August News & sightings

August.  The month that bridges winter and summer.  We often say that at some point in August it is like a switch has been thrown and suddenly temperatures rise.  Well this indeed was the case this year, but even at the end of the month and moving into September we still have cold crisp mornings and hot water bottles at night.  But we are nudging 30 degrees C in the afternoons now.  Thanks to the really heavy rains in early this year there is still a lot of water in the bush.  Although the Kafue is dropping fast and is at fairly normal levels for this time of year it is clear that seasonal pools and streams are still holding water when most years by now they would be dry.  In short this is good news for inhabitants of the park!  When we describe August as a bridge month this seems also to apply to birdlife, particularly on the river.  In the course of August we suddenly started seeing black-winged stilts, spoonbills, grey-headed gulls to name but a few.  The parrot hide got some use too.  Anyway enough chattering on.  As usual we try to tell the story of the month through images:

Airfield leopard spotted while the guides were waiting for a big fly-in group.  

Driving back to the lodge the same group were treated to lions.  Nothing unusual in that, but I loved the fact that JohnD got the shot with Kaley’s vehicle in the background – despite the fact that it was almost dark! 

The bee-eater hide with an added perching pole for clearer bee-eater shots.  Sadly the next day there was a bee-eater disaster.  An elephant slid down the banking, right through the colony and took out half the nests.  Poor Israel was devastated and he told Julia “I don’t know how to tell Gil”.  Anway the survivors are doing fine and a new colony has been established on the opposite bank downstream. 

Bathing bateleur!  Out on the boat with visiting family we were treated to a couple of sights of birds in relatively unusual positions.  Firstly the Bateleur and then: 

This rather geometric cormorant! We then headed down to the Lake Itezhi Tezhi with the family for a few nights.  We had a great time with fellow lodge owner Andrea from Konkamoya and we were treated to great hospitality and great sights and views.  As we share a lot of guests to and from Andrea we told ourselves that this was getting to know our products…  but that is just dressing up what was just a really relaxing stay in another part of the Kafue! 

Oribi on a fantastic drive along the Nkala river.  We also really enjoyed all the sights and wildlife along the lakeshore.  

The little rocket ship that is the malachite kingfisher in action.

Lake shore buffalo. There are huge herds down there. We only caught up with smaller bachelor herds, but still great to see them.

Distant bushfire by the lake.  On the way down we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of proper early burning and how systematic it seems to have been done – proper patches and not just random swathes of hundreds of kilometers.  Hopefully all the work done by TNC on fire management is paying off.  

Nightime porcupine.  Konkamoya is quite famous for night drives.  Sadly we didn’t see the famous Aardvarks, but this spotlit porcupine was a good second prize! 

We leave our little excursion to the lake with a beautiful sundowner spot and head back up to Kaingu!  We took the river road back to the lodge through the GMA and it is always an interesting drive.  It is the area where all our staff live and we get a small glimpse into what is still very traditional, rural Zambian life.  

Ila cattle herding. Cattle are hugely important for the Ila people. It is said that before the creation of lake Itezhi Tezhi, and the gradual loss of the kafue flats that the Ila were the richest pastoralists in Africa.

Back at Kaingu and on the pools loop we caught this great sighting of a slender mongoose. Which we normally see shooting away. This one showed real curiosity and kept peeking over the termite mound at us.

As the temperatures hot up and the river levels drop we get treated to more elephant activity. Island hoping Kaingu style. Always great to see. This bull was quite skittish and had been kicking up dust when he saw the boat.

The parrot hide has been in action too. Again with the rainfall amounts that we have had, the pool is holding water a lot longer than normally. Hopefully this means that the parrot activity continues as well.

Black-winged stilts. A fairly uncommon visitor here and it was fantastic to see them with young ones as well. At the same time Israel caught a sighting of spoonbills, but sadly no photographs.

All this talk of hides…. I never thought I would use an extreme wide angle fisheye lens in a bird hide. But I did. This is the bee-eater hide, situated on a narrow island opposite the colony.

Self explanatory really. We are always talking about walking out to the rapids so we thought we would try and give you a taste…

Then for a different view from the rapids. We had two young Icelandic guests who were absolutely charming. In fact they were so charming that they persuaded me to place the small rubber boat at the rapids dinner site so that after dinner we could get across to the bottom of the rapids in the pitch dark to capture some star photographs…

So we wrap up the month with some mystery infrastructure ‘items’.  Made by the talented Elephayo in the traditional form of woven tonga grain storage baskets.  More ton that to come in Septembers news.

 

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