We complete our three-part series of Londolozi Guest Tony Goldman’s photographic highlights today.
The good news is that Tony is a regular visitor to the lodge, so we’re sure it won’t be long before he’s back for another visit and sends us some more of his superb shots.
Enjoy today’s post…
Little bee-eaters endure a light shower. One of two non-migratory bee-eater species regularly seen at Londolozi, many argue that these are the most beautiful, with their striking green and yellow plumage. Considerably smaller than other bee-eaters, they are unmistakeable and often seen near the riverside, where they hawk for – as the name suggests – mainly bees and wasps.
One can tell a lot about what a bird eats from the shape of its bill. Seed-eaters generally have thick bills for cracking open husks, while raptors have sharp, viciously hooked beaks for tearing meat and killing prey. Rollers like this Purple roller are predators, subsisting largely on small arthropods, and the hooked beak is an effective tool for killing things like dung beetles and millipedes.
A white rhino that has clearly enjoyed a recent mud-bath. Without looking at anything else but the horn one can tell that this is a bull, as males have substantially more robust bases to their horn, as they need the reinforcement for fighting.
An elephant calf of only a few months old sticks close to its mother. From the looks of it, it got caught in the crossfire when its mother was spraying herself in mud, which elephants also use to keep cool, like the rhino pictured above.
An African hoopoe, one of the most recognizable birds we see at Londolozi. Much like the roller, one can get an idea of its food preference and means of obtaining it simply by looking at its beak. Hoopoes generally probe for their prey, exploring cracks and small holes in the ground for small arthropods.
A young bushbuck glances over to where its mother was feeding nearby. Common throughout the Londolozi camps, bushbuck are good indicators of when a leopard passes through, as their loud alarm bark carries clearly, particularly in the still winter air.
The Nkoveni female laps up water from an ephemeral pan. She is still raising a single cub, and our hope is that the relative stability of the male leopard population might mean that this cub will be the first she raises successfuly.
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.
A yellow-billed hornbill. Believe it or not, these birds have been shown to use their bills as thermoregularory mechanisms; restricting blood-flow to them when it is cold but shedding heat through them when the temperature rises.
With a number of brown eagle species residing on Londolozi, telling them apart can get confusing. Fortunately the prominent grey facial skin of this juvenile Bateleur eagle, allied with the lack of feathering on its legs and its distinctive body shape, render it unmistakeable.
Shy at first, leopard cubs often need a considerable amount of time before they come to accept that the big green Land Rover parked over there doesn’t represent a threat. Their mother’s presence usually gives them confidence, which is why when they are young we won’t view them if they are by themselves.
“What now?”. One of the Nanga female’s late cubs watches its mother depart the den.
The Nanga female was born to the Nyelethi 4:4 female in 2009 as part of a litter of three.
With two packs of wild dogs in and out of Londolozi at the moment, both of which with a heavily pregnant female in them, everyone is holding their breaths to know where they will den this year. We should know within the next couple of weeks.
Lilac-breasted rollers are hole-nesting birds, and will actively compete for cavities in dead trees with other birds who share the same nest type. Starlings, oxpeckers and rollers will often be seen squawking at each other, flying around dead trees like the knobthorn pictured here; it will invariably be nest sights they are disputing.
The Flat Rock male reclines in a Tamboti thicket. After being so fortunate to essentially inherit an open territory after the demise of the 4:4 male, he has been successful in defending it so far, although repeated incursions by the Anderson Male south of the Sand River have started to cast a shadow of doubt over the Flat Rock male’s chances of keeping his territory at the size it is.
A leopard who took advantage of the death of the 4:4 male in 2016 to grab territory to the west of the Londolozi camps.
A Birmingham male. Despite months of repeated mating interactions between this coalition and the Ntsevu females, none of the lionesses have yet managed to raise a litter of cubs beyond a couple of months. We hope that 2018 will be the year in which they meet with their first successes.
Signs of winter; a bare marula tree and vived red sunset.