We were amused to see these three wildebeest (nicknamed the 3 G) cutting through the Mara Savannah plains looking a bit nervous and out of place.. They even tried to camouflage themselves with gazelles but they were too big and dark not to be noticed. They could be the only three gnus left in the Mara Reserve after the Serengeti herds went back home and also Loita/Residents went back into the Mara North/Olare Orok and Naboisho conservancies.
Three wildebeest try to stay hidden in the Mara Reserve - Image by Onesmus Irungu
The Mara has been experiencing good rains for the last six weeks which has lead to swelling of the rivers and luggas, the grass is lush and green with herbivores having an early Christmas.
There are a few topi's still dropping their babies which is abit late since they normally do it in October and November. There are also buffalo's roaming in hundreds and looking fit. The zebra and wildebeest have gone back to the conservancies (east and northern part of the reserve) which is also the maternity/calving zone for the wildebeests (between late Jan-March).
Topi with it's calf in the Masai Mara - Image by Onesmus Irungu
The plains are lush with new grass, and wildflowers. The migrating animals are spread out over vast areas, and through all the woodlands. Driving into Ndutu across the plains, through the woodlands, along the lake shores.
I am reminded of Basil in Faulty Towers: "Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain." Just a few early calves making an appearance too. The rain continues, although not in the unmanageable deluges of a couple of weeks ago.
After a short rainfall last nigh and a warm night we awoke to a heavy blanket of mist this morning. The Musiara area is looking very green and healthy with many species of wild flowers growing amongst the green grasses.
Marsh pride news: The marsh lion were in the southern grasslands of Bila Shaka and the four females were in the Bila Shaka river bed. One of the lionesses has two small cubs that are perhaps 10 days old now. The BBC have been staying at Governors Camp for the last seven months filming the Marsh Pride and they have named this lioness Berry.
Red and four females were on the open plains south of Bila Shaka and while Charm,Tatu and four sub adults cubs were closer to Topi plains.
There are many Elephant scattered across the open plains, with dominant Musth bulls on the plains. Birding has been great too with Kori Bustards displaying, Grey Kestrels being seen more often, many plover species and water birds in the marsh waterways.
Photos courtesy of Patrick Reynolds, Governors Il Moran Camp Manager.
A small shower of approximately 16 mm of rain last night kept a blanket of cloud cover over the Mara until 9.30am. The marsh pride had killed a large male buffalo south of the Bila Shaka river bed in the early hours of the morning, all 11 lion had eaten well, this was well deserved meal a great sighting to see all of them participating. Red, Tatu, Sienna's three sub adults and Charm with the five lionesses, there were over 50 spotted Hyena and many Black backed Jackals this morning when the marsh pride was feeding; the Hyena eventually had the remains at 10.00 am.
Large herds of elephant will be seen on the Musiara plains as they move across and through the marsh and into the woodlands, an estimated 100 elephant with many calves were seen this morning. There are large Buffalo herds up on Rhino Ridge and also in the east marsh grasslands. Topi and Cokes hartebeest will be seen in the Bila Shaka plains and also on Topi plains, this month we have been seeing Topi male sparring with one another as they determine their lek properties. Paradise Plains still has longer grass than much of the other open areas within Musiara. A Large Eland bull was seen on Topi plains along with scattered herds of male and female Topi and a few resident Zebra, grass levels on the open plains are improving with showers of rain nearly on a daily basis.
On the west marsh grasslands within the periphery of the riverine woodlands there are many giraffe, Defassa water buck, Olive Baboons, Grants gazelles and impala, Impala are all year breeders young fawns will also be seen in these breeding herds. Two fawns were taken yesterday 10th by male Olive Baboons in the riparian woodlands close to the BBC campsite area.
The small Thompson gazelles will be more favorably seen on the open plains of Bila Shaka and rhino ridge.
Large flocks of open billed storks who are a highly gregarious small Stork, with an unusually-shaped and highly specialized bill will be seen in the centre of the marsh for water levels are higher and also most likely food value is more available, often at midday they can be seen circling high with the thermals. Black necked Herons and Grey herons will also be seen along the verges of the marsh and many other of the stagnant waterways.
Grey Kestrels are being seen widespread, with many termites building up their mounds since the rains these kestrels feed off these working termites.
And to cap it all off our clients had a good sighting of two Aardwolves it appear that it was a mother with a sub adult cub. Aardwolves are not often seen and this is probably one of the better photos seen in recent years.
Wildebeest all over the plains, they are certainly gettng denser each day, we have had reports from our guides that there are many towards twin hills (Matiti) and then also south of us towards Alex's Serengeti South Camp Kakessio area. It seems the herds are here early for a reason, to give birth, so we are expecting the early calves to arrive late December and January this year! All in all, it is great to see the Serengeti so beautiful and green, what a time to be here and experience this all with not many people around!
It is with sadness that we can confirm that some of the lions we spend time with last October during our #MaraLive broadcast are now dead, poisoned by cattle herders aparently taking refenge on cattle being killed by lions recently. How ficcle the relatioship between cattle herders and conservationists. If we cannot look after The Marsh Pride how will we look after lions that are in remote areas and who are not famous?
The Serengeti is green all over and wonderful to see new cubs, pups, calves and the plains are alive with life! The herds are a little scattered all over with so much water available but some good numberds arrived at Alex Walker's Seregneti South Camp, so if you are close then the next few weeks at least are looking hard to resist at both Kusini and Kekessio. Lakes Ndutu and Masek still have some herds around with hidden valley and the marshes good areas. With so much good nutrition and grass around do we expect the calving season the start a little early this year, so if you have tome off during January or even end december then make use of the southern plains, a wonderful timew to be there!
We are opening a week early at Ndutu, so Ndutu Wilderness Camp will open on the 9th of December 2015 instead of the 15th as scheduled, so we have an extra week of availability. As you know the southern plains are where you are suppose to eb right now! See you soon
I only saw a few zebras roaming within the reserve, however we've had very good cat sightings, especially cheetahs with cubs and lionesses with newborns.
Interesting weather earlier today, fog and mist across the savannah.
Mist in the Mara Reserve - Image by Onesmus Irungu
Lion in the Masai Mara - Image by Onesmus Irungu
Lioness with her cubs in the Masai Mara - Image by Onesmus Irungu
It's hard to say exactly where the wildebeest are, as they are everywhere! Driving through the woodlands and anywhere out on the plains, they are everywhere but really spread out.
The plains between Naabi, Hidden Valley and Ndutu are covered with wildebeest and the valleys surrounding the marsh areas are full. Unconfirmed reports of large numbers up round Barafu and Gol Kopjes and right out to Kakesio and Kusini.
It's difficult to get a good photo on a flat plain to show the scale of the numbers, so, instead, a photo of the rain clouds, continually dumping rain all around the area.
Chaka Camp, is a mobile Serengeti safari camp designed to be lightweight enough to move seasonally, is located in the Ndutu area from December through March. The camp relocates to Western Serengeti from May through June, and again to Northern Serengeti from July through November.
From December through March, the wildebeest migration moves in and out of the Ndutu area. Ndutu is located in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, just south of Serengeti National Park. Chaka Camp’s location provides easy access to prime game viewing areas around Lakes Ndutu and Masek. In addition to the almost two million wildebeest and zebra that move through the area each year, Ndutu is home to cheetah, lion, giraffe and hundreds of bird species. During February’s calving season, the wildebeest give birth to 8,000 babies a day.
From May through June, Chaka Camp relocates to Western Serengeti. The wildebeest migration is generally in this area during this time, and crossings over the Grumeti River are sometimes seen in this area. Access to Central Serengeti is also possible from this area as the drive is only two hours.
From July through November, Chaka Camp is located in Northern Serengeti. The camp is close to the Mara River, allowing easy access to several river crossing points in the area. During this time of year, the wildebeest migration is crossing the Mara River back and forth from Tanzania to Kenya. River crossings are common with crocodiles, hippos and large cats scattered throughout the area.
Tucked within a grassy corridor that links the Lake Ndutu area with the Moru Kopjes and Hidden Valley is the seasonal Woodlands Camp. During the calving season, this area is teaming with wildebeest as hundreds of thousands of pregnant females converge to give birth. While most properties are compacted in a central location, Woodlands Camp is slightly removed from the main tourist venue, allowing for more privacy without sacrificing access to this awe-inspiring event.
Ndutu Safari Lodge is situated in the south-eastern part of the Serengeti eco-system. Shaded by majestic acacia trees, each of the thirty four cottages, which are built of local materials, has a private verandah facing Lake Ndutu.
The Lodge is surrounded by indigenous trees and shrubs which encourage a host of birds and mammals to come right to your front door. Tucked well away from the busy tourist circuit, Ndutu offers peace and tranquillity far from the madding crowd. Spend some time with us and unwind. Relax to the rhythm of an African day as a myriad bird calls herald the rising sun. Stay close to the lodge and enjoy the resident wildlife or go for a drive and explore the range of habitats that lie within easy reach. After sunset return to the homely warmth and hospitality of Ndutu Safari Lodge.
Perched on the edge of a permanent marsh, Lemala Ndutu is the ultimate amphitheater for the wildebeest migration between December and March.
9 suite tents of a very high specification are relocated from the Northern Serengeti to this stunning Ndutu site to capture the boundless drama that accompanies the migration. The migrating herds of over 1.5 million wildebeest and zebra begin to arrive in December and begin calving in February.
The camp is situated inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, near the border of Southern Serengeti, in what is perhaps the finest location in the whole of Ndutu because of its shady umbrella acacia trees and grass cover which reduces dust considerably and also attracts grazers. The camp offers fantastic views of the marsh whose permanent fresh waters attract an abundance of game including predators. The camp enjoys regular visits from resident wildlife ranging from lions, leopards,cheetahs and hyenas to elephant and giraffe. Lion hunts close to the camp are not uncommon.
Like the animal it is named after, Camp Zebra follows the wildebeest migration to the northern part of the Serengeti National Park in June, July, August, September, October and November; and to the southern part of the park from December till March. Camp Zebra is closed from the middle of April till the end of May each year.
Camp Zebra consists of six accommodation tents, each of which can be used for single, double (or twin) or triple occupancy. Each sleeping tent consists of a bedroom area, dressing area and ensuite shower and toilet. The dressing area, shower and toilet are all “open air” so as to heighten the experience of living as one with your surroundings. Despite being able to enjoy some breathtaking views as you prepare yourself for the day ahead, privacy is still assured due to the clever design of our tents. As an added convenience, each tent is provided with sufficient electricity for lighting as well as for charging mobile telephones, cameras, tablets, laptop computers or any other electronic devices you may carry with you.
Camp Zebra is Serengeti camping at its finest. The mobile nature of the camp makes it easy to follow the wildebeest herds as they complete their long journey, ensuring the best wildlife sightings during the incredible Great Migration in Tanzania. See our HerdTracker app for the latest migration updates.