I’ll start with the bad news. Over the full moon, which fell on the Easter weekend, our beehives were raided. Eleven hives were destroyed and the honey stolen to sell to local brewers who use it to make alcohol – changaa as it is known here. Even worse than our indignation at being robbed, is the fact that honey thieves never leave any honey for the bees that worked so hard to make it. Without that vital honey-filled comb, they won’t be able to reproduce. After the raid, we saw a swarm of bees huddled together in a big mob, clinging to an acacia tree branch, robbed of their home. I felt so sorry for them…in fact, I am furious!
Two of our beehives, burnt out and destroyed (above and below)
Wasted honeycomb which could have sustained a new generation of bees
The better news is that, with the river full again, the hippos are happy. One turned up opposite the house, scouting out the reed beds where we often see hippos spending the heat of the day. The following day, a mother hippo appeared in the same place with a small baby…I can’t believe this is the same mother and baby hippo that were living here before – the baby looks smaller, so I think this is a new one. Hippos are one of the only mammals (apart from whales) that give birth underwater. Imagine being a baby hippo and having to swim to the surface before being able to take your very first breath! It’s so lovely having the hippos right here by the house.
Hippo scouting out the reed beds opposite our house
Mother and baby hippo
Yesterday, the river was rising and falling every few hours, changing the landscape completely as huge grey storm clouds gathered overhead, preparing for our nightly downpour. (Today is another story again, but that will have to wait for my next post…)
There must have been rain to the west of us because the Mtito River started flowing, having been dry for over a month. From the house, we watched as it broke its way into the much larger Athi, crocodiles, herons, egrets and hammerkops congregating at its mouth.
The smaller, seasonal Mtito River starts flowing into the Athi (on the right hand side of the above picture)
A Crocodile and a Grey Heron wait for prey at the mouth of the Mtito River
Oh so elegant: a Grey Heron stands next to a Great White Egret near the Mtito River mouth
Unbelievably, the Bauhinia (bauhinia taitensis) are flowering again already, only six weeks or so since they were last out in bloom…In fact, the dry season has been relatively short as the last rainy season ended so late. Unlike last time, when the Bauhinia started flowering in dribs and drabs, with the sudden heavy and sustained rain, the flowers have come out en masse this time, like snow across the landscape. Do you know the feeling when something is so beautiful, it hurts to look at it? This is how I feel when I look at these blossoming Bauhinia bushes, with their pungent yet delicate scent like roses. Each flower-laden bough looks like a ready-made wedding bouquet. Even as they start drying out – ever so soon, for the blossom is short-lived, turning pinkish and shedding its petals like confetti after just 24 hours – they retain an aching beauty.
Our driveway, adorned with Bauhinia taitensis bushes in full bloom
Turning pink, as they start to dry out…
Other flowers are blossoming too, including the pink grewia lilacina and clumps of small yellow flowers which I think are triumfetta flavescens. The yellow-flowered creeper on our lawn (which shall remain nameless for the simple reason that I don’t know what it’s called) has produced a wonderful looking fruit that resembles a melon. In our balcony flowerbeds, the most incredible white lilies have self-seeded (pictures below) – they’re similar but not the same as the white lilies I photographed during the last rainy season. They took us completely by surprise – all of a sudden they were there on our balcony in all their glory, and the next day, they were withered and gone…but what a flush of beauty while they lasted!