birding, building and a lot of imagination

So what is new for this week? To be honest with you there is very little that can beat last weeks epic tale of the great Cheetah hunt at Liuwa so I am going to step away from the fondly termed “eat yous’ and bite yous’ “ and I am going to turn your attention towards the Nsefu sector.

In fact temporarily changing the subject, this week I have been looking into the history of Nsefu Camp and I can honestly say that some of the letters are absolutely fascinating! One letter sent by Norman Carr, described Nsefu as “consisting of rondavels with doors and windows suitable for European accommodation.” This letter was written in 1949 before the camp first opened to tourists. Talk about a colonial time warp!!

Ok, now on to what I really wanted to talk to you about… One of the groups that remain the “unsung” heroes so to speak, are the birds. The Luangwa Valley has a phenomenal diversification and quantity of birds and they never fail to impress.

This year the numbers of quelea have been absolutely outstanding! A patch of ground that looks pretty normal can all of a sudden become alive with thousands of these little birds all moving together.

None however, is more impressive than the huge concentration of Yellow-billed Storks which descend on a cluster of trees in the Nsefu sector every year to build their nests, lay their eggs and teach the young to fly. It is an incredible sight and last week when Rob and I were up there, there was no way that we were not going to take a detour to see this spectacle.

The stork colonycrocodile

The trees have turned white from the droppings and rise up in the middle of the plane like ghosts. The noise is so concentrated as you can imagine thousands of storks are trying to figure out who everyone is, and where their mums are. The breeze playing havoc with the young and their still slightly downy feathers as they teeter on the edge of the nests getting ready to make their maiden flight!

Under the trees there are crocodiles and Marabou Storks waiting for an opportunity to snap up any fatalities, dodging the bombardment of excrement from above and looking rather unimpressed when they get hit. Up in the skies the raptors do the occasional fly by in case of any easy pickings whilst the other game tends to really rather keep its distance! It is amazing to think that in a month or so it will all be over and what will be left is just some strange looking white trees.

storksstorks

Moving on from this quite amazing sight. I had promised to keep you all posted and in the loop with the development of “New Tena Tena”. Now this is where your imagination must really come in. Ten days ago the first shovel went in the ground and a lot of digging has been done since. The ring main for the water pipes has been dug, the foundations for the rooms and bathrooms have all been dug as well as the retaining walls for the bar area. Breeze blocks are being made and amazingly we are producing 160 a day – remember this is all done by hand so is quite impressive.

Ring mainWorking hard

We will soon be laying the floors, constructing the eco-friendly bathrooms (which will be very similar to the original ones at the old Tena Tena) and also building walls for the tented chalets (admittedly not in that order though). The bar area is going to be the most different and this is where your imagination comes in. There is going to be no roof! We have found a stunning mahogany tree with low branches and thick foliage – what better roof than this! Neil Rocher has been to blame here with his wild and crazy ideas! We are keeping it as natural as possible working the bar in and around the trees and termite mounds.

At the moment all you can see is cement but this is all going to be covered in an earth coloured coating to blend in with the soil. There will be two private sitting areas in the cool shade and a natural sand floor. I am sure that to most of you this is all sounding slightly scary right now but I can assure you that it is going to be amazing and we cannot wait to get it all finished. Also very excitingly, all of the solar equipment has arrived as our new Tena is going to be completely solar – even the borehole, which will be a massive step for us and our aim to achieve a far more eco friendly product.

For this week though I am going to sign off. Next week, gosh who knows what will happen. I will however leave you with an incredible sighting that Braston had a couple of days ago. Having been watching a leopard just after sunset he moved on to an area with thick bush on one side and an open plain on the other. There were two male impala fighting! After switching off the engine and the spotlight, the guests watched this magnificent scene in the glow of the moonlight. Then one impala was pushed back into the bush and the leopard that the guests had been watching was hiding there and pounced killing and dragging the impala off into the trees. What better way to finish their evening game drive.

Ring main

So cheerio for now – have fun and stay happy

Emily

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