The temperatures have risen slightly over the past week but I don’t think we are out of the woods with winter just yet, or at least I hope not. I absolutely love winter at Londolozi, cooler days which make for wonderful sightings and sunsets that seem to go on forever. A prominent feature this week has been the return of large herds of elephants, it always amazes me how we can go for long periods of time without seeing these large animals but then all of a sudden we can’t turn a corner without coming across a different herd, one of the many benefits of having an open system with the Kruger National Park.
There has been some wonderful leopard viewing over the past week. My favourite sighting has to have been of the Hosana male leopard who is spending most of his time at a prominent pan in the northern parts of the reserve. We waited for him for most of the afternoon to come out of a thicket and our patience was rewarded as he walked straight into the setting sun, which offered some fantastic photographic opportunities. Although he is still a bit young to be setting up his own territory, we are all hoping he sticks around for as long as possible as he is providing us with some fantastic sightings of late. Regular sightings of the Nkoveni female and Mashaba female continue but we still have not managed to find where Nkoveni or Nhlanguleni are keeping their respective cubs. A more worrying fact is that we haven’t had any sign of the Tamboti female over the past week.
Members of the Ntsevu pride continue to mate with the ‘new comers’ to Londolozi, the Birmingham coalition and with at least two of the lionesses starting to show signs that they are carrying cubs, only time will tell if they will be successful with these litters. With the four Birmingham males showing such dominance since they arrived here, all signs look to the positive for the future cubs of the Ntsevu pride. The lone Tsalala female has been viewed twice over the past week, on both occasions she was seen finishing off the remains of an impala kill.
With the winter solstice now behind us, enjoy this week in pictures.
White-barred Emperor (Charaxes brutus natalensis). These charaxes are fast and powerful in flight and often very difficult to get a photo of them, luckily for me I found two of them mating outside my house which presented me with this wonderful opportunity to capture this image.
A lioness gazes towards the distant call of a male lion. The next morning we found this female mating with one of the Birmingham males
The Nkoveni female waits patiently in dappled light plotting her next move on an pair of rutting impala. Although the majority of the impala rut is over, we are still seeing and hearing a few rams rutting throughout the property.
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 Little Bee-eater waits patiently on a low perch, it will then fly to hawk passing insects and often glide back to the same perch. Insect is often beaten on the branch before being consumed.
Two White-backed Vultures watch on as the lone Tsalala lioness finished off an impala kill in the Manyaletyi River bed. A nice trick while photographing vultures is to overexpose the imagine to create this ‘blown out’ effect.
This was an incredible spot by my tracker Innocent, he managed to see this small African Barred Owlet through a small gap in the foilage. We watched as he preened himself thoroughly before being interrupted by a group of Burchell starlings that mobbed him.
Watching the Birmingham males take over Londolozi has been one of my highlights of the year so far. Here he left the side of an Nstevu female he was mating with for a few minutes which offered us a quick chance to get this imagine.
The Flat Rock male walks straight towards us in perfect afternoon light. Almost daily we are seeing this male leopards expand his territory in all directions.
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.
The Tamboti young female rests after finishing off her dawrf mongoose kill. With her mother (Tamboti Female) leaving her for days at a time, it forces this young leopard to practice her hunting skills, even at the demise of a small dwarf mongoose.
The Hosana Male in golden light. This was my highlight of the week. In my opionion patience is the key to getting decent photographs. Long time guest repeat and friend, Bernard …… and I waited for over an houe for this male leopard to walk out of the thicket he was resting in.
This is the first time I’ve managed to take a photo of a Black stork, estimated to only have over 1000 breeding pairs in South Africa, this stork is regarded as near-threatened and is an uncommon resident.
An Ntsevu female walks away from the rest of the pride to go quench her thirst at a nearby watering hole. This photo was taken late in the morning when the light was relatively harsh, this is where shooting in black and white can be really beneficial.
A Lilac-breated Roller tries desperately to warm up on a cold winters morning. This bird uses the sit-and-wait technique, pouncing on prey on the ground usually from a perch just like this one. His diet varies beetles and butterflies to frogs and snakes.
The two cheetah brothers that have been spending time in the central part of the reserve look back towards the Mashaba female who just a stole an impala kill from them.
My favourite part of winter have to be the sunsets that offer wonderful photographic oppurtunities like this. We watched as four Ntsevu females walked over this crest and I finally managed to get this image when the last female walked into the perfect spot.
A clan of hyenas finish off the remains of an impala ram they had stolen from a pack a Wild Dogs. We heard the hyenas calling form camp and headed straight to where all the commotion was coming from and a few hyenas feeding off the scraps of an impala ram.
An Ntsevu lioness stretches and sharpens her claws on a nearby tree before setting off on an evening hunt. This is a ritual viewed on most evenings as lions will often take time grooming and stetching before heading off into the night in search of prey.