The Lull Before the Storm

Orioles and Aloes

Is it really almost the end of August already? This year has just flown by, and it would seem that every year the time seems to get shorter and shorter. It is said that time flies when you are having fun, so I guess we will just have to put that down as the reason for it.

We have certainly been enjoying our winter season here at Antares and so too have many guests. The camp has been busy, and we have seen a wide variety of animals on drive and from within Umgede Hide.

The weather at the start of July was rather unseasonal with some rain followed by a cold snap. In the lowveld we don’t expect to get any rainfall from around May through to October. In recent years this normality seems to have been thrown out the window and it would seem as though we can expect rainfall any time now. The change in temperature played quite a big part in the wildlife sightings and our one group of guests who arrived during this cold snap unfortunately didn’t get to see a great deal from inside the hide. It must be said that the highlight- or rather potential highlight, of that specific week was a group of lions come in for a drink. As luck would have it the guests had left the hide and come up to the camp to enjoy their dinner, and the lions turned up during that 20-minute time slot! Thankfully we had enjoyed a great lion sighting on game drive the day before so that kind of made up for it.

We have had quite a few visits recently from a small group of buffalo, sometimes just a single bull but on other occasions 2 or 3 of them coming in for a drink. They really are impressive beasts especially when you watch them in the dusk light. A porcupine has snuck in for a couple of drinks recently and another group of lions walked straight past the one night without even pausing to check out the water. They were obviously on some sort of mission and weren’t thirsty.

The elephants are back in full force on the reserve and as can be expected with the dry season they are visiting the waterhole on a regular basis. This week alone has seen some days with over 4 hours of non-stop elephant activity and up to 7 different herds visiting. There have also been many baby elephants in the herd which is always fun to watch. There have been occasions when a full mud bath and swim were the order of the day, and a quick drink just wasn’t good enough for them. My guests told me they had 4 big elephants submerge the one morning, and it must have been quite close to having sent a tidal wave through the open shutters.

Although the majority of guests spend time in the hide, a few do opt for the odd game drive and these too have been successful in recent weeks. There have been some great lion, buffalo and elephant sightings. A zebra had a lucky escape from a pride of lion and has survived to tell the tale (tail!) It looks like a really nasty wound but these animals are resilient and she will likely heal without complication. The only difference will be that her stripes will not align properly any more!

We almost got lucky with an African Wild Cat hunting a scrub hare this week but he missed.

Birdlife at the camp and hide

The birdlife has been amazing with the highlight being all the aloes in bloom and the sunbirds, orioles and a few others coming in to enjoy the daily dose of nectar. The Black-headed oriole feeding on the flowers of the Mountain aloes is a real treat. His contrasting black and yellow colours make him look superb against the green and orange of the aloes.

The hornbills show interest in the nesting hole from time to time but as can be expected it isn’t the breeding season just yet and so the hole for now remains empty. I am sure that as soon as the weather starts to warm up again, they will be busy with their spring clean waiting for the next round of eggs to be laid. In the meantime, they have become very relaxed around the camp and will often come and perch on the poles on the deck and watch you drink your morning coffee and rusks, probably waiting for the crumbs to drop!

The small reflection pond is very active with the smaller waxbills and other finches. Even the hornbills come in for their share of the seed when it is put down. The vervet monkey is also there to probably consume more than his fair share of the seed, but I guess that then diverts his attention away from trying to get into the kitchen. He has even started taking a liking to the tea candles on the dining deck so we had to take those away unfortunately.

The green backed heron’s visits have become more infrequent, but he still shows up every now and then. Maybe he has found another food source close by. The Lilac Breasted Roller is making use of the new tree perches and coming closer for photographers which is what we had hoped for- success! The barred owlets ae active around the camp too and recently Rick managed to photograph one of them with a frog it had caught in the water.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram @Antaresbushcamp to keep up to date with daily posts and reels from camera sightings.