Being in Kwazulu-Natal I am reminded why I was a birdwatcher. During the dawn chorus every bleating, trilling, cooing-thing gives voice. Sitting on my balcony at 5am I saw:
- Two livingstone's turaco (were louries) walking around a fig tree.
- A pair of black collared barbets.
- The usual white-eyes, european swallows, fork tailed drongas, Hadedahs and doves.
By 6.00 am the song had faded to calling and I could hear the barks of baboons coming down to the last remaining water.
Something Chewing This Way Comes
Last night, our cook (Siyabonga) heard the sound of chewing outside the lodge where we were eating. We are light starved and had only two small flashlights with AA batteries which cast a narrow LED beam that can’t get into the shadows. He poked at the night thorn brush with it and then said “Maybe buffalo.”
I asked what it sounded like and he said “grinding”
This is reassuring because its what herbivores do.
We all tried to listen but when we were quiet we realised we are very noisy. I could hear David chewing his cheese flavoured rice crackers “CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH” and Wren was full of mutterings and squeaky floorboards. As is usually the case, I could not hear myself so I am either a ninja or selectively deaf.
A short while later Siyabonga beckoned us to come to the balcony where he said the “Rhino is very close”. Indeed, some large chomping beast was just below the balcony. Unfortunately, when we arrived with our crappy torch and crashing noise the Beast took fright and lumbered off blowing wind like a huge horse. It was a hippo!
We poked at it vaguely with the ineffectual torch but could only see a reddish-brown shadow moving down the creek. Our hippo!
Sounding much like my mother, I said “Hippos are very dangerous” and Siyabonga looked at me and said nothing. Wren put his anti-moth-shawl-tent over his head and we went back to dinner which was pasta and canned tomatoes sauce. It was fabulous! David is on a diet at could not eat the pasta and sauce so he had potato and squash, loud rice crackers, sliced meat and salad. He is able to eat whole platters of salad.
The Moth Tent
The hawk moths were pretty bad in the kitchen tonight. There were at least 10 large ones sitting on the window under the light. Large means 1 to 2 inches from head to tail. Whenever you went into the kitchen or changed the lighting of the room, they adjusted position and flapped and clung around (one’s head) in a way that alarmed moth-sensitive Wren who kept spinning his head around wildly watching for them, and could not eat. David offered to be on Moth Watch so Wren could concentrate on food.
“Moth coming” he’d call and Wren would duck under a tent made from my pashmina.
|Wren in the Moth Tent|
“All clear” said David so Wren could eat some more pasta.
“Go under for a bit” - as one particularly fat-bodied moth thumped on the table and relaunched at the light.
“Keep eating now!” as they settled.