Well, hello there. I hope that you are well and have had another thoroughly enjoyable weekend. Here slowly the various camps are starting to close, and Tena Tena literally did so with a bang and a roar as the rumbles of thunder were accompanied by the four lionesses coming back into the area and parking off just outside of camp and calling all night, what a way to end the season.
But this week we are handing over Its Monday storytelling to Simon Cousins who was recently back with the family for a long weekend over the girls’ half term break. So, Simon over to you:
“We have just returned from a very hot but rewarding trip back ‘home’ to the Luangwa Valley where it is always good to catch up with old friends and spend some quality time in the bush with the family.
As many of you know the Cousins family are very happy just sitting in the bush, either bird watching, or observing a baboon troop going about their daily life – there is always something going on with them! At this time of year, with the hot season in full swing, sitting close to water either the river or a lagoon, can be very rewarding. All creatures are thirsty or in need of cooling off so there is more often than not some action around water.
The carmine bee-eaters are very active at this time of year and always a source of photographic opportunities, so we spent a bit of time looking at, and photographing these wonderful birds. Their colours are in stark contrast to the dry and barren landscape surrounding the area, in the peak of the dry season.
In fact, most of our time and photographic opportunities were spent around the water with a certain longing to also be cooling off. We were treated with a whole series of scenes from baboon interaction at the water’s edge, hyenas wallowing in the mud, buffalo drinking etc to grey crowned cranes flying in for a drink…a lot was going on around the water’s edge.
Further upriver a pride of lions had killed a buffalo but didn’t seem too interested in eating a lot of it. They may well have been full from a recent feed but they were not too keen to hand over their buffalo to the large number of lurking hyenas.
It was quite a spectacle with over 20 hyenas lingering nearby, some wallowing in the water cooling off, waiting for the lions to move but the lions were not going anywhere. Surprisingly one of the hyenas decided that enough was enough, and it began rallying the rest of the clan and approached the buffalo carcass en masse! They started to call and work themselves up into a frenzy, to try and psyche the lions off the kill but the one lion stood up and simply stared at the frenzied hyenas and that put paid to that effort to take over the buffalo kill!! They hyenas went back to their wallow holes and shady thickets pretty sharply!
We found a disperser pack of wild dogs on our last morning in the park, hunting impala. There were some very lucky impala that morning with two hunts, and two misses, only metres from the vehicle. These dogs, though, seemed keen on covering some ground and we followed them, on and off, for over 13 km. We would see them disappear into some thick riverine forest, so would leave them and move off, only to encounter them further down river. We did this a couple of times in the morning. Sometimes they were hunting, and at other times, we saw them just trotting along with a clear determination to head south.
At one point, when we had stopped on the riverbank near the pontoon, we looked across the river and saw the resident pack of wild dogs that has been hanging around and denning by Nkwali, hunting on the riverbank on the other side of the Luangwa River, with 4 of their sub adult pups – amazing to have two packs of dogs in our view at once.
We finally left the dogs, close to the Nkwali pontoon crossing, with them still heading south. They had covered over 14 kilometres in the time we were with them – just over 2 ½ hours.
As we crossed the pontoon, we were treated to a gruesome sighting of a very big crocodile feasting on a puku, that had been chased into the river by one of the packs of dogs, seeking refuge from the dogs only to be taken by a crocodile, according to the scout manning the river crossing post. The croc was thrashing the puku, from side to side, trying to break off pieces of meat to make it easier to consume its kill, with other smaller crocs, and even a fish eagle looking on, hoping to benefit from all of this.
As always another absolutely fantastic trip to the Valley and we cannot wait to be back again very soon but probably during the rains when the scenery will be very different.”
Wow, thanks so much Simon! As always incredible sightings and images that you have shared and this time, we also have photos from Isla. Thanks, both so much and we can’t wait to see you back in the Valley soon.
I shall not even try to compete with those sightings, so shall bid you a very fond farewell and hope that you have a fabulous week ahead with plenty of smiles and laughter and don’t forget to look after one another.