Tony Goldman is a long-standing guest and friend of Londolozi. Many of you will recognize his name from the Londolozi Blog, as his stunning photographs have featured a number of times before in a variety of posts.
Tony was back for another visit recently, and yet again was kind enough to present us with a number of his pictures for publication on our blog.
We present the first of his posts today.
The small are just as important as the large. A collared sunbird, one of the more common sunbird species at Londolozi, takes a moment to peer towards the camera. This is a female, as the males have a distinctive purple band underneath their chins.
Two of the Lowveld’s iconic and ubiquitous bird species, the lilac-breasted roller and the red-billed hornbill, in the same photograph. While male and female LBRs are pretty much indistinguishable, the hornbill can clearly be identified as a male, as the lower mandible is black close to its base. Females have an all red lower mandible and a slightly narrower beak.
Another common hornbill species of the area, this time the Grey version. These birds can be told apart from the other hornbills at a distance by their slightly different flying style; a much slower flapping motion. Like the red-billed hornbill, male and female grey hornbills can be told apart by their bills. Females, like this one, have a cream base to the bill and red towards the tip, whilst the males have a much greyer bill with a more prominent casque on the upper mandible.
A white-tailed mongoose, one of Londolozi’s nocturnal creatures. The largest mongoose species we find here, their large bushy tails are an immediate giveaway when one spots them rummaging around in the grass, looking for arthropods to eat.
One of only two shrike species in Southern Africa that migrate, the red-backed shrike (this is a male) is only present on Londolozi over the Summer months. As with all the other migrants, these birds have now departed for warmer northern climes as the South African winter tightens its grip.
One of Londolozi’s most beautiful birds is the Malachite kingfisher. Although one would think that such a colourful bird would be easily visible, their diminutive size and the fact that they are often low down, perched on the edge of a reed bed, means that they are often overlooked. This one had caught a large dragonfly – quite a substantial meal for such a small bird.
A white rhino cow and calf share a drink from a waterhole. As the dry season sets in and the quality of the grass starts to deteriorate, the white rhinos will be forced to up their daily intake of food in order to meet their nutritional requirements.
The Mashaba female, one of Londolozi’s most well-known. She has been enthralling guests for a decade (she is ten years old this year), and has thus far raised two cubs to independence; the Nkoveni and Xiimungwe females.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.
A young female that lives to the east and south of camp. Easily recognised by her 2:2 spot pattern she is often to be found in Marula trees.
Having been viewed by vehicles from an early age, this leopard is supremely relaxed around Land Rovers.
The most recognisable behind in the African bush; the waterbuck. These conspicuous white markings on their backsides are said to be a follow-me signal, helping the groups maintain visual contact with each other, particularly when on the run from predators.
A rare close-up of a klipsringer (rock jumper), These small antelopes are among Londolozi’s smallest, and have incredibly limited habitats, being confined solely to the rocky outcrops to which their hooves are adapted. A shot like this is a rarity, as they are relatively skittish creatures, and getting close to them is difficult.
For many, the voice of Africa is not the lion’s roar, but the call of the African fish eagle. Regularly seen soaring high above the Londolozi camps, which line the Sand River, the local pair enjoys unlimited access to a number of prominent pools and waterholes that are packed with bream, barbel and other small species that form the greater part of their diet.
A regal nyala bull listens intently to a disturbance in the bushes nearby. Adapted to living mainly in thicketed areas, nyalas rely heavily on their hearing ability as a defence, as more often than not their vision is obstructed by undergrowth, and limited to only a few metres in front of them.
A leopard will instinctively reduce its profile when honing in on prey, which means lowering its body into its shoulders and flattening its ears. Leopards can stalk forward literally only a foot above the ground, so dense grass cover like this is more than adequate to conceal an approach.
One of the Birmingham males scent-marks with his pre-orbital gland on a tree wisteria. One can see rain droplets on this branch, and it is often after a downpour that territorial creatures will scent mark most actively, knowing that their scent will have been washed away by the rains.