We had typical summer weather, mostly sunny for morning walks, stormy in the afternoons. All the migrants have arrived, even including a Willow Warbler – unusual at this altitude. Several Violet-backed Starlings spent much of the days picking over the trunk of a Dais tree right in front of the garden balcony. It looked as though they were stripping off lichens, presumably to use as nest lining. Paradise Flycatchers were seemingly everywhere, and a pair was nesting close to the side road leading to the 70s block. Both male and female incubated alternately.
A very welcome sight was the return of Green Wood-hoopoes. Once regular residents, it’s been five years since they were last seen. Yellow-browed Canaries were also present after several years away.
Right above our bedroom door, within touching distance was the nest of a Greater Striped Swallow. It’s had an interesting history. It’s been repaired at least twice in different years, the proof being that differently coloured muds have been used. Finally, fluffy material protruding from the entrance indicates that White-rumped Swifts have pirated the nest.
Big game really lived up to its name. Four different (how can we be sure? Every individual has a unique stripe and spot pattern, exactly akin to human fingerprints) Bushbuck appeared in the garden. One was a heavily pregnant female, another, a near-black male with world record horns. These were upstaged by a herd of at least 60 Eland on the hillside facing the hotel. It’s the time of year when Eland get together to breed, but this might well be a record herd at The Cavern.
Two snakes appeared. A Night Adder was rounded up near the spa, and was relocated far away. A probable first for The Cavern was a Brown Water Snake, caught crossing our path at night between dining room and bedroom. Confusingly it doesn’t have to be brown, and indeed “ours” was olive, but the pink belly is diagnostic. It’s harmless, and behaved well after capture, no attempt to bite.