A few days ago we ran the first in a series of photographic posts from long-standing friend Tony Goldman.
Tony was kind enough to send us a large batch of photos from his last visit to the lodge (as you can see it was before the rains returned), and we present the second gallery here today, with a couple more to follow over the next week or so.
Cheetahs aren’t common at Londolozi, being outcompeted by other large predators – namely lions, leopards and hyenas. Their slight frames (they have sacrificed bulk to become almost over-specialised for speed) renders them unable to defend themselves adequately when competing over a carcass.
Grey herons are common around our waterways, particularly along the Sand River. Fairly ubiquitous throughout Southern Africa, they can be found almost anywhere apart from the central areas of the Kalahari desert, which contains almost no standing water through the year.
Brown-headed parrots are generally heard before they are seen, their high-pitched shrieking drawing your attention skywards to lock your eyes onto the rapidly flying birds, their wings beating incredibly fast as they race by like miniature fighter ‘planes.
African Jacanas are known particularly for their greatly extended toes, which enable them to walk out onto aquatic material without sinking in, so effectively is their weight distributed. This gives rise to one of their nicknames, the “Lily-trotter”.
Impalas congregate around one of the few remaining pans of the Londolozi winter. With the rains having come in the last two months, impalas and other herbivores are no longer restricted to the bigger waterbodies, but can find water almost anywhere in the form of small puddles and other ephemeral sources.
The African Green Pigeon is a particularly striking bird. This species can be difficult to see, as their green colouration blends them into the foliage of the fruit trees which they frequent.
Green-backed or Striated Herons are a regular feature along the Sand River. This species has – incredibly – been known to use insects to bait fish to come closer so that it can catch them.
A female Chinspot Batis. Fairly common at Londolozi, the soft “Three-Blind-Mice” call of this bird is a regular background noise around the camps.
White-browed Scrub Robins are renowned singers, their beautiful early-morning call a regular feature on game drive.
Young crocodiles like this one are not often seen. At risk of being preyed upon by a multitude of predators – most notably larger members of their own species – they spend a lot of time skulking in concealed backwaters and under riverside foliage.
The Red-Capped Robin-Chat (formerly Natal Robin) is another bird that is heard more than it is seen. Many of the more colourful robin-chat species favour dense vegetation and feed in the leaf litter low down. It takes some patience to get a proper view of them (and a LOT of patience to get a photograph); more often than not all you get is a quick flash of orange as one flies from cover to cover.
The African Spoonbill needs no explanation as to where it gets its name…
Green-Winged Pytilias are generally found in pairs (this is a male). Secretive birds, their diminutive size and preference for Acacia thickets means a good view of one in the open is a rarity.
Elephants on the move to a waterhole. The giant pachyderms are fairly water-dependent, visiting water sources regularly during the dry season, but now that the rains have come they get a lot of moisture from the food they eat, and don’t have to drink quite as often.
The Senegal Bush male with a small cut on his cheek. This leopard established territory in the middle of Londolozi almost overnight, probably taking advantage of the declining condition of the ageing Inyathini male.
Another leopard whose territory expanded considerably last year; the Flat Rock male. Now patrolling both sides of the Sand River, we seldom know where he is going to pop up next!
Another day in the African Bush draws to a close.