Africa, Aitch, Birds & Birding, Travel, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Hwow! Hwange is Hwonderful!

One of Aitch’s list of ‘things to do’ once we knew she had cancer, was to visit her twin sis in Botswana. Janet quickly mustered her network and arranged a trip to Hwange, Zimababwe’s world-class national park. Her friends Beks and Sarah Ndlovu of African Bush Camps own a concession and run a very special camp at Somalisa in the eastern area, Linkwasha I think they call it.

Beks calls it his Hemingway-style camp. We called it bliss. Unpretentious tents from the outside, luxury inside.

Hwange, Somalisa Camp

The weather was amazing! Bright sunshine, then huge gathering clouds, then pouring rain and back to sunshine in a few hours. Enough rain to bring out the bullfrogs – the first time I have seen them, not for lack of looking. They were out for their annual month of ribaldry: Bawdy songs, lewd & lascivious pixicephallic behaviour. Also gluttony. Then back underground for 11 months of regrets.

HwangeSomalisa2010 (70) Hwange Cloudburst &  Nightdrive (20) Hwange Cloudburst &  Nightdrive (36)

The rain was spectacular!

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After the rain, sunshine and new spoor on the bush telegraph page-wiped-clean: Aha! The lions have cubs!

There are cubs about . . HwangeSomalisa2010 (40)

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After a good soaking the animals would have to drip-dry. We could get under cover and have hot showers, hot drinks and warm dry clothing.

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Hwange, Somalisa Camp

Hwange has become my favourite of all Africa’s big parks. It is simply fantastic.

Hwange Somalisa Camp

Those sand roads are very special, as were the breakfasts out on the pan.

—-oo0oo—-

Prologue:

I had dashed off an email to Aitch in Feb 2009:

Hi Aitch – As ‘they’ so crudely put it, we need to ‘sh*t or get off the pot’ as far as a decision to get to Okavango (and Beks Ndlovu’s camps) this year. Either soonish (March), or September / October (very hot). We must decide yes or no, and if yes, who could we leave the kids with? Dilemma – K

—-oo0oo—-
So glad we didn’t get off the pot! The kids were fine; We got there in Jan 2010 for Aitch’s last – great, unforgettable – Botswana trip. We’d been once before in 1997.

Aitch, Birds & Birding, Travel Africa

Luxury Birding

Bird Collages

Finally got round to making a collage of some of the birds we saw up in Zululand a few years back. Aitch and I went for a breakaway luxury weekend. It was dry – very dry – and the lodge had a water feature running right under the sundeck. Every bird from miles around (as well as all the animals) had to come here to drink.

It was perfect! Aitch was not so strong, so we chose to skip the game drives and ensconced ourselves comfortably on the deck, binocs, camera and telescopes handy. Tea or beer or coffee or gin would arrive at regular intervals. Mealtimes we walked ten metres back into the dining room!

Thanda Zulu (birds) (2059)

Thanda Zulu (birds) (1346)

Map Thanda-001

Birds & Birding, Travel Africa

Early Morning Aerial Dogfight

Today’s the third morning I’ve watched an urgent, furious ruckus in my front garden. A bird screaming its head off while furiously chasing another like a fighter jet in hot pursuit. So fast that I couldn’t get a good view as the target dashed in and out of the copse of trees and shrubs. I was facing into the sunrise which meant even when I got a half-decent glimpse it was of a silhouette with his beak open, screaming like a banshee. Interesting! Made me late for work!

I figured it was a black-collared barbet, and if so that would be a hole-nest parasite he’d be chasing – which would be a honeyguide. But I needed to see. Yesterday I got a good view of the pursuer: Red face and throat, stout beak. That was him alright.

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Today I got a glimpse of the suspect: White outer tail feathers. Most likely a Lesser or Scaly-throated Honeyguide. I’ll try to make sure, but I don’t think he’ll be sitting still in plain view anytime soon. I wonder if it’s the male, and while the barbet is doing his over-zealous patrol, his lady friend is plopping her egg in the hole nest?!

I’m on their side – I hope they lay their egg in the barbet’s nest so a luta (the struggle) can continua!

Scaly-throated_Honeyguide_3  Lesser Honeyguide_001

scaly-throat and lesser (all internet pics)

Africa, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Food

Minding Father

Tom is at Lungelo’s but he has to be at Kip McGrath extra maths at 8am so I call him and remind him to be at the gate at 7.15 sharp. Lungelo stays in the Westville Prison grounds.

He’s not that wide awake when I get there and protests at having to wake early AND do work IN THE HOLIDAYS! Do I understand the concept of “HOLIDAY”?
We’ll stop at Spar and get you something to drink and eat and you’ll be OK once we get there, my boy.
Well, I’m going to sleep straight afterwards and can I have a Monster energy drink please?
OK, fine.

Outside Kip he eats his smoked beef slices and sips his Monster. I watch a black-headed oriole and a golden-rumped tinker in the trees around us.
When its time to go in he says Please don’t let anyone finish my Monster. Put it in the fridge for me. (He’s going to walk home).
Take it with you and sip on it while working, I suggest.

No, he says, They’ll think you’re a bad Dad.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Birds & Birding, Life, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Bliss

I heard a cry on high as I parked on the roof at work. Glancing up I saw two crows cartwheeling, freewheeling, locking claws and spiralling like a propellor high above me. What a magnificent display of flying excellence!

Buzzing around above and below them was a drongo, divebombing and harrassing them, cheeky little blighter. They ignored him and carried on exuberantly showing off. Wow!

Isn’t that amazing!? I said to my 74yr old carguard as she shuffled up asking “And now?“.

I pointed out the birds.

“Yes”, she says off-handedly, “Those two parents are teaching the young one to fly”.

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The evening sky from my rooftop parking spot

Life, Travel Africa

Day Off

I made a fat sarmie like they make you on a Wilderness Walk in Mfolosi: White bread, tomato and onion, all thick-sliced and buttered, lots of salt and black pepper. Took the binocs to the stoep and munched, washing it down with tea (ignoring the notion that Greeenpeace has just tested a bunch of teas and found many have traces of pesticides).
There was movement at the birdbath (there always is). Great! A female Black Cuckooshrike! She’s beautiful!

Black_Cuckoo-Shrike_female internet pic

Also a Redcapped Robin-Chat, a Dusky Flycatcher, two sunbirds, hadedas, toppies & white-eyes as always – and these Purple-crested Touracos.

DSCN0640 my pic

Made me completely forget I was dodging my day-off chores.

Life, Sport

Two Birdies on One Hole

So I’m playing in an optom tournament at Umhlali in the 80’s. Golf.

Short hole. I drive the green.

Walking off the tee I spy a flash of yellow in the reeds (did I mention it was a water hole?). Something about it is a bit different, so I out with my binocs: It’s a brown-throated weaver – a first for me (or a “lifer”).

* Weaver_Southern_Brown-throated

I calmly sink the putt.

This second birdie helps me almost break 100 for the round.