November has been an excellent month at Selinda Camp. We have had some excellent wildlife and birding sightings and have been fortunate to have great guests from all around the globe. November really is a magic time to visit the bush, as Mother Nature goes through an elegant state of chaos. The seasons change, we wait for rainfall and once it does arrive the bush bursts into life.
Our new airstrip opened on the 6th, a momentous occasion indeed. Our "old" airstrip was swallowed by the annual inundation in June this year and we were fortunate enough to be able to determine a new location and build the new airstrip during this year!
Weather and Landscape
November started out as October ended, hot and dry - not many signs of rain. However, as the month progressed the afternoon build-up of rain clouds became more pronounced until finally on the 18th, a lone thunderstorm came rolling in from the south-west and bathed the landscape around Selinda in regenerative, life-giving rain.
Since that day we've had a total of 30mm of rain and our summer rainfall season has well and truly begun. Daytime temperatures are now being moderated by the appearance of clouds and the rain, resulting in daytime highs of around 35° C. We look forward to more rain as it really transforms the vegetation in the area from hues of brown to emerald green grasses and leaves.
With the rain begins the new cycle of life for many of the animals of Selinda Reserve. Antelope mothers begin to give birth to their calves safe in the knowledge that soon there will be sweet new green growth of grasses and leaves to feed on, ultimately improving the quality of their milk for their suckling youngsters.
For the Selinda predators; lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, hyaena, jackal and even some raptors this means an easy meal - the balance of life is precarious and nature can be a cruel master. But, this is what it means to have evolved here and is a very necessary part of life - the new rains being the trigger.
Guests have been treated to some spectacular sightings this month. High on the list was the return of the Selinda Pack of wild dogs. They spent a few days around the back of camp and guests had easy viewing of them as they went about their daily routine of hunting, resting, socialising and hunting again - very special moments were shared.
Our lion pride has also been moving in and out of the area regularly, and our remaining big male has been ranging around - calling and patrolling his turf.
We've been conducting regular night drives too. Guests finish their evening meals and then hop back onto the vehicles for another hour or two in the darkness - questing for night life. These night drives have been extremely rewarding. We've spotted numerous serval, aardvark, aardwolf, bus babies, genets, civets and many other creatures who ply their trade on the night shift.
Birds and Birding
This time of year is notable for the return of our summer visitors; migratory birds that arrive from other parts of Africa and many that migrate from North America and Europe to spend the warm summer months here to breed.
The Woodland Kingfisher is a favourite summer visitor of ours. This kingfisher is one of a few that does not "fish", but rather exists by catching insects and other invertebrates as well as small vertebrates in the wooded areas around camp.
We've also had some super sightings of the elusive Purple Gallinule (or Swamphen) along the edges of the Selinda Spillway.
Soon we will start to receive more of the summer visitors and by the end of December the bush will be alive with birds!
In closing then for this month: November really is a great time to visit Botswana and in particular the northern parts which are home to Selinda Camp. There is such a vast diversity of new life here at this time thanks to the start of the summer rains. Game drives can be very rewarding and the odd afternoon thundershower is welcomed as it cools the day off and makes for a superb evening in the fresh, cool air. We hope to see you soon on the Selinda Reserve!
Photographs by John Hilton.