Firstly, apologies for the late response to the “Who am I?” leopard post.
The answer was indeed the Nkoveni female. Most people got it correct, so well done. We’ll find a trickier one next time…
This morning we woke up to absolutely tumultuous rain. 54mm in one hour! Roads were flooded both outside and inside the reserve and thunder was rolling ominously around. By 7am the rain had stopped, although some grumbly low clouds are sitting low above us. As welcome as the rain always is, what wasn’t welcome was the tiny leak in the roof that dripped slowly onto my Hard Drive, taking it out of action (I hope only temporarily; it’s in rice right now in an attempt to dry it). A quick distress call to the rest of the ranging team solved the problem, as everyone came forward with one or two of their favourite photos from the week, resulting in a wonderful smattering of sightings for today’s TWIP.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
One of the Birmingham males seems to be ecstatic at some smell or other here. Without too much imagination you can almost see him smiling…
Life Sibuyi; the man with many names. Mr Bubbles, Majingies, Mysterio… one of Londolozi’s funniest humans is known by many things to many people. Aside from his mastery of the art of tracking, Life is a superb birder, and having worked as a gardener at Londolozi for many years, his tree knowledge is probably unequalled by anyone in the field team. A man of few words but great wisdom, what he says is always worth listening too…
The green around the eyes and cere of this Great Egret tell us that it is in breeding plumage. The long plumes that it develops during this period are known as Aigrettes, a French word from which the Egret family gets its name.
The Ndzanzeni young male is popping up all over the show, now that he seems to be under pressure from his father the Inyathini male to vacate the area. The reality with young males is that once they are properly independent, thy will likely establish themselves in another part of the reserve and we will stop seeing them.
The Styx pride aren’t often seen on Londolozi, but with the lone Tsalala female being the only lioness regularly in the north of the property, it’s almost inevitable that a pride will move in to claim the area, and the Styx lions are the most likely contenders.
The three common yellow weaver species at Londolozi are easy to mix up, but a simple knowledge of the amount of black in their foreheads can tell them apart. The Lesser Masked Weaver has the black extending halfway around its head (think “less is more”), and has a pale eye. The Southern Masked Weaver has the black extending to just above the beak and has a red eye, and the Village Weaver (pictured) only has the black extending to the base of the bill. Females have no black in their face, but telling THEM apart is a whole ‘nother story!
One of the Ximungwe female’s cubs looks down unavailingly for help. Scrambling round on fallen logs and other obstacles is how these young leopards will hone their climbing skills; they won’t always get it right, but that’s what practice is for. Chances are high that when they need to climb, they will need to climb urgently, so failing when their mother is around to safeguard them is probably the best way to do it for now.
Probably the most beautiful kingfisher species to visit us in the summer, the Pigmy Kingfisher also seems the most daft! Without fail, one will zoom straight into a window each year, giving itself a bump on the head and needing a few minutes’ rest to recuperate. This poor individual had flown into one of the windows of the (ironically) Londolozi Healing House and was visibly shaken. He/she needed a couple of hours of recovery, tucked away safely in this corner, before flying off again none the worse for wear.
For some reason there seems to be an excessive amount of kudu bulls around at the moment, particularly in the northern reaches of the reserve. Spending much of their time in thickets, and melting away at the first suspicion of danger, it’s not too often we see the males out in the open like this one up on Southern Cross Koppies.
The business end of an elephant. With the rains have come the soft, lush grasses, and the elephants have focused their feeding efforts thereon, both for the nutrient value the grass offers and for the fact that its soft texture won’t wear down their teeth as fast.
A martial eagle with its favourite food source in these parts, a monitor lizard, whose tail can be seen hanging down under the branch the eagle is sitting on. Martials (and other eagles as well) are usually perched on top of the canopy, the better to have a view around, so if you see one in and amongst the branches, it will almost certainly have a kill with it.
Hyenas by nature have to be curious. Their very lifestyle depends on them investigating every lead that might mean a meal, be it a scent or a distant alarm call.
Big elephant under a big sky. The grasslands at Londolozi offer wonderful perspectives in which to photograph these magnificent pachyderms.
Although this might seem like any antelope’s worst nightmare, lions rely so heavily on the element of surprise that should the prey catch sight of these ears sticking up over the tall grasses of summer, it’s actually a blessing; once the predator’s cover is blown, the hunt is effectively over. What is not clear is just how many OTHER lions might be concealed in the grass nearby!
A dwarf mongoose peers out of its burrow, making sure there is no danger present before scurrying out to forage.
The Mashaba female rests next to the warthog kill she had stashed up in a marula tree. The white moustache on this young warthog is theorised to be a fake tusk, buying it an extra half second to escape if a predator hesitates before taking on such a weapon. Clearly that theory didn’t work out for this young pig.
One of the Nhlanguleni female’s cubs bounds across the Sand River to link up with its mother and sister who had already crossed. Watch out for a full post on this sighting coming next week.
Two of the Ntsevu cubs come ambling back towards the pride, their thin bellies indicative that the pride hadn’t been too successful in their hunting the night before.
The Three Rivers female (formerly Xidulu young female) has been featuring prominently in our sightings data over the last couple of months, and the hope is that she establishes a proper territory for herself in Londolozi’s south-eastern corner.