Autumn has definitely arrived now. The early morning temperatures have dropped and one now needs to wear a fleece or jacket first thing in the day again. The sun is rising later and setting earlier every day. The leaves on the trees are starting to change colour again and are dropping from the branches. The winds have picked up seasonally and the leaves chase each other all over the place. Sometimes it looks like they are doing some type of intricate dance. The grass is starting to change colour and the veld has turned to gold in places. There is still a fair amount of grass cover in the concession as a result of the good rains that we had last summer and we are of the opinion that there will be good grazing for the animals for the majority of the winter months ahead. In the valleys, where the water table is high there are still some thick stands of green grass. Many of the seasonal waterholes have dried up or are drying up, but there is still a fair bit of water in patches in the N’wanetsi River and the in the deeper pools in the valleys for the animals to drink. Gudzani Dam still has water and is attracting quite a few animals, such as elephants and buffalos.
The impala lilies are in full flower now. They add a bit of colour to the landscape where they occur. Some of the aloes on the ridges are also just starting to bloom and will soon be attracting the beautiful, metallic-coloured sunbirds who are enticed to the sweet nectar in the flowers. The summer migrants have disappeared and birds such as the cuckoos, the European and southern carmine bee-eaters, barn swallows, lesser-spotted eagles and Wahlberg’s eagles have started their long journeys northwards. Although the intra-African and Palearctic migrants have now left we have seen some of the altitudinal migrants arriving back. These are birds that move from the high mountains to the west of the area (where it is getting much colder now) and come down to the Lowveld where the day temperatures are still warmer. These include birds such as the beautiful red-capped robin-chat, which has become a regular in the thickets at Sweni Lodge, and the stone chats that can now be seen perched on top of bushes in the open grasslands (they are particularly obvious when driving on the H6 road between the lodges and the staff village). Over the last few weeks we have been hearing the lions roaring close to the camp at night. Although there have been no guests at the lodges (due to the lockdown) we have seen the Shish Pride on one or two occasions near the camp and we have seen Mananga Pride, on the odd occasion, while checking the boundary roads. The cubs are growing up quickly and are still looking healthy. It makes us wonder what they are thinking now that they are not seeing vehicles as often anymore. We are looking forward to the time that people can and are willing to travel again. Come and visit as soon as you can. We would love to share to this amazing area and the stunning nature and wilderness here with you again.