A green flush; with the first true signs of a wet summer solidified in the ground below us we marvel at the changing landscape. Surface puddles, rain-rinsed canopies and damp clearings have been welcomed by all, and should soon bring tall grass stems and wild flowers.
The Sand River flows gently through a very saturated bed as the fields of lush grasses, which have provided for so many for most of the year, start to sink away into fresh river rapids. The brown meandering current softly tumbles over small boulders and causes the river level to rise every other day. With continued rain the Sand River will soon be a strong force and so the distant horizon is being closely watched in anticipation.
That being said, the wildlife hasn’t failed to impress either. Predators are making the most of their winter-long opportunity to hunt weakened prey but with sudden fresh grazing and browsing opportunities for all these prey species, the predators are soon going to be without as many easy targets. Rain-filled safaris and overcast conditions offered interesting photographic opportunities and occasional afternoon thundershowers created stunning sunsets and glowing landscapes.
A lucky few have the bragging rights/honour of seeing Londolozi’s first impala lamb of the season, as well as hearing and spotting our first Woodland Kingfisher of the summer…
An exciting week of changes, and a reminder of the never ending opportunity to get lost in the magic of the wild.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A Matimba male stretches up and into the deep blue of night as he yawns before a lengthy night’s patrol. 1/20 at f/2.8; ISO 1250.
After a long afternoon of low, grey clouds, the setting sun emerges underneath the distant cloud blanket and lights the land for a few short minutes before falling over the horizon. Just enough time to find a subject! 1/3200 at f/2.8; ISO 1000.
Two hyena cubs rest up in the hot afternoon glow while they await the return of the respective mothers to the den. 1/2500 at f/5; ISO 640.
A well fed Mhangeni breakaway lioness surveys a waterhole not far from camp as her and the rest of the Breakaway pride leave behind the remains of a buffalo carcass. 1/500 at f/2.8; ISO 800.
An early morning look at the Pioneer Camp carpark and its original ox wagon with low level and fast moving clouds sweeping over and creating a dramatic mood. 1/400 at f/4.5; ISO 400.
A returning male Southern Masked Weaver carries some freshly sprouted green grass for the construction of his intricate nest, only to find a female already inside doing some inspections. Hopefully for the persistent male, she allowed him to complete the nest before passing final judgement of its quality: either happy occupancy or a snip of its support strand and disposal into the water below! 1/4000 at f/5.6; ISO 1000.
A wandering young male Warthog traversing through camp let me snap this ultra low angle from the prone position. The Varty Camp sign is just out of focus as an unusual backdrop… 1/1600 at f/2.8; ISO 640.
As an intra-African migrant, this Yellow-billed Kite was already a welcome sight, but treated us by perching mere feet from the side of our vehicle to investigate a nearby carcass we had found. 1/1000 at f/8; ISO 640.
A first time viewing for me,of the Flat Rock young male leopard after his recent arrival onto Londolozi. With much still to claim, his subsequent movements and behaviour will be very interesting to observe. Will he attempt to claim his very own territory right here along the prime river frontage? 1/400 at f/2.8; ISO 1000.
A rare sight of a Secretarybird was a highlight for me, and again we were treated as the giant bird perched and then took off against a beautifully vibrant sunset provided by the distant thunderstorms. 1/640 at f/2.8; ISO 800.
A moody capture of the powerful Piva male showing very little intent while catching up with some much needed rest during a dark and rainy afternoon. 1/250 at f/2.8; ISO 800.
Directly descended from the original mother leopard and therefore part of the royal lineage of Londolozi.
Despite their commonly under-appreciated role and their oddly global dislike, the Spotted Hyena is an amazingly intelligent and impressive predator and survivor in the wild. In my eyes they deserve people to have a soft spot for them. This young cub provides some reasons why, just by looking into his. 1/200 at f/2.8; ISO 800.
Don’t panic… There are still four! This was just an interesting capture which I needed to share. Three of the four surviving Ostrich chicks are still dwarfed by their parents, and here the mother’s legs just about look like tree trunks in comparison! 1/4000 at f/2.8; ISO 400.
The week ended with a surprise visit from three of the Majingilane males, far east into the Matimba males’ current territory, who seem to be absent and on their own buffalo kill a great distance to the south. This Majingilane male boasts a glassy right eye and may be completely blind in it, but is as impressively well conditioned as ever. The famous coalition may still have big fight in them! 1/400 at f/5; ISO 800.