Spring in the Bushveld

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Spring is a sought-after season wherever you are in the world, but spring at Thornybush Private Nature Reserve is a momentous and long-awaited treat.

All through the dry winter, it seems as if everyone and everything is holding its breath for those first drops of rain and the first shoots of fresh green growth.. Although spring is universally held as a symbol of renewal, in the bushveld, spring quite literally means life, for without the rains that will soon occur and the corresponding abundance of grazing and browsing, the bush can be a desolate place indeed.

While winter is a fine time for game viewing, with most species congregating around the remaining water sources and the sparse vegetation providing little concealment for the animals – nothing beats the joys of spring in the bushveld.

Although the first rains are only expected late in October, the temperatures usually start to warm up from September, and the sun rises earlier every morning – giving us more sunny hours to enjoy these lovely mild days.

The bush starts to fill up with activity too as many of our wild animals will start to give birth to their young during the springtime, depending on the rains, and our prodigal birds start to return from their winter holidays – filling the air with their familiar tunes once again.

Everywhere is a hive of activity and anticipation, even frogs reappear, adding their voices to the raucous chorus that fills the night air and insects are once again abuzz in the surrounding trees and bushes, while spiders get busy weaving traps for this ever increasing feast of invertebrates.

Spring and summer are the best bird watching times in these parts and you can look forward to seeing the weavers noisily constructing their nests, while others stage elaborate courtship rituals on land and in the air. The gorgeous violet-backed starling and African paradise flycatcher are at their brightest during the springtime too.

Vultures and eagles soar overhead on the warm thermals, enjoying their elevated vantage points as they search for sustenance. The Steppe eagles soon join in the fray as they begin to return from their northern territories too.

The knobthorns are always early bloomers, spattering the landscape like giant yellowish white powderpuffs, with weeping boerbeans punctuating the scene in dramatic red, while mimosa, wild pears, and the wild seringa add their subtle fragrances and hues to the palette. Bulbous plants start to creep from their underground hiding places and announce their presence with their signature colours.

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Thursday, 15 November 2018