For once I’ve remembered to include the answer to the mystery bird without being reminded a few hours after publishing:
The correct answer was a Magpie Shrike, which many of you got. The head is a little indistinct, but the long tail slanting up to the left of the nest was the giveaway, which I think some people might have overlooked. Congratulations to those who got it right!
This has been one of those weeks after which you’re left scratching your head, trying to remember if everything you saw was real.
Getting back from drive, rangers were trooping past the coffee station, recounting amazing sightings to each other, only to have whoever they were telling their story to match it with an equally impressive sighting.
Sadly you can’t be everywhere at once, and I missed a fair chunk of the action, but hopefully it starts appearing in bite-sized chunks in the ranger’s blogs over the week or two.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Night photography can be tricky, especially if you have your focus settings wrong! We had just been taking some side-lit photos of a Birmingham male as he calmly walked by, using a different focus setting, and I had forgotten to readjust when the Ntsevu pride (who the males were following) took down an impala. It would have been fine if the lions had just stayed feeding where they were, but the two males decided to have an almighty brawl and their back and forth fighting threw most of my photos out of focus. This is where I would insert that slap-face emoji one finds on WhatsApp. The pride has continued to move big distances over Londolozi, and merely having such a big group of lions walk past your vehicle is impressive enough!
Another potential candidate for the moving-big-distances award is the Three-Ear Pack. these two wild dogs – a male and a female – have been fairly localised on Londolozi over the last month. We aren’t sure how the female lost her ear, but scarring around where it used to be suggests a violent encounter with a hyena or even another wild dog.
A very small portion of the Mhangeni Pride.
I was hoping to get an elephant crossing in the background, emphasising just how far from the coast this little wave in the Sand River is, but given that I didn’t want to wait all day just in the hope that one would happen along, I substituted the Land Rover in instead. I nearly got stuck in the process as well.
Rangers Jess Shillaw and Chris Taylor exploring the Maliliwane drainage, a seldom-walked watercourse in Londolozi’s far north-east. Getting out on foot like this is the best way to truly get to know the reserve you work on.
The living version of the heebie-jeebies. Crocodiles are one of the only predators on earth that actively see humans as prey, and we have to be ever watchful when moving around near waterholes or the river, as even large individuals can remain hidden in very shallow water. This one was watching me with its malevolent eye as I was photographing hippos one afternoon at a waterhole near camp.
The Mashaba female investigating a termite mound for any sign of its warthog occupants. Leopards are known to wait for days on a mound when they are sure there is a warthog inside. A year ago the Mashaba female remained on a mound for over 48hrs, which we believe was a direct contributing factor to the death of the young litter she was raising at the time.
A pair of white-faced whistling ducks in a greeting ritual. It was just after taking this photo that I glanced to the side and happened to notice the crocodile from two photos previously watching me.
The only Ntsevu lioness not to have cubs walks away from the Birmingham male that had been trailing her for days. We suspect she may be infertile, given the number of times we have observed her mating yet not seen her conceive.
Despite finding crocodiles fairly sinister, I rather enjoyed the colouration on this one, arising from a combination of duckweed on its back and mud/algae on its stomach and lower jaw.
Woodland kingfishers are insectivorous, not feeding on fish as their name would suggest. This one was struggling to make a meal of a large millipede, and after bashing it repeatedly against the branch, eventually dropped it. The kingfisher seemed to decide that it wasn’t worth the fuss and simply flew away.
Beautiful dewdrops on a round-leafed teak. Mornings like this, when the grass and trees are sparkling under a coating of moisture and the dust has been washed out of air that is now so clear you can almost drink it, are what summer is all about.
The Styx Pride contemplate crossing the Sand River. With the water level remaining consistently higher than it’s been for a long time, many of the big cats are forced to get their feet wet. Very aware of the danger of crocodiles in even the shallowest of water, they try and make it a quick journey across.
Once all safely across the pride reunited in the reeds then continued north onto the grassy crests. We’ll recount the rest of the sighting in a post next week…
The Nhlanguleni female and the latest addition to the Leopards of Londolozi. These cubs haven’t been seen regularly, as the area the female has been denning in has a number of small rocky outcrops that the cubs have been shifted between. Added to the fact that we never know which outcrop they’ll be at on a day-to-day basis is the extensive grass cover, which means that even if the mother is there with the cubs you can easily miss them. It probably won’t be long before she starts taking them to kills…