Sue & Gordon's Notebook.
February 2014 finds us in the 2nd half of Summer, having passed the Summer solstice on 21st December, 2013. The days are hot, as they should be, but not the oppressive heat that we sometimes get for short periods in December and January. The evenings are mild and a pleasure to enjoy under the star filled Southern Hemisphere skies.
Our rains started more or less on time late last year, and we had a mid-season dry spell in late December, early January. This is a normal pattern, and is followed by rain again from the second half of January, hopefully continuing well into April this year. February has been very good for rain so far, to the extent that you can almost "hear the grass grow."
In spite of the rain and the resultant thick vegetation in the Reserve, game viewing on drive has been exceptional, and our Field Guides are to be commended for the great sightings and experiences they enthral our guests with.
Around the waterhole in front of the Lodge has also been fantastic from a sightings point of view, and when exceptional "stuff" happens, we get such a thrill. The underground Hide has given our guests many fantastic memories, both in pictures to treasure forever, as well as just having the experience of being so close to wildlife, in the safety of the Hide.
To be so close that you can examine the toe nail of an elephant, standing just a metre away from you, or watch baby waterhogs playing right in front of the Hide opening is unbeatable as a true wildlife experience. You sometimes need to pinch yourself to just remember that these really are wild animals!
When we built the underground Hide in early 2012, we had to have a structural engineer involved because the roof of the Hide is outside of our fenced area, and there was always the possibility that a large elephant could walk across the top of the Hide. Concrete and steel were used, and we held thumbs!
Nearly two years later was the first time all the building effort was really put to the test when this five ton + elephant bull walked on top of the Hide and stayed there for about ten minutes, casually eating some lush grass. We are very happy to report that the engineer and builder did do a great job.
Because of all the lush vegetation, December/January is when many of the herbivores give birth. Young Impala, Wildebeest, and many other species are all around, and often just watching the antics of the young is so much fun. Even our Summer resident pair of Egyptian Geese have had a good breeding season this year, with seven young goslings here at the waterhole to delight us.
Another sure sign of a good wet Summer season is flocks of red billed Queleas. These birds, which have the ability to breed in record time, form enormous flocks which are an absolute pest to crop farmers, raiding and destroying potential grain harvests. Here in Madikwe, they are present in large numbers whenever grass is plentiful, and again feed on the grass seeds.
We were sitting enjoying a morning cup of coffee last week when there was the sound of a huge splash at the waterhole. The wild dogs were hunting an adult male wildebeest, and the animal had the sense to run into the middle of the waterhole. Wild dogs will often follow prey into water, and are very capable of pulling down animals in water. On this particular occasion, the wildebeest made his way slowly towards the
When you have the time, do come and visit this spectacular corner of our world. Whilst sightings can never be guaranteed, and you do need some luck on your side, we can promise a relaxing and pampered experience at The Bush House, as always.
Hope to see you soon!