The Lull Before the Storm

Wildlife sightings during June

June was a busy month at Antares and at the Umgede hide. The camp had a few guests but there were several days when the camp was empty allowing us to get on with some interesting upgrades to the hide and waterhole without disrupting anyone in the process.

Animal-wise we were spoilt with our regular elephant sightings. There were only 3 days during the whole of June when we didn’t record a single elephant sighting. On 19 days we recorded at least 2 or more sightings of elephant at the waterhole.

We started to enjoy the return of larger herds of impala. Recently we have seen herds of over 30 animals come down to drink. We also enjoyed a few other antelope species such as bushbuck and kudu. The giraffes spent a few days in the area with up to 6 individuals visiting us on one day.

A couple of hyena sightings at night added some excitement but the best was saved for a middle-of-the-day sighting, a pride of 8 or 9 lions stopped off for a very quick drink before continuing their diurnal hunting foray.

Replanting a dead leadwood

Around the hide Ian managed to fulfil one of the projects he has been dreaming about for the past year. With the help of a TLB digger he managed to replant 3 dead trees on the far side of the waterhole and create some new perches for the birds and in so doing hopefully encourage them to come closer to the cameras. The elephants decided they didn’t approve of the first tree and decided to roll it around and in the process smashed off one of the branches. This resulted in two trees being replanted instead of one. The third tree was the biggest and required the strength of the TLB to not only dig a hole deep enough but also to drag the tree to its new home.

We hope that the elephants appreciate their new backdrop now and don’t try to push them over. Some animals seem to have given their approval so far.

We are really happy with how the appearance of the waterhole has improved and we are sure it will bring much joy to many photographers over the coming months and years.

Birdlife at the camp and hide

From a birding aspect the hide has been very active. Large numbers of Golden Breasted Buntings, firefinches, waxbills and various weavers are all flocking to the water to quench their thirst. The arrival of an immature Green-backed Heron has kept us entertained all month. Ian does not know a bird with a bigger appetite than this individual. He is very partial to the Tilapia fish and the Platanna frogs, and he is constantly on the hunt, day and night. The Lilac Breasted roller and Brown Hooded Kingfisher are having a turf war and are constantly chasing each other around. The Kingfisher also has not read the bird books as he is also becoming partial to the Tilapia fish, an unusual diet for a bird who is reportedly insectivorous with the odd frog included. The Green woodhoopoes are active all day long sourcing food for their growing family. This offers an opportunity for keen bird photographers to get some great photos of these beautiful birds as they hang off the lip of the entrance into the nest in the Marula tree between the pool and the hide.

Improvements Inside Umgede Hide

Inside the hide we have continued to make improvements. The old wooden shutters have been replaced with new modern and lightweight aluminium framed shutters. Gone are the days of people forgetting to hold on to the rope and the shutter falling forward with a big bang. Now the lightweight shutters open inwards and upwards and are secured to the ceiling trusses with a chain. They have also now created an extra 5 cm of height in the shutter opening which makes a huge difference, especially when looking up into the large leadwood tree to find the kingfishers and other birds. It also means the cameras are slightly lower and closer to the water level, fantastic especially for the shorter guests. It also helps to get a better elevation for those star shots on these clear winter nights.

The coming months are going to be busy with guests and there will hardly be time to do any other work before the middle of October, so we are glad we were able to get all these improvements done when we did. The temperatures are certainly dropping at night now, so for guests planning their trips in July-September make sure you throw in that warm jacket and long trousers.

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