The weather has been stunning, with dry and cool sunny mornings and warm sunny afternoons. On the afternoon of the 27th March we experienced heavy rainfall of 15mm, and during the night a further 4 mm of rain fell. This rain was hugely welcomed as there has been no meaningful rainfall at Loldia for over six months! It has otherwise been fairly dry around the ranch and we have welcomed many visitors such as Impala to our lawns.
The stunning lake-view from Loldia House – photo credit Dave Richards
Loldia’s infinity pool – perfect for hot weather – photo credit Dave Richards
The large fig trees, (‘giant-leaved fig’ or Ficus lutea), which are such a prominent feature of Loldia, have been fruiting which has attracted many birds. Mostly Speckled and Blue-naped Mousebirds, Common Bulbul, Black-headed Orioles, Red-winged Starlings, Violet-backed Starlings, large flocks of beautiful Green Pigeons, White-headed Barbets and various warblers and sunbirds are eating both the insects that are attracted to the ripe figs and the juicy figs themselves. Above the fig trees, Barn Swallows, Sand Martins, Black Saw-wing and an occasional House Martin fed on the many insects attracted to the trees. Small herds of Impala have also enjoyed eating any figs that fall to the ground. One day a group of Vervet Monkeys visited one of the fig trees which attracted even more Impala – as the monkeys dropped many figs in their eagerness to eat as many as possible!
Beautiful Green Pigeons found in the fig trees at Loldia House – photo credit Dave Richards
Because the grounds of Loldia House are kept watered, Impala herds have been a regular feature, feeding very close to the house. There are many young Impala in the herds, which almost certainly would not have survived without this grass being available. Unfortunately the local hippos are having a very hard time, as a result of the drought – there is very little for them to eat. Normally hippos will walk many kilometres inland and can eat as much as 40 kg a night.
The green lawns have attracted many Impala herds around the house – photo credit Dave Richards
Night drives at Loldia have been very popular with many exciting sightings. One night over 20 Spotted Hyena were found eating a hippo which had probably died because of lack of food during the ongoing draught. And on another night, a group of Spotted Hyena killed a male Impala. Other interesting sightings have been an Aardvark, several White-tailed Mongoose, a Porcupine, Spotted Eagle Owls and most interesting of all, a Melanistic (black) Genet cat! Our March guests also saw Spring Hares, Silver-backed Jackals with pups, African Hare, Buffalo, Hippo and Thomson’s Gazelles – all on a night game drive. On a more recent night drive, a pair of Bush Pigs with four small piglets was seen. This was very special as bush pigs are rarely seen. On the same drive a family of six Spring Hares were also seen. All in all, March was a great month for wildlife viewing in general – especially the night drives which we are so well known for.
Photo credit Dave Richards
A white-tailed mongoose spotted on Loldia’s night game drive
Another likely night-time sighting – a Spotted Eagle Owl – photo credit Dave Richards
An early morning boat ride on the lake can be very rewarding and most of our guests do take up the opportunity to do this. The bird like on and around the lake is second to none and provides the most incredible photographic opportunities. Herons and Egrets are all now changing into their breeding dress and one Grey Heron was in complete breeding colour, with bright red legs and bill. Other than Herons and Egrets there were many Pelicans (both Great White and Pink-backed), White winged Terns, Grey-headed Gulls and, of course, numerous Fish Eagles. If you are looking closely along the lake’s shoreline, you can spot a lot of the smaller wildlife- one particularly thrilling sighting was that of a Marsh Mongoose which are normally very shy and quickly disappear once you get close. This one stayed in view for quite a while, allowing itself to be photographed.
Marsh mongoose at the water’s edge – quite a rare sighting – photo credit Dave Richards