The daily reports of new migratory birds arriving have continued this past week. Although not the first one to do so, I personally ticked off my first Jacobin and Levaillants’ cuckoos for the season. We are all now waiting expectantly for the first call of the woodland kingfisher! Two separate newborn impala have been viewed on different parts of the reserve already, which is an exciting sign that the other lambs are sure to drop very soon!
In terms of predators, the Tsalala/Tsalala breakaway pride of lions have continued to perplex us with their meeting up and separating, which was discussed in a recent blog post. The Mhangeni pride was viewed for a few days, providing some great photographic opportunity as is shown in a two part blog series by Bruce Arnott. Following on from last week’s sad news that the Mashaba female had likely lost her litter of three, this seems confirmed now after no more sign of a surviving cub and she has been seen mating with the Flat Rock male on several occasions. The possibility of tiny cubs in the area still remains though, as tracks of what we presume is the Nhlanguleni female have been seen in and around the Sand River in the section we think she is denning in, but as yet no sightings of the litter have been had.
With all that enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A Southern red-billed hornbill; one of several hornbill species that occurs on Londolozi. Note that both the upper and lower mandibles of the beak are completely red. This is a female – a male would have a black base to its lower mandible. f5,6, 1/1000s, ISO 320
The Tatowa female descends from the upper reaches of a marula tree. Her territory falls within the southern parts of Londolozi, where the bush can be quite thick. This was a rare opportunity to see her out in the open, with beautiful afternoon light to top it off. f5,0, 1/5000s, ISO 640.
A lone hippo reaches well out of the water and opens its mouth in a threat display, exposing its large tusks. f5,6, 1/1600s, ISO 800
A large elephant bull wanders into a muddy waterhole to feed on the lush aquatic plants in the middle. Mature bull elephants such as this individual have been shown to travel hundreds of kilometers, spending months searching for nutritious vegetation on which to bulk up. Because of this, it is always a privilege to see one of this stature. f5,0, 1/250s, ISO 800
A pod of hippos basks in the shallow water on the edge of a waterhole. Cows and their offspring have strong bonds, sometimes with several successive offspring remaining in close association with their mother. f5,6, 1/2500s, ISO 800.
A very young elephant calf plays with an older sibling. This particular calf would wonder a little distance away from its mother, only to be herded back toward her by other elephants in the family group. f5,6, 1/2500s, ISO 320.
The Flat Rock male feeds of a carcass that he stole from the Nhlanguleni female. She remained in the area and was able to feed again once he had his fill. f5,6, 1/200s, ISO 2000.
A red-billed oxpecker clings on to the neck of a giraffe. The circular lesion to the right of the oxpecker is caused by a virus of the papilloma group. The virus is spread between giraffes by oxpeckers. Once healed, a dry circular patch like this one remains. f5,6, 1/640s, ISO 320.
A spotted hyena cub rests its head upon another cubs neck. These cubs are still quite young as can be seen by their dark coats. They start to lighten and develop spots around three months. f5,6, 1/1000s, ISO 640.
Two bull elephants playing in the middle of a waterhole on a hot day. At times, these elephants were completely submerged! Increasing daytime temperatures as well as rising water temperatures should see us witnessing a lot more of this behaviour over the coming months. f5,0, 1/6400s, ISO 640.
The Anderson male gazes up into a tree to investigate a sound heard above. His striking eyes and massive size make him unmistakable. f5,0, 1/200s, ISO 2000.
A young male lion from the Mhangeni pride gazes toward the vehicle before finding a free space to lie down amongst his large pride. The young males in this pride are starting to develop dark manes at a young age, showing the potential to become formidable lions one day. f5,0, 1/3200s, ISO 500.
A very hot and full-bellied male cheetah looks towards a distant herd of impala. The striking eyes of a cheetah have always drawn me to these magnificent, rare cats. f5,6, 1/800s, ISO 500.
The Flat Rock male is seen mating with the Mashaba female. Although we are uncertain as to the cause of the death of her three cubs, lions are the suspected culprits. Image by Sean Zeederberg. f5,0, 1/2000s, ISO 800.
A female giraffe looks across a clearing towards the rest of her journey. Giraffes have always been regarded to live in very loose groupings, with individuals coming and going. However, recent studies are showing that giraffe associations may be more permanent than we are aware. f5,6, 1/640s, ISO 100.
A Wahlberg’s eagle looks around for a prey item that it had dropped while in flight next to us. The eagle came swooping down over our heads unexpectedly with something in its talons. Unfortunately it was unable to retrieve whatever it dropped from the thicket below. Image by Tracker Bennet Mathonsi. f5,6, 1/1600s, ISO 400.