Climate and Landscape
Mid-winter in the Delta is characterised by lovely sunshine, mild to warm temperatures during the day and some crisp mornings. This winter has been no different, although some days with cool winds towards the end of the month are an indication that the seasons are changing.
Water levels are dropping quite quickly, especially in the floodplains, and boating is starting to become difficult on some of the smaller channels.
The lions are seemingly very well fed, as they were seen on a number of kills throughout the month (warthog, zebra, wildebeest, tsessebe and buffalo were all on the menu). The cubs are doing well, and we had great pleasure in viewing their antics – including on the plains area right in camp! They could be seen with ease from the boardwalk connecting the rooms and kept everyone awake for two consecutive nights with all the noise they created.
Leopard sightings were also good, one on a porcupine kill being especially notable. The Camp Female has been fairly obliging and spent numerous evenings traversing the camp area – as was evident from her footprints the morning after. Two males were seen near Giraffe Pan, one sub-adult male and the other a young adult. They kept stealing the remains of an impala kill from one another, much to the delight of the guests on the sighting!
A cheetah, an uncommon sight on Hunda, was seen twice this month: once on a lechwe kill near Tubu Corner and the next day heading across the airstrip to the more open north of the island. With the diminishing water levels, we surmise that she headed off the island in search of suitable hunting grounds.
One wild dog was around for a few days as well, and its lechwe kill was stolen by four warthog – yes, you read that correctly! The hogs chased the dog for a while, then returned to the carcass and proceeded to feed on it. Most pigs are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal material, but warthogs are pretty much vegetarian and very rarely eat meat.
Porcupine and spring hare were other noteworthy sightings on a night drives
Birds and Birding
Winter in the bush leads to the formation of bird parties, offering guests the chance to see several species in a relatively small area. As the bush dries, food becomes scarcer and birds of many different species flock together to make maximum use of what may be around.
Generally, seed-eaters are found on or near the ground, picking up ripe seeds from grasses, forbs and trees that have fallen onto the soil. Their actions often disturb the insects hiding in dense vegetation or underground, providing easy pickings for the insectivores sitting in the branches above. Birds tend to be more confiding as well, since the breeding season is over and they do not need to hide for fear of their nest being discovered.
The drying waters are also trapping fish in the shrinking pools or forcing them into larger channels – creating a feast for the herons, darters, cormorants and kingfishers. Boat cruises at this time of year often yield great sightings of these and other fish-eating birds. The diminutive malachite kingfisher is a perennial favourite, even for those guests who confess to not being particularly interested in birds!
Staff in Camp
Managers: John Nott, Dominique Nott, Jan Pienaar, Liana Jansen, Jared Zeelie, Sharon Nyamangara, Ndiwo Masesane
Guides: Kambango Sinimbo, Seretse Xaeko, Maipaa Tekanyetso, Kaizer Rams, Phenyo Lebakeng, Kelebeng Mahupe