Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kenya Adventure - Day 21

I was a good girl this morning, trying to sneak out the bedroom to go and join my beautiful lady as she awakens for a new day. From the bedroom window I can see the sky is clear and just make out her outline against the still dark sky. Last night I put all my clothes in a pile, in order of what would be put on, no lights to help me in the dark morning, having to experience what it is like to be blind, trying not to disturb Alan to much. Forget the walking boots, girly pumps will do fine and they look great with walking socks hahahahaha - who on earth cares about fashion in wonderful places like this, it certainly does not impress the animals!!!!

My camera on his tripod is by the verandah door (yes, my camera is a boy ) ready, a flask of hot water from last night, a tea bag in my cup and I am totally ready to make myself comfortable, in my own little world, ready to start my day.

We can feel rain in the air so change our plans, instead of heading out for a game drive early we have decided to have breakfast first and then go exploring around, take lunch with us and stay out as long as possible. Yesterday we went through the bamboo forest area, today we are heading to the plateau.

Ahhhh look who who we see first, good morning hyena.

Then the baboons enjoying the sunshine, this guy more curious than skitty.

We reach the plateau area and this loan elephant is about. Now this guy was not in the least impressed to see us, I recon he did not get his oats last night, such a grumpy fellow. He stops, glares at us, you know that glare people give which signals to you it is better not to speak to them. We have the engine off, we don’t speak, hardly move. He turns to face us, his trunk sniffs the air, then the ear flap and he does the head wiggle. That is our signal to remove ourselves from his space, he is letting us know we are not welcome in his garden today. As we pull away he does the same and vanishes into the bush. How can something so large, so easy to see, become invisible in a matter of moments? I would love to have the ability to be invisible, can you imagine sitting in on corporate board meetings, government and big business deals and the like, a very different world from what the media tells us I am sure.

A little further on to our right a majestic Water Buck

Now I wonder how many folks have see a Fresh Water River Crab in the Abedares, eyes normally looking straight ahead or up in the trees but the land underfoot so often forgotten.

OK, I do look at the trees as well. Here we have what I think is a Palm Nut Tree, out of place, a gift to the land from a passing bird no doubt.

A caffeine top up is required and although we should not have stopped here we know we are in good hands. Buffalo are far from the friendly milk cows, yes those ones who provide milk that is put into containers and then makes it to the supermarket for us to buy!! These guys are more like the bull who you know not to wave a red rag to, buffalo, being one of the Top 5 - due to how dangerous they are. You have to keep your eye on them, their mood can change any time. All the same, respect demands respect much as it should in the human world - yes kids, the way forward for you is to learn respect for others, for yourself, for life!!!!

Alan checking out the herd

Fancy a pamper session, a mud face pack maybe or go the whole way and have a mud bath. This guy got his for free lol.

Amongst the buffalo the Wart Hogs mingled, two different spices in harmony. This one did not have a chance to run away, her babies made sure of that hanging on tightly, enjoying their breakfast.

Coffee drunk and everything packed away, no trace of us being here but the footprints we leave behind. We potter around, just enjoying the here and now when we spot a couple of male Bush Buck on the road in front of us. Such shy beauties.

Further along and in the trees a Sykes Monkey

The Old Man of the Forest - Colobus Monkey, with his majestic black and white coat. This is who I wanted to see in the Abedares :)

Back in Samburu I captured this bird stealing chicks and eggs from nests. Not good photos as he was way in the distance, but still worth taking for memories sake. His agility was something else, how he managed to fly between the branches and tree trunks, hang upside down, fly again from a stationary position blew my mind. I guess this is where the British Forces Harrier Jump Jet gets it name.

African Harrier Hawk

Male Water Buck with the rain clouds behind, time for us to start heading home. We don’t mind the rain, African rain is like no other I have experienced in the world, it is what I refer to as ‘proper rain’ big drops so hard they bounce off the ground, not the light rain that just seems to go on and on making everybody miserable.

The first Colobus Monkey pic in this blog post was taken by Peter, I was on the wrong side of the car to get him. Here is my effort - not bad, this guy was about 500 metres away, across a valley. In the full photo he is pretty small but as you will have gathered I have done a fair bit of cropping. All the images in this blog are 500 pixels on the longest side, kept small for obvious reasons!!!!

A Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill

When you have an itch you just got to scratch it :)

A just because photo - a posing Wart Hog

I just love the speed of my camera, to be able to capture birds taking off or landing, to be able to see sequence shots of the motions they go through before becoming airborne, fascinating stuff.

As we get closer to home the heavens darken, raindrops appear on the windscreen. There is home, just around the corner, just before the downpour or so we thought. Pete parked the car under the mabati (corrugate iron) roof and as we opened the doors to get out - hey presto - clatter, clatter, clatter - the rain had arrived. Now decision time, should be stand here and remain dry or make the 30 metre dash to the house. A lull, cameras under jackets to stay dry, we head indoors.

When we left this morning the ellies had decided to stop by and look who is back, the ellie from this morning, still here, still having fun.

Then his pal arrives, stretching his trunk to sniff his buddy or is he trying to pinch the salty mud I wonder.  Look at the grin on the face of the ellie in the background :)  Do you sense a bit of mischief in the air????

Have you ever wondered what ellies do in the rain. I guess I always assumed they would head for shelter. Assumption is not a good thing, it can so easily mislead us, take us up the garden path, take us in the wrong direction. Maybe some ellies do head for shelter, I don’t know, but these two had a ball, they were like children having a mammoth play session. During the next hour or so of the deluge they did nothing but lie in the mud, spray mud, play fight, tease each other. So many photos taken, so hard to know what to share with you :)

To our right, a beautiful rainbow, a area where the sun managed to sneak a peek through the rain clouds - how spoilt we are with the sights nature is providing for us.

Back to the ellies for a couple more ‘Ellie’s Playtime’ pics

Coming home early today has been magical, normally we get back around 6 or 7 p.m. today it was 4 p.m. or 16:00 hrs if you prefer . To see the ellies playing like this, natural behaviour which I think is rarely caught on camera, another special moment to add to the memory bank. There is one thing in photography which is missing, a great shot with action in it can be captured but the whole story is still lost. With this in mind I put up my point and shoot and switch to video so now you too can share the ‘whole’ :)

After my video (my arms were to tired to hold the camera any more) Alan picked up his camera and captured the two ellies, still at it, still playing. Listen toward the end of the video and you will hear these guys pretending to be Russian’s - lots of ‘popovs’ or passing wind to be more polite hahahahahahahaha.  At the end you will see the larger third elephant trying to stop the kids playing and taking charge before they saunter off.

By now you would think we had been given more than our fill of fun for the day, but no, there was more to come. In fact it continued till we eventually went to be around 10 p.m. - by far the best soap opera I have ever seen, the antics of the visitors keeping us entertained, so much better than any comedy I have seen on T.V.

The ellies left and the buffalo move in, not as many as the other night, only about seven of them, amongst which were two mums and their young. They munched on grass, walled in the mud, licked the salty earth, just did their thing. Now there is one more resident of Rhino Park - not the usual Genet Cat most places have, here we have a pair of White Tailed Mongoose. We have decided tonight to try a get a photo of them, they are a bit quick and nocturnal but worth having a try. In order to tempt them into the spot lit area we kept our chicken bones from lunch and lamp chop bones from last nights dinner, it will be like a Christmas Dinner for them.

Here comes one now - ‘ooooooooo, yummy bones’ you can almost here him say. We are sitting inside at the moment eating our dinner too but can’t resist keeping one eye on this elusive creature. He grabs a bone and heads off into the bush to enjoy his findings. Back again a few minutes later, another bone snatched, then scarpers to eat in peace and quite. The buffalo don’t batter an eyelid, he is not threat to them, they let him be.  Poor guy is soaked through with all the rain.

I have mentioned before Pete has eyes like a hawk, always looking to see what should not be there and from nowhere he says ‘what is that?’ blow me I can’t see anything, the he adds ‘a hyena’ - WOW a hyena, my favourite has come to visit. The hyena saunters through our garden, from right to left, not pinching bones en-route, on a mission, and disappears into the bushes, into the night. The smile on my face is from ear to ear, what a treat. But, we are not finished yet. Not long after the first hyena passed through a second appeared, a young male, far to late for him to be out on his own but just like kids these days, trying to be adult before ready and ending up looking rather stupid. At least he was not like some kids I see, young girls, in high heals, with makeup on, hair all prettied up acting 20 instead of 7 - yes children’s parents are springing to mind - no can’t go there, to much negative to say, better button my lip and go back to my hyena. This young guy was desperate for one of the bones we threw out for the mongoose, he chases the mongoose who in turn dropped his bone for the hyena to retrieve- round one to the young hyena (but that was the only round he won). Mongoose back agin, grabs another bone, the hyena watches, you can almost see his brain trying to work out where the bones are coming from. Mo comes up with a good point, maybe he thinks he has to put a penny in the slot to get one out lol. The hyena is struggling, he really wants a bone but they are to close to the house and he is not quite brave enough to explore - the bones are only about 2 metres from where we are sitting. While he is trying to make his decisions, to built up courage, the buffalo have spotted him from their sleeping place, alert now, two standing and then - enough of this, they chase him away. He is no real threat to them but they do have two young with them. Three of the buffalo move into position as guards for the night, facing towards the bushes, blocking entry to our garden. Meanwhile the mongoose is backwards and forwards, grabbing yet another bone before scarpering off to enjoy his find. Things go quiet for a while, then, lurking behind a bush, inside the buffalo guarded area the young hyena slinks out - dem bones are really teasing him, shame his brain is not working’ :) He manages to come right up to the pile of bones, we are so sure he will grab a few, but no, it is as if he is not quite able to put two and two together. Maybe it is because they are lamb chop bones which have been marinating in all sorts of goodies for the past few day and he can’t place the smell.

His loss, the mongoose’s gain. After about an hour of these antics repeating, hyena chasing mongoose for bone, buffalo chasing hyena away, hyena trying to outwit buffalo to chase mongoose for bones, things eventually go quiet for a while. Time for us to dry our eyes, removing the tears of laughter, catch our breaths and go make another cup of tea.

There are still some bones left, we really did have a pile and now things have gone quiet the second White Tailed Mongoose appears to take her fill. Ahhhh how sad, no more bones, then Alan remember we have some biltong left from our time in Lewa. The same biltong which I swapped with this guy called Jeff for Alan’s 1980 Kenya Safari Rally pics. Alan toddled off to the bedroom to get what was left. Now it is just as well we have a home for this biltong as it has gone green, something not quite right there. The dried meat is placed on a flat stone, wonder who will eat it :)

I have to admit, the mongoose was a little dubious too, sniffed the air and bypassed the biltong. A little later, sniffed the air again, came a little closer, then backed off. Eventually enough courage was mustered, he slowly made his way to the stone, sniffed the biltong and then backed off to think - wondering if it was edible, smelt like meat but ………… At last, he took a piece, then another, then another, half an hour later it was all gone. I wonder if his wife will let him sleep with her tonight, I know there are times when Alan has eaten certain foods I would prefer not to be in the same room hahahahahahaha (sorry love could not resist :)

I do wish I had more photos to share with you of this wonderful soap opera but with the rain making photography in this light difficult and not wanting to break the magic by using flash we all decided to watch and record in our memories instead.

All quite in our garden now, hyena gone, buffalo thinking of sleeping, mongoose and wife hunting in other locations for moths and other delicacies or maybe Mr. Mongoose has rather a sore tummy, I hope not. Time for some shut eye for us too, we leave the Abedares tomorrow and return to Nairobi for one night before an early start on Monday morning to ……. (tell you later).

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful to see actual 'movies' of the amazing Ellies. :-) I loved watching them play in the mud and then how the big one breaks up the mock fighting I guess it was ?!! Just so brilliant how silent it all was (apart from the Popovs) for such big animals !!! :-)
    Thanks so much for sharing this experience :-D

    IKE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


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