Well what an eventful few months it has proved to be since our last newsletter, great and interesting sightings both at the lodge and on the reserve.
Along with our spring season which started on the 1st of September came some pretty hot temperatures already which has been quite a relief from the cold evenings and frisky mornings. Having said this, we are still eagerly awaiting the first rains which sometimes surprise us in September but usually starting around mid to late October.
It is really amazing to witness the changes in the bush as a result of the change in season. There is a specific evergreen tree which is widespread throughout the reserve called “Shepherds’ tree” or “Witgat”, which has dark green leaves during the winter and the timing is almost perfect as just after the 1st of September it is a pleasure to see fresh lightly colored green leaves appearing but that is not the end, the best part is when the tree is in flower. When driving past these trees one is greeted with quite an unpleasant strong sour smell, a reminder that nature offers us the bad with the good.
Another change to be noted is the arrival of migrant bird species from the northern hemisphere continents as well as North Africa. Some of the first to arrive are the red breasted swallow, lesser striped swallow, European bee- eaters, Wahl berg’s eagle and steppe buzzards and the excitement continues towards the end of spring with more new arrivals.
Jacques also could not ignore the beautiful changes and took the opportunity to photograph a stunning male tree Agama lizard. The head of these males transforms into a bright blue during the breeding season.
One of the many game sightings worth mentioning was to see the interaction between two young male lions and a herd of buffalo around one of the reserves waterholes towards the end of July.
We were parked on top of the waterhole embankment observing the lion’s sleeping on the opposite side close to the tree line and to our amazement; we noticed a few dark figures appearing out of the scrub walking straight towards the sleeping lions. With the buffalo getting closer and the lions waking up and realizing what was coming their way, they very quickly moved themselves up to a mound situated in the center of the waterhole. This seemed to give the herd a bit of confidence as they still came down to drink with the lions staring them down. Movement from one of the lions sent the herd running off and it was at this point that one of the mature bulls decided that this was enough and charged at the lions with much aggression and as this happened the rest of the herd moved in closer thus narrowing the lions escape route. The one lion’s decision left him with no option but to leap through the thick mud to get to safety.
His brother on the other hand was being cornered off and charged by one of the mature females of the herd and his only option now was to follow his brothers muddy route of escape to safety. Exciting stuff!
Leopard sightings have increased over the last two months or so in the western section with a number of different individuals being spotted. On a fairly cool, cloudy and windy day we spotted a large female resting in a Marula tree. We were almost back at the lodge and all of a sudden there she was, lying relaxed in the perfect leopard tree.
It is well known that Black rhinos have a very curious nature and this was quite evident in the behavior of a mature male we encountered one afternoon just behind our waterhole. He surprised us with his presence by jumping out from behind the trees, took one look at us and dashed off but ran in a circular pattern and returned back to face us staring with much curiosity. It was amazing to see this animal face to face.
Elephants! Got to love them, especially during the dry season where huge herds congregate around the water holes. One of these waterholes is situated almost in the center of the reserve and has to have water pumped into it and this provides a fair amount of mud which of course is a very inviting playground for elephants. Seeing a young bull slipping into the mud pool was classic and then watching another chasing some blue wildebeest away from the water was priceless.
Driving through the reserve one gets reminded of the powerful strength of an elephant when noticing big trees that have been pushed over, however I was truly humbled one September afternoon when we came across two massive bull elephants that were busy wrestling with each other. The sound of tusks clashing and skin rubbing and just pure strength was an incredible experience.
And of course last but not least was a great sighting here at the Bush house water hole. We had a few male lions resting under the trees for about two days and on one occasion a big elephant bull came to drink and splash and while he was at his business, one of the lion’s very boldly also had his turn to drink on the opposite side. Both animals were not in the least bothered about each other.
Well everyone. That’s it from my side and hope to see you soon at this very special place.
Take care now.