Gawie’s Field News, November 2017
Read Gawie's poetic take on what November's signs were revealing for the 2017-2018 wet season.
It is mid-November and it seems rather likely that we are once again headed for a below average rainfall season. It started rather positively with some fairly good rains in September. We received a couple of small showers that got the grass going and then we had one good downpour that caused a few puddles and pans to form. It was all short lived unfortunately as we’ve had very little rain since.
The pans have dried up again and the grass has wilted to a dull grey. Typical thunderstorms are teasing almost weekly but it just doesn’t seem to build up long enough to sustain a decent downpour, and the current thunderstorm typically starts to develop after a blistering hot day.
The south western horizon turns dark grey and there is a sudden spike in the humidity shortly followed by the distant drum of thunder. Then the wind picks up and the clouds come rushing in. Thunder and lightning intensifies and rain seems eminent. What does not happen though is the sudden drop in wind speed and the whole storm goes thundering past with the clouds dropping their precious cargo somewhere else.
As I sit and type the temperature is rising steadily towards the mid-thirties but the humidity is dropping just as fast. Not a good sign if we are to expect some rain soon. A quick look at the long term weather forecast also does not bode well with cloudy and cool conditions expected around mid-week but no rain for at least the next 10 days. Luckily we all know the utter reliability of these forecasts. We can only hope that it is as inaccurate as usual.
As far as the three big events are concerned for November we are currently standing at two out of three. The first woodlands kingfisher was reported on Monday the 13th of November and I saw the first impala lamb on Saturday the 18th. All we are still waiting for is the first good summer rains.
We had a rather quiet spell in the field activities department, with our students busy with their final exams we are not spending a lot of time in the training area. The bit of rain we received earlier have caused the impala, wildebeest and zebra to return to the college surrounds, although as the water dries up I am expecting them to move along soon again. Their return have however sparked a brief return of the pack of wild dogs. They were spotted a couple of afternoons ago on the open area between the workshop and reception gates and the next morning they came running past my house as I was enjoying a cup of early morning coffee on my veranda.
A small group of buffalo also made a brief appearance one afternoon but I haven’t seen any sign of them again. The odd young elephant bull is also seen or heard feeding past the college along with a giraffe or two.
Cats have been few and far between lately, their distant roars only heard occasionally. We did however saw a small pride of lions on two occasions during late afternoon bumble with the family. Once at a pan close to the Timabavati river in the North western corner of the training area and then again at dog dam in the south eastern corner. I have not seen or heard a leopard for a long time now although a neighbour have reported one this very morning.
Hopefully the rains will break soon and we will have some good news in the New Year.