The sun is shining and the sky is a beautiful shade of blue. The bush is lush and verdant, there are baby animals aplenty and the air is thick with the hum of cicadas… It can only be summer in Africa!
It’s truly incredible how the wilderness is transformed with rain. At the end of October the bush here at Abelana Game Reserve was tinder dry, uniformly brown and extremely sparse, affording little cover for animals and offering next to no food. Here we are in January, at the start of a whole new decade, and having had some wonderful downpours since mid-November we are now surrounded by green! All over the reserve life is abundant, with a dense covering of grass and glorious, luscious foliage everywhere you look.
The herds of impala with tiny lambs are always lovely to see and we’ve also had regular sightings of zebra and herds of wildebeest with a good number of calves. The warthogs have had piglets too – gorgeous little miniature versions of their mums and dads!
Our dams and waterholes are at good levels and it’s lovely to just stop in the shade of a tall tree and watch life unfold around the water, with a variety of birds and water fowl active on and near the water and animals regularly coming down to drink.
Wherever there is water there are the distinctive foam nests of the grey foam nest tree frog, either on branches or on rocks overhanging the surface. This distinctive little amphibian lives mostly in trees and doesn’t really swim or spend much time in the water. The foam nests are constructed during mating when a single female is surrounded by males for hours on end. They use their back legs to whip a sticky liquid secreted by the female into a frothy foam in which she lays her eggs, which are then fertilised by her suitors. The eggs are protected by the foam which prevents them from drying out until such time as the tadpoles hatch and drop down into the water below.
We have a healthy population of giraffe on Abelana Game Reserve and they too are flourishing in the summer, with lots of babies at heel.
Summer traditionally starts on 1 December each year and lasts to 1 March. The temperatures get up into the mid to high 30s (centigrade) and if you don’t mind the heat, it’s a wonderful time of year to spend in the bush. Our summer thunderstorms are a sight to behold, and that wonderful, rich, earthy smell after fresh rain (it’s called petrichor) is an experience in itself!
For birding enthusiasts the summer months represent the chance to see a variety of migrant species both from other parts of Africa and Europe. We currently have European bee-eaters taking to the skies over Abelana with their gorgeous, colourful plumage a real treat to see. The tall, riparian forests on the edge of the Selati River are also filled with the calls of the paradise flycatcher, whose trademark rust-red tail feathers and bright blue eye wattles set it apart and make it a wonderful bird to both spot and photograph. So please don’t forget your binoculars and camera when you come to visit! Finally, at the end of a long, summer’s day exploring our beautiful reserve, either in a vehicle, on foot or on horseback, there’s nothing better than raising a glass of ice-cold gin and tonic to the setting sun and giving thanks for another wonderful day in paradise! We hope to see you soon!