October 2019 – Pictorial Monthly Update

“Kakumba Kanini”  Translated as “the time when the clouds start to form and sometimes even some rain”.  The Tonga words for what in English is known as October.  Very apt!    As you can see from the below image we have had a few showers – nothing major, just enough to whet our appetites.  

Scattered sunset showers to the North of the lodge.

While the heat build up is unrelenting and the grounds are parched the Kakumbi Kanini does at least bring some interest to the sky after months of clear skies and nothing but haze. 

Looking South South West.

The one thing that we don’t have in the Kafue – despite the incredibly dry conditions – is the really terrible conditions that other parks face.  In Mana Pools people are actually bringing fodder into the park to try to sustain the animals, and conditions in Hwangwe are apparently terrible with dozens of elephants literally dying from lack of food and water.  At times like this our low animal densities and large sources of water are a blessing.  

As you can see from the below image, while the Kafue levels are low they are not THAT low.  There is still plenty water going over the rapids and the life blood of the park is in no danger of running dry. 

Still a good amount of water flowing over the rapids just below the lodge.

Of course all this means that sightings are (as they always are) good in October.  Not much to add here really. Just let the pictures do the talking…. 

Wild dogs as captured by the new member of our guiding team James – who joins us from the Lower Zambezi.

The location of this leopard on top of a termite mound meant that guests got a great perspective looking up – so often on game drives we are only looking down on animals.

I couldn’t resist grabbing a quick shot of Junior doing some animal bread making with children.  We do offer children’s activities and child minding FOC to allow adult time!  Interestingly this picture caused some hilarity in the office when one of our facebook followers got things a bit confused and thought that ‘hippo bread’ was bread that we make to feed hippos!  Classic. 

Junior helping a child make ‘hippo bread’. Which (I must stress) gets eaten by humans not hippos.

October also means that river based birding also ramps up.  A lot of migrants (both intra African and palearctic are now on and around the river.  October also brings the white-fronted bee-eaters to the fore as they are nesting now and constantly hawking above the river to feed the young ones in the burrows.  Which of course allows for some great action photography.  

white-fronted bee-eater coming in. They are capable of such fast aerobatics that they are fascinating to watch.

But sometimes far slower and less spectacular birds are also well worth capturing.  Here the sunset caught a rather peaceful and serene great white egret as we boated back to the lodge. 

Sunset gradient and a great white egret.

And now for some mean and moody hippos.  We had a repeat guest with us who stayed with us for over 3 weeks!  She became very much part of Kaingu and on many occasions we just jumped on a boat with her and did things that guests on a more time limiting trip don’t do.  Sitting watching hippos for a couple of hours is not usually done as people want to move on and see as much as possible, but in this case we did.  

just hanging around. The hippos and us.

More mean and moody hippos!

On the same laid back boat cruise (taking things very slowly and spending time) we also spent 30mins watching this pied kingfisher attempt to eat this rather large (for the kingfisher anyway) fish.  Eventually we moved on as it looked like the process was never going to end! 

Eyes bigger than her stomach (and beak!)?

The rock pratincoles also really start to arrive in numbers in October.  As their name suggests they nest on river rocks – making Kaingu a perfect place for them! While on land they look quite ungainly and fat, in the air they are incredibly graceful and agile.  Its quite a sight to see literally hundreds of them whirling and diving for insects over the river.  

rock pratincoles. Not as fat as they look!

While some birds characters differ completely in air and on land, the wattled plover is one that doesn’t.  They are strident and loud and angry on land and in the air!  

wattled plover’s default mood = angry!

Oh, and in a rare (for here) sighting Julia got a quick picture of a lesser Jacana and then accidentally deleted it from her memory card!  We only see them every couple of years.  So instead we have to make do with this African jacana which we see on every boat trip.  The symmetry of the ripples stood out though. 

African jacana that should have been a lesser one!

Moving on from birds to yet another sunset…   25 years in Africa and sunset pictures still get me excited! 

Wild sunset on the river.  

Now if you regularly read our newsletter or follow any of our social channels then you will know that star photography is a bit of a thing here.   The correct term is really “astro-landscape”, as all the images contain parts of the earth as opposed to purely shots of deep space by itself.   If you are like me and are a bit of a geek about this then you will know that the season for pictures incorporating the most dramatic elements of the milky way include what is known as the galactic core – i.e. the center of the spiral galaxy that we are in.  The core starts to be invisible in October and the season lasts for 6 months or so.  So we were pretty happy to have the ‘excuse’ of a guest who was a very keen photographer but had never attempted stars before and wanted a bit of coaching.  He was up for adventure so after dinner we jumped in a boat and headed to an island.  Our guest memorably described it as one of the best nights ever!  We were surrounded by hippos and an elephant was on a nearby island breaking branches.  The reflections of the stars in the river were governed by the movement of the hippos around us.  It was pretty incredible really.   I should also point out that this is not the first time we have done some pretty adventurous night sky photography with those that want to do something completely different! 

reflecting pools!

Last of the milky way season!

And then we come to the 24th of October – Independence Day!  So to celebrate we took a picture of the National Bird (African Fish Eagle) and made a cake in the National Colours.  Okay, the fish eagle was taken a few days before…  but the cake was fresh!  

Our national bird takes flight.

And Julia and Lizzy’s rather creative cake in the National colours.

And again on the subject of repeat guests we had a couple that have been with us so many times.  They were actually our first ever guests to canoe with us, the first guests to sleep in our Tonga tree baskets and various other firsts.  We were delighted to have them back on their fifth trip to Kaingu! So we went on a longer canoe trip…  

Into the wild.

Getting to the end.

The end of the day.

Towards the end of the month again we had some scattered showers around, but nothing substantial.  Traditionally in Zambia it is said that the first rains coincide with Independence Day, but sadly not this year.  

Scattered showers as witnesses from the top of Mpamba rock.

And now onto elephants.  I know we keep saying it, but the elephant activity around camp this season is the most intense ever.  We are starting to realise that that there is not a tree or bush around the camp that hasn’t been partially (or completely!) eaten.  Of course we don’t mind – its is marvelous to have them around and the guests love it.  We do have to be on our toes though.  So here is a few examples of our October elephant action around camp.  

Yep. Its a boy!

about as close to the main area as possible.

Chalet 3 visitor.

And the to end the month’s review we show (again) an island elephant.  October has been a fantastic month here although there is no doubt that the heat has been quite extreme.  All in all it is a month when we have been very grateful to have the Kafue river and it’s constant flow.  It really is the life blood of the area and this season overall makes one think about climate change, over reliance on hydro power and the harsh fragility of the wilderness we are lucky to live in and share with our guests.  

contemplating a crossing..?

 

 

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