First up, the answer to last week’s Mystery Bird Challenge #27. The bird – which a number of you got correct – was a juvenile African Hawk Eagle.
Here is a photo of the bird before it took off:
The juveniles of this species are very different to the adults, which are black and white. The full feathering on the legs marked it as a true eagle, and the streaking on the neck is the big clue to it being an A.H.E.
Congratulations to those who got it right.
Going forward with The Week in Pictures: so that everyone’s aware, we generally make a combined offering, made up from photos of those rangers who are here during lockdown.
Although the post is published under one name, the photos are by a variety of photographers, each of whose name can be seen at the bottom left of the specific pictures they took.
This week was a tricky one as far as Lions were concerned. Although tracks of the Ntsevu pride were seen, all we managed to find was one lioness. Today the pride is back on Londolozi, but again, it was just the tracks we found. We believe they are in a particularly thick grassy area in the south-west of the reserve. A herd of buffalo is nearby, so we’re going to head back out just now to see if we can find the pride and if they make a move on the herd.
The young Three Rivers female leopard was seen consorting with the Senegal Bush male, so we eagerly await developments on that front.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
With water in short supply as we enter the end of the dry season, the reserve’s hippos are forced to congregate more and more in the remaining pools in the Sand River. One particular pool near the causeway has a current population of about 50 of them, and first light (when many of them are returning to the water after a night’s feeding) is the best time to be there, as there is usually quite a bit of jostling for position.
The Three Rivers female looks back at us down the dry Maxabene Riverbed. She is following the Senegal Bush male in this photo, and had left her territory entirely in order to mate with him.
A herd of elephants bunches together as they excitedly approach a waterhole.
A blacksmith lapwing wades through shallow pools of water at sunrise. With waterholes drying up, the remaining pools are developing patterns that can provide interesting backgrounds to photographs.
An elephant bull marching steadily along the old railway line on the horizon caught my eye. His majestic profile against the clear sky was a quintessentially African scene for me.
A female Bennett’s woodpecker, clinging tightly to a tree. This is one of four species that occurs at Londolozi. They are all very similar looking at first glance, however there are certain traits to look at to help narrow it down. Behaviour is one such trait. Bennett’s woodpeckers typically feed on ants on the ground, rather than pecking like the other three species in trees. The way I remember this is that Bennet Mathonsi – the tracker I work with – also spends time on the ground investigating tracks. Therefore: woodpecker on the ground – start with Bennett’s.
A combination of clouds and mist made for a striking sunrise over the dry south-western region of Londolozi one morning this week.
The Three Rivers female. The sound of mating leopards nearby helped me find her and the Senegal Bush male. They were right in the middle of an open clearing, in clear view. When she sat up to scan around her, a gap in the clouds that morning gave just enough golden light to make for the perfect scene.
While trying to find a leopard that reportedly had a kill in a tree, we were drawn to this slender mongoose that sat perched, alarm calling. Firstly, one does not see slender mongooses in trees often. Secondly, I have never heard one alarm calling before. The rounded appearance of its throat in this image was due to it inflating with air while it let out a strange growling noise. Thanks to the alarm calls and the direction of its gaze, we found the Three Rivers female in the grass next to us.
These two young male cheetahs made two unsuccessful hunts on herds of impala on this morning – their inexperience still evident as they didn’t wait for the right opportunities.
One of the last remaining waterholes on the reserve is one of the best places to view elephants, and it is not unusual to see a number of herds there throughout the day. This young one was a straggler from a group of about 30.
We saw a line of impalas approaching us and quickly stopped to try and take a photo, which made all their heads turn in our direction. All ears did the same in order to establish with as many senses as possible whether or not we were a threat.
The Plaque Rock female nosing around. The territorial situation in north-east Londolozi is fairly confusing at the moment, with at least five female leopards moving around where they are not normally seen. Hopefully everything will settle in the next month or two so we can make sense of it all…
A lone Ntsevu lioness pauses to listen. Most of the females of this pride are most likely going to be coming back into oestrus over the next few months, so who knows what will happen to the sub-adults next year. Will they stay or will they go?
The Three Rivers female hasn’t reproduced before, so this would be her first litter.
We haven’t had any sign of the Mashaba female’s cub, but the female was seen last week and it looked like she was still lactating, so there’s hope…