It’s the final Friday of the 2014 calendar, and what a week it has been!
The summer rains have made their mark already, with lots more expected, and we were even thrown into a dark and gloomy three days of gentle and constant morning rains – something out of the ordinary for thunderstorm season. The bush was nonetheless full of action and there was a lot to keep up with. The quickly-changing weather conditions meant volatile lighting for photographers, but a wide range of viewing opportunities with sunlight, shadows, glare, rain and even the occasional sunset-lit cloud ceiling. Nature once again provided a beautiful stage for us all to observe, and share in each moment.
So, for 2014’s final Friday, and as you come to the end of your busy week, I hope you enjoy our Week in Pictures!
All four Majingilane Males graced us with their powerful presence. While his three bothers sleep out of frame, this determined male stares towards the afternoon sunlight which suddenly emerges through the overcast sky.
The Marula tree almost seems to be the perfect piece of furniture for a leopard. Here, the Mashaba female catches a late morning lounge above the long and wet grass.
A Yellow-billed Kite swoops at low altitude, planning a quick approach to ground level where the remains of an unfortunate impala lamb have been left in sight.
Relief. Both for the Tutlwa female as she tends to an itch and disperses many flies from behind her ears, and for us as we finally see this well-established leopard after many worrying weeks. She is doing well, and has just remained very well hidden as of late!
A rare view of a juvenile Saddle-billed Stork; already the size of an adult but lacking the striking red, black and yellow colours! The dull stork can already be seen developing the prominent yellow saddle on top of the bill, and is a good sign for the population which is endangered in South Africa.
Mike Karantonis and his guests look on in excitement as the popular Tutlwa female shows off by ascending and then descending a giant Marula tree.
Being the sociable cats they are, two of the Tsalala Pride cubs rest together. One young male looks fed up with having his sister’s paws on his face.
A very special and unique sighting of a young male White Rhino wondering through a very active and playful pack of Wild Dogs immediately after they had fed. They got surprising close to one another before going their separate ways.
This large-looking snake is actually a relatively small African Rock Python. Sitting very still and well camouflaged within the dead branches, it sits and waits to make a meal of any unsuspecting birds choosing the wrong perch.
The mane on this young male of the Sparta Pride can be seen growing by the month, and he looks to be developing into a strong male lion with his remaining two brothers. But for now he sits and yawns while his mother lies comfortably in the open.
Along the banks of the Sand River a female Pied Kingfisher sits and scans the water below. Monochrome heightening her beautiful contrasting black and white colours.
Peering from behind dense bushes, we could observe this male Cheetah begin a rewarding meal. An uncommon terrain in which to make the kill as they usually require very open spaces to reach full chasing speed; this is how wildlife continues to surprise us.
Frozen in the gloomy light. This Hooded Vulture disturbs another as it comes in to land on a characteristically dead branch. Dust and feathers immediately followed the landing, but this image captures the calm, and the beauty, before the chaos.
A confident and menacing figure; the Piva male begins scent marking in certain areas.
An overheating Mashaba female seeks shade and a slight breeze in the canopy of a Marula tree, with her eyes towards a nearby herd of impala.
Which are your favourite images from this week? And how do you feel about making use of monochrome, is it only for specific images or is it an entirely different way to look at wildlife?
Have a phenomenal end to the year!
Written and photographed by Sean Cresswell