Greystoke Mahale

The Original Mahale Camp

Greystoke Mahale is nestled on a white sand beach in Lake Tanganyika. Towering behind the lodge are the Mahale Mountains, home to one of the largest known populations of wild Chimpanzees left on our planet.

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Tue, Aug 18, 2015

Beach Birding

Along the beach at Greystoke one can always find a few feathery friends. One simply must look a little bit closer at the bushes and some true gems will start to shine.

The sunbirds found all over Africa with their iridescence are one of my favourite bird species to photograph, they come in a multitude of colours and can always be found getting nectar from some of the wild flowers which allows for a quick snap before they move on.

The Common Sandpiper is a regular visitor to the beach and can often be seen running along the shoreline of the lake, but you must be quick to snap a photograph as they dont hang around for long. 

The Red-capped Robin-chat has long been a personal favourite, but always skulking in the shadows makes them a tough subject. These very shy birds are one of the best songsters in the bush and one will often here them imitating other species, so if you fancy whistling this bird will often come in for an inspection and try out your tune. 

One pretty little bird you can always hear tinkering away along Greystoke's beach is this Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird. Very territorial birds that can easily be tempted into a good viewing by imitating their call.

We just can't get enough of these Pygmy Kingfishers, such striking colours, they make your day that much better here at Greystoke when you manage to spot one, there are two races in East Africa, this is the race more commonly found in southern Africa, that blueish tinge above its white neck spot is the differing factor.

This is a juvenile Klaas's Cuckoo a naughty bird because in this plumage it's quite difficult to distinguish between the juvenile African Emerald Cuckoo. But in the end that white patch behind its eye tells us this. They can also be classified as naughty birds as with all Cuckoos they rely on other birds to incubate their eggs and bring up their young, this Klaas's Cuckoo specifically using the Collared Sunbird as it's brood parasite.

Of course there is one bird that is a lot easier to find than all the above ones, he is always around, posing for anyone that wants, even a macro shot if you can avoid his bill.

Wed, Aug 5, 2015

Caesar’s Rise

One Chimp that holds a very special place in our hearts is Caesar, he was one of the first Chimps that we saw when first setting foot in Mahale 1 year ago. He is a teenage male that some believe holds very high expectations. His pale freckled face gives him a distinguished feature, making him easy to spot a long way off. 

He is a bit of a 'Mummy's Boy,' often in the presence of his high ranking mother Cynthia who has a young baby boy yet to be named at the moment and a sister who died at the age of 4 before being named. 

Here Caesar and his mother do the diagnostic Mahale 'hand-clasp,' a grooming technique that has many different versions among Chimpanzees but this one unique to our Mahale Chimps.

As a teenage Chimp, Caesar is starting to push his limits, taking on the other young chimps as well as those passed their prime. He is showing much gain over the past few weeks and taking dominance over many other males forcing his way into the M-group hierarchy. 

With a face like this, could you stare him down? His mother's high rank among the females gives him somewhat of a head start in the race to the top of the Males, but still in his teens he is yet to reach his prime. 

But with high hopes of his recent endevours, the name Caesar might just prove to be a well chosen one, relating the name to the famous Roman leaders or Caesar the leader of the Apes in the modern Planet of the Apes films.

If, in years to come, he does manage to rise to the top of the M-community, we are sure with his softer side along with his value of family will make him a leader of poise and modesty.

Wed, Jul 15, 2015

Pangolin Rush

When you are called with excitement 'RUN, QUICKLY, BRING YOUR CAMERA, QUICKLY, NOW!' Your adrenalin starts pumping, and mind starts wondering. What on earth has created so much excitement from the forest, could it be Chimps swimming in the lake, could it be a pair of Leopards playing cards or could it be 'a Pangolin'? 

If you had to ask most guides in Africa what is the one animal that has evaded their careers and a solid majority will have to say the Pangolin. So for us this was our first and hopefully not last, but if it was the last we could still die happy with just seeing the one.

It was spotted by our boat driver running from the beach to the forest. We followed him for several minutes crashing through the undergrowth before he returned to the beach giving us a solid half hour of viewing pleasure.

Of the four species found in Africa, this is the Ground Pangolin, it's large round edged scales seen above tell us that. These scales are made of keratin, the same stuff as your fingernails and Rhino horns. These scales are soft at birth and harden later on and are used in defense, as when the Pangolin is threatened it will roll up into a tight ball that is just about impenetrable.

We were very grateful to this amazing animal for showing itself in daylight as they are generally nocturnal, hence the dificulty in seeing them. We can only hope that one day we come across another one.

Mon, Jul 6, 2015

Mahale at its Best

Greystoke has been up and running for just over a month now, and a few highlights from in and around camp are becoming harder and harder to pick with each and every day offering something different to focus on. 

We were out of camp for 2 weeks enjoying the UK summer and what more could we ask for on return with a group of chimps including Caesar and Darwin munching of figs in the big fig tree just behind the camp...since this, the news has spread and many more chimps have made their way through camp to have a snack before pushing off into the jungle. 

Of course our close relatives are more often than not up in the jungle and we must continue with the daily chores around camp. But we always have something to look out for, like this Blue Duiker who on a rare day allows for a slight glimpse and for a highly unlikely experience they don't see you and allow for a 10 minute viewing. 

Another small creature that has been pretending to be a dull leaf on a branch in and around camp is the Pygmy Kingfisher, but unfortunately for them their beautiful electric blues quite often catch my eye. Unlike their name suggests, they hunt insects in the leaf-litter.

Smaller critters obviously have caught our eyes since arriving back, but who could deny this baby Vervet monkey's cuteness. We found mum with it yesterday, probably only a couple days old and very inquisitive as to the big jungle all around. 

We have been surrounded by perfection, with clear starry nights, breath-taking crystal clear warm waters, sunny days and of course some of the best sunsets in Africa. 

Greystoke truly deserves a visit if it's sooner or later we are sure it will inspire. 

Sun, May 31, 2015

Bird Life..!

After two quiet months and many days of sprucing up the camp, Cam and I returned to paradise and found our feathered friend eagerly awaiting all the attention he's been missing!

After several days by truck from Dar es Salaam and 12 hours by boat from Kigoma our supplies finally arrive!

Lots of work to be done to get the camp up and running, the Greystoke family pull together to make sure it's as swift as possible....

Big Bird ever inquisitive in everything we do likes to lend a helping beak...including the painting!!  Getting himself very dirty in the process!

A very intelligent bird he needs constant stimulation and attention and doesn't BB let us know it!

After a little clean up session we invent new games for him to keep him occupied...his current favourite is "throw watermelon into the pot of water, fish it out and throw it at the Managers!" 

He loves to climb our stairs to the office to see if we need any help....

It took a little coaxing to remind BB of how to fly off the boat!!

What better way to spend an afternoon after all that hard work with a little lake surfing...!

Big Bird was so pleased to have his friends back and will be over the moon once his International fans arrive to shower him with love and attention..the way he has become accustomed to!! Such a diva wink


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