With things finally quietening down at the end of 12 months of construction, Tyler Davis shares some of the lovely sitings that he has witnessed with the miraculous return of the wildlife to the area
The resilience of nature never ceases to amaze me.
After nearly twelve months of construction and disturbance from the continuous 24/7 buzz and thrum of as many as 450 builders working and living on site, the project is days away from completion, things are getting quieter, and we are already witnessing the miraculous return of a faunal diaspora.
In fact, within just a few days of wrapping up our first camp just six weeks ago, we began noticing a measurable change in the wildlife around the Lodge. The hyraxes that had disappeared from the boulders below what is now the camp’s deck have stopped sulking, come out of hiding, and are again languidly sunning themselves – this time with adorable newborn pups at their side. Dik-diks, not seen in nearly a year, showed up one, two, three at a time, furtively tiptoeing between the tents at dusk and dawn. At our airfield, if the menagerie of zebra, giraffe, impala, topi, and eland that frequent the plateau aren’t enough, there’s now a playful family of Banded Mongoose that has been entertaining guests waiting for their flights. And just this morning, I noticed that one of the local zebra decided to help us with our landscaping – fertilizing the grasses planted in the berm at the edge of camp’s pond.
The pond itself is a miracle of its own. This contained little ecosystem, surrounding the camp’s library and guest cloakrooms like a moat, now has whirligig beetles, water striders, and even frogs and toads – all of which have found their own way, some in less than a week after it was completely filled. Now, every night at dinner, the croaking of Guttural Toads and trilling of grass frogs serenade us, and I expect even more species to arrive in the months to come.
Perhaps the most noticeable change, however, is the avian invasion – where forests were once quiet, they are now bustling with birdlife. I would not consider it unusual to tick 50 species in a morning, including the strange and stunning Ross’s Turaco, while casually walking the paths between the tents and guest areas. Red-winged Starlings, Mocking Cliff-Chats, and Little Rock-Thrushes, all birds at the extreme edge of their range here, join us for breakfast nearly every morning, along with an array of swifts, swallows, and raptors gliding past at eye level. Some of the raptors have even joined us for a meal – we recently watched in awe as an enormous Verreaux’s Eagle dropped from the skies upon an unsuspecting hyrax below our deck.
With each passing day, there are fewer builders on site and more wildlife to take their place. In the weeks and months to come, as the quiet returns to this corner of the Oloololo Escarpment, we look forward to observing what wildlife returns with it. A couple nights ago I heard a hyena whooping from the gully below, closer than ever before. Last night, it was a crying bushbaby right outside my window.
And tomorrow night? Will it be the haunting duet of African Wood Owls? Next week, a genet visiting us at a candlelit dinner? Eventually, the sawing cough of a leopard or the gentle rumble and quiet crush of leaves as a herd of elephants pass by? We know they will come, and we can’t wait.
Note from the Editor: Oh, and you are probably wondering what an NPG is? Our friends in the lodge business know only too well – non-paying guests.