The weather continues to cool off. July days take a while to warm up to mid-20 degrees Celsius with sunny and cloudy periods. Due to these cooler temperatures animal activity is reasonably constant during the whole day.
Daily sightings of elephant, hippo, waterbuck, impala, kudu, warthog, yellow baboon, vervet monkeys and bushbuck continue at Mvuu. The family groups of elephant often congregate into larger herds, with groups of 60-plus gathering and feeding at the river. The bulls are in closer attendance with several bulls in musth.
Evening drives usually produce interesting creatures such as porcupine, several different types of mongoose – white-tailed, water, Meller’s and slender - thick-tailed bushbaby, large-spotted genet, four-toed elephant shrew and civet. Both Sharpe’s grysbok and suni have been seen - one of the latter was even seen with a young.
In the Rhino Sanctuary there are sightings of large herds of sable, zebra, buffalo, eland, common duiker, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and a few elephant and bushpig.
Hyaena have been heard calling lately at night and tracks are evident on the roads. A male lion also, excitingly, calls regularly at night, often close to camp. A fresh warthog carcass was discovered close by which was evidently a lion kill.
Both hippo and crocodile are displaying mating behaviour. Several male hippo show large back wounds from territorial fighting. Male and attending female crocodiles put on a stunning display of growling, water slapping, parallel swimming and associated mating activity.
Finally some serrated hinged terrapins are present at many points in the creeks and lagoons, sunning themselves on the river banks and logs.
Regular interesting sightings around camp continue to include grey-headed parrots, Lilian’s lovebirds, Livingstone’s flycatchers, paradise flycatchers, brown-throated weavers, collared palm thrushes, palm-nut vultures, ground hornbills and a whole of host of more common birds.
Our mopane woodlands offer fabulous sightings of purple-crested turacos, white-crested helmet-shrikes, Arnot’s chats, square-tailed drongos and crested and brown-breasted barbets.
On the river, regular birds are white-breasted and reed cormorants, yellow-billed and open-bill storks, and six kinds of kingfishers including grey-headed. Also regularly present on the river are squacco, black, purple, goliath, grey and rufous-bellied herons, egrets, fish-eagles, grey-headed gulls, black crakes, long-toed and blacksmith lapwings as well as woolly-necked, marabou and saddle-billed storks.
A pair of white-backed night herons are nesting just next to the camp kitchen. A Pel’s fishing-owl is seen regularly in the lagoons close to camp and can be heard calling deep into the night. Thirty-plus African skimmers are nearly always present roosting on one particular sandbank and a pair of bat hawks are regularly active south of the camp.
Mvuu is a great place to view raptors. A group of white-backed vultures seem to have reoccupied the Park, with up to 10 birds seen together perched in the trees and recently near a waterbuck carcass. Martial eagles, brown snake-eagles, western-banded snake-eagles, bataleurs, ospreys, lanner falcons, red-necked falcons, Dickinson’s kestrels, fish-eagles and gymnogenes are all present up and down the river. African and gabar goshawks, lizard buzzards, crowned eagles and African hawk eagles are also seen occasionally.
Some of the more unusual sightings this month were pink-backed pelicans, black-winged stilts, pied avocets, African marsh harriers, numerous African spoonbills and a dozen greater flamingos. Spotted eagle-owls and Verreaux’s eagle-owls are both active. A white-faced scops owl has also been seen as well as a barred owlet which is living by the camp garages, often sending all the small birds into a daytime mobbing frenzy.
The 25-plus carmine bee-eaters are still at a waterhole in the Sanctuary, looking like they are probably breeding there.
“Our guide was superb….he was so knowledgeable and made our family group feel so welcome.” Peter and Iris
“A magical location. So many experiences….. Just amazing!” Julie
“The friendliness of all the staff from manager to guide to waiter to domestic services to gardener.” Matt
“Excellent game/boat safaris. Beautiful accommodation!! I hope to return. Will tell my friends!” Christine