Most people in the southern hemisphere welcome spring on the 1st of September, otherwise known as Spring Day. In actual fact, according to nature’s calendar the beginning of spring is right towards the end of September on the 22nd.
Regardless, this time of the year in the bush is exciting and beautiful for a few reasons.
The cold winter has started to pass, signified especially by a distinct lack of warm clothing needed in the mornings. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy a cold winter’s morning and the sunbathing squirrels that come with it, but there comes a time when you are ready to leave your multiple jackets at home.
As it starts to warm up, animals become more active around sunset and sunrise when the temperatures are not too hot just yet, but not restrictive from temperatures hovering just above freezing. The length of the golden hour, despite what the name implies, varies throughout the year and as the days become longer so does this period of time. This means you have more opportunities to capitalise when the sun casts the most beautiful glow on whatever subject you are looking at. Whether you have your camera in hand photographing a leopard or a Gin and Tonic in hand watching the sun go down over the Drakensberg mountains there is something particularly magical about this time of day in the bush.
The Return of the Migrants
Whether you are an avid birdwatcher or not, a trip to the bush would not be the same without birds. The range of colour that they add to the already beautiful landscape is one thing and the melodious (well, most of them anyway) chirping and song that they produce is another, but they also help us find a lot of great sightings through their alarm calls. This time of year we have already started to see a lot of the migratory birds returning, to make the most of abundant food sources brought on by the rains. A lot of them will breed during this time as well. All of this means we have even more colour, sound and predator spotters out there in an already vibrant reserve helping make each game drive an experience not easily forgotten.
Spring is synonymous with flowering plants and it is no different out here. The bush already looks quite different then it did just a month ago and two trees in particular can be thanked for that. They are the Knobthorn and the Weeping Boer Bean. The flowers of the Knobthorn are yellow and are only seen during this time of the year. For me, they are the first reminder that we are headed towards the end of the year. With Knobthorns found throughout the reserve, sitting somewhere elevated and gazing out at the vistas before you is made even more beautiful with the endless yellow splashed throughout.
Coupled with that is the bright red of the Weeping Boer Bean flowers. These trees are already one of my favourites even before their beautiful flowers start to bloom. They often grow out of majestic termite mounds making for some great landmarks and welcome shade when out on a bush walk. One of my favourite leopard sightings involved a Weeping Boer Bean in the far south of the reserve. The “weeping” part of the name comes from the nectar that drips from these red flowers during this time that attracts so many birds and insects which inspired the local Shangaan people t0 call it Mvhovhovho which is said to onomatopoeically represent the sound of all the wingbeats and activity around the flowers.
After the cold and harsh winters it is time for renewal and that time has arrived. The same can be said for us here at the lodge and as we start to head towards the end of what’s been a very different and tough year, just like the beautiful signals in the bush that signify the end of a season, we are excited for some change ahead as we start to welcome guests back into our special home.