Fellow explorers from left: Grant, Elliot, Colin on a rock overlooking Lake Eyasi.
So, I may have fallen in love with this place. Having been their at the end of the dry season for the first time, I went back in the middle of January for a week with Colin Beale, my brother Elliot, and the manager Grant Burden for a week of birding. I couldn’t believe how different it was, and this is the sequel of that trip. The colors had changed from the dry greys, purples, and yellows to all shades of green bursts of yellow, pink, blue, white and red from all the wild flowers. With the help of Collin, whose ear for bird song and eye for the subtle differences in larks and pipits, we managed to rack up a good 202 bird species. Not bad for an actual total of 3.5 days birding interrupted by buffalo bulls, a walk to the escarpment where we watched a pair of Vereaux Eagles (aka Black Eagles) soar the ridge, and jumping into rock pools to cool off.
Compare the brilliance of the green in January to the dryness in the photo below. (Same ridge different angle)
(Photo courtesy Mike Beckner Nov. 2010)
I went back the next week alone and spent some time doing some longer walks, had the opportunity to see the area from the air and to refresh my mind having had a busy safari season last year. Anderson, Grant, Beazie and I spent most of the time driving around, climbing into kopjies, walking along drainage lines, and frogging at night. When it comes to trying to describe a paradise, I’m not sure my command of English is good enough.
Red milk weed.
Gloriosa superba- need we say more?
Mwiba is full of little springs that will provide water throughout the year for wildlife. There are numerous drainage lines that cut through the escarpment and its fault lines, cutting chutes through granite and creating hippo pools to sneak up on. There are ridges covered in antique Acacias to picnic under, grassy open glades to walk through, rocky outcrops to climb and watch the sun go down from, elephant paths to follow through the thickets, and of course the diversity of animals is also outstanding. In the two weeks there we saw nearly 40 species of large mammal. Admittedly the abundance of game doesn’t yet compare with the Serengeti, Ngorongoro or Tarangire, but I love the opportunity and the potential here. I can get out of the vehicle at any time I want, wade into streams at night, climb rocks, and search for nocturnal animals at night.