The proliferation of life at this time every year is utterly astounding. It’s the birds that have really stolen the show over the last ten days; nests have been discovered everywhere, with hornbills in almost every second tree, southern black tits nesting in a hole outside our office and the local drongo nest we featured a couple of weeks ago still going strong with its three chicks.
The Ntsevu pride’s youngest cubs have been around quite a bit, but the Makomsava female’s latest den is proving a bit harder to come by. Hopefully we can find it in the next few days.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
One often doesn’t appreciate just how sharp a lion cub’s claws are. This is the paw of one of the smallest Ntsevu cubs; razor sharp and like a row of daggers. Grow these over a couple of years and stick them onto the end of a 145kg lioness and you’ll start to understand just how well equipped these super predators are to bring down prey.
This southern black tit was spotted slipping into a hole in a buffalo-thorn tree just outside the Londolozi offices. Peering in after it had flown off revealed three tiny chicks, still blind, at the bottom of the deep cavity. The tit pair have been observed making constant feeding trips back to the nest over the 24 hours since they were first observed.
The drongo nest we featured a couple of weeks ago has three very healthy fledglings in it now. This photo shows very interesting nesting behaviour; one of the parents is removing the fecal sac of one of the chicks; it’s essentially the bird version of a diaper, and is a way of keeping the nest clean by ensuring that the chicks’ droppings don’t foul it
The Tsalala lioness and her daughter move past a journey of giraffes and a herd of impala in the distance. The lions had just come off a kudu kill so were full bellied and not interested in hunting.
Swainson’s spurfowls are seen perched up on vantage points far more than the other spurfowl or francolin species we get here. Their raucous call is usually only given first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening.
A chinspot batis nest, discovered by ranger Jess Shillaw. The female is the one on the nest (the female is the one with the actual chin spot), while the male is flying off behind. He has been feeding her while she broods the eggs.
The same nest in the sighting during which it was discovered. Look closely in the background below the nest and you can see the form of the Tsalala lioness lying in the sands of the Manyelethi River.
Summer is a time of wallowing. Pans fill up and water is ubiquitous. Soaring daytime temperatures also mean that animals want to keep cool, and one can regularly find the larger creatures like rhinos, buffalos and elephant making good use of the mud as a covering.
One of the Birmingham males charges towards where the Ntsevu pride had just killed a duiker. He didn’t manage to get anything though as the kill had just been appropriated by his brother. Irritatingly I cut off his tail and back foot while panning with him; he ran close to the vehicle and I was zoomed in way too much.
The Tsalala young female grooms her paw in tandem with her mother lying behind her
The male lion situation is getting interesting, with at least three coalitions having mated with Ntsevu females over the last couple of weeks. We have also been seeing a few itinerant young males, like this the one, not territorial and essentially nomadic. I stand to be corrected but this looked like either the Styx or Mhangeni young male.
Ranger Nick Sims, Tracker Life Sibuyi and guests enjoy an amazing sighting of wild dogs, with the pups of the pack coming closer to investigate the Land Rover.
A young hyena bypasses a pan while on the scent trail of something. Simply following a hyena that is sniffing around is generally a good strategy to adopt if one wants to find big cats in the bush. The hyena will often lead you straight to one.
Summer is a time for the small creatures to emerge, like this flap-necked chameleon that was crossing the road. A great spot by tracker Andrea Sithole and a hasty swerve prevented a very flattened chameleon being the outcome.
The Ntsevu pride are splitting more and more. On the afternoon following this sighting the pride had split three ways, all hunting in different directions.
The four cubs were left all alone in a Tamboti grove as evening fell, seemingly very exposed. Thankfully all four were found alive and well the next morning, feeding with their mothers on a waterbuck kill.