Mfolosi in March

Just a day trip. Late start, so it was already warm and quiet by the time we got there.

– Mfolosi March 2020 –

Bird list: Barbets, Crested and Acacia Pied; Bulbul, Dark-capped; Greenbul, Sombre; Eagles, Long-crested and Brown Snake-; Shrike, Red-backed and Fiscal; Bush-shrikes, Gorgeous and Orange-breasted; Starlings, Cape Glossy and Violet-backed; Swallows, Wire-tailed and Lesser Striped; Kite, Yellow-billed; Crow, Pied; Wagtail, Pied; Cisticola, Rattling; Lark, Rufous-naped; Petronia, Yellow-throated; Batis, Cape; Flycatcher, Spotted; Pytilia, Green-winged; Tchagra, Black-crowned; Vulture, White-backed; Lapwing, Blacksmith; Thick-knee, Water; Oxpecker, Red-billed; Heron, Black-headed; Mousebird, Red-faced; Waxbill, Blue; Kingfisher, Brown-hooded; Plover, Three-banded; – In four hours –

– Three-banded Plover –

Jess was the spotter as usual; She spotted the eles, buffalo, kudu, wildebeast, warthogs, impala, zebra, giraffe, rhino; and the dung beetles. The only animal she didn’t spot first was a crocodile in the Black Mfolosi river which I spotted while she and Jordi were making lunch!

And this was a better lunch! She remembered the mayonnaise. Forgot the tomatoes, though. I like tomato on my rolls. So – still room for improvement, Jess . .

A lovely feature this visit was four or five sounders of warthogs, with up to seven hotdog-sized hoglets trotting next to Ma, tails in the air. We say when their tails are up it means ‘they have signal.’

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– Stapelia gigantea –

Jessie took the pic of the Stapelia – one of the largest flowers in the plant kingdom. This one was probably over 300mm across. Smells like something died – hence, Giant Carrion Flower. Used in traditional medicine to treat hysteria and pain; in sorcery, to cause the death of one you dislike! Take that!

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Helpful people

My numberplate was hanging down on one side – yes, something clever I did – but it was secure on the other side; so just hanging vertically instead of horizontally like normal numberplates. An Ezimvelo ranger flagged us down: Your numberplate is falling off. Yes, thank you. It’s secure on one side. I’ll fix it when I get home. Nine times this happened before lunch! Four rangers and five citizens flagged me down and instead of saying ‘There are lions round the next bend’ each one of them said Your numberplate is falling off. And nine times I said Yes, thank you. It’s secure on one side. I’ll fix it when I get home.

Jeeesh! Uncharacteristically, I fixed it with cable ties at the lunch stop.

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Mfolosi Day Trip

– 2019 Aug day trip –
– dry plastic-y bread rolls and viennas!! –

This trip was notable for the worst lunch ever: Jess usually makes a great lunch. Fresh rolls, mayonnaise, freshly-sliced tomatoes. This time she had plasticy shop rolls, viennas – and chicken viennas at that – and tomato sauce. Ugh! She has undertaken to work with me in raising the standard.

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Mfolosi – A Quickie

Mfolosi again. Just one night with three twenty year old lasses, Jess, Tarryn & Jordie.

– Kill Site! –

On the way up north one of my pet theories got a bit of backing evidence! When birding by car, I say, ‘Stop anywhere: There will almost always be some birds around’. Busting for a leak I stopped under a bridge on the N2 North. While sighing with relief, I spotted what looked like a black plastic bag flapping in the breeze in a small tree about 30m back; but my binocs revealed it to be a long-crested eagle staring intently at the ground a mere metre below it; then it pounced and fossicked around in the grass; when it flew up it had a plump grey rat with a shortish tail in its beak – a vlei rat, I’d guess. What a lovely sighting at a chance stop.

– the tree that Jess hit! – or almost hit! –

In the reserve Jess took the wheel awhile on a quiet raod on the far side, near the western gate; she hadn’t driven for a while, so I was pleased when she asked to; she did real well until – Murphy’s Law! – an open-top Land Cruiser came around the corner right in front of her, full of tourists and driven by a handsome tour guide; Distracted, and having to suddenly remember clutch in, steer left and gently brake was a bit too much so she just drove into a little thorn tree, slammed on brakes and stalled. I pretended to be peering into the thorns, some of which were in my open window, through my binocs! Spot the Jessie skid marks!

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Sand Forest

Sand Forest is a rare, very distinctive forest type with a unique combination of plant and animal species. As far as is known, this vegetation type is more or less restricted to ancient coastal dunes in northern KwaZulu-Natal and the extreme southern portion of Mozambique (together: Maputaland). Sand forest harbours many rare and unusual plant and animal species.

Sand Forest Lodge Collage2-001

Sand Forest Lodge just east of Hluhluwe village on the road to Sordwana Bay is a lovely spot. We spent two nights there this week, the kids each taking a friend along.

More:
Sand forests are thought to be relics of coastal dune forests, which have been separated from the ocean for more than a million years as the shoreline has shifted slowly eastwards over the millennia. Dunes have accreted on the southeast African coastal plain since the Pliocene (around 5 million to 2.5 million years before present) and frequent sand mobilization events during climatic changes have resulted in some reworking of the dunes. The geological history of the region suggests that the current ecosystems here may be of recent derivation and many endemic plant taxa comply with the concept of neo-endemics (recent locally evolved species), and biological evolution (notably speciation) is still in an active phase.

Sand forest harbours many rare and unusual plant and animal species, including several Maputaland Centre endemics. Because of its restricted occurrence and unusual species complement, sand forest is perhaps the most unique plant community in the Maputaland Centre. Of the 225 Maputaland Centre plant endemic species, 30 are associated with it and 20 restricted to it. In the case of birds, Neergaard’s sunbird is strongly associated with it.

Sand Forest Lodge Lungelo Jordi (1)

Plant species that characterise sand forest (licuati forest) are Drypetes arguta, Uvaria lucida subsp. virens, Cola greenwayi, Balanites maughamii, Psydrax fragrantissima, Hyperacanthus microphyllus, Dialium schlechteri, Pteleopsis myrtifolia, Ptaeroxylon obliquum, Croton pseudopulchellus and Newtonia hildebrandtii. The protruding crowns of many of the larger species are usually covered by epiphytes, such as the wiry orchid Microcoelia exilis and various lichens including Usnea spp. (Thanks wikipedia)

Sand Forest Spider big
Jumping spider on my shoe

And boys will be boys:

Sand Forest Boys GIF

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