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Africa » Malawi » Central » Lilongwe February 5th 2020

I was down to cook lunch on Sunday but there was so much food left over after the Braai I had a very easy job! I did help Remi make veggie tempura for supper which we deep fried once in the afternoon then re-fried after the evening’s survey. As it was Remi’s last night and she wanted to fit in a last bat survey we headed out to the banana plantation and set up some harp traps and mist nets, as well as a light trap to see what insects are flying. We also spent a bit of time investigating banana leaves looking for the banana pipistrelle (Neoromicia nana) but sadly with no success. Just as we’d set everything up there were some flashes of lightning getting closer across a very ominous looking sky ... read more
Beetle ID
Rufous mouse-eared bat
Ethiopian epauletted fruit bat

Africa » Malawi » Central » Lilongwe February 2nd 2020

Monday morning Remi & I had a cooking lesson with Esther on how to cook nsema. It looks both very simple - nsema flour & water - & very skilled - in knowing just how much to add when! Next time she’s said she’ll talk me through it as I cook... That afternoon I joined Dom & Esther at an emergency conflict roost at a school in Esther’s village. Sadly due to the superstitions that surround bats the manager of the school was worried that the bats would be killed unless we could relocate them out of the toilet block. We spoke to the village chief who the team had been in contact with about one of their other projects. Whilst all this was going on we had an ever increasing crowd of village kids watching ... read more
Peters's epauletted fruit bat
Ringing workshop kit
Bat box checking at LWT

Africa » Malawi » Central » Lilongwe January 27th 2020

My third week with African Bat Conservation started pretty sedately with Monday mostly spent updating my blog, sorting photos, identifying butterflies from an ID book discovered in the office & doing a draft of my article for the monthly newsletter. I also spent some time identifying the butterflies I had seen around camp. That evening we returned to one of the private gardens in an attempt to catch more dark-winged lesser house bats (Scotoecus hirundo) to include in Lena’s project. Sadly we didn’t get quite as many as last time with only five being caught in the mist nets, but this was enough for Lena to include. We also caught 3 Epomophorus labiatus fruit bats & a 3 yellow-bellied house bats (Scotophilus dinganii), the latter of wh... read more
Inside the Hipposideros roost tunnels
Lena radio-tracking the jackal
ABC stand at the farmer's market

Africa » Malawi » Central » Lilongwe January 20th 2020

A week after we arrived Remi & I finally found time to make it to an open bank to exchange out money in to Kwacha & were able to pay back the others what we had borrowed! After lunch Esther gave us a Chichewa language lesson - my first but a recap for the others. It is a lovely sounding language. Monday evening we were taking and hand-netting yellow-bellied house bats (Scotophilus dinganii) from a couple of buildings near camp. Tom & I had to stand at the exit holes holding up the nets for what felt like ages before a couple of bats flew in! One bat managed to escape completely from each location but we caught 8 in total which was the minimum Lena needed for her project looking at wing morphology. ... read more
Mending mist nets
Dark-winged lesser house bat
Ethiopian epauletted fruit bat

Africa » Malawi » Central » Lilongwe January 12th 2020

My overnight flight out to Nairobi was fairly straighforward, although I was a bit sad it was still dark when we arrived. I then had nearly 8 hours to kill at the airport so I splashed out on entry to the Simba Lounge & nested on a sofa in the corner until it was time to go to my gate. I should have been suspicious that things were going so smoothly. With nerly 3 hours until my flight I glanced at the departures board & say it said “Final call”! Luckily the lady on the lounge desk told me not to worry, the gates wouldn’t even be opening for another 2 hours & my flight was half an hour late anyway. So in good time I headed down to the gate, only to find out from ... read more
Agama lizard
Counting fruit bats
Eidolon helvum in flight

Africa » Malawi » Central » Kasungu October 22nd 2019

6:30 in the morning and we're on our way to Monkey Bay’s port. Here there are around a dozen ships docked, at least half are semi-derelict. They would probably sink if the water was a bit deeper. But our little ferry, MV Ilala, looks fine ,though she is showing her age. Three decks and a single yellow and blue funnel, the colours of The Malawi Shipping Company. She reminds us of the Clyde steamers built of heavy steel plate with rivets that have been painted over many times. All the decks are of well-worn hardwood planks. The Ilala was built in 1949 in Glasgow and, like all the ships on the lake, dismantled before being shipped as a giant kit to Africa. The parts came by sea then river before being carried or hauled over land! ... read more
Boarding and leaving by lifeboat
Gill's not steering!
Bua River Lodge

Africa » Malawi » Southern » Monkey Bay October 17th 2019

We travel from Lilongwe to Monkey Bay on Mother's Day, a Tuesday this year. As it is a festival day, there are spirit dancers celebrating on the village roadsides. Dressed in grotesque masks and wigs, these dancers are incarnations of spirits and they perform at funerals and festivals. And for 500 kwatcha, 50p, a group happily dance for us. The dancing is not great but the costumes are amazing and quite scary. As well as ancestors, the sprits include a pink faced “white man” and wild and domesticated animals. The long haired elephant is amazing. No drive In Malawi is complete without stops for the driver: “Excuse me but I just have to ...” They've shopped for beef, water, electric plugs and, on every trip, petrol – all bought after getting our fare up front. They ... read more
Local wildlife
Our room
Three school girl to guide us

Africa » Malawi » Central » Lilongwe September 29th 2019

We're off to Africa for a few weeks. First, a few nights in Lilongwe, Malawi before we head into Zambia and the South Luanga National Park on Safari. Back in Malawi, we'll be off to Monkey Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi. There we will board the MV Ilala, sailing north at a sedate speed to the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. Here we will see more wildlife, we hope, on the Bua River. We'll then be taking a short flight from Lilongwe to Nampula en route to the Isle of Mozambique in the Indian Ocean for a few days chilling. We will be blogging when we can ... watch this space.... read more

Africa » Malawi » Central » Lilongwe September 16th 2019

Das ist der letzte Tag in Malawi, wir fahren von Ost nach West durch, an die Grenze, und dann nach Sambia. Ich benütze die Gelegenheit, in Lilongwe abzuzweigen und das Hauptquartier von "Eine Dollar Brille" zu besuchen. Es gibt in Lilongwwe einen ganz neuen Stadtteil, mit all den Parlamentsgebäuden, EU Sitz, und eine Vielzahl weitere Organisationen. In einem kleineren Haus ist "in Dollar Brille". Ich hatte vorher geschrieben, dass ich komme, und sie waren vorbereitet auf den Überfall. Dort gibt es eine Produktion von Brillengestellen, inzwischen gibt es drei verschiedene Fassungen. Mit einer Maschine, die Martin Aufmuth erfunden hat, wird memory Draht gebogen, an den Enden wird Schrumpffolie angebracht, damit der Draht nicht weh tut - fertig. Die Gestelle sind genormt, es werden dann nur die Gläer eingesetzt. Um alles genau zu sehen, ließ ich mir ... read more
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Africa » Malawi » Lake Malawi September 14th 2019

Diesen freien Tag verbrachten wir am wahrscheinich schönsten Platz der Welt - Chinteke Inn am Lake Malawi. Eine ruhige Anlage, schöne Zimmer ohne unnötigen Firlefanz, hervorragendes Essen, nette Besitzer, ein Personal, wie es besser nicht sein könnte, ein freundlicher Hund. Das Abendessen haben sie uns einmal direkt unten am See serviert, dazu Tische und Stühle hinunter getragen, alle Speisen, Feuer angezündet, damit es noch romantischer ist, den Vollmond haben sie wahrscheinich auch extra bestellt für uns. Es gab eine ganze Anzahl von Aktivitäten, die angeboten wurden, ich bin beim Vogelbeobachten mitgegangen, obwohl der Gipfel meiner Vogelkenntnisse ist, dass ich ein Huhn von einem Kanarienvogel unterscheiden kann. Aber der Spaziergang war schön, denn wr liefen durch ein nahe gelegenes Dorf, die Kinder sind herbei gesaust, und wir sahen das Leben der Einheimischen, das sich ... read more
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