A Week during the Emerald Season

14th January 2012
I've had my family and godparents staying for the last 6 days, and it's been a great week! When the rains came early in October, I feared that a January visit would be a complete wash-out; impassable roads, thick bush, endless bugs, sticky mud and very little game.

How wrong I was. We've enjoyed cool, cloudy days with sunny spells, and game viewing to rival a week in the dry season.

Here are some of the highlights, all against the backdrop of carpets of green grass and endless wildflowers.

After carrying their unborn lambs throughout the dry season, and losing condition as a result, Impala ewes are rapidly putting on weight.

The partly inundated grasslands are perfect hunting grounds for Black-headed Herons who feed largely on insects and frogs.

The Elephants are stuffing their faces.....

.....and the Puku calves look healthy and fat.

The predators are making the most of the time of plenty, rearing their young while the food-stocks are abundant. This Lionness is lactating heavily and had cubs concealed in a nearby thicket.

As it grew dark, four Lionnesses stirred from their day's slumber and began to look more alert. We watched as they rose, completed evening ablutions and began to hunt.

In the late afternoon, we watched these 10 week old cubs playing on the sand across the river from us.

Leopards make use of the vast number of young antelope on the plains, often showing distended bellies after a good feed.

During the journey down to Bushcamps, we found Sharpe's Grysbok up in the hills above the Valley floor.

And, as always in Africa, there are bright colours whereever you look. This Malachite Kingfisher is just 12cms tall, and hunts tiny fish in the seasonal lagoons.

And of course, there were lovely rainy-season sunsets - there's nothing better.

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