The month of December was a fairly cool and consistent month, without any extreme temperature fluctuations; indeed the weather could be described as comfortable, allowing for great siestas and even longer game drives. The water levels have reached an all-year low. This has meant that the boats are working a little harder to get through some sections, and we have to try and stick to the deeper channels. That said, those that have been fishing this month have seen the benefit of the low waters. As a result of less space, the fish are more confined and are feeding vigorously as there are many insects and baby fish around. Some fishing outings have resulted in a catch of no less than 20 plus fish of differing species – this is fantastic for the record, as all fishing is done on a catch and release basis. The wildlife also seem to be moving more freely at this time, as lower water levels make ‘island hopping’ much easier. We have had some good sightings of lions and quite a number of leopard sightings with two of them occurring on the camp drawbridge!
The local hyaena den is still very active and has produced great sightings and encounters for our guests, especially since the sub adult members have been really inquisitive. Sitatunga have also been seen a number of times this month, providing a prized photo opportunity once or twice. The resident hippo bull that often hangs around camp has not been seen for some time, and we are beginning to wonder if the occasional smell of carrion that blows past the camp from further west could be him, possibly falling victim to a territorial fight with another hippo bull? The birding has been as prolific as ever, especially since all of the summer migrants have arrived. With the water level so low, fish traps have developed along the shallower channels, creating a feeding frenzy amongst all the water birds and wading species. One can find huge congregations of great-white pelican, African fish-eagle, marabou stork and even a couple of vulture species all gorging themselves on the easy pickings of aquatic creatures.
Some of the birding highlights included yellow wagtail, southern-ground hornbill and of course Pel’s fishing-owl. We wish everybody a prosperous New Year, and hope to see you at Xigera sometime in 2014!