This week marks the official return of Friday’s post, “The Week in Pictures”. The brainchild of well known blog-guru Talley Smith, it represents a snapshot – excuse the pun – of some of the pictorial highlights of the week at Londolozi.
Although there will always be a tendency for the big cats to steal the show, we shall endeavour to give a true representation of what is happening out there, from elephants to eagles, flowers to figs, zebras to Ziziphus trees.
Enjoy this first return installment of “The Week in Pictures”.
One of my favourite sightings from this week was of the Vomba female and her cub. We spotted the female from a few hundred metres away, and were unsure if the cub was going to be with her as we approached. Rounding a corner in the road, this was the sight that greeted us: the little cub on a fallen marula tree. Magic.
A mud-covered buffalo bull walks away from Circuit Pan. It has been estimated that these behemoths can remove up to 25kg of mud at a time from a wallow, further enlarging it for the next big occupant.
A Carmine Bee-eater hawks from a perch on Fluffies Clearing. Summer is a wonderful time to be in the bush if you are a birder, as the migrants add a whole new dimension of color and interest to an already fascinating environment.
A photograph I have been waiting a while to capture; the Golden Mane Majingilane strolls nonchalantly past the Londolozi sign. I have had bad luck in previous attempts at such a shot, as the light was always on the wrong side, or I was too late to get into position, or any number of factors, but the stars finally aligned on this morning.
The 4 members of the Majingilane on a misty morning at Londolozi. Shortly after this photo they all roared their dominance, after which the Dark-maned male walked a few hundred metres away from his brothers to sleep out the day under a gwarrie bush.
The Golden Mane Majingilane walks over the hump in Munghen Double Crossing. Anticipation is often the key to wildlife photography, as we had waited in position for a good 6 or 7 minutes here for the lion to walk over the rise into the early-morning sun.
Another example of experimenting in cloudy weather. A slowed shutter speed and panning the camera along with the subject blurs the movement and background, giving the impression of speed.
A water monitor stares up at us from an ephemeral pan. He was searching the reed beds, maybe looking for birds eggs, and disappeared shortly after this into long grass to continue the hunt.
A pair of red-billed oxpeckers with hair plucked from an impala lamb. These birds will often gather hair as nesting material from their host animals.
Hip-scar of the Majingilane roars early one morning. There is nothing quite like being next to a male lion when he is roaring; you can feel the sound vibrating right through your body. In this sighting, three of them were literally making the vehicle shake with their bellows!
A rock monitor emerges from his hole in an apple-leaf tree. This photo was taken when we were waiting for the Blonde-maned Majingilane to cross Munghen Double Crossing. Tracker Mike Sithole doesn’t miss a beat, and the movement of the reptile caught his eye from above us.
The Tamboti female grooms herself in the Maxabene riverbed late one evening. We had watched her feeding on the remains of a duiker kill high in the boughs of a tamboti tree – after which she is named – before she descended to the sand to clean the blood from her fur.
A pair of whitebacked vultures enjoys the evening light from atop a dead leadwood tree in Open Areas.
Wahlbergs eagles are another summer visitor to the area. This one and its mate had descended to feed on some termite alates, along with some hornbills and Burchell’s glossy starlings.
One of the Ximpalapala cubs eyes out some distant impala from a marula on Ximpalapala crest. These wonderful little leopards can often be found in the area, sometimes together, sometimes apart, but always a pleasure to watch.
A sepia conversion of a photo of the same Ximpalapala cub in the same sighting. This photo was taken against a relatively bright background, and the colour version just wasn’t working, so on the suggestion of Camp Manager Jessica Jeffrey, I converted the image to sepia and was much happier with the result.
To be perfectly honest, that shot was pure luck. I was out experimenting with my new lens (Canon 70-200mm f2.8) – which thankfully has a very fast auto-focus – when we spotted the bee-eater. It was hawking from a branch nearby, and as it returned to its perch from an unsuccessful swoop I pointed and shot. The original shot was slightly wider, as 200mm is not really adequate for bird photography, so I had to crop the final image slightly in order to fill the frame with the bee-eater a bit more.
Bee-eaters can be relatively predictable in their hawking movements, so either waiting for one to fly from a perch or back to it can work equally as well.