First things first: the bird in this week’s ID Challenge:
It was a Thick-billed Cuckoo. Heard more than they’re seen, they’re a good tick to have on your bird list.
Congratulations to those who got it right!
The first impala lambs have already been seen on the reserve, although I’ve yet to see one myself. For us it’s a treat to bear witness to this absolute glut of infants that floods Londolozi each year, but for the predators the treat is even greater. It’s estimated that there is up to a 50% casualty rate among the young impalas in their first year, partly because they are so small that they don’t provide a very filling meal, so most predators are forced to head straight out again to try and catch another one. We once saw a female leopard with four different lambs hoisted in the same tree after a summer storm!
Before we start going down quite a macabre road, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Birmingham males have been quiet of late. At least one of the Ntsevu females has been seen mating with one of their younger rivals from the Northern Avoca coalition, so who knows how long it will be until the Birmingham pair are dethroned?
If one had to define happiness for a rhino bull, this is it. With some rain already having fallen, the pans have filled and there is mud aplenty across the reserve; the timing coincides perfectly with significantly higher temperatures than a month ago, and the rhinos are taking full advantage of the mud availability to coat themselves with it as a protective measure against the heat.
One will generally find that the much older and larger crocs have broader heads and more rounded snouts. Even if you can’t see how big the rest of the body is, just being able to see the shape from the eyes to the tip of the nose will give you a decent idea of the true size of an individual. This sharp-nosed one was relatively small.
The last we saw of the three drongo chicks. We didn’t visit the nest for a couple of days, and given that they had been making exploratory walks along the branch, there is the possibility that they had simply fluttered to another tree nearby as they would almost certainly have outgrown the nest by the time we checked again. Our hope is that they are all still alive and well.
These four hyenas had been trailing a single male wild dog but had given up through a very thick area, and opted instead to head for their den nearby.
It was this male they had been pursuing, but he disappeared into the bushwillow thickets. About thirty minutes later, he rushed past us again in a completely different part of the reserve, all covered in blood from a successfull kill.
This lone hippo bull is usually to be found in a small pan in the centre of Londolozi. Come evening he will regularly be seen to gnash his jaws like he was doing here, spread them wide on occasion and sometimes even completing a complete barrel roll.
Having watched young elephants play-fighting on numerous occasions, it amazes me how one never (or at least I’ve never) sees them with an eye missing from a misjudged lunge, resulting in a tusk straight into the eyeball. The young ones don’t spar too heavily, but still, with all that weight behind a thrust, one would think injury would be more common.
Summer is the time for elephants to swim. Unfortunately we came around the corner just as this herd was exiting the water…
An Ntsevu lioness follows the scent of her pride down the road. The thicker vegetation of summer often forces animals onto the roads and prominent pathways, so predicting where they will move becomes slightly simpler, whether for photography or for tracking.
Some of the rest of the pride stoop to drink. Not all the large waterholes have filled yet. We will need much more rain, without such long hot periods between showers, in order for this to happen.
Wild dog sightings have been fairly numerous of late. I may be imagining it, but it seems to me we are seeing these elusive carnivores more regularly these days than we did five or six years ago. A good sign for the population if it’s true.
We featured a photo last week of a Southern Black tit emerging from its nest outside the Londolozi offices. This time one of the adults was photographed about to enter the nest with a food item for the three chicks.
One of the latest Ntsevu cubs adopts rather an awkward position while grooming. Lions are very flexible and will bend in funny ways in order to reach places to groom, but this cub stayed like this for quite awhile after it was done cleaning its tail.
Hyenas move den sites every couple of months or so, and this one near the Londolozi airstrip has recently been reoccupied. A build-up of parasites is generally a good cause for a move, although its obviously difficult to ask the hyenas themselves for their exact motivation.