Banoka Bush Camp: Weather and Landscape
Just as expected, the month of February was amazing with the rains painting the mopane woodland and adjacent floodplains of the Khwai Channel green with a variety of grass species. This gave the area a carpet-like appearance that was further enhanced by dramatic sunrises and sunsets – which were just amazing!
The rains have also resulted in an explosion of insect activity which has led to some phenomenal birding!
Despite the very thick vegetation and long grass, we had some incredible wildlife sightings this month. The elusive leopards were seen stalking large herds of impala during the cool hours of the mornings, while the opportunistic hyaena would follow close by in the hope of stealing an easy meal.
As mentioned above, there are huge herds of impala dotted all over the area, with many nursery herds as a result of the recent calving at the beginning of the rainy season.
Generally speaking, only 20% of the calves will reach adulthood due to the high predation and mortality rate. We have witnessed this heavy predation this month at the teeth of the wild dogs in the area which are feeding frenetically on the abundant food source.
The recent bouts of rain have also caused an expansion of surface water as the channels fill up once again – this has resulted in some really good hippo sightings as these bulk grazers move into the new grounds t o feed on the bounty of fresh grass.
Birds and Birding
The birding at Banoka this month was incredible due to the explosion of insect populations in the area. All the summer migrant species are currently around, which has allowed us some great sightings of species such as Levaillant’s cuckoo, woodland kingfisher, broad -billed roller and the southern -carmine bee-eater.
Water birds have also been prolific, with the African jacana providing some great photographic opportunities as they walk on the lilypads, wh ile malachite kingfishers perch on the fringes of the waterways. We were quite exci ted to see a lesser jacana during an afternoon boat cr uise.