Weather and Landscape
The rainy season is upon us at Mvuu. Daily clouds build and thunderstorms are usually rumbling around by midday to early afternoon. There have been several heavy downpours with some lighter showers in between. Temperatures are moderate, around the mid-20s Celsius; the nights are warm and humid.
The main south-north road into Liwonde remains closed and guests, so visitors and staff currently arrive via boat transfer or via the western gate across the river. All roads have been impacted by the rain and deep water and gullies on the roads have limited our game driving options.
The vegetation has exploded with growth, all trees and shrubs are in full leaf and there is a generous covering of grass on all open areas. This dense vegetation makes for challenging game viewing, particularly in the forests of the Rhino Sanctuary.
Daily sightings of hippo, waterbuck, impala, kudu, warthog, yellow baboon, vervet monkey and bushbuck continue at Mvuu. Hippos are particularly active, feeding out of the river throughout the day as well as the night.
Some elephants still gather at the river in the morning to drink and bathe, while many more are encountered in small groups in the woodland areas. Some of the Sanctuary elephants continue to give game viewing vehicles a warm reception! One large bull elephant with a badly snared back leg was recently darted by the vet and the rhino tracking team; the snare was removed and hopefully this individual will recover quickly.
In the Rhino Sanctuary and nearby wooded areas there are continued sightings of sable, zebra, buffalo, common duiker, Sharpe’s grysbok, eland, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, roan antelope and bushpig.
Evening drives have produced porcupine, several different types of mongoose – white-tailed, marsh and Meller’s, thick-tailed bushbaby, large-spotted genet, four-toed elephant shrew and African civet.
Striped polecat have been seen several times near the riverside, and once with a youngster… a rare sighting indeed. A spotted hyaena was heard close to camp on most nights, most likely hunting young impala.
There are a number of snakes around with the warmer weather, and we’ve had sightings of black mamba, boomslang, centipede-eaters and side-striped sand snakes.
Hundreds of dung beetles have been active, rolling dung and burying their nuptial dung balls. Overall insect activity has increased significantly, but this of course just means more birds and other animals enjoying the bounty!
Birds and Birding
The undoubted highlight of the month was the discovery of a pair of African pittas in the Ntangai Thicket. It has been four years since these rare birds were seen here!
Regular interesting viewings around camp continue to include Bohm’s bee-eater, grey and brown- headed parrot, Lilian’s lovebird, Meve’s and greater blue-eared starling, Livingstone’s flycatcher, black-throated wattle-eye, collared palm-thrush, palm-nut vulture, trumpeter, grey and crowned hornbill, plus at least five types of sunbird.
Resident birds have been boosted by migrant arrivals from other parts of Africa as well as Europe. Spotted flycatcher, willow warbler, common swift, woodland kingfisher, broad-billed roller, barn swallow, common swift and a number of cuckoo species, including the spectacular African emerald cuckoo are now everywhere.
Pel’s fishing-owl are seen regularly in the lagoons close to camp and can be heard calling deep into the night. A pair of African wood-owls is seen regularly roosting near the Lodge, and they have two fluffy white chicks. European, fiery-necked and square-tailed nightjars are also seen on the night drives.
The riverside continues to be rich with multiple species of kingfisher, heron and egret, osprey, palm-nut vulture and African skimmer. Guides recently undertook a waterbird survey up and down the river, counting every bird, and have submitted the data to Wetlands International.
Additional interesting sightings this month were green-capped and yellow-bellied eremomela, racket-tailed roller, little and dwarf bittern, white and black stork, lesser-spotted eagle, booted eagle, Senegal coucal, Allen’s gallinule, European hobby, olive-tree and icterine warbler and thrush nightingale. A list to be proud of!
Newsletter by Nick on behalf of guides and management at Mvuu.