A very welcomed few days and nights of gentle rain led us into this sunny week, which brought with it fresh green shoots of grass. This vibrant flush was greeted by herds of prancing impalas, galloping wildebeest and trotting zebra. The rising river has, for now, relieved territorial pressure on hippo bulls and some wild flowers have bloomed fashionably late!
Personally, a very memorable sighting of a young elephant with blue-to-grey eyes kicked off the week. A similar sighting of Jess MacLarty’s a few years ago was documented by Kate Neill where a partially albino elephant was seen. The one this week lacked the signs of skin pigmentation and pale extremities and only displayed the lighter eyes. Without all of the difficulties of full albinism, this young elephant has managed to stay alive for many years and looks to be on its way to a healthy adulthood. The unique eyes make for an unforgettably striking yet beautiful sight.
With the recent rains the previously verdant green and lush riverbed of the Sand River has now been replaced with flowing water and many mud wallows are a favourite for rhino and buffalo. Although the surrounding water won’t last too long, it is a pleasing top-up to the area before the dry winter arrives in the next few months. Predator and prey species alike have been very active following last week’s showers and everyone enjoyed an array of sightings as a result.
Enjoy this week in pictures…
Taken just over a week ago after the initial rains of March, and one of the large waterholes fills up quickly! A change of scenery to start off the week; crescent moon and all. 1/160 at f/4.5; ISO 500.
The blonde-maned Matimba male’s previously gashed forehead is healing well after February’s battles. Despite temporarily splitting from each other, the Matimba coalition survived another altercation with the Majingilane, who moved back west with injuries to two of the three. 1/250 at f/2.8; ISO 1000.
Sired by the Matimba males, the two Tsalala pride cubs are growing by the week. A very fortuitous view of one of them in the spotlight of the day’s last sun rays here, as the other cub suckles. 1/400 at f/4; ISO 640.
Pale, blue eyes of an elephant. Dappled light across the face of the young, partially albino elephant. With no other pale pigmentation on the body and no signs of blindness, it was very pleasing to observe this wonder go about a normal life within a herd. 1/200 at f/4; ISO 250.
Evening light made it difficult to photograph this sighting of the Inyathini male and Mzanzeni female mating. With a large aperture and steady rest, the sharp male is foiled by a motion-blurred female as she enters the frame; a pleasing alternative to usual sharpness all round. 1/80 at f/2.8; ISO 1000.
A pair of Giant kingfishers have been great value recently as they tend to perch along the riverbanks even while vehicles are passing close by. A large lens gave me this rare opportunity for a bird portrait, which uncharacteristically hides this female’s massive bill in this case. 1/1000 at f/6.3; ISO 1000.
Everyone’s queen, the Mashaba female, looks into surrounding thickets as the sunlight fills the gaps. Early mornings at their best. 1/1250 at f/4; ISO 400.
Anticrepuscular rays of light. During sunset, this confusing sight (also known as anti-solar rays) can sometimes be seen to the east, in the opposite direction to the setting sun. As common rays of light converge on the sun through clouds during a sunset (crepuscular rays), these seem to converge on no sun (an anti solar point). Perception is at play here, as both crepuscular and anticrepuscular rays are parallel shafts of sunlight through clouds but appear to converge as they travel; the same way railway tracks do. The moon was almost full during this photograph. 1/60 at f/4.5; ISO 500.
The Piva male waits in the branches of a tree for some young Hyenas to move away. Our view of him through many thorns contrasted with the sunlight highlighting his golden coat and made for an interesting photograph. 1/800 at f/4; ISO 400.
During the coalition’s time apart, the dark maned Matimba male rests in a thicket to escape the wind. The two have since reunited and have killed and fed on a young buffalo together. 1/800 at f/2.8; ISO 500.
After an enjoyable mudding and splashing in a nearby wallow, this elephant cow covers herself in dust. Morning light gave us this beautiful orange mist in the process. 1/500 at f/5.6; ISO 250.
Something I will never forget as a Tsalala lioness brings her two cubs to a recently killed young Kudu. At just a few weeks old the cubs investigated the carcass and made an effort to chew on parts of it… It didn’t seem like much (if anything) was actually consumed but all the gnawing and licking would certainly introduce some new proteins and bacterias into their diet! A special moment shared. 1/80 at f/2.8; ISO 1600.
The Nanga female, unseen for quite some time, looks over her continuously held territory. Monochrome simplifying her beauty and revealing the dark band of rosettes twisting down her back. 1/160 at f/2.8; ISO 1000.
To end the week, the Southern Cross is almost hidden amongst the glowing Milky Way and its countless stars. “Xirimele”, the footpath of our ancestors lies above us. 30.0s at f/1.8; ISO 800.
Hi Blair, yes she is the previously known Dudley Riverbank young female and has been renamed recently after being very territorial from middle 2015, around her late mother’s territory.