I was a good gift for us at the end of a great week.
When we reached the junction where we turned right in the evening I decided to turn left, I had the feeling the lions moved that way.
We drove in the grassland and as we where heading back towards the riverbed and back to the spot of the previous day a lioness stood up and this time was Chiara to spot the first.
We enjoyed them a bit and we drove off.
The drive went on and mid morning we stopped at a place called breakfast point to have a look, we climbed the rocks on the river and this time was my turn to spot lions by the side of the bank of the river, 2 big males, one young male and one female.
Richard and Jeananne came from kigelia to pick up the agent, they are very nice people.
We drove late in the afternoon and after some thinking and searching we got the lions again, they moved from the position of the morning so it was a bit difficult to find them again but eventually we did for the joy of Chiara and Manu.
Drive at 6.00, still dark, we got on the shores of mwagusi river just in time to see a wonderful sunrise. That spot on the river early morning is just magic with the sunset, the dew and a bit of mist.
Elephants are often in open grassland, feeding on perennial signal grass and other palatable grasses, we got this small breeding herd that slowly came close to the road, a calf got a bit nervous so the mother came to protect him standing between him and us. She moved closer and closer, to the point she was touching the car with the trunk. The ellie was checking us out but was relaxed, Chiara, Manu and the guest were silent, not even the shutter of a camera was herd for that ten minutes. I enjoyed it so much, was great.
We drove all the way to makutano and we saw 2 huge male lions on the river drive, they actually were far under a baobab but gently walked all the way to us and went resting under an acacia kirkii by the side of the road.
Ahhh I almost forgot, we saw an incredible impala with an aberration of the horn’s growth, very cool
We took an easy afternoon and went out only around 17.00, heading towards mbagi.
On the road close to camp I spotted lion’s spoor, a big male, he walked on the road a bit then at the junction the tracks disappeared, I decided to go right because I thought that was the direction he took.
After a 100 mtrs I saw another set of tracks, this was the entire pride, I started following the fresh spoor nose to the ground… so much that I actually drove into them before seeing them.
Manu saw them first when I was 2 mtrs from them, I was still busy checking the tracks.. we laughed.
They were spread in the tall grass both side of the road, virtually invisible if not at close quarters.
It was so funny, one of the cubs was busy playing with a recently killed and half eaten leopard tortoise, so busy that it got stuck a couple of times with the head in the broken carapax, wandering around almost blind.
The cubs played, suckled, quarrelled between them and did everything is in their repertoire to make us happy.
The females keeping guard on the bigger cubs and chasing them off if they were playing to roughly with the little ones, the male was sleeping far from the chaos of the youngster.
It was absolutely fantastic..
We spent one hour looking at a lioness slowly getting closer and closer to 4 zebras.
Too slow because the zebra eventually left the area even if still unaware of the cat
It was good fun to see all the process, the crouching, the wait, the stalking, the wait and the wait and again the wait.
Plenty of ellies in the afternoon together with three hyenas around camp when we came back.
Another long morning drive, I was trying to find a cheetah because Manu never saw one, I tried but with no luck, we were more lucky on the lions side: a big male was waiting us by the side of the road and later on a small pride of female were found eating a warthog but in such thick grass that we could not see properly.
Birding was good as usual, wit good sighting of saddle bill stork, we also saw two wonderful herds of elands.
In the afternoon we went down to mbagi, there was no game around but we had a nice surprise when we entered the forest. While we were listening to the repeated song of the grey headed bush shrike a huge bull elephant appeared from the corner of the road. The bull was standing in the middle of the track, fenced in by two walls of long guinea grass.
He had only one tusk but one of the biggest I have seen here so far. It was a bit dodgy because there was no way we could reverse and he kept walking in the middle of the road. We got charged a couple of times but nothing serious and b the way there was little we could do so we enjoyed the show.
After dinner Mustafa spotted a white lipped snake that had just caught a guttural toad. The latter had inflated his body with air as a defensive mechanism and the snake could hold but not swallow it.
Eventually I disturbed the snake stupidly and by mistake and he left the grab and swiftly disappeared into the grass.
I got also an agent and her husband, very nice people, bush lovers, my favourite.
We went down in Mbagi and in the plains we saw nice elands and suddenly out of the grass a lioness started stalking them. The eland went too far though and she gave up but she went on going back and forth and sniffing the ground, eventually we saw another lioness joining her from the opposite direction .
They were probably stalking the elands from both sides but did not have any lunch.
The sun was shining wonderfully and went on watching elephants and giraffes and zebras.
The mwagusi river is flowing amongst the natal red top grass that gives a wonderful color to the side of the water.
We had a great dinner with lot of fun.
Birds always make a day special
The afternoon was bit better big game wise, lions amongst the yellow crotalarias and elephant crossing the mwagusi river which at the moment is full of raging water.
It was a good day ending with Spotted eagle owl heavily mobbed by fork tailed drongo.
I am still very tyred but feel better then yesterday.
We missed lions at the daraja for a matter of minutes, the spoors were very very fresh, undisturbed by francolins or other birds.
The day was hot, sunny with just some clouds around and very few game. The scenay of the flowing Mwagusi was stunning as usual. We decided to have breakfast at the midway crossing. It’s a crossing of the river but we cannot cross it now so the side of the water is an ideal spot to stretch the legs and getting something to eat.
When we went down to the spot we had a big surprise, at least one hundred elephants were scattered along that stretch of river, some of them in the water some on the banks. We parked the car and we had a great breakfast watching elephant crossing the river, bathing, playing in the water, sparring, trumpeting and drinking. Talking about drinking, after ten minutes we were having our deserved breakfast a lioness walked down on the opposite side of the river, just in front of the car and to our delight quenched her thirst drinking from the running water.
Some half an hour later from the same spot a breeding herd came down crossing the river towards us and getting to this side only 5 mtrs from us.
On the river drive we saw another lion, this time a big male but the best things were a pigmy falcon, later on a lesser asian cuckoo in the hepatic form and eventually a flap necked chameleon.
The afternoon we drove in mbagi, we got beautiful sighting of brown necked parrot and purple crested turaco and most of all Amon spotted a magnificent leopard laying on a branch of a big rain tree.
The cat was relaxed and we enjoyed it for at least one hour before heading back to camp.
We felt blessed by the sight of the elusive predator and even more blessed of being able to watch him without disturbing but still feeling that intimacy with nature that is given when we are lucky enough to get a glimpse of the most wonderful of the cats.
A spotted eagle owl is perching on the top pole of my tent.
As they would say it was a jolly good day.
We went for a long drive and saw many things and explain ed even more things.
The afternoon was short and the night long. We made a test for them at dinner, a sort of stupid competition dividing them in 2 teams, was super. We laughed to tears.
We will not forget these guests, they will not forget us and it's great to work with a friend like Onno.
Brilliant guests, brilliant friend... brilliant job.
This morning it took from 7.30 to 12.30 to drive from camp down to mbagi, up to mwagusi and back. Normally it takes more or less one hour. The guests were so interested in everything that we had to stop every few meters. Different species of grasses, birds, termites, trees everything for them was worth asking something, it was a great feeling, great fun.
We also got two Verreaux eagle owls preening each other, very interesting sighting.
In the afternoon another good birding sighting, chestnut sparrows were displaying on lesser masked weaver nests and trying also to enter the nests, always chased away by the owners… never seen something like that.
We got a big bull in musth, dribbling urine and smelling from hundred meters, a good pride of lions and an incredible elephant calf. Less then one year old the calf wondered around protected by the herd in the golden light of late afternoon.While the calf was busy playing around the matriarch was feeding on soil, even using the tusks to make it loose to push it in the trunk. It was cool to witness this special behaviour.
They were laying in the sea of giant crowfoot, quite relaxed. Then the females stood and started moving through the grass, heading towards a group of giraffes up the hill. They were very careful not to be seen but still the giraffes spotted them from far.
The females went back to rest when some zebras appeared from south, already spooked by something but totally unaware of the lions we were watching.
They went trotting straight towards the lionesses, who immediately crouched down and stalked them. As soon as the first zebra passed by the lionesses sprinted out of the grass and chased it.
The run for survival went for a hundred meter with the zebra some inches in front of the cats. The herbivore managed to run away but then the male started pursuing it but also with no success.
The other zebras bolted back in the opposite direction and one lioness begun stalking them again, it did not even need to move slowly because of the tall grass giving her great cover.
The zebra went, the lioness also, all we could see was grass an then the male came back, he was walking in the open plain straight in the direction of Onno and me, when he heard something and run towards the direction where the female disappeared.
We decided to separate the cars, I went one side, Onno the other using the roads that loops around where we thought the cats headed.
After some hundreds meter I heard the lions growling, evidence that they had killed something, we followed the sound and we got them feeding on a zebra foul they caught just then.
Ah three lion’s females in camp while we were walking guests back.
Having Onno in camp is great, to be able to discuss and share about wildlife with him was the only good part of an awful day.
The trainee guides were almost one hour late for the game drive, there are no guests but we were meant to leave at 6 am and we left at 10 to 7. This pissed me off a lot. Then I had a problem with the tyres, then I lost my mobile phone driving, then the trainee guiding was quite poor, on top of that we did not see much, some elephant, giraffes, impalas and zebras never fail us but all the rest??
Overall a disaster.
The other good thing is that I managed a shot of a Common Buttonquail and one of African Cuckoo.
It was a very humid day, hot and humid with rains all around but not in our area.
For a change we had a good sighting of eland, and they were even wuite relaxed, they didn't disappear in one second as usual.
Elephants are everywhere and birdlife still great, and this makes my day even when we see no cats.
The elphant came boldly in the middle of the road and was quite aggressive, it took a bit of persuasion to made him going past us without too much fuss.
Drove to see my friend Andrew in the afternoon, three hours drive but it was worth it, we spent a fantastic evening together.
Life is not the same as before having lost a person I love so much, is difficult to cope with a status quo that I hate but that I cannot change. I miss her but I have to keep going.
Picked up an agent from Jongo, drove him to camp, watching breeding herds after breeding herds of elephants.
Went out late in the afternoon looking for some lions that Moses spotted in the morning.
We got to the area but we found a solid road block in the shape of a small breeding herd of elephants helped by a big bull.
We waited and waited and waited, eventually after probably 20 minutes we vocally pushed them a bit and they moved so we decided to pass. As usual once they saw us going away they started charging with all the trumpeting involved.
They charged us from an angle cutting through the tall grass, and in the tall grass happened to be the 2 male lions we were looking for, who got a big fright and bolted out of their resting place.
They scanned the surroundings, looked carefully at zebras and giraffes and decided they were not worth enough to interfere with their nap, so they went back to sleep.
The light was perfect, golden, warm light of late afternoon. The ellies kept coming and eventually the cats moved again a bit farther giving us another good chance to watch them