acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

night and day

Yesterday evening, the guests had left. We picked up a couple of movies from the store in town. We drove to the river bed to collect the camera trap which we had set up by a small waterhole.  There were lots of tracks around including leopard and a big male waterbuck moved in the long green grass to watch us from further away.  Its always exciting collecting the camera trap and wondering if we have caught any pictures of night creatures.

On the way back we had to brake several times for tortoises and turtles walking in the track.  Local lore has it that tortoises start walking when there is rain coming. We have learned to listen to this prediction and always pay attention - also when snakes start moving.  Generally, we only see tortoises during the summer months when it rains.

The new mopane leaves are like festive bunting filling the forest. Flags of orange and green shine and glow all around us proclaiming Summer Is Here.  At the dam the other night there was a massive frog party.  When you pull in to listen the frogs go quiet for a while. Then the songs begin again, and the noise levels reach a crecendo that fills your whole head. If you listen you can pick out the different songs, but the bull frogs havent even started yet so the deep base notes are missing.

There are lion tracks on the road, and lots of elephant tracks, all heading towards our part of the reserve.  We drove slowly home, watching the late afternoon sun turn the world gold.

At home we were settling down to movies when we heard the first sound - a low level soft grunting sound. Lions!  We turn the sound off and listen again. Yup they are here. Jumping into the vehicle we drive towards the sound. We dont have to go far. There are two big male lions lying next to the road softly lit by the moon.  Without headlights they make two large shadow shapes that an unsuspecting creature could easily walk right into.

They watch us idly, but show much more interest in the herd of impala which has formed a large group in the mopanes fifty meters away. Now and again they give an alarm call.  The lions rest their weary heads - they have plenty of time.


Angela said...

What encounters! Here me meet wild boar and deer along the roadside in twilight and must take care not to hit them. But tortoises, frogs, elephants and LIONS. Your stories are always like fairytales to me. But your pictures PROVE it, and aren`t these two magnificent?! I imagine the sound of the impalas´ hooves and the frogs` crescendo and the lions`growling and the elephant dung`s smell along with it all... and oh, how I long to be with you in your car at night!

Val said...

hi Geli - so good to have the lions around again :)
and i love that frog song of summer. They had a big party on saturday so were a bit quieter n sunday!

Friko said...

so good to have the lions round again??????
Aren't lions dangerous creatures in the wild?

I'm lucky if is see a rabbit, or maybe a deer. Lots of squashed badgers and foxes on the roads, of course. And toads hiding under stones and the odd hedgehog or two. But that's about it.

Re your question:
Rime is when the water in droplets of fog freezes which then attaches itself to shrubs and trees and grass. It looks very beautiful, particularly when you have a whole hedge covered in rime. In autumn it quickly disappears again, but in winter it can stay for the whole day.

Anonymous said...

ooooooo the aardvark again - awesome! Tortoises, python, terrapins - rain coming - not too much at once I hope. I still have your Frog Party audio from last year's fest which I used as my cellphone ring tone for ages. Yes people do look at me strangely when my phone rings

Lori ann said...

i remember that frog audio, so amazing. and wow! an aardvark, i can't wait to show chuck this. i love how you and k can go out for a movie and see lions in the road all in one evening.

karen said...

How beautiful - I think the mopane leaves on both posts, are my absolute favourites!! Gorgeous. I can't believe your lilies are blooming already - seems so dry here in comparison..

Val said...

Friko - it is simply just amazing to hear lions at night from close by - it awakens visceral memories. we miss them when they go away. There is a frisson of excitement that goes out of the world without them. yes they are dangerous and we do have to be careful - we are prey items after all. we can enjoy them because we have a safe house to sleep in.
Rime - thanks for that - i would have called it frost.

Janet - nice one. i had an elephant trumpet on my phone once but it kept catching me out so i had to change.

Lori - it is pretty cool and we do appreciate it.

Karen - we are ahead on rain this year; hope you get some soon too


joost said...

can not wait to return to South Africa in a couple of weeks and feel that constant feeling of expecting the unexpected. Hieha!!!!

Pooch Purple Reign said...

so cool... i love your posts

Anonymous said...

What an amazing place to be. Thanks for sharing.

Amanda Summer said...

as igsquirrel said, what an amazing place to be. you take full advantage of your incredible surroundings - i can't imagine being able to hear lions and then sashy down the way to see them lying there — incredible!! your photos tell a whole story of their own - the snake disappearing into the underbrush, the night-spooked aardvark and of course those gorgeous lions.

that's so interesting to learn about tortoises. a year ago in greece my sister picked up an ancient tortoise that had wandered into the road and as we headed up into the mountain pass the skies seem to rip open in an enormous hailstorm!

e said...

I thought of you the other night as it is now cool enough here to open the windows during daylight and evening. The cicadas and frogs were out in full force under a silver sliver of moon...

I remain in awe of your life amongst the animals,

Val said...

Joost - yeah see you soon then!

Laura and lgssquirrel - thanks!

Amanda - its always true when the tortoises are walking here. yesterday they were almost running and last night we had a big electrical storm. interesting that you made the connection in Greese that time.

e - thanks! i love the frogs and cicadas of summer. your place cooling down then? we are heating up and up!

thanks for all your comments and visits xxV

Uche (@UcheAnne) said...

Wow, this is so cool. If I had all the money I'd ever need, I'd just travel and write forever!