When one considers that even with lions hunting buffalo, leopard cubs moving through the Manyelethi riverbed, over 70mm of rain arriving and Christmas right in the middle of it all, the most sensational thing on Londolozi was a bird in the staff village, it gives you a pretty good idea of what a rarity that bird was!
With a huge storm breaking a few nights ago and the camp rumbling to constant vibrations of thunder, lightning flashes giving brief illusions of daylight and the river coming down in spate in front of Founders camp, this week has been nothing short of dramatic. New Years eve preparations are in their final stages, and anticipation for 2017 is peaking.
Next year we will be reaching our 300th TWIP milestone, but that is still 36 weeks away, so for now let’s keep it current.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Any guesses as to what bird this is? We wrote yesterday about how the drought has potentially forced some birds to move out of their normal areas of living and onto Londolozi, but we weren’t expecting any from as far away as South America! This parrot is known as a Turquoise Fronted Amazon, and is a fairly common resident of Brazil. After a few enquiries, it was identified as an escapee from a bird sanctuary in nearby Hazyview, and returned to its owner forthwith. We’ll run a blog on the full story next week.
Despite many impala alarming at him, the Flat Rock male leopard refused to retreat into cover, and walked for a long way through a series of clearings. The young male impala that is fleeing in the background would run away for 50 metres, return to snort at the leopard, and then retreat again. He repeated this procedure for a good few hundred metres!
Although mostly unconcerned, the leopard did pause once to look back at where a wildebeest was snorting at him.
He eventually found a small rainwater pan just as the sun broke through the clouds, allowing for some beautiful light to illuminate him as he drank.
A Hamerkop moves alongside the Causeway on the lookout for a meal. Whilst frogs form a large part of their diet, they will eat a wide variety of things, including molluscs and small fish.
The reason we were parked at the causeway, enabling us to be photographing a hamerkop, can be seen descending to the river behind Amy Attenborough, who was racing across to position herself to film the pride crossing over.
The Tsalala pride. One of the ultimate photographic prizes for guides at Londolozi is to capture lions crossing the river, and we had followed them for a good twenty minutes on this morning before they made their descent to one of their favourite crossing points. Although the water may be shallow, lions are generally reluctant to enter it, with a natural dislike of getting wet allied with a fear of crocodiles. In this photograph the pride are taking the opportunity to have a quick drink before braving the crossing.
Once committed, they surged across. We believe they may have been chased by other lions during the night, as the adult lionesses kept pausing to look behind them and listen intently.
As Dave Strachan, Judas Ngomane and their guests approach the sighting in the background, some waterbuck watch the approach of the lions from out the thicket, out of picture to the left.
A whitebacked vulture leads the exodus away from a buffalo carcass as a hyena charges in to scatter the wake.
Despite being in the kingfisher family, the woodland kingfisher does not actually eat fish, but prefers small terrestrial invertebrates. Here one repositions a scorpion for easier swallowing. Photograph by David Dampier
Another kingfisher, but this one DOES eat fish. The largest species we get at Londolozi, the giant kingfisher; a common sight along the river. Photograph by David Dampier
Callum Gowar hopefully nails the shot as the Xidulu female and her two cubs play in a thicket beyond his vehicle. We’ll have to wait a few days to see what Callum got…
A saddle-billed stork gets a run up before taking off from a pool in the Sand River on an overcast day.
A great egret takes flight from the Sand River. Photograph by David Dampier.
The river has been inundated with elephants recently, but as its level rises, they have been sticking more and more to the high ground. Photograph by Amy Attenborough.
One of the Nanga female’s cubs looks for a more comfortable resting spot atop a termite mound. Photograph by David Dampier.