August was a unique month in that we didn’t take a single picture of a bee-eater! There were a few other “firsts” as well as we will see. We start off with a bit of a boat cruise and some interesting hippo behavior. It is quite normal to see hippos yawning in a threat display, which you can see the hippo in the background doing here:
However this hippo was in a frenzy of biting the river. There was no yawn as such, just a brutal and repeated bite of the water which was quite something to see and is something we had never seen before!
Another first (for 2020 and 2021) was that we erected our “Tonga Tree Baskets”. With the almost complete absence of international tourists last year we did not erect them. But this year that changed with a few guests requesting them which is great!
We sometimes us the hashtag #nestledintonature to describe our lodge, and the tree baskets are absolutely no exception as you can see here:
And while we were setting everything up and waiting for the first guests to arrive by boat we took the opportunity to shoot a little bit of video to showcase the baskets. And yes, we did include the toilet as everyone always asks about that when enquiring!
And of course every sleep out comes with Chef Wina and his bush dinner!
Then a bit about fires. Later season wildfires are a nightmare. They are destructive and sadly are part of the landscape in Southern and central Africa. Late season fires are why we do early burning around our game drive loops. Every year we put a large firebreak South of our loops to prevent fires creeping up from the South. And sure enough one did. I went out under an 88% illuminated moon which meant that this long lens shot of the fire (8kms away) also showed some landscape details:
But thankfully our firebreak did what it was supposed to do and it stopped the fire coming up and moving through our game drive loops.
Here, the same fire is photographed but with a much wider lens showing the moonlit landscape and the distant fire:
Then something which once again is a bit of a first. A Cheetah kill, witnessed by guests out on a drive with guide Kaley. The three cheetah exploded out of the grass a few meters from the vehicle and grabbed a young hartebeest! Obviously all too quick for any photographs other than the aftermath, but this is surely the sighting of the year:
We also have developed a good carver (Chrispin) to add to our network of local suppliers. Here he came up to see how sales were going and as you can see he was pretty happy with the outcome:
Oh and an elephant carcass made for over a week of intense lion activity on our loops:
Then onto a bit of a night sky theme. August sees the Perseid meteor showers and although this is not a Southern hemisphere event really, there were a few:
03:34 August 12th.
A single tiny particle probably weighing only a couple of grams hits our atmosphere. This meteor is a tiny fragment of the 26km diameter comet Swift-Tuttle. This comet can be thought of as a huge dirty ice ball that has an orbit around the sun of 133 years . As it nears the sun, the increasing temperature causes it to emit dust and tiny particles. Every year around mid August the earth passes through this trail left by the comet. The incredible flash of a meteor and it’s trail are a result not of size (being only a couple of grams) but of it’s immense kinetic energy as it hits our atmosphere at speeds of up to 160,000 mph. This energy ionizes a trail many many kilometers long as it burns up about 80km above us. Interestingly the parent comet is the largest near-earth object to cross our orbit and make repeated close approaches to Earth. It has been described by scientist Gerrit Verschurr as the “single most dangerous object known to humanity
Then on the 22nd of August we had a blue moon, specifically, a seasonal Blue Moon, meaning that it’s the third of the four full Moons to occur within a season. Typically, only three full Moons happen in a season, but when the dates of the full Moons and those of the equinoxes and solstices line up just right, a fourth full Moon can manage to fit into the season as well. The third full Moon in the series is then considered to be a Blue Moon. You may have also heard of another definition of a Blue Moon: the second full Moon to occur within one calendar month. This definition tends to be more common.
Our last image taken in August is one of our galaxy – the milky way. As we move into September we are getting towards the end of the milky way season. I simply cannot believe that we have about 3 months of season 2021 to run. Unreal.