Landscape, Vegetation and Weather
The mornings have become very cold, with the lowest temperatures being five degrees Celsius three days in a row. Some of the mornings were foggy which is not common in Hwange National Park.
Our ordeal trees are yellow and ready to lose their leav es, however the winds have not picked up yet which is possibly why the leaves cling on. As we approach the windy month, we can imagine a future carpet on the roads. However most of the trees, especially in vleis, have lost their leaves forestalling the dry season approaching. The bush is becoming clear as the elephants walk on dry grasses and break through, making the game drives more of a success, especially with nocturnal animals.
Star gazing is at its best with the sky being so clear. It was so good to be able to identify more than three planets in one evening. The famous Scorpio still ‘stings’ most of the constellations just above our fire pit.
Wildlife viewing has been outstanding and we are starting to see game in big herds. Zebra and wildebeest, which for the past months were to be seen in large numbers on Ngamo Plains, have moved towards the camp – mowing the grass to the roots as they come through. Most of the natural wells are dry which has triggered the movement of these animals to the pumped pans around the camp – to our delight. Our mid-morning bliss is watching sable and elephant in front of camp day by day slaking their thirst. Ostrich Pan is now a hive of activity and more than well known to most species.
The resident leopard still pays us visits at night, giving the steenbok and duiker around the camp a hard time. The guests had a special treat when they watched and photographed him basking in the sun. His call, which sounds like somebody working on a dry log with a ripsaw, confused the guests the other night – and had them asking if there was a carpenter working overtime.
Hwange National Park, with over 400 species of birds, will never let you down. This reserve is home to the most beautiful birds. Birding experiences are still outstanding despite the absence of the migrating birds and the cold. Early mornings are embellished by the displays of korhaan. They whistle before making their displays and it has become a favourite of guests to watch them somersault. Kori burstards are also seen on termite mounds puffed up and drumming to attract mates.
To park around the waterholes and have tea is now a guest delight as raptors are seen flying around, and doves swoop down to drink. At Back Pans more than two dozen hooded, white-backed, lappet and white-headed vultures were seen in the morning basking in the sun. It was a beautiful sight as they were all facing the same direction with their big wings spread.
The capped wheatear is seen displaying everywhere in the open areas. Two tawny eagle nests that were seen last month at Ngamo Plains are still there. We suspect that one of them has a chick in it. Scott’s Pan is still the home of a bateleur and many other species are seen in numbers there.
With francolin being so common we don’t often take time to observe them; however we spotted a Natal francolin with a male red-billed spurfowl the other day.