First things first: Mystery Bird #4:
The bird in the picture is a Dark Chanting Goshawk.
Well done to those who got the right answer. The combination of plumage colour and red legs should have pointed you in the right direction, as well as head size : body size ratio, although that was a little harder to see.
The other option, as many people pointed out, would have been a Pale Chanting Goshawk, but that species prefers far more arid areas further west, and does not normally occur in the Sabi Sand Reserve.
Now on to TWIP:
This week has been one of extremes here at Londolozi! We experienced temperatures that reached 43 degrees celsius; the hottest day we’ve had this summer. Then we received some much needed rain on Wednesday evening which came with a dramatic thunderstorm. Without a doubt the highlight of everyone’s week was the return of flowing water to the Sand River; before I started at Londolozi I never expected that watching a river come down would be such an incredible experience, but it has been one of my most memorable moments this year.
Even with the extreme weather conditions we have still had some incredible game viewing over the past week. We are seeing more and more impala lambs each day, and althoughso many have been born already, there are still plenty of pregnant Impala ewes. Leopards have been abundant across the reserve, with regular sightings of both the Nhlanguleni female and Nkoveni female, who both seem to be spending most of their time in and around the Sand River. The Ntsevu pride and a few of their cubs have been popping in and out with the Birmingham males, and as the rain brings the green flush back to the bush, we hope they won’t be as dependent on the Sand River going forward and spend more time spreading back out over their territory.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Ndzanzeni young male is probably my favourite leopard here at Londolozi; he was born around the time I arrived here. It has been great to see him grow into a young independent male, we are all still surprised that his father (Inyathini Male) hasn’t pushed him out of his territory yet, but it’s probably coming…
A young elephant calf strays away from the safety of its mother. This elephant was only a few days old, if you look closely you’ll notice how pink it was behind his ears which indicates just how young this little one was.
One of the Nhlanguleni female’s young cubs waits patiently for the return of her mother. At this age, this cub is still fully dependent on the adult, although given the proliferation of impala lambs, we have seen the two young leopards starting to practice their stalking skills, and it won’t be long before they are taking down their own small prey, if they haven’t started already.
Although the Birmingham coalition spend much of their time in the eastern parts of our reserve, it has been great to see them close to our camps. You can see Pioneer camp in the background in this photo.
A Birmingham male moves quickly to catch up to the Tsalala female who was just out of the frame. We have witnessed a lot of mating between the Birmingham males and the single Tsalala lioness; let’s hope this is the beginning of a new era for the this single female.
A malachite kingfisher perched on the edge of a watering hole. With its diet made of up of small fish, tadpoles and frogs, it was in the perfect spot to look for its next meal.
It has been a good few days since I saw these lion cubs from the Ntsevu pride and I can’t believe how quickly they have grown. You can see the spots on their legs and stomach; this will help them camouflage in thickets when their mother leaves them to go hunting.
Three young members of the Ntsevu pride run towards their mother and jump on her in excitement. This female had four cubs and one of them is just out of frame. With these lioness having struggled to raise cubs in the past, they all seem to be doing very well this time. Thanks are likely due entirely to the stability of the Birmingham coalition.
On Wednesday night we had a massive thunderstorm which we were able to watch move in over the reserve. I got very lucky when taking this photo, I just held my finger down and hoped for the best.
The usually shy Purple-crested Turaco which is quite a common sight in the garden outside my house. I have taken so many photos of this bird from my front door but I still can’t resist fetching my camera every time I see it.
On our way home a few mornings ago we happened across the Nhlanguleni female and her two cubs drinking from the Sand River. We are viewing the cubs away from their mother as much as we are with her, so seeing all three of them together was a real treat.
Initially skittish she spent a lot of time in the Sand River, now relaxed she makes up the majority of leopard viewing west of camp.
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The Ingrid Dam young female peers over the top of a termite mound at a herd of impala. At this stage of the year leopards are preying heavily on impala lambs. Fortunately for the impala this leopard quickly lost interest in hunting.
A Saddle-billed Stork perches on a dead tree at last light. If you look closely you’ll notice a dark eye and a yellow wattle (flap) at the base of his beak, this is a way to determine that this Saddle-bilked stork is a male.
Eye-level with a Rhino bull. I have been wanting to get a photo like this since I started guiding. He had just finished wallowing in a nearby pan and shortly moved off to continue on his territorial patrol.
I cropped the image from before just to give the it a feel of more intensity. Because I took this photo from a low angle, cropping it helped to enhance the intensity of his stare.
A short whistle followed by a popping noise alerted us to the fact that this male Black-bellied Bustard had just finished calling on a termite mound and was moving towards the next raised area to call again. I think this is the first time I managed to photograph this elegant bird. They are generally far more prominent in summer – their breeding season – when the males display from termite mounds and engage in beautiful display flights.
Young elephants don’t usually stray far from the the safety of their mothers. We have been viewing a large number of very young elephant calves over the past week or so.
The Mashaba female rest atop a termite mound with a storm rolling in behind her. Her gaze was fixed on a family of warthogs seeking cover from the incoming lightning.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best-known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the vehicles.
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Stunning pics this week Fin. Love the thunder storm and the rhino especially the cropped black and white.
Sounds like a fun week! Love the photo of the baby elephant amongst the legs of the adults and the photo of the saddle billed stork standing on the dead tree! And of course, any photo of lion cubs or leopard cubs makes me want to hop on the next plane! ? Thanks for sharing your photos from this ‘interesting weather’ week!
Some cracking shots , keep up the good work
Thanks for the great photos. We were there in September, and I’m anxious to see water flowing in the Sand River and how Londolozi “greens up” after sufficient rains.
Thanks for the fantastic pictures of the week. Have a tattoo of a Purple Crested Turaco because the Trackers in Phinda named me Gwalla-Gwalla because of my purple hair!
Oh Fin your pictures are stunning, but this time my favourites are the lightening strike & the Purple Crested Turaco, if you have one of its red wings while flying, I hope you will share it? Thank you. Have a wonderful weekend too
What an interesting selection of pictures, Fin! Thank you very much indeed. Love those baby ellies! And the one of the thunderstorm is excellent! We could do with so much more rain here in Gauteng. We are having very light showers every now and then and the temperatures here in Jhb are very high. Not as high as your 43 degrees though! Wendy M
I see that all sorts of exciting are awaiting us in January.Great to see so many lion and leopard cubs! Also can I get tour of the new kitchen! I want to learn to dance while cooking!?! Victoria
Excellent summation of the week, Fin. I can fully understand your excitement about the much needed rain. Everything alive benefits. Also I was pleased to hear that the Tsalala lioness is thriving, thanks to her mating. Let’s hope for offspring and that the pride will accept her when that occurs. Wonderful assortment of pictures as well!
Fabulous photos that are always a treat, thank you.
What an interesting week! Wounderful that the water has returned to the Sand River! I like your photo of the Purple-crested Turaco. I can understand why you like to take pictures of that bird! Beautiful and charming! Your photo is so artistic! The photo of Ingrid Dam is so good. One never knows who is behind the termite mound… Thank you for sharing!
Fin, Thanks for the fabulous shots! We loved the lightning image – Wow! Also the hidden young elephant is a real winner and we added it to our favorites. Thanks also for the lesson on the stork – we learned something new!
So so so happy to hear of the rain. I have been following weather in Skukuza and Hazyview…and saw several days of rain last week. Is the river still flowing? Amazing shot of the strom!
Great pictures. I will treasure the one of the storm, as that was taken on my 60th birthday when I was blessed to be there! And the baby elephants – yes, there were so many! I wish them long lives….