First up, the answer to yesterday’s Bird ID Challenge:
The three birds in question were Amur Falcons. Almost all of them have departed now for their long migration back to east Asia, but these three were some of the last hanging around. To be fair the picture was from a couple of weeks ago. It was a tricky one, but the bottom bird was very falcon-esque, and the fact that there were three of them was also a clue, as this species is generally gregarious.
Now back to the main event…
It has been another incredible week of game viewing at Londolozi.
We think the Nhlanguleni female may have moved her den (more on this next week) as females tend to do quite regularly when the cubs are young. Leopard viewing around the reserve has been fascinating as the male leopard dynamics in particular continue to shift as the Senegal bush male keeps getting seen further north while the Maxim’s male is being seen on a far more regular basis in the south-eastern parts of the property, which hopefully means he will steadily become more relaxed around the Land Rovers viewable as a result.
We had followed one of the Birmingham males for the better half of the morning while he called and scent marked. He then stopped in the shade when a vulture gliding above in a thermal caught his eye.
The young Nkuhuma and Styx males joined up briefly with a younger coalition of two males; we think they may be from Sand River Pride but are awaiting confirmation. They robbed the Tsalala pride of their impala kill but fortunately neither Tsalala lioness was injured in the scrap. The bush is now slowly starting to thin out and the overpowering greens are slowly fading to a mixture of tawny and less vibrants shades. There is certainly a nip the air as we set off on morning drives.
Winter is coming…
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The water in the Sand River is dropping, which is particularly noticeable at the Causeway. There is still enough gushing over the edge to allow crocodiles to use this to their advantage to catch small fish caught in the flow of water.
Not all kills are gruesome and full of blood. There are a number of golden orb web spiders scattered around the reserve at the moment. This individual had her meal fly straight into the sticky exterior of her web right next to the road which allowed us to capture the unique sighting.
With the water around the reserve slowly starting to dry up, elephants are making the most of the mud to cool themselves off in the heat of the day. Sitting with a breeding herd of these giants is one of my favourite things to do. There is always something amusing to watch.
A sight I wish to never stand in front of. A pod of hippos were spooked by the passing of our vehicle and stampeded back towards the safety of the water.
The Senegal Bush male was on a territorial patrol when we found him. As he was walking past he stopped and scraped his back feet to leave a scent, and stared straight up at the vehicle. It’s always a heart-stopping moment when your eyes lock..
There are so many double-banded sandgrouse around at the moment. They generally use the road to forage and feed on small grass seeds. They are difficult to capture on camera but these ones stuck around long enough before fluttering off.
As we left the camp with the sun rising but just not over the horizon yet, we found these two hyenas coming to the end of an evening searching for food to steal.
We spent a good hour following alarm calls and leopard vocalisations in the south-eastern parts of the reserve searching for this individual. We were actually following tracks of a male when we heard impalas alarming in the a clearing nearby. We sped over and arrived at the impala to find the Three Rivers female sitting on a fallen over tree scanning.
It’s always special to watch these highly endangered animals feeding and relaxed with us watching them. Moments after leaving a female leopard we bumped into these rhinos at dusk as they approached a small pan to drink. Moments after this photograph they lay down in the cool muddy waterhole to cool off.
The Ntsevu pride are still very much fragmented and moving around in smaller groups. We found a few females with some of the younger sub-adults hunting in the late afternoon.
It had been a rather chilly start to the morning when we came across this African rock python basking in the road, trying to warm up in the morning rays. It was still sluggish which allowed me and my guests to photography it from low down while still a comfortable distance away.
The colours during winter are my absolute best. Although they are not in full force just yet, we are starting to see the beginning of it. Here a woodland kingfisher (a bird not normally associated with this time of year as most of them have already departed for the northern hemisphere) calls at dusk.
The Piccadilly female and her cub have been spending a lot of time in the Manyelethi river in the north-eastern parts of the reserve. We had an incredible sighting of the pair as they walked down the dry riverbed and rested up on the bank; that was until a hyena came in and the cub dashed across the river and up a fallen over tree to escape.