The weather & the plains:
October was a dry, hot and dusty month with the odd splash of rain in the first couple of weeks and a good few days of rain at the end. The plains now look as if a million animals have come through, which of course they have. The migration however has left a large amount of fertilizer, which after a good season of rain should mean the plains grasses will reach 4 foot again. Indeed after the 8mm of rain received on the 28th and 29th the plains were transformed in a matter of days from a dry, brown to a vibrant emerald green.
Large herds of wildebeest grazing around the Musiara Marsh for the first half of the month. They then headed off down toward the Talek River and south looking for fresh pastures to graze. There have also been large concentrations of wildebeest in the Mara Triangle area, the west side of the Mara River. Hot air balloon safaris pass right over this area and guests flying in the balloon have had wonderful views of the great herds. There are still some river crossings with wildebeest coming in from the west. The wildebeest still have to cross back over the river on their return back to the Serengeti. The majority of the zebras remain to the east of the Masai Mara with smaller groups moving through Musiara, Rhino Ridge and Paradise plains areas.
The Rhino have been fairly elusive through October, however we have enjoyed some great sightings from the hot air balloon.
October saw the arrival of many young Thomson Gazelle and impala fawns. Some of these fawns have fallen prey to some of the opportunistic predators around such as the Martial Eagles and larger male baboons.
With the grass drying out on the plains the resident families of elephant have spent much of their time feeding on the lush grasses of the Musiara swamp and forest areas. Some days we have seen up to 50 individual elephants happily feeding in the cool swamp waters.
The Marsh Pride of lions are in great condition after having the wildebeest migration located in the heart of their territory for the last few months. The two pride males are looking tough and proud, they have a few scratches but nothing out of the ordinary, the lionesses are fit and strong. The young cubs are growing by the day and participating in some of the hunts, as well as initiating their own to but to no avail. As the wildebeest migration moves down into the Serengeti the pride will need to work a little harder to feed themselves. Perhaps in preparation for this the pride have already taken down a buffalo near Private Camp which is a bold move.
The Paradise Pride have been spending their time down by the Mara River waiting for the wildebeest to cross back and forth. Notch has been spending time with one of his sons and the lionesses have been together with their seven cubs. Sadly one seems to be missing. The pride still has plenty of prey in their territory as the wildebeest are still coming across the river.
Recently 2 lionesses have been located between both pride territories near the Mara River with two two month old cubs. They seem to have just come out from hiding and will soon introduce their cubs to the rest of their pride.
This month three brother cheetahs in the Masai Mara, Kenya are doing extraordinarily well. With their combined strength and team work they have taken down sub adult zebras and wildebeest, large meals for cheetahs.
Shakira and her three cubs are doing well. They spent some of the month on a walkabout, going as far afield as Tanzania and making their way across the Mara River. She could be showing her cubs other areas outside of their comfort zones before they become independent of their mother. The cubs are nearly fully grown and will soon have to go their own way and find their own home ranges to live and hunt in. Three, healthy, grown female cheetah cubs is very good news for the Masai Mara’s ecosystem.
Olive and her two leopard cubs are doing amazingly well. She was once seen with three kills in nearby trees. Leopards will often larder their kills in provision for lean times. She is however in a prime spot with her favourite meal; Thomson Gazelle in the area year round.
The female leopard which traverses between Governors and Little Governors crossing point has been seen regularly, quietly disappearing into the forest.
A couple of other lesser known leopards, a male and a female have been seen this month down river from Private Camp.
The Serval cat has been fairly frequently sighted this month as the grass is short and is much more conspicuous.
After the few days of rain at the end of the month, there have been vast numbers of “flying ants” reproductive termites taking to the air. These termites have buttery abdomens and are full of protein, a good source of nutrition for many animals and birds.
The birding has been very good with the arrival of some of the migrants have into the marsh and river area. The Narina Trogon has been seen frequently along the forest line. The brown parrots have been feasting on the fruit of the African Greenheart tree (Warburgia Ugandensis) leaving pieces littered all over the ground.