SUE AND GORDON’S NOTEBOOK OCTOBER 2010
No alarm clock needed! That’s so true when you have red billed hornbills in camp. These little blighters hammer on our windows very forcefully with their beaks at the ludicrously early hour of 05:00 am each day.
Verbal insults, flying footwear and pillows are all to no avail.
I am positive that the insistent knocking for their morning seed is one day going to drill a hole through the glass!
As soon as you put seed out on the verandah the hammering stops and all one hears is the tapping of their beaks as they have their fill.
It isn’t only just the “flying chillis” that enjoy their morning ritual of seed
But also the “flying bananas”(yellow billed hornbills) and a very large flock of guinea fowls. It’s like watching a feathered invasion as these beaked vacuum cleaners head for the verandah.
Of late we are visited each morning by a large Spurwing Goose.
He arrives at the waterhole around seven each morning- flying in and landing regally on the water. The Egyptian Geese who call the waterhole home are not overly happy at having this usurper in their midst so a cacophany of sound normally heralds his arrival. After a swim he surveys the waterhole from the vantage point of the log and then heads off on his way.
A very unexpected inhabitant of the waterhole is a very large catfish (barbel) who arrived about two months ago. I didn’t realise that these fish are able to travel distances on land which is what this fellow obviously did. The nearest water source is over five kilometres away.
He is a feisty character who has managed to withstand being stood on by a huge herd of buffalo that swamped the waterhole on two successive nights. Elephants have swum and played in large numbers all around him and still he survives. He also has the ability to chase off warthogs!
We have a family of warthogs that regularly bath and roll in the waterhole to cool down in the heat. On more than one occasion we have watched them head for the waterhole only to see the catfish leap out and splash down on the surface chasing them away. They have to move to the other side of the waterhole to get any peace!
Our “company car” (The Skorro) has been brought back into service . This is the very old Landrover series 8 that after cosmetic surgery (her cab roof was removed )is used as the maintenance vehicle. She stoically carts stone, gravel and wood around the camp and concession.
Her duties have also extended to switching on and off the Lister pump each day which is some 2kms out on the reserve, It is quite an art to drive her out on these daily runs .There is no luxury of power steering, shock absorbers and to rather a large degree any brakes. You need to clutch the steering wheel while deftly slamming the driver’s door which tends to fly open on an irregular basis. All of this leads to much mirth as it is not easy keeping her on the road whilst bouncing wildly over the rather rocky road to the pump. We found to our detriment that if there are not very heavy rocks on the back for ballast you come horribly close to being bounced OUT of the cab altogether. Muscles are given a full workout.
However when it comes to the crunch the Skorro does us proud.
It was almost dark when one evening we needed to switch off the Lister engine. There had been a lot of elephant activity at our waterhole and the area around the road with one particular cow being very grumpy and unhappy with the world. On our way back we heard and smelt elephants off to our right in thick thorn bushes. We waited a while then decided to head back to the lodge. As we were chugging along all h*ll broke loose.
Grumpy and the rest of the herd came screaming out of the bushes (literally and figuratively) heading straight for us.
Gordon floored the accelerator pedal and The Skorro sprang forward barrelling at the fastest pace I’ve ever felt her go. Two flattened bushes later and with hearts racing we made our escape! The guests and staff back at the lodge had heard the commotion and were frantically radioing us to see if all was OK.
Return visits seem to apply not just to our guests but also to the animals that come down to drink! These young male lions visited us for three mornings in a row. They came to for a drink at exactly the same spot near the log before settling down to relax in the shade and watch the day unfold.
A large male leopard is visiting on a very regular basis and also has a particular spot that is his favourite. We only have the rather grainy pictures taken with the webcam but it’s great to know he is getting
accustomed to being around the lodge.
Temperatures are well into the late thirties at the moment and we are desperate for rain. There was a small promise last night which amounted 20 drops at best. There have been all sorts of ludicrous suggestions on how to bring the rain, including dancing naked on the front lawn.
That should traumatise the animals into not returning!
Jeanette took this picture of a very hot and harassed tree squirrel trying to get respite from the heat. He was stretched out on a table outside her flat and didn’t seem to have the energy to move.
Our ground squirrels seem totally unfazed by the heat. Perhaps it has something to do with that they use their tales as inbuilt umbrellas when they need shade. Jacques was able to get up very close to this chap.
Maybe he realised this was his time for fame and fortune!
Take good care of yourselves and we hope to see you soon,
Gordon, Sue and everyone at The Bush House