Tag Archives: Camping South Africa

Three new lion cubs

With all the excitement of the relocation and release of Binky and Courage back home at Sibuya, the rest of the Reserve has received little media attention, but has continued regardless in supplying surprises. One such delightful surprise is three new little lion cubs – which have almost been over-looked! They are approximately 9 weeks old and are only now starting to become more adventurous.

LionCubs-Sibuya

Lion cubs are born defenceless and blind and take much longer to develop than their prey. So at this age, life is all about fun and games – although a normal game of tag or rough and tumble helps to hone their hunting skills for the future. At this age, play fighting provides hours of entertainment and photographic opportunities for those guests lucky enough to see them!

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Sibuya Birding

We were wondering if the good news of our excellent rains spread far and wide across the continent to the Summer Migrants, as many seem to have arrived earlier than usual this year… to feast on the proliferation of food perhaps…?

Each year thousands of millions of African birds undertake seasonal movements, ranging from a few hundred kilometres to fantastic trans-continental journeys of more than 10,000km. Of the 1,800 bird species found in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 200 species migrate seasonally between Palearctic (Europe/Asia) and Afrotropical (sub-Saharan Africa) regions. More than 580 species are known to make seasonal migrations within Africa.

DIEDERIK’S (Chrysococcyx caprius)) and KLAAS’S CUCKOOS (Chrysococcyx klaas) have been calling for some weeks and more recently, the BLACK CUCKOO (Cuculus clamosus). YELLOWBILLED and BLACK KITES (Milvus migrans)  and STEPPE BUZZARDS (Buteo buteo) are scouring the landscape and feeding on the numerous rodents, snakes and insects.

During the early hours of the morning on the 8th of September, the first LESSER STRIPED SWALLOWS  (Hirundo Abyssinica) arrived back at SIBUYA, defying the fact that they do not migrate (as many other species), during the night! Each year we wonder exactly where they’ve come from…..is it Zambia? Sudan? Sierra Leone? or Angola?…Their journey is quite remarkable when one considers their size and of course predators and weather conditions encountered along the way. Being slender streamlined little creatures, they are excellent flyers and have a body suitable for aerodynamics and endurance,  reputedly travelling at speeds of up to 65km an hour while migrating!

These monogamous medium sized SWALLOWS have an instinctive internal compass and return to SIBUYA and the same nesting sites year after year. First-time breeders return to where they were born and choose a nesting site close by.

Last year very few LESSER STRIPED SWALLOWS bred as the severe drought conditions meant there were not that many insects around for food and because of the lack of moisture, the nests fell down as quickly as they were repaired!This year however, we’re sure they’ll easily find enough mud around to build their nests out of pellets and have numerous insects to feed chicks…..it should in fact be a bumper breeding season for everything at SIBUYA!

Very much in evidence lately have been the TRUMPETER HORNBILLS (Bycanistes buchinator) so named as a result of their loud trumpeting, wailing, far-reaching (quite frightening to the uninitiated) cries. They fly for kilometres to eat ripening fruit and have been feasting on that of  the NGWENYA TREES (Ekbergia Capensis) dotted about the Reserve….they vary their diet by eat flying termites and large insects like locusts.

HORNBILLS mate for life and have a fascinating and unique breeding ritual whereby courtship feeding is common. Male birds feed their mate continually before actually breeding, thus building up her reserves for laying and replacing her feathers after she’s moulted in the nest cavity. The nest site is chosen carefully in a suitable hole in either a tree or crevice in a rock. For security reasons, the entrance is partially sealed with mud from the outside.  When the time is right, the female squeezes in and continues to seal the entrance from the inside until only a thin slit remains, through which she’s fed by the male. He takes this task very seriously and proceeds to bring her nesting material and food frequently…even apparently sometimes bringing her the shells of snails, thought to be additional calcium for the healthy production of her eggs. During the incubation period  (approx 24 days) she keeps the nest sanitary by defecating out of the slit.  Now a most remarkable HORNBILL feature takes place- she sheds her tail and wing feathers first and then gradually her body feathers are moulted! What a  defenceless and ugly sight she must be! When the eggs hatch, the female breaks out of the nest and lo and behold, her feathers have regrown! Between 39-50 days later (depending on the food supply) the young HORNBILLS, flying strongly, leave the nest and initially remain in a family group. Breeding is usually a great success!

Sibuya Game Reserve

Sibuya has recently started team-building & conferencing programmes for companies or conference groups.

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve

Winter Flower Wonderland

Virtually the whole year round SIBUYA has flowers adding interest and colour to the landscape… even in the middle of winter! At the moment the forest margins and woodlands are festooned with pungently scented yellow flowers belonging to succulent creepers and shrubs, Senecio brachypodus and Senecio tamoidesCANARY CREEPER. The congested clusters of bright yellow flowers create a visual feast as they attract a host of white to deep yellow butterflies (Pieridae), which add their subtle colour range to the spectacle. These plants are sought after in traditional medicine as they may be used in the treatment of Anthrax in cattle and flatulence!

The creeper TRAVELLER’S JOY (Clematis brachiata) is in evidence everywhere. With the light behind it, as it sprawls over shrubs along the wayside, it looks like its wreathing the plants in candy floss. Gorgeous vermilion ALOE FERROX flowers are in evidence in various areas of SIBUYA … where the elephants can’t get to demolish them! The nectar of these bright robust flowers provides a feast for many species of birds, butterflies, monkeys and even elephants… all enjoy this sweetest of treats and even perhaps, the narcotic effects…


A glorious tapestry of colour

Sibuya Game Reserve

Birding enthusiasts can take a boat or canoe up the estuary to search for some of the 6 varieties of local kingfisher. Or head downstream to the beach to see the multitude of waders, terns and gulls. A walk in the pristine thicket forest is the best way to see the shy Narina Trogon and every game drive reveals a host of raptors from the common buzzards to the more rare Bateleur, Crowned Eagle or Fish Eagles. Night drives are made special by the numbers and varieties of owls and nightjars caught in the spot light.

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve

Chilly Winter on Safari

BRRRRR! Winter this year seems to have been colder in bursts than usual! The result of “Climate Change” perhaps? Heavy snowfalls on the mountains in the hinterland have caused us to shiver on occasion as icy winds from the north have sent us scurrying to grab our jackets. On colder nights, guests in RIVER CAMP have enjoyed the luxurious warmth of the new fireplaces in their cosy tents.

There has been unseasonal rain again so SIBUYA is still looking wonderful, with dams everywhere holding far more water than usual for this time of the year. The grasses are however mostly short, as there is little warmth to encourage growth during the winter months and the animals hunger is of course relentless.

The excitement of the annual “11 Days of Amazing!” – the Grahamstown National Arts Festival – is now on the wane as life returns to normal without daily trips up to this little University town to be inspired by the wealth of offerings from talented artists. Being the second largest Festival of the Arts in the world, second only to the renowned Edinburgh Festival, we’re exceptionally lucky to have it virtually on our doorstep. The ambiance is enhanced by people who flock from far and wide to enjoy this feast of the senses and the languages heard daily are from around the globe.


River Camp – cosy glow from the new fireplace

Sibuya Game Reserve

Birding enthusiasts can take a boat or canoe up the estuary to search for some of the 6 varieties of local kingfisher. Or head downstream to the beach to see the multitude of waders, terns and gulls. A walk in the pristine thicket forest is the best way to see the shy Narina Trogon and every game drive reveals a host of raptors from the common buzzards to the more rare Bateleur, Crowned Eagle or Fish Eagles. Night drives are made special by the numbers and varieties of owls and nightjars caught in the spot light.

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve

Sibuya Flowers

The Weeping Bride’s Bush (Pavetta Lanceolata) was spectacular again this summer. During the height of its flowering season, we counted over 90 of these sweet-smelling flowering shrubs on our travels around the Reserve. Making a magnificent show were also the Boerboonbooms (Schotia Afra & Latifolia) which obviously responded to the wonderful timeous rains we had last year. They were abuzz with bees, butterflies and many other insects.


Pavetta Lanceolata

Truly spectacular at the moment and especially where the two are intertwined, are literally banks of sky-blue Plumbago (Plumbago Auriculata) and mauve Morning Glory (Ipomoea Family). The strong vermillion of Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma Capensis) is adding colour everywhere too… a veritable visual feast in the bright sunlight!


Ipomoea

On much closer inspection of the bush as one travels around the Reserve, less obvious but an interesting twining perennial herb is Wild Hops (Dalechampia Capensis). The rather unusual pale yellow flowers are clustered within conspicuous petal-like floral bracts. Beware if you are tempted to try and touch these… the lobed calyx has extremely fine stinging hairs!


Dalechampia Capensis

Sibuya Game Reserve

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve

Feathers

During the early summer months, the migrants arrived and we noted again how few WHITE STORKS (Ciconia ciconia) made SIBUYA their stopover point. EUROPEAN ROLLERS (Coracias garrulus) were disappointingly absent this last season. Industrious nest building took place among many of our feathered friends and some species were observed tirelessly feeding nestlings. The AFRICAN HOOPOE (Upupa africana) really has to be admired for its efforts! Those broods were constantly ravenous….. fortunately food was abundant after the wonderful rains but the hard-working adults were still at it from dawn to dusk!


European Roller

A pair of AFRICAN FISH EAGLES (Haliaeetus vocifer) were fussing over their juvenile off-spring and guests to SIBUYA were regularly treated to sightings along the magnificent Kariega River Estuary as they went by on many a cruise.


African Fish Eagle

The most noteworthy sighting during early December was by our newly arrived guide, Chris Ovens. While out with his guests, he spotted a raptor without a tail and wondered how this had happened. Luckily he had his camera handy and took a photograph because he was not sure of what he was seeing, only having arrived from up north a day or two before, he was not familiar with our local birds. Checking facts later, he was amazed to note that the bird was a BATELEUR (Terathopius ecaudatus) and indeed a juvenile but way beyond its “normal” range! The Rarities Committee are delighted and so are we all at SIBUYA as there are two birds, not only one as thought before and sightings are taking place almost daily! As their adult plumage only appears when they are 7 or 8 years old… we eagerly await seeing if they’re a pair and if so, hope that they’ll choose to make SIBUYA their home!


Bateleur Eagles

Another great sighting by Chris was two REDBILLED OXPECKERS (Buphagus erythrorhynchus), which also have not been seen in the area for a couple of years. A number of Reserves in the Eastern Cape have attempted to re-introduce them, so we’re delighted that they’ve found their way to SIBUYA! They were enjoying a quiet feast on ticks while sitting on the back of a rhino… long may they stay!


Red Billed Oxpecker

Sibuya Game Reserve

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve

Wild African Flowers

As a result of the wonderful rains, the PLUMBAGO & CAPE HONEYSUCKLE are still looking quite spectacular but there are also a mass of other less showy flowers to delight the flora enthusiast.

During April we came across a number of CANDELABERA FLOWERS (Brunsvigia Radulosa) while out on game drive. This bulbous herb has one spectacular pink inflorescence which bears between 30-60 brightly coloured flowers. Continue reading