Paradise returns to the bush at Antares

As I write this message, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for the passing of yet another calendar year. It feels like only yesterday we were anticipating the start of this year and now we’re already getting ready for Christmas lunches. But as always, time flies when you’re busy. Looking back over the past few months, it’s been heartening to see the many guests passing through the camp, both old friends and new faces. The growth of the business and the popularity of the camp and hide are something to be truly thankful for.

With the bush transforming into a paradise of lush greens and vibrant blooms, it’s impossible not to feel inspired by the sheer vitality of nature. Watching the baby mammals frolic with unbridled energy and listening to the songs of migrant birds is pure magic. We can only hope that the coming year will be just as joyous and wonder-filled as this one has been.

The reserve is a truly magical place, where nature thrives and amazes us every day. The recent sightings of lions, with prides split into smaller units and rejoining to form larger ones show that teamwork and unity always pays off. We are fortunate enough to witness the growth of several litters of cubs, which reminds us that life always gives us new opportunities to learn and explore. There have also been several sightings of leopard recently, with one or two new faces showing up and proving that maybe our local population is bigger than we thought.

The impalas have welcomed their little ones, offering us a glimpse into the joy of new life and growth. Watching these babies play and run around with joy is a reminder that we too should take the time to have fun and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings. Even the baby warthogs and elephants are a true delight to watch, with their endless energy, excitement and antics in and around the mud wallows. They show us that life is an adventure, and we should always embrace it with enthusiasm and a sense of wonder.

The hippo has returned a few times and even taken to marking his territory when he leaves now. Maybe one of these days we will wake up in the morning to find him still in the waterhole, but for now he has managed to evade all our guests.

A bull elephant came in one night and was showing clear signs of musth, a condition where male elephants increase their testosterone levels making them that much more unpredictable. Typical signs to observe are the constant dribbling of urine down the back legs and the secretion from his temporal glands. Both these conditions are clearly visible in the one photo. Another collared bull, “Fortunate”also visited us.

With the rains comes the need for maintenance and the edges of the waterhole need some reconstruction. Help was at hand in the form of a TLB that made this task so much quicker and easier. We also took the oportunity to use the machine to bring in a couple of large rocks to cover the end of the water pipe and stop the elephants from trying to dig it up all the time. So far the remedy has worked and they have the pipe alone but they still head to the inflow to drink the fresh water.

Predator action at Umgede Hide

The predators took the opportunity to visit the hide while the camp was empty for a few days. On more than one occasion, groups of hyena wandered past, some stopping to quench their thirst, some lions cantered past and the leopards even broke protocol and visited us during the daytime.

Groups of animals meet at the waterhole

Its always fun to look through the images captured at the waterhole and see who is visiting us when we are not there. What is even more fun is to see the combination of animals that visit. Sometimes these are friendly visits and the animals are happy to share their space, at other times one species is more dominant and other lesser species need to step aside, even just for a short while before returning to drink again.

The camp gardens are aflutter with avian antics!

Summer always brings an abundance of avian life to the reserve as the migrants return from their wintering grounds. Some of our birds return to breed while others breed in their northerly homes.

The Woodlands kingfishers arrived back early in November and they remind us of the presence daily with their trilling call as they look to establish their bond once again and start nesting.

The yellow-billed hornbills have been busy in their nest, with the male working his ticket every day bringing in food to his family in the Marula tree. About a week ago the female broke free and she has started to lend a hand to bringing in food to the chicks. Watching this on the newly installed camera was amazing and not something you get to see everyday. If you missed the post on our social media then click on the link and enjoy the video.

With the advent of the higher temperatures and rains comes an array of insects attracted to the lights on the hide. Every morning there is a wide variety of bird species that appear to take advantage of this feast, including the hornbills. Even the terrapins have learnt to take advantage of these opportunities.

There have also been some new recordings for the reserve in recent weeks. A pair of Broad-billed Rollers were seen, on the edge of their usual range and habitat. A Verreaux’s Eagle was also seen flying overhead. I have waited for over 20 years to see one of these on the reserve and was so happy to have eventually done so.

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