photo Martin Goodey
A thunderous tropical rain storm arriving, most unusually out of the north, broke against the great black massifs of Meru and Manjaro in the early hours of November 23. Shortly after daybreak Dismus and I once again escaped Arusha via the northbound "Nairobi road"; for a while yet this African highway is both dangerously and delightfully narrow - all too soon it will be upgraded by engineers of the next dynasty to a far more murderous, three-lane 'Chinese modern standard'. Maybe. Because today raging torrents of coffee-coloured water frequently impede our progress as they rush the great slopes down. And, once we have descended to the desert plain of larks, it is clear, very few cars are making it through from Kenya.
Tuesday November 21 really was a Red Data Day.
Returning to Osugat, after an ankle injury enforced my absence for eleven days, Dismus and I discovered many changes out on the desert plain. In eastern Africa we are in the midst of what a climatologist might call - an exceptionally productive "short rains event". On the arena, behind the walls of Meru, occasional showers averaging perhaps a few drops more than one, and on every other day, have thrown a green veil across the ochre yellow soils and tempted the desert steppe into partial bloom. Presumably after loitering in the Horn lands, at long last Palearctic bird migrants are arriving, many local passerines are nesting and some butterfly populations are being bountiful, dispersing downwind and westward in search of habitat new.