It’s been almost a week since the Mystery Bird Challenge #9. Those who said Rattling Cisticola were oh so close. It is indeed a Cisticola, but the hint we gave about not usually seeing the species on a marula crest was critical here; we see rattling cisticolas almost everywhere!
The bird was a Zitting Cisticola. We generally find them further south-west in the grasslands, but given that the whole of Londolozi is looking like a grassland at the moment, it is not surprising that they are turning up in unexpected places…
It has been an interesting week at Londolozi.
A pack of wild dogs has been moving around the northern and central parts of the reserve, while we have been seeing three sets of lion prides: Styx, Ntsevu and Mhangeni. The Birmingham Males have been spending most of their time with the Nstevu females and their cubs. Large breeding herds of elephant have been in abundance enjoying the green grasses on the land. However, I think the highlight of my week was seeing the interesting movements of the Leopards of Londolozi, with males expanding their territories, mothers raising cubs and females mating; there have been lots of interactions, which always makes for unique sightings of a normally solitary animal.
“No matter how few possessions you own or how little money you have, loving wildlife and nature will make you rich beyond measure.”
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Two young elephants share a moment alongside a watering hole while having a drink. The recent rains have meant that water-dependent animals such as elephant – which ideally like to drink at least once a day – have been able to spread themselves out across the reserve and are not as confined to the river as they were in the dry season.
The Nkoveni female and her 10 month old female cub stroll alongside one another. It’s been fascinating to watch this young cub grow her strength and skills over the past few months. While she is still very dependent on her mother and still at quite a vulnerable age, she is almost out of the woods in terms of the most dangerous time period of her development.
A relatively common and unmistakeable bird in these parts, the lilac-breasted roller never fails to catch the eye. These striking birds are predominantly insect feeders and have been feasting on the swarms of termites that emerge after the summer rains. These plentiful times are also when they choose to do most of their breeding, seeking out mates by calling from perches like the one above.
The thousand yard stare. A Ntsevu lioness momentarily diverts her gaze to survey her surroundings. The setting sun cast long shadows across her path. A small gap in the undergrowth allowed a sliver of golden light through just large enough to reveal a menacing glint in the lioness’s eye.
An African Hawk Eagle scans the ground using the dead knob-thorn as a perch. It will mainly be looking for game birds to prey on, specifically francolins and guineafowls.
The Nhlanguleni Female gives a big yawn as she slowly starts moving down the dirt track after a long hot afternoon of resting under a nearby Marula tree. She has been seen much further south than usual lately.
After sleeping closely together in an open clearing, one of the members of this wild dog pack shows the first sign of them getting active in the morning.
A male Saddle Billed Stork probes for fish and frogs in the Sand River.
Lions spend a great deal of their time sleeping; up to 20 hours a day in some instances. They rest during the hotter parts of the day and tend to move about more during the cooler, darker nights. A fair amount of time can be spent on safari waiting for them to rise from their slumber, however the wait is often well worth it. Here, one of the Birmingham males rests up in some long grass, after a long night of patrolling through his territory.
A male African Pied Kingfisher perched on a branch scanning the waters for some food. Watching these birds fish is always entertaining. Black and white only yet still so beautiful.
A large tusker feeding on the rich grasses on a crest. An elephant this size will consume up to 280kg a day!
The Ximungwe female leopard grips her Impala kill tightly as she prepares to move it from an unstable branch to a more secure place in the tree.
A male village weaver hangs upside down in order to display – through song and flapping wings – to any passing females, while showing off his newly completed nest.
With the females steadily ahead and on the move, one of the Birmingham males makes sure they stay within his sight.
A hooded vulture perches in a dead knobthorn tree. Due to their size and weight, vultures often choose to perch and roost in open trees rather than trees with thick canopies that are difficult to manouver around. Open trees also have the added benefit of a 360° view of the surrounding area.
An African wild dog has a hard-earned drink of water at a pan. These fantastic hunters rely on endurance to catch their prey and regularly hunt more than once in a day, thus it is important to hydrate when the opportunity arises. Luckily for this wild dog, the recent rains have provided many natural pans at which it can stop to have a drink.
A young lion cub stares sleepily through the grass. The Ntsevu pride’s cubs had being lying in the shade to avoid the hot sun. With the heat of the day beginning to subside the cubs began to stir, waking up from an extended afternoon siesta.