Once again we only had 4 students. Most of them were from overseas and only 1 was local, in fact she was one of the owners here on the reserve. They all did extremely well and passed the Antares course with high marks.
I found this group to be an inspiration and I was filled with a breath of fresh air. They were all very eager to learn about the bush, soak up whatever information was available and they became excited and passionate about the smallest things. To see someone get so emotional when they begin to understand the process that a caterpillar goes through during metamorphosis, or how the dung beetles start rolling their balls of dung around takes me back to my early beginnings and reminds me how easy it is to start taking these activities and sightings for granted because we get to see them so frequently.
I have rarely had a group so passionate about their bird watching. This again gave me great pleasure since it is one of my passionate subjects too, and I firmly believe that any guide that wants to be regarded as a top guide needs to have a more-than-casual affinity with the birdlife around them. One of the interesting sightings we had was that of a flock of violet-backed starlings in June. These birds are normally summer visitors and return to east Africa in April, so to see them still here was an exciting discovery.
There were numerous sightings at the waterhole as usual, especially elephants. They had a couple of buffalo sightings as well as other general game. The hyenas were active almost nightly around the centre and their spoor was encountered on the roads in the area almost every day. The lion kept a low profile, although they were vocal in the area on a few nights, it was only a few days before the end of the course when the students got to appreciate how big their spoor is in comparison to the other predators found in the area.
One of the highlights towards the end of the course was to see 2 snakes hunting the foam nest frogs under the canopy by the pool. One was a spotted bush snake who eventually managed to catch hold of a frog but by all accounts he relinquished his prey after an hour of battling to swallow it backwards. The other snake was a female boomslang who proceed to catch and eat 3 frogs in the space of 4 days.