Field Notes

January - April 2021

Between January and early April, it was hot and humid. Rains were often heavy during January and February. There was little rain during March. In April it rained again. Large flocks of Red-billed Quelea and small groups of Carmine Bee-eaters were in the bull area during March and April. Most of the migratory birds left the bull area in late March. Although many waterholes were full in the hills area in April most of the vegetation was dry. Many bulls and families moved south to Voi riverine, where the vegetation was green, and Voi River was flowing providing relatively clear water to drink. Other wildlife also aggregated in the green areas near Voi riverine: Zebra, Impala, Hartebeest, Waterbuck, Gazelle and Ostrich. In late April it was windy and the temperature started to drop.

Bulls

Bulls were with other bulls in small groups, with families or alone between January and April. Creek (id-2008) and Swift (id-2016) newly independent bulls, were with families when I first saw them in the morning. A few hours later they had moved away feeding alone. Crux (id-2010, photo-center) was alone in the morning on the east side of Voi hill feeding. In the afternoon he had moved to the west side of the hill with one other bull, resting in the shade. A few minutes later another bull arrived from the southeast and stopped under a tree to rest. Several new bulls with distinct features moved into the bull area in March and April. In late April, Sun a 45-year-old bull (id-2005) was in the bull area in musth alone feeding on grass. He is often in musth during the rains.

Families

Many families aggregated in the southern hills area between January and April. On many occasions newly independent males were following families through the bush. In January a 45-year-old musth bull was chasing a female while five large bulls looked on. When the female circled back to her family they trumpeted and rumbled as she approached. When the excitement was over, they all went back to feeding. Batik (photo right) was in the hills area several times in March and April. She is one of twenty adult females with a broken ear. She was first photographed and named in 2018 with a four-year-old female calf. When I found her in April her calf was healthy feeding next to her. In early April I found Nola and Nutmeg in a valley between two hills. They both appeared healthy and Nola had a 2-week-old calf with her. The newborn was so small and the grass so tall that I couldn’t determine the sex.