December ’14 Field Guide Report by Matt

Carmine-bee-eaterEverything is green and lush and having finally seen the carmine bee-eaters all the migrating birds are present and accounted for. The Red-billed Quelea’s are flocking which for me is sign of subtle change, when everything is at its most plentiful. I can’t help feeling though that we have been a little cheated with regards to rain this season, and the river only came up once. It doesn’t mean anything significant off hand, rain like anything has years of more or less. However while on the topic the reality of global warming will lead our area to receive more rain steadily as the warmer air will be able to support more moisture. Red Billed Quelea_Male

The good news for us, though is that the area we are in has led to a lot of the animals all in a kind of midrange for them. So change should be mild and predictable for them with certain species moving off and certain species moving in. It is oddly humans that need to adapt by building bigger and better river crossings and constant maintenance of roads and general water damage. The animals have the freedom in the Greater Kruger that if they don’t like a place within the limits of their species they move away. It is in the extremes of climates that the specialists will take show the effects of global warming the most. Polar bears are the best examples but all fringe species are showing the first signs of minimization.Sand river

This reserve is renowned for its big cats and we have had them a plenty. Dewane has pushed far east and Nyeleti is making way for him. He has really grown into a beast of a cat. Xhikave and has been seen a few times on kills, being typically xhikave she has kept them in the thickest brush, except for the impala lamb the hyenas tried to steal she put that up a Marula tree on Inyati’s access. Xikhavi leopardWe’ve been seeing Scotia a few times. Thlangisa has been taking advantage of the lambing season and her cubs don’t know what it feels like to be hungry. As such they are both growing really fast and have turned into little leopards.Day One leopard

At least one of the Othawa’s (lioness) is pregnant and is showing signs she might be ready to drop soon. This is good news because the two sub-adults have been seen with the Majingilanes with a survivable amount of hostility. The xhimungwe’s also seem to be enjoying the abundance of prey and when we see them they are snoozing away from the heat with full bellies.Ximhungwe pride

The herds of buffalo have been around as well as cheetah and the wild dog. The best thing about this time of year is the colours and the sounds as every insect, bird and plant is trying to take advantage of this time of plenty. It is also great to see the new shape the river is taking.600 buffalo herd

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