First up, the answer to yesterday’s Bird ID Challenge…
It was a Lappet-faced Vulture.
It was a tough one as there are a number of big brown birds flying around at the moment with some of the migrating eagles having returned. It’s difficult to gauge size without an accurate reference, but the sheer breadth of wings was a clue to it being in the upper end of the spectrum.
White-backed vulture was a good guess but there would have been a bit more white visible on the rump.
Here’s the bird before it flew:
Congratulations to those who got it right, now back to The Week in Pictures…
In only a matter of days, the landscape has transformed to a beautiful shade of green. The rains came early this year, causing the Sand River to flow from bank to bank. Each day, additional returning migratory birds are discovered, keeping us all on our toes. The greatest discovery of all though, was the unexpected appearance of a leopard cub that we didn’t know existed!
Luckily for us all, the Nhlanguleni female is denning her single cub in a relatively accessible location for now, providing some incredible viewing opportunities.
We also had our first ever view of the latest additions to the Ntsevu Pride! Only time will tell what fate has in store for the sub-adults as the newest litter grows and becomes incorporated into the pride.
With the rains, birds are flourishing and if one looks closely enough, nests are being made all around us.
It’s been a real treat of a week here at Londolozi.
Enjoy This Week in Pictures…
Giraffe sightings have been plentiful this week. This particular calf was walking across a clearing behind its mother. By dropping down the hill a bit, the dramatic sky behind the giraffe could be captured, providing some varied shades in the image.
One of Londolozi’s latest mothers – the Makomsava female. Here she used a termite mound to gain some elevation while watching a herd of impala. One ram ran almost straight into her, but escaped unscathed.
A pack of wild dogs greets and plays with each other after regrouping from a hunt. They had killed an impala, which was stolen by a female leopard and then stolen back again by the pack later in the morning.
A first view for ranger Sean Zeederberg of the newest litter of Ntsevu Pride cubs, glancing up at its mother, hoping for some affection. The lioness was so full and visibly uncomfortable in the heat that she paid absolutely no attention to the cub.
Two young male giraffes engage in a sparring match. The individual in the foreground is clearly smaller than its counterpart. A serious confrontation between males would only ever escalate into a physical fight if both individuals were almost perfectly matched in size. This ‘play fight’ may benefit the males later in life when competing for a mate.
Seldom seen but often heard. A purple-crested turaco sits on a dead tree in full view. These beautiful birds are most often heard in the tree tops around the Londolozi camps. They have stunning iridescent red feathers on the underside of their wings, only seen when in flight.
A rather comfortable looking pile of lions. One individual was so comfortable that it lay on its back and splayed its paws out into the air. Notice the three bottom lobes to the lion’s pad – typical of a cat.
The Senegal Bush Male and Ximungwe Female were found mating this week. A clear indication that the Ximungwe female has now pushed away her male cub. In between mating bouts, a small group of male nyalas walked right past the leopard pair. The leopards watched intently but were too distracted by each other to consider stalking the antelope.
A giraffe calf twists its neck in order to nurse from its mother. The biggest hindrance for a giraffe calf is, ironically, its long neck. Soon this youngster will no longer be able to reach its mothers teats and will be fully weaned. A close look under the calf’s belly will reveal the remnants of its umbilical cord.
The Piccadilly female raises her tail high to try and silence the birds that are busy alarming at her. She has been raising a single cub, spending the vast majority of her time in and out of the Manyelethi River in the northern parts of Londolozi. Her territory has shifted west, meaning we are seeing a lot more of her.
A pair of elephants has an absolute blast while wallowing in a muddy pan. Not only are they cooling off, but they are also lathering themselves with a protective layer of mud to assist with removing any ectoparasites.
A Sombre Greenbul in full song. These birds are heard making a “Vill-ee” sound all around the Londolozi camps, but are most often overlooked. As we approach their breeding season, the calls can be heard more than ever as they establish territories.
Ranger Jess Shillaw in her happy place – a front row seat to one of the best shows on Earth – a pack of Wild Dogs playing.
The Nkoveni female looks aside while feeding on her impala kill, while a hyena searches for scraps below. Hyenas have the most amazing patience, willing to sit and wait in the vicinity of a leopard’s hoisted kill for days. In this case, the hyena must have got lucky as the following morning there was no evidence of anything left in the tree – the kill most likely fell to the ground providing the hyena with an easy meal.
An active hyena den was discovered this week. Funnily enough, the cubs are all in the region of 2-4 months, which indicates that they have been around for a while without us noticing! It is also an old den that has been used by many generations of hyenas on Londolozi.
Nothing beats an African sunset, especially at this time of the year as clouds start developing after the warm days.