27th June - Sean |
It's difficult to sum up some of mother nature's events. Every now and then she opens her windows revealing a secret, something not witnessed by many.
We didn't have to drive very far yesterday morning to witness this very special wildlife spectacle. Only as far as the airstrip to be exact.
As we reached the base of the hill on which the camp is situated, we picked up silhouettes of wild dogs running across the strip. Our excitement mounting, we parked on the middle of the runway as dogs ran in every direction chasing impala with a pair of hungry hyaenas sitting on the side watching and licking their chops at the prospect of a free meal.
Most impala were well away while others had much closer encounters. In fact one individual jumped right over a dog which didn't quite know what to do and thus did nothing!
After a botched hunt they all - thirteen in total - continued down the airstrip. By now the sun was rising casting a pink and red glow to everything it touched.
While most the dogs headed straight north a couple of the older, wiser individuals found some high ground to survey the surroundings. Unknown to us there was a herd of buffalo numbering nearly one hundred just down the road. The wizened hunters made straight for the buffalo and the inexperienced youngsters soon followed.
It was at this point that pandemonium broke loose as the pack managed to catch the buffalo herd off guard and catch one of the calves. The mother of the calf made a heroic attempt of driving them off but the packs' tactics were immaculate and soon saw her and the whole herd of buffalo running off across the plains.
Soon after, the two hyaenas from earlier tried to sneak up on the wild dogs but were also promptly shown the door by the adults. The would be thieves resorted to lying in the riverbed and waiting for the dogs to finish their breakfast in the hopes that there would be something left for them.
After two hours of watching dogs chase, miss, catch, play and then sleep we decided it was time to leave them in peace.
26th June - Onesmo
What a day. As we were leaving the camp this morning we heard
Hyena gaggling in front of Banda 9, we did not really know what was cooking until we got down to the airstrip where we saw about 13 African hunting dogs coming out of the bush followed by hyena which obviously explained they were having a fight over something. I picked up my binoculars and noticed they had blood on their faces. They chased Impalas but no luck, we followed the pack for a few minutes before they killed a baby Buffalo out of a heard of about 70. I had never seen it before.
25th June - Sean
Five guests and I had agreed to make an adventure of today whereby we first headed down into forest where we began our birding day. Whilst in the forest we managed to pick up grey-headed parrots, trumpeter hornbills, collared palm thrush and many more. From the dense palm forests we made our way out onto the plains where we found a host of bird species including the uncommon Dickinson's kestrel. Birds aside we also chanced upon a lot of elephants and the occasional buffalo bull.
After nearly three hours of serious adventure we finally turned out at Lake Tagalala where we added African skimmer ( which I am over the moon about as they were my first ever ) along with a wide array of waders and not forgetting some fantastic photos of african fish eagles.
The rest of our journey saw us at Lake Manze for another break and then home. En route we came across twelve lions resting under the shade of a leadwood tree at the edge of one of our many great plains
24th June - Sacha
A Fantastic couple of days have gone by and we haven't had much time to write a letter for a while. We were at Bush Nights last night and had an amazing time there. We started out from camp after tea and stopped to watch an elephant in the river for a while and then we continued on our walk. We stopped to observe a tiny Praying Mantis that looked like a flower. We arrived at Bush Nights for sundowners and had a fantastic evening, where we observed the night sky looking at the constellations and the planets that are up at the moment and being serenaded by lions and Hyena. One hyena came running through the camp which was fantastic and we had a little genet visit us.
This morning was a really fantastic walk with the birth of a giraffe, we spent some time watching it trying to stand up before we continued and came across a kill and worked out that it was a hyena that killed a male waterbuck, poor chap. Then we left there and approached a warthog that had no idea that we were there. As we came into camp we found a huge herd of buffalo and had to skirt around them but got good pictures of them and they didn't know that we were there, we also spent some time watching elephants. What a walk.
On our way back to camp we saw some hippo, a really big crocodile and some bushbuck.
So all in all a really good walk.
22nd June - Tam
Yesterday, after everyone had returned from a fantastic day at Lake Tagalala and the Hot Springs, we headed out again towards the 'roller-coaster' area.
As we drove slowly past a small herd of Wildebeest nestled under the thorny bushes, we noticed a group of Vultures and a couple of Marabou Stalks perched on top of a loan dead tree off in the distance. So.. .we drove off to investigate!
We found one of the 'Manze' male Lion's huddled under a small bush and on taking a closer look we saw that he was very protectively guarding a rather unfortunate Wildebeest kill.
We watched him for a while and then carried on scanning the area in case of any other family members.
We found 2 lionesses and 2 small cubs. This pride usually consists of 3 females who each have their own set of cubs. Yesterday, only one female had her cubs but the second female, even though still lactating, did not. We are not sure where her cubs are.
As we were watching in awe of these beautiful and very proud mothers, the dark clouds which we had been watching in the distance had now moved closer and the gentle raindrops started to fall. the lions facial expressions changed and their ears flattened. One by one they got up and moved towards where the Male was resting. The cubs followed, pausing every now and again to either wrestle each other or their mothers hind leg. One of the cubs noticed a log lying flat to the side of them and decided that she would like to have a better view of the surrounding areas. So, she climbed up and walked, very warily and wobbly, along it until she came to the end and pounced off onto her sister's back.
When they got to where the male was, the females kept a very wide birth but the cubs settled down under the canopy of a young palm tree. They were so inquisitive and every few minutes they would swing around quickly towards us or stalk the vehicle from behind the bush.
Once the rain died down they shook themselves free of the water and walked cautiously past their father to where the females were resting. They found some dead palm frongs and decided to play tug of war with them.
By this stage the sun was starting to set behind them through the dark rain clouds and the air was fresh with the familiar scent of freshly fallen rain.
We moved away from the family of lions to enjoy our sundowners looking out towards Mount Johnson and took photos of the brilliant pink sky set behind the silhouette of the palm trees.
In the evening back at camp the show continued with our two resident buffalo males resting by the lounge area and once we were tightly wrapped up in our beds, the Leopard grunted down in the valley below.
This morning Joseph visited us again, but this time by the staff houses. He is trying to stay away from the Main area as seems to know we are now busy with guests and the opening of season.
So.. he is rather stopping in at our staff houses up on the hill to say a good morning and to help us welcome in the day! What a way to wake up... an elephant against your balcony!!!
Both Sean's went out to Bush Camp last night again. We are waiting for news of them.. I hope they didn't get too wet in the rain!
Sacha and Onesmo have taken Peter, Patsy and James out walking this morning and then they are also going to Bush Camp tonight.. so we are looking forward to hearing many more stories!
21st June - Tam
Last night as we drove up the hill after a very good evening we came across our dear friend "M".
"M" is a resident Bull Elephant that is visiting us in camp on a daily basis. He is a lot older and bigger than Joseph and not anywhere near as mischievous!
As we approached him on the hill, without even turning to look, he walked slowly off the road and stood only meters away to allow us to pass.
He is here again this morning but this time in front of the office munching away on all the young palm trees.
We have nicknamed him "M" to identify him from other Elephants. He has the letter M cut out on the edge of his ear so easy to identify.
After dinner, we settled down on the comfy sofas to enjoy our after dinner drinks of Port and Amarula. At the small waterhole in front of the lounge area we saw two large male buffalo's, 4 hyenas, a Civet Cat, a Genet and a glimpse of a beautiful Leopard as he slunk off in the tall grass.
Sacha went to bushcamp last night. This was the first bushcamp of the season in a lovely new area set in amongst the riverine forests under a giant Fig tree.
He radioed this morning to say they were woken by an incredible dawn bird chorus.
Everyone has gone off on an adventure to Lake Tagalala and the Hot Springs today.
20th June - Sacha
This morning we did a training walk with Onesmo. We pioneered our way through a new area where we came across some interesting birds and animals. For Onesmo he saw the Stirlings Wren Warbler which is a first for him so he was over the moon. We also saw a leopard which dashed from us across the River bed into the thick forest but enough to get a glimpse and to say it had spots.
We wondered across some beautiful open plains with Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest and Impalas spread out over them. Then we crossed some beautiful Riverine forests on our way to Lake Manze. What a wonderful morning!
Now, we are getting ready to leave for Bush Camp. we have set up Bush Camp this year in a new spot around a Huge Fig tree as the Centre piece.
Looking very forward to that.
19th June - Sacha
We went out on a walk this morning from camp towards the Beho Beho river where we ambled around and looked at some interesting insects and some of their wonderful defenses. When we got to the Beho Beho forest we had morning tea and then did a bit of birding after that as the bush is too thick to see much wildlife but we did find the rare Southern Black Snake Eagle so we were very happy to see him.
We also saw a Suni which is the smallest antelope we have here in the Selous and a Civet Cat.
Something amazing which I have never seen in my life was we came across a big adult female Chameleon and while we were watching her tongue shot out and she caught a grasshopper and we all saw this.This was unbelievable.
So it was a pretty good walk.
18th June - Sean
They’re still around! – Fraser Smith, who is in charge of the rhino project here in the Selous, was flying past in his supercub plane, looking for rhino or poachers etc and spotted the three rhino again! He said they were not too far away and heading back into our area. So, although we did not see them and they were not visible to us from the camp, they have not been scared off by three guides and two ladies up a tree! Or maybe they are curious to see us again... hopefully! Sacha and the two Sean’s are very keen to get tracking and try and find these three great beasts again. We would like to go as often as possible walking in this area trying to find them – any volunteers?
Onesmo, too, is very keen to find them and we’re hoping that by the end of the year he will have had enough experience and be leading his own trails.
12th June - Sacha
Our evening drive started off really well with 6 wild dogs resting in the middle of the road in the late afternoon sun. As we drove up to them they moved off into the bush so we decided to leave them in peace and continue on our drive. We then bumped into a lovely young bull elephant who was feeding on the Palm nuts that had fallen down. We watched and observed him for a while and decided to continue on our adventure. As we bounced along we eventually came across a lovely male Lion. One of the Manze males who is miles from his territory. We decided to enjoy our sundowners with him and while we were sipping on our G&T's and chatting about the life of Lions we were rewarded by observing one of the females coming out of the tall grass with three of her cubs. I am not too sure what has happened to the other two females with their cubs from last season as we saw them earlier on in the afternoon but with no cubs so hope all is well in their world and will try and find them soon.