General News - August 2010
Can you identify this rat? - 26 August 2010
Just to prove we're really anoraks...
Our guest Bob Steele took these photographs at Lion Hill Camp, Lake Nakuru, Kenya around midday 05/12/10. We think its Nile Grass (kusu) rat, Arvicanthus niloticus but no-one has been able to confirm this for us. Can you help?
The African grass rat is a species of rodent in the muridae family. It is found in Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coat, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.
Its natural habitats are dry savanna, moist savanna, subtropical or tropical moist shrubland, arable land, pastureland, rural gardens, urban areas, irrigated land and seasonally flooded agricultural land.
The species is mostly a sub-Saharan species although it occurs in the Arabian Peninsula, where it may have been introduced by man, and has been recorded across the Sahara, but its mostly extinct here.
It is found in the Nile Valley where its distribution is restricted to a narrow strip of flooded plain. It has additionally been recorded from at least three isolated Saharan mountain ranges. In Ethiopia it is not found above 1600m asl.
Drums of Peace - 6 August 2010
OK...so imagine this. A big full moon rising in to the African sky. In the distance the Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls) twirling upwards in all her glory. And on the ground 800 drummers beating as one creating a deep ancient sound... and all in the name of PEACE!
Intwasa, full moon of 24th August 2010.
If you're in the area, bring a drum and join in drumming for peace.
Life on the lakes - 4 August 2010
The heavy rains of April and May brought on a flush of new green growth with wild flowers blossoming and the level of Lake Naivasha rising considerably making it possible for the boat to go out again after being grounded for over a year and a half.
Towards the end of June and early July we experienced cool and overcast mornings with temperatures as low as 14 degrees centigrade and midday temperatures reaching between 25-28 degrees centigrade.
Bird life on the lake has been good yet again with the rise in lake levels. Good numbers of birds were recorded during the annual bird count that took place in mid July with several of them breeding; the Black-Crowned Night Heron has been spotted during almost all boat trips which is quite unusual since they are normally nocturnal birds. The splash of vegetation that was growing where the lake had dried now acts as a very good breeding site for the African Jacana, Yellow Billed Ducks and the Sacred Ibis who in the past have been noted to breed on the southern side of the lake.
There has been good numbers of game along the shoreline in front of Loldia House; eland, zebra, Dik Dik, warthogs and a big herd of impala with several of their fawns have been ever present especially in the evenings providing guests with lovely photographic opportunities, from the comfort of the verandah.
The grass round the airstrip is green and tall attracting herds of buffalo that have been grazing here regularly.
The resident leopards have been seen on several occasions during night game drives, one of them with two cubs just below the top cottage, much to the delight of our guests. We have also had wonderful regular sightings of Silver Backed Jackals, Aardvark and the Bat Eared Fox during the night game drives.
There has been good rainfall in Lake Nakuru National Park causing the water levels to rise and the number of flamingoes to increase. The lake shore is tinged pink with flamingoes! The park looks well recovered with long green grass and plenty of game in good health these include; buffalo, eland, waterbuck, impala, warthog, zebra, Spotted Hyena, gazelles and White Rhinos. With tall bushes and long grass the Black Rhinos are becoming harder to see however, there has been a good record of sightings close to the Park headquarters.
Our guests have also enjoyed trips to Hellsgate National Park where in addition to enjoying the spectacular gorge scenery there has been good sightings of buffalo, zebra, warthog, Masai Giraffe, eland, gazelles, warthogs, Masai Ostriches and Cokes Hartebeest and the Ruppell's Griffon Vultures along the cliff tops.
June through until the start of August saw the end of the rainy season with a few downpours at night and an abundance of glowworms and dragonflies. We also enjoyed some spectacular sunsets often mixed in with a thunderous storm on the horizon towards mainland Kenya and Uganda.
Our guests have enjoyed what felt like endless sunshine. All this sunshine has brought warm days of around 28 - 30 C drying up the island and causing Lake Victoria to recede by around 2 feet.
In Mfangano Island Camp the two resident families of Vervet Monkeys are doing well gorging themselves on an abundance of figs with the newborns growing up very quickly. The males are constantly having little scuffs over dominance and are seen regularly with injuries on their haunches. In the quiet sundowner hours one family all descend and socialize on the lawns. The biggest Monitor Lizard in camp measuring about 6ft is often seen in between the rocks on which the honeymoon suite is built on. The Nile Monitors and Land Monitors are also abundant in and around the camp.
At least 6 pairs of Hammer-Kops are nesting in camp and often socialize together in the marshy grasses in the evening. The Black Headed weavers are rebuilding a colony in the eves outside the honeymoon suite. Little Egrets, Hadada Ibis, Sacred Ibis, Black Kites, Egyptian Geese, Long-Tailed Cormorants, Greater Cormorants, Pied Kingfishers along with a couple of Wagtails are resident and harmonious grazers on the marshes and lake shore in the camp. The present but more elusive birds seen in camp include the variety of sunbirds, pygmy kingfishers, a pair of Greater Kingfishers, the diurnal Water Thick-Knee, white bellied go-away birds, Woodpeckers (evident only by their occasional tapping in the forest canopy) and an African Harrier hawk was recently spotted which provided a real treat.
Fishing has seen a promising start to the season too. Guests enjoyed the thrill of catching 2 x 7kg Nile Perch off Nyakweri Village while out on a laid back honeymoon trawl back from the Mawanga Cave. An 18KG beauty in a battle of wits and stamina which places another name on the record board! Guests also enjoy plentiful wildlife viewing on fishing trips sightings include the African Spotted Necked Otters, Fish Eagles, Monitor Lizards and a bountiful array of other birdlife. Recently we have had guests catching Perch of ≤ kg's which is going down well for lunch/dinner. Around Nzenze/Atego Island Mfangano's last crocodile is rumoured to exist, it's practically a myth with occasional sightings reported by villagers! We were delighted to discover a new den of otters on the north western shore of Nzenze with 5 or 6 individuals.