The grasses on plains are fantastically long and with the red oat grass in seed, there is a red tinge to the plains in preparation for arrival of wildebeest migration. The days are warm with temperatures ranging from 15 – 31 degrees Celsius, rain falls mostly in late afternoon and evenings. We tend to go out with picnics for longer game drives at this time of year.
We have good sightings of lion, cheetah, leopard and serval cats in May. Good sightings of cheetah up on the short grass plains especially, where the Thomson and Grant’s gazelles are found.
With the long grass in the reserve, the prey species disperse and lions have to travel further afield for a meal. The Marsh Pride of lions usually have young cubs at this time of year and the lionesses will join forces to bring down larger prey such as hippo, eland and buffalo. Big herds of elephant spread out into the Musiara Marsh and Bila Shaka grasslands – they usually have plenty of calves during May. There is a large presence of males, some a little testy and in musth but mostly happy to graze alongside the females and breeding herds, hence there is some mating occurring.
Giraffe are present in the woodlands between the camps with lots of calves in the family units; they are frequent visitors to all the Governors’ Mara camps.
There are waterbuck with young calves, impala, bushbuck and baboons in the forest margins close to the Marsh. Warthog seem to be everywhere with males busy sparring for females. Sows have piglets of around seven months old at this time of year.
Good numbers of eland in herds of ten to forty individuals, can be seen out on the plains with calves in breeding herds and large bulls flanking the breeding herds.
Good numbers of topi with their six month old calves are found out on savannah. The large resident buffalo herd spends its days on the grasslands of Rhino Ridge where the grass is long and well suited to a buffalo’s diet.
Up on Topi Plains, there are lots of spotted hyena with young cubs; they compete with lions for prey and will also hunt topi at this time of year.
There is great birding in the month of May. A few species hatch young chicks and teach their fledglings to gather the abundant insects. Hundreds of open-billed storks are around (they are inter-African migrants) as well as small flocks of white storks that are stocking up before their long flight back to Europe.
We see woolley-necked storks (another inter-African migrant) and green shanks (Eurasian migrants) on the banks of the Mara River. Jackson widow birds display their breeding plumage to females by jumping up and down around a specific tussock of grass trying to attract a mate.
Meanwhile red-collared widow birds, white-winged widow birds, fan-tailed widow birds and yellow bishops are seen in the long grasses of the Musiara Marsh. Blue flycatchers are back within the camp grounds and striped swallows will nest around the camps, if the rains are late
We often have sightings of the less common birds such as the leviallants cuckoo, marshal eagle, dark chanting goshawk and grey-headed bushshrike which can all be found breeding, calling and feeding their young. Double-toothed barbets are also breeding in May. We can also see lots of grey kestrels on the termite mounds eating termites.
There are lots of beautiful butterflies around including swallowtails in the woodlands around the Mara River and African monarchs in the grasslands.