It’s Monday 11th November 2013 and the first mud

At long last the first storm of the wet season arrived at Nkwali and we received an inch in just over an hour – a lot of water created a lot of mud! However the earth dried so quickly there is little evidence that the showers even passed by.

As usual we were caught by surprise by the sudden downpour even though we had been watching the clouds gathering in eager anticipation of the storm. The strong winds blew the thatched ‘hat’ right off our bar while we were thoroughly amused by our local troop of baboons who fled into the tree canopy to find refuge. The hippos meanwhile grunted and snorted with (short lived) delight.

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Incredibly, cicadas hatched almost instantly, screeching their ear shattering mating songs with an intensity I have never heard before. Did you know a male cicada has a decibel rating of 100 decibels? Imagine the combined sound of thousands of these little critters! On the upside the birds are gorging themselves on this welcome feast and the Mopani trees are already bursting with new green buds.

The impalas are now dropping their spindly ‘gift packages’ all over the plain. This is always a nail biting time as we mentally will these little guys to get up quickly to avoid becoming a predator’s afternoon snack. We were sad to see that the large African python, who had taken up residence in a nearby tree hollow, promptly vacate his flooded home to seek refuge somewhere more comfortable.

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A lovely little Pearl Spotted Owlet was also forced to de-camp during the daytime in order to find a more suitable spot to dry off and re-adjust his soggy feathers.

However, as exciting as these new developments are, the rain has had virtually no impact on the water levels of the river and lagoons. The Luangwa River is still a mere trickle, barely wetting the wheels of the Land Rover, and the Lunga Lagoon still a tiny patch of gloopy mud. Our hippo population has been suffering and a few of our weaker specimens have succumbed to the conditions. On the upside, a seething mass of hungry crocs are fighting for the spoils in a fearsome feeding frenzy.

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A gruesome, yet fascinating drama affording fantastic photo opportunities for our guests. Up at Nsefu the dry weather continues to offer spectacular game viewing but I’m not going to divulge any information yet! You will have to watch the final installment of this 3 part BBC series Last Oasis: Countdown to the Rains this weekend at 20:00 on BBC TWO. The untiring film crew are doing a sterling job dealing with the heat and never give up. This is their final week here and we will be sad to see them go. We hope they get their equipment safely packed before the next soggy deluge – but we have plenty of gumboots to go around back at the camp.

Many sharp eyed viewers who saw the first episode have inquired about the zebra herds’ strange looking member and I can confirm that, yes, it is a single wildebeest. Whilst we have had the occasional (yet rare) wildebeest herd in the Nsefu area, this lonesome chap seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis. So far our mystery visitor has been spotted with his stripy friends as far south as the Tena River crossing. So no, your eyes were not deceiving you.

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That’s all for now. I look forward to catching up with you next week.

Cheers

emily1

 

 

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