Kenya doesn’t have seasons, at least, not in the traditional American sense. The Maasai Mara is nearly on the equator so the days don’t get longer or shorter and there is nothing you would call Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter. Instead, we have rainy seasons.
During a typical year, there are two rainy seasons: One from November to January (short rains) and another from March to June, when we get long rains. When the short rains arrive, we will get an intense, hard rain once a day, usually in the afternoon or evening. If we’re lucky, the short rains will come in cycles and we may have a few days to a week break. The grass gets lush and green but we are still able to go out on hyena observations (obs) when the ground dries out enough for driving. During the long rains, it is almost always raining and we can end up stuck in camp for weeks at a time.
It’s not the rainy season, but we have had an unseasonal amount of rain in the Mara this August. Unfortunately, anytime we get more than 6ml of rain we have to cancel obs and stay in camp. If we get more than that, we have to assess whether we can go out the next morning or even the next evening. A 20ml rain can shut us down for a day and a half. If the ground is already wet from a previous rain, even 10ml can make us miss a couple obs. The end result is that this August, we have been stuck in camp A LOT. Instead of recording hyenas I have been listening to and recording the rain. This is what a 55ml downpour sounds like when you live in a tent with a tarp above it: