WILD PHOTO OF THE MONTH
You can smell it: Spring is in the air! During the early mornings, the air that you breathe has a fresh, moist feel to it. The light is turning a softer shade and the bird songs one can hear in the mornings are becoming more and more frequent as the build-up to Spring starts in earnest. The calls of the Greater Honeyguide, a sure sign of the changing of the seasons, are heard on a daily basis now. Some people know it as the bird that calls Victor. The Greater Honeyguide sits in the canopies of trees, continuously calling “Victoooor…Victoooor”. Other calls that can be heard now are the calls of the Chin-Spot Batis. These birds sound as if they are saying: “…three blind mice”. So we are entertained by all these magnificent bird calls from the trees surrounding the lodge. The trees are now also shaking off their last brown leaves, making space for the new, brightly green ones. Yes, Spring is in the air!
During August I was back in the saddle doing game drives for about two weeks. Being out in the bush this time of the year is great, as you can really experience nature at its best. We had huge amounts of elephants surrounding the lodge, and more than one day during which the total individuals in the different breeding herds that crossed the open area in front of the lodge, amounted to over 150 elephants! Guests can enjoy these sightings from the comfort of their Luxury Suite viewing decks, or one of the swimming pool decks –just another way to experience Africa! We got to see some more of Salayexe’s cubs this month. These furry bundles are about 8 weeks old now, have deep blue eyes and are mom’s pride and joy. This morning she even paraded them in front of our open area, to the delight of many a guest! As soon as they are a bit older, we will start habituating them to the vehicles, but at this stage, with the sightings being a one vehicle log, they are happy and do not seem bothered by our presence at all.
As mentioned a few months ago, we have been placing a trap cam around waterholes and some game paths. We have always sat down and tried to predict where we would get the best pictures, or where we might try and catch one of the cats in action. We did not come right for the first few months. We got pictures of everything else, but never a cat. Well I am glad to say that we managed to nail it this month! There is a marsh area just north of camp that has a lot of action in and around it. We call it Bushcamp open area. We were hoping to get some great pictures of the two Saddle Billed Storks that nest there. We never got any decent photos of the storks, but at last we got some photos of Salayexe, going about her routine. This area is not far away from her current den site and she passes through often. She did not go right up to the water’s edge to drink, but came close enough to be photographed. For next month we’ll try to get a lion. The Tsalalas did pass through this same area during the month, but unfortunately on the edge, too far from where the camera was situated. It might not be this month or next month, but be assured that we will get you that picture!
We’ve received a few requests by our readers and Facebook fans to supply an electronic map, with which they would be better able to see the area we traverse, as well as the movement of the animals. For this reason we will add one of our electronic maps to our website during the next month. This map, however, only includes EP, Simbambili, Arathusa Private as well as Arathusa Safari Lodge (these four farms are collectively known as the Arathusa Block). On the map you will be able to see Simbambili at the top, EP on the left, Arathusa Safari lodge on the right and Arathusa Private at the bottom. This is not an all-inclusive map of all the properties we traverse, but only of our own farm as well as our direct neighbours. What should be interesting is that most roads, areas and waterholes are named, so you would have a very good idea of the movements of animals, as well as the areas we normally view them. As soon as the map has been loaded unto our website, I would let you know.
We have also decided to add functionality to the Big 5 Blog by adding this weekly sightings update blog to this existing newsletter mailing list. Therefore you will get an alert as soon as we’ve posted the blog on Mondays.
To all our guests who celebrated their birthdays this month, we hope you had a fantastic day filled with love, laughter and lots of happiness. May your future hold many more! At the lodge we also celebrated a few birthdays. Hildah celebrated her birthday on the 8th of the month. She has been cleaning rooms at the lodge for the past 11 years, always with a smile on her face. On the 9th Dorris celebrated her birthday. She is one of the ladies that work in scullery, as well as main lodge. With a big responsibility, she always does a great job. On the 12th Jeaneth celebrated her birthday. If you’ve ever been to EP, you will know Jeaneth, as she is one of our friendly waiting staff. On the 14th Precious celebrated her birthday. She has also been with us for a number of years, mainly looking after the Rondavels. Pieter celebrated his 20th birthday on the 18th of August. He is one of the junior rangers who are helping out around the lodge. And last but not least, Marlé, our newest member of staff. She celebrated her birthday on the 28th. I believe that by now she has settled in nicely and I think she will spend many more birthdays with us here in the bush.
A big congratulations also goes out to Etienne and Marlet. It is confirmed that the newest arrival to the Elephant Plains family will be another boy. His name will be Martin Swart, named after Marlet’s dad. Everyone at the lodge is very excited and we are eager to meet him when he arrives in December.
I now hand you over to Chef Roxanne, for another mouth-watering, sweet-tooth recipe of the month.
100 g white sugar
75 ml water
625 ml cream
50 ml white sugar
10 ml vanilla essence
3 egg yolks
- Heat the sugar and water over a low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely.
- Increase the heat and allow the syrup to come to the boil.
- Cook until the syrup turns to a light, golden colour.
- Remove the pan from the heat and pour the caramel into six ramekin dishes swirling to coat the base and sides. (Do not allow the caramel to cool down before pouring it into the dishes.)
- Bring the milk and sugar to the boil in a pot.
- When the sugar has dissolved, add the vanilla essence and remove from the heat.
- Beat the eggs and the egg yolks until they thicken and become a pale yellow colour.
- Gradually add the milk mixture to the beaten eggs and stirring very well.
- Strain the custard into a jug and pour it into the ramekins.
- Place the ramekins in a deep baking tin and add enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Place the baking tin, which has been covered with tin foil in the oven and bake at 170°C for 40 minutes, or until the custard is firm to the touch.
- Remove the ramekins from the water and allow cooling down completely.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
- Run a knife around the edge of the ramekins and invert onto serving dishes.
Garnish with a fresh strawberry and some mint sprigs. Serve and enjoy!
Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!