Sue and Gordon’s Notebook- January 2011
It’s a jungle out there! Quite literally as the bush is a riot of a thousand shades of green after the glorious rain we have had. As like last year it started late, and with a vengeance, but has been giving us tremendous downpours. Some rainstorms have been a little too zealous as borne out by the damage to the lounge ceiling but rain is never unwelcome.
The rain has been the cue for the impalas and wildebeest to drop their young. The reserve has many rapidly growing youngsters and that are a joy to watch cavorting and frolicking in the herds. We have a young family of “piglings”(piglets) that have joined the regulars at the waterhole. They tear around at a great pace looking like dodgem cars on stilts. In the heat of the day they enjoy nothing more than rolling in the mud at the side of the waterhole- aptly called the Piggery.
Our most special Christmas gift was when a lioness brought her three young cubs to drink one night. We knew she had had a litter and had seen them in a thicket but this was the first “open” sighting of the small freckled youngsters.
The rain has created Madikwe’s own garden with many wild flowers blooming amongst the wild grass and on the tree branches. Each year I promise myself to learn the names of the flowers but this resolution tends to get forgotten as the year passes by. Zinnia, dwarf hibiscus, poison apple, yellow canary flower and Mexican daisy to name a few.
Even the dreaded Sickle Bush, the bane of our ecologist’s life, adds its own Festive touch to the bush. It flowers from December, presenting blooms that look like little Christmas lanterns which are so dainty and pretty.
Currently the Africa Orsage orange bush is sending its scent throughout the air and camp is filled with this exquisite fragrance. There isn’t any expensive bottle of perfume that can match this lilting aroma.
We have had to put a hold on guests using the walking trails in camp as the grass, “urged” on by the rain is growing at the speed of light. No brushcutter or tractor can keep pace. This growth coupled with the presence of ticks makes walks rather like plodding through the Amazon so lazing around camp is the better option!
It was a lovely surprise to find, tucked away behind the roadside grass, huge mushrooms growing on a termite mound in camp. They come out just after the rains, remain for a few days and then literally disappear .If eaten early they are almost like chicken- thick and juicy. We have only ever seen these once in the east of the reserve so it was most exciting to find them at Bush House.
Our ever faithful generator that has done us proud for the last four years with all of Eskom’s power tantrums decided it too needed a Christmas break. One night when the power went off our generator just wouldn’t work. So, plunged into total darkness all the lanterns and candles we had were called into service.
Luckily it was a boma braai night so the fires assisted in lighting the scene but as our youngest guest commented it was just like camping! The stars were in full splendour so astrology topped the conversation. It was only when the guests started howling that it all got a little eerie!
There have been various visitors at Bush House over the last few months. White faced ducks and a knob billed duck have been at the waterhole. Our resident Egyptian geese (Alfred and Harriet as named by the guests) have been chased off and the new usurping pair are strutting their stuff in camp.
A grey Foam – nest tree frog took up residence at the bar on the shelf with the brandy snifters. Perhaps it was the fumes of all the bottles that caught his attention or more likely the mirror behind the glasses that attracted him. He would sing and call for hours. As often as we moved him outside (aw shame he needs to be near water) he toddled on back to the bar totally undeterred. Sadly he was very camera shy and all of the pictures taken of him came out very blurry!
General maintenance was done on the waterhole as our large grey friends are rather heavy footed on the lip of the waterhole. On one of the maintenance days the trusty skorro was parked within sighting distance of the webcam. This elicited emails from viewers enquiring as to the new species of metal creature at the waterhole! Explanations ensued!
Wishing you all a truly wonderful 2011 and may this New Year bring great happiness and laughter.
Take good care of yourselves,
Gordon, Sue and the whole Bush House family