Misty mornings have begun to fill the valleys and low lying areas of Londolozi; gone are the days of setting out on drive with a pair of shorts and short sleeved shirt. It’s fast becoming a time of blankets, hot water bottles, the steam of a male lions roar and the huddle of bee-eaters on the banks of the Sand River. Winter is fast approaching and what a refreshing time it is.
The Birmingham male lions continue to fill the cool morning and evening air with deep bellowing roars as they lay claim to the eastern section of the land. Leopard sightings continue in strength and the sheer abundance of wildlife is still plentiful as the herbivores maximize the nutritional benefit they can get from the still-green grasses before all their nutrients return to the roots and soil.
A highlight of this week has got to be the discovery of three lion cubs from the Ntsevu pride by ranger James Souchon, Rich Mthabine, Lucky Shabangu and me. The discovery was in very thick vegetation which didn’t allow any photographic opportunity yet fingers are crossed their strength grows and they continue a legacy of the Birmingham male lions.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
An overcast and cool afternoon; the Tamboti female’s cub peers at us through the grass. The focus on the eye tells a story of the inquisitive nature of this 11 month old leopard. ISO 2000, 1/60, f6.3, -0.3EV
Surrounded by flowering grass, one of the Birmingham male lions walks across a clearing these male have been scent marking and roaring on regularly. ISO 1250, 1/640, f5.0
Unofficially one of the most photographed birds in the African bush and rightly so. About seven different colours make up this eye catching bird. A lilac-breasted roller catches the early morning sunlight. ISO 640, 1/2000, f6.3
Although it may seem a very vertical marula tree and a therefore a tricky proposition to descend, retractable claws allows the Ximungwe female leopard to get down with ease. ISO 1000, 1/2000, f6.3, +0.7EV
A yawn stretches muscles and ligaments and often shows sign of a predator getting active. One of the Birmingham male lions did just that. After lying up a few meters away a serious of yawns took place before standing to his feet and start scent marking a new area of Londolozi yet to be ventured into by these powerful males. ISO 1000, 1/800, f5.6
When life throws you upside down, its how you view the situation that can change everything. A different look at a hippo and its reflection in a pool of water one early golden morning. ISO 1000, 1/320, f6.3
Fresh blood on the nose from feeding on an impala her mother recently caught, ears perked listening for any potential threats. Another close-up of the Tamboti young female leopard. ISO 1250, 1/500, f6.3, -0.3EV
A tawny eagle soars above an impala kill hoisted in a thick bushveld saffron tree. The eye-sight of these birds is incredible and along with bateleurs they are often the first birds of prey to land and feed on a dead animal. ISO 800, 1/4000, f6.3, +0.7EV
Eyes locked ahead, a Birmingham male lion walks a path of least resistance on patrol of new territory. ISO 1000, 1/500, f5.6
Winter is fast approaching and cool evenings and misty mornings are becoming the norm. While the morning rays warm the air it’s even warmer to gather for body warmth, as these tree squirrels demonstrate. ISO 1000, 1/320, f6.3
The Ximungwe female leopard scans the ground below before descending a marula tree. Being a solitary cat, it’s up to her to always be on the lookout for any potential threats lurking around. Especially when she has a young nyala lamb hoisted in the tree above her. ISO 1600, 1/800, f6.3, +0.7EV
Marvelous face, no tail is what the scientific name of the bateleur stands for and one can see just that. A beautiful red/orange striking face and very short tail, these eagles are often seen rocking from side to side as they soar the rising thermals above. ISO 800, 1/1000, f6.3, +0.3EV
When life is about passing on your genes it helps to keep up and mate with females. A Birmingham male lion follows one of the Ntsevu females as she marches ahead in search of the rest of the pride. ISO 1000, 1/500, f5.0
Most skills are learnt from a young age. Two young bull elephants push each other around and test their strength. It was in the split second that they paused with the tips of their tusks barely touching, that I was able to capture this moment. ISO 1250, 1/640, f5.6
Its not only teeth and claws that can be captivating or cause one to slam on the brakes while on game drive. The intricate detail of this beautiful painted reed frog settled up on a leaf was utterly captivating. Although often heard in many water holes in the early evenings, they are not as often seen. ISO 1600, 1/160, f3.5
Frozen in motion. A young impala ram runs as it is chased by a larger ram; we are approachiong the peak of the rut where males will bulk themselves up, fight and chase off younger males, all the while herding females to mate with. A slow shutter speed while panning allowed for a different type of photograph. ISO 100, 1/20, f6.3
Playful behavior stretches muscles and kindles bonds. Two young hippos nuzzle each other on a warm evening. Later on they were sure to leave the water to begin a night of grazing. ISO 1000, 1/640, f6.3
Eyes locked on movement in the distance, the Tamboti young female continues to feed on a recently killed impala, maximizing the amount of meat consumed. Predators will gorge themselves when food is availableas they never know when their next meal might be. ISO 1250, 1/640, f6.3
With the reassurance of its mother close by, a young elephant calf runs at us as with ears raised – a form of intimidation – only to run back to its mother with its tail tucked between it’s legs a few seconds later. ISO 640, 1/2000, f6.3