This week at Adonsonia (and Grietjie)

Winter has definitely arrived. The mornings are cold and the monkeys spend quite some time in the trees and on the lawn warming up in the sun before heading out to forage.

The warthogs are now once again regular visitors to our lawn, much to Michel’s dismay, but we also had a much more unusual visitor to the garden to browse some of our appetising bushes; a magnificent Nyala bull. We have only seen Nyala twice at the lodge and one of these times was on the trail cam. At first I thought it was a Kudu, but the horns were not quite right, and then I saw the yellow ‘socks’ and jumped up from the couch to grab my camera.

190614 Nyalabull 1.jpeg

He stayed with us for about an hour and was calm and relaxed, but if I hadn’t happened to look up and see him crossing the lawn we probably wouldn’t have even known he was there.

190614 Nyalabull 2.jpeg

And then on Friday I had another lucky sighting when I was driving back from the gate at dusk and a lioness suddenly appeared on the road in front of me! At first I didn’t recognise what it was in the fading light, but as soon as it registered I grabbed my phone for a picture.

190613 Lioness.JPG

As per usual, I get the best sighting when I decide not to bring my camera, and this was definitely the case as just over the crest of the hill I found out that she was part of the “Grietjie mega-pride” and 7 of the cubs were playing on the road.

Two of the larger cubs passed by the vehicle, and when I let the car roll a bit to get closer to the cubs I heard surprised growls from behind the vehicle where they had decided to lay down for a rest!

190613 subadults.JPG

I spent about 10 minutes watching the cubs in the fading light when they suddenly got a call from their mother(s) and rushed past me. (I later heard that just a bit further on the lionesses made a kill and the pride had their dinner).

Michel was just 2 minutes ahead of me and missed them completely, once again proving that sightings are definitely a matter of “right place, right time”!

Necking in the back garden

It is lovely to see lions and I adore elephants, but the animals that really define Africa for me are the zebra and the giraffe. Whenever I see them it always brings home to me that I am actually living in Africa, in the Greater Kruger and am living in a wildlife documentary!

Giraffes regularly pass by the house, we see them from the front garden as they browse in the spruit (dry riverbed) and on the koppie. And I see them from the kitchen window as they pass through the open area to and from our dam.

We are also lucky enough to regularly see them ‘necking’ or fighting. This can be quite fierce, and even in some cases lead to the death of one of the combatants, but what we mainly see are just tussles to see who will get the girl!

Another visit from the pride

Sunday, 06:00 We wake to the sound of lions roaring.

Me:“Sounds like it’s the big pride we saw last week, are you going to have a look?”

Michel: “ Nope, I’m going to get my coffee”

06:10 Michel puts his head around the door “They’ve moved to behind the koppie, I’m going to look, do you want to come?”

06:15 Up, coat on over pyjamas, camera ready and in the game viewer!

It was indeed the big pride and we were again lucky enough to find them just a bit past where we thought they would be.

Big daddy

Big daddy

We followed them until the crossed the spruit (dry riverbed) back into our property and then we had to drive all the way around to just get them at our dam where they were drinking.

Never a minutes peace for mum….

Never a minutes peace for mum….

They then slowly went through the back garden to finally cross over into the neighbouring reserve. Hopefully they’ll be back for a another visit soon.

Mufasa & Simba

Mufasa & Simba

Cubs crossing

Cubs crossing

P.S. and once again nothing on the camera trap as the card was formatted wrongly. Hopefully now I’ve done it right and third time will be a charm.

Feathered Friends

We have had some great sightings of big cats recently, and there has been lots of plains game around. But what do you do when the sightings are few and far between? Well, then you grab the binoculars and turn your attention to our feathered friends large and small!

A quick tally gives me a total over just over 110 different species of birds we have seen on the plot, of which 75+ have been seen in the direct vicinity of the lodge. In fact, as I am typing this there is a Black-chested Snake Eagle in a tree on the koppie that is visible from the patio.

So for todays blog here are some of the more colourful birds seen in the garden.

Probably South Africa’s most photographed bird, the Lilac-Breasted Roller

Probably South Africa’s most photographed bird, the Lilac-Breasted Roller

Africa’s alternative to robin redbreast, the Firefinch.

Africa’s alternative to robin redbreast, the Firefinch.

All Bee-eaters have wonderful colours, this is a Little Bee-Eater

All Bee-eaters have wonderful colours, this is a Little Bee-Eater

A Golden-Breasted Bunting at the birdbath.

A Golden-Breasted Bunting at the birdbath.

The week at Adonsonia Lodge

The highlight of this week was of course the visit we had from the Grietjie “megapride” of 15 lions.

Lionesses with cubs behind the Lodge

Lionesses with cubs behind the Lodge

That was the same day that the lovely Spotted Bush Snake came to visit.

Spotted Bush Snake (1).jpg

There has been plenty of plains game around. Lots of warthogs and giraffe, and we are seeing more Kudu come by.

A dashing Kudu

A dashing Kudu

We also had a couple of nice bird sightings. We got this pair of African Hawk Eagles on a game drive.

Not the best of pictures due to the distance and foliage, but a nice sighting nevertheless

Not the best of pictures due to the distance and foliage, but a nice sighting nevertheless

And I spotted this juvenile Brown-Hooded Kingfisher in the garden, probably offspring of our resident pair.

Again, hidden in the foliage….

Again, hidden in the foliage….

O, and we also had a brief glimpse of a Slender Mongoose darting across the lawn in pursuit of a Natal Francolin.

So plenty to enjoy at the lodge, both big and small.

Follow us on Facebook (Adonsonia Lodge) and Instagram (@adonsonialodge) for more.

A terrific Tuesday

Wow! What a Tuesday we had here at the Lodge…

It started already early in the morning, the resident monkeys were making their “predator on the ground” alarm call. We have heard it often enough that we know that this means there is a large cat out there somewhere. It could be a leopard, but around the lodge it is more often a lion. I decided not to go out to look as it is now winter here and at 6.30 am it is between 10-15C, a warm shower was more to my liking… but under the shower I heard the lion roaring, so then it was quickly getting dressed and off to have a look.

Unfortunately we didn’t find him on our plot, so after driving all the roads twice we headed back for hot coffee.

In the afternoon I went outside to see how Michel was doing with his work and I found a beautiful snake. A Spotted Bush Snake to be exact, luckily these are harmless so after some quick snaps with the phone I could take my time to get some nice shots with the camera. We don’t get many snakes at the Lodge so I was really pleased with this sighting. He/she took their time to make sure the coast was clear and then went back into the garden to hide in a tree.

Spotted Bush Snake.jpeg

At about 5.30 or so the monkeys came back as usual, and straight away headed into the trees to start the alarm calls again! So the lion must still be out there… off we went for another look. And still no luck! We both felt very stupid that we were not able to find the lion, although he must be there somewhere!

Monkeys on the lookout

Monkeys on the lookout

So of course, just as I was in the middle of cooking dinner we heard it again; roaring, only this time it wasn’t just one lion, it was quite a few!

The cooker was turned off, sweaters and socks were put on.. hopefully it would be 3rd time lucky….and it was! We got to the boundary road of our property and there they were: two lionesses… and cubs! It was the pride that has been seen for some months now on Grietjie, and they were here in our back garden; a total of 4 lionesses, 9 cubs and 2 males!!!!

They all crossed the road and headed into our property, we thought they might be heading towards our dam so we went that direction and sure enough we soon caught up with the males that were the rear guard. They slowly walked down the path with a cub popping up every now and then. We finally got to the dam and they were indeed drinking there, it was wonderful to sit and watch them.

After drinking they left the dam on the other side and went around the side of the lodge, and there they decided to take a rest for a bit, while we just sat and marvelled that we had 15 lions in our garden within 50m of the Lodge. And then the cherry on the cake was when they started roaring again. 6 lions roaring loudly within 10m of you, Tuesdays don’t get any better than that!!!

Half of the pride

Half of the pride

One of the lionesses with her cubs

One of the lionesses with her cubs

p.s. I only have audio of the roaring, and will post that on our Facebook page.

This week at Adonsonia

This week I didn’t get around to taking many photos, although there were plenty of animals around the Lodge. We were working on a big project to make more storage for ourselves and that kept us busy and inside. But almost every time I went into the kitchen and looked out behind the lodge there would be something; Wildebeest, Giraffe, Zebra, Impala, Warthog… so I sometimes downed tools just to go and get some photos for the blog.

I know, it’s a tough life!

The Lion's Roar - things I have learnt (part 1)

Since living here on Grietjie I have learnt a lot about roaring lions.

First of all I have learnt that the lion does NOT sleep tonight but prefers to spend it’s time roaring with well timed intervals to prevent you sleeping … or alternatively waking you up early in the morning.

One would also think that if they prevent you sleeping that the prey animals such as impala would also be wide awake and alert. This however is not the case, they just continue about their business. They are probably aware that if a lion is noisy, you at least know where they are, it’s the quiet ones you have to be aware of.

Also each lion has it’s own way of roaring, some start off quietly to reach a full crescendo and then stop, others are exactly opposite, going straight for a full throated roar only to tail off as if they have forgot what they are doing…

So when you picture a lion roaring, what do you see? Probably something like this:

The cliché of a roaring lion… (picture credit not supplied)

The cliché of a roaring lion… (picture credit not supplied)

A majestic male lion, mane blowing in the wind, roaring away, preferably on a rocky outcrop. But I have seen quite a few lions roaring in the past years and have learnt that lions can roar in any position….not all of them majestic….

This week at Adonsonia

This was a fairly quiet week as we were mainly busy in our workshops or behind our desk. But even in a quiet week there are always some great photo opportunities around the Lodge.

We are seeing our resident pair of Brown-hooded Kingfishers more often now that the Woodlands Kingfishers have left for warmer climes. In the beginning of the week the male was warming up in the early morning sun and provided a lovely photo against the blue winter sky.

We are seeing our resident pair of Brown-hooded Kingfishers more often now that the Woodlands Kingfishers have left for warmer climes. In the beginning of the week the male was warming up in the early morning sun and provided a lovely photo against the blue winter sky.

Our ‘vintage’ game viewer got a new lease of life with a few small repairs so we went out for drive. It was a wonderful winter evening and the light was fantastic.

Our ‘vintage’ game viewer got a new lease of life with a few small repairs so we went out for drive. It was a wonderful winter evening and the light was fantastic.

On Friday I saw a lot of vultures heading over towards the neighbours behind the koppie. After watching for a while to see if they were rising or landing I could see that they were indeed landing, which meant there was a very good chance of a kill of some sorts. I went out to see if I could find it, but unfortunately it was too far from the road to see. But the vultures were most obliging subjects for photos.

On Friday I saw a lot of vultures heading over towards the neighbours behind the koppie. After watching for a while to see if they were rising or landing I could see that they were indeed landing, which meant there was a very good chance of a kill of some sorts. I went out to see if I could find it, but unfortunately it was too far from the road to see. But the vultures were most obliging subjects for photos.

With so many vultures flying around the chances of getting a good shot were fairly high ;)  Did you know that a group of vultures in flight is called a kettle of vultures?

With so many vultures flying around the chances of getting a good shot were fairly high ;)

Did you know that a group of vultures in flight is called a kettle of vultures?

Mea culpa!

Ouch! It’s been 2 months since my last blog post….mea culpa!

It wasn’t that nothing happened, and in my head I wrote lots of posts, but somehow I just didn’t make the time to sit down and type them out, add the photo’s, upload them, link to them…. You get the picture…. I love sharing our experiences here at the lodge but I wish it could go straight from my head to the blog :)

Anyway…

We have been working on a lot of stuff to make the lodge even nicer. We now have a King size bed in Koedoe, and a Queen size in Waterbok, and all rooms will have mosquito nets soon. Michel has been hard at work on the outside of the lodge, rebuilding the carport and storm proofing the roof even more.

Even work is fun when you have a giraffe in the background

Even work is fun when you have a giraffe in the background

A lot of admin was done; we are now on booking.com and AirBnB and very soon you will be able to book with us directly from Facebook and the website.

Also Michel has put up pages on the website for Penga Ndlovu Customs, handmade knives, and I am working on my page for Glass Monkey Beads.

And in between we a week full of unexpected adventures with our guests. Including a lion sighting in pyjama’s, the guests that is… not the lion!

The best way to start a week at the Lodge, with a lion posing nicely on the driveway

The best way to start a week at the Lodge, with a lion posing nicely on the driveway

But enough of the excuses… I am determined to better my ways and have at least one blog post up each week from now on!!!