Mvuu Lodge and Camp – December 2013

Dec 31, 2013 |  Malawi |  Liwonde |  Mvuu Camp
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Weather and Landscape
Humidity is very high at Mvuu and daily temperatures are getting to the high 30°s Celsius. After some cloudy and stormy weather earlier in November, the weather has settled back to fine days and hot nights. All are waiting for anticipated storms and more consistent rain. Sunsets are spectacular.

All roads remain passable, although some standing water in places shows that with some more rain, circumstances could change quickly.

Most trees are now in leaf and the mopane woodlands are a vibrant green. There are flushes of green grass and flowers emerging in many spots. Certain trees are flowering and the white flowers of jasmine provide a pungent fragrance in the evenings.

Pegasus remains a prominent evening constellation while Orion, Leo, Taurus and the Pleiades can be seen well later in the evening. Jupiter, Mars and Mercury are all clearly visible before sunrise.

During this time, guest numbers at the Lodge and Camp vary from day to day. Groups of dedicated birdwatchers are always a feature at this time of year.

Wildlife
Daily sightings of hippo, waterbuck, impala, kudu, warthog, yellow baboon, vervet monkey and bushbuck continue at Mvuu. The floodplains are still covered with these game species. Impala and warthog young continue to appear. Oribi, reedbuck and buffalo can be found quite regularly at certain spots on the floodplain.

Elephant still gather at the river in the morning to drink and bathe, often in very large numbers but then disperse into the woodlands and there is much less elephant activity around the camp during the day and night. Many young elephant are being born in the seclusion of the woodlands.

In the Rhino Sanctuary there are continued (though reduced due to the thick new growth) sightings of sable, zebra, buffalo, Sharpe’s grysbok, eland, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and bushpig. The animals are further dispersed to breed, taking advantage of the increased cover and broader water availability.  

Evening drives still produce porcupine, several different types of mongoose – white-tailed, marsh and Meller’s, thick-tailed bushbaby, large-spotted genet, four-toed elephant-shrew and civet. A genet was seen moving its young recently and bushbabies have young in evidence as well.

Lion and hyaena have been heard calling at night, often close to camp. A group of staff recently drove out to try and see the nearby lion, but they were thwarted by thick bush.

Crocodile broods have emerged and the mother crocodiles sit in close attention as the youngsters begin their exploration of the world.

At least two dead hippo have been seen in the river, scars and deep flesh wounds evidence of fighting males. One dead hippo had 50 large and medium-sized crocodiles enjoying the feast.

There are more snakes around with the warmer weather, with sightings of black mamba, boomslang and side-striped snakes. Tortoises are now active in the woodlands and associated grassland.

Many millipedes are actively feeding and after dark both scorpions and solifuges are now evident.

Hundreds of dung beetles are active, rolling dung and burying the nuptial dung balls. Overall insect activity has increased significantly.

Birds and Birding
Regular interesting viewings around camp continue to include Bohm’s bee-eater, grey and brown- headed parrots, Lilian’s lovebirds, Meves’ and greater blue-eared starlings, Livingstone’s flycatcher, ashy and grey-tit flycatchers, black-throated wattle-eye, lesser masked and brown throated weavers, collared palm-thrush, palm-nut vulture, trumpeter, grey and crowned hornbills, plus at least five types of sunbird.

Resident birds have been boosted by migrant arrivals. Spotted flycatchers, willow warblers, common swifts, woodland kingfishers, broad-billed rollers, barn swallows and a number of cuckoo species are now everywhere.

A Pel’s fishing-owl is seen regularly in the lagoon close to camp and can be heard calling deep into the night. A pair of African wood-owls is seen regularly roosting near Mvuu Lodge, with two fluffy white chicks. European and square-tailed nightjars are seen daily.

The riverside continues to be rich with multiple species of kingfishers, herons and egrets, ospreys, palm-nut vultures, African skimmers and lapwings. A daily roost of over 20 black-crowned and white-backed night herons is right outside the Lodge.

During their free time, our guides have been out and about honing their birdwatching skills. A new favourite spot is along the shores of Lake Malombe near Mvera. There are a host of grassland and shoreline birds in evidence there, including longclaws, pipits, larks, cisticolas, several types of waxbill, European rollers and bee-eaters, collared pratincoles, black-tailed godwits, ruff, curlew sandpipers, Kittlitz’s plovers, little stints, black and white storks, crowned plovers, southern ground-hornbill, pelicans, gulls and terns. Additional guide walks have produced crowned eagle, booted and Wahlberg’s eagle, hobby, green twinspot, orange-winged pytilla, narina trogon, and many more species.

The annual bird species tally at Mvuu is now more than 300!

Guest Comments
Thanks to the Mvuu team. A truly unforgettable experience. Out of this world…

Please keep on being as you are. Wonderful management, lovely staff and great guides. Boat rides are absolutely unforgettable, as are morning walks. It could not have been better…

Skimmer sightings and all the baby hippos, crocs eating crocs in the morning…

Seeing the elephants so close on the boat safari and on the guided walk was a once in a lifetime…

Newsletter by Nick on behalf of guides and management at Mvuu Lodge and Camp

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