This week we have found ourselves concentrating around the scarce bodies of water in amongst a dry, tawny-brown landscape. This in conjunction with the dust and haze in the atmosphere creates a deep contrasting golden light with a flush of greenery near to the water – a photographer’s heaven. Elephant herds have been plenteous, particularly near the water as they attempt to quench their thirst that is spurred on by the copious amounts of dry vegetation they need to consume. The demise of the Othawa Male and the lack of the roars of a dominant male in the western regions of Londolozi has resulted in a number of young males moving through in the hopes of claiming the unanswered for territory. I am sure this will continue for quite some time until a new dominant male moves in to claim it.
The Styx and Nkuhuma Males along with the Plains Camp Males are probably a little too young to be dominant yet. But in time they will have their chance if the patch remains unclaimed. Birding has been spectacular along with the aloes beginning to flower attracting an array of sunbirds. Leopards feature less this week, but by no means is that an indication of a lack of sightings but rather as there is an abundance of other great sightings. Although we are on our way towards summer having passed the winter solstice, the coldest months are still yet to come and the prospects of some amazing photographic opportunities are endless with the misty mornings, the backlit breath of a lions roar at first light, dew on the tips of the grass’ inflorescence or the bright golden light on the iridescent starling’s feathers.
But for now, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A magpie shrike, with its distinctive long tail feathers, is silhouetted against the golden sky at sunset. Typically long tail feathers are associated with male birds during the summer breeding season but these shrikes in fact carry the extra feathers all year round; both male and female.
A number of giraffe have spent the last few days near the airstrip which always provides allows for clean simple backgrounds.
Being the tallest land animal, giraffes often make for great subjects when you are able to get low and have something to help give a sense of scale. The Londolozi airstrip is perfect for this as a herd of impala run past the female giraffe.
A group of four female ostriches roams the open grasslands being closely trailed by a dominant male. As we enter ostrich mating season, the male’s efforts will intensify, and before we know it we may come across another ostrich nest.
A large strangler fig tree in amongst a wide open sky, there are many stunning trees of this nature throughout the reserve. This iconic example is in the deep south. I have always wanted to take a photo of it.
Although a relatively common bird, the three-banded plover is a striking bird when viewed up close. Moving around on the water’s edge in the search of any small insects within the mud a perfect opportunity presented itself for an uninterrupted reflection.
Zebra herds or dazzles as they are better known, are congregating in the masses as food resources becoming more scarce with the annual winter desiccation. The dry grass requires the zebra to drink twice daily in order to aid digestion.
A young female leads the dazzle towards the water pausing for a moment to ensure there are no predators lying in ambush at the water’s edge.
Shingilana dam is one of the larger waterholes on the property and is becoming a frequent spot to find elephants drinking. They certainly have a preference for this exact spot as I have sent them drink here numerous times in the last few weeks.
Speaking of drinking, this is always an amazing time to capture animals in the act of quenching their thirst. Elephants are particularly entertaining to watch drink.
With the Othawa Male no longer controlling the western section of Londolozi and his distinctive roars but a mere memory, a number of young males have taken this opportunity to chance their luck at claiming the territory. The Nkuhuma Young Male was found moving around by himself this particular morning. Normally being found alongside the Styx Young Male these two had been separated temporarily. They have been found often along the edge of the Birmingham Males’ territory in what used to be to the Othawa Male. Interesting times lay ahead of us with the lion dynamics.
A large hippo bull yawns at sunset, highlighting his impressive set of canines, designed for battling with other males in order to assert their dominance and claim a waterbody and in turn the females that may accompany it.
Ruffling up their feathers to keep warm through the cool winter nights, this Burchell’s coucal looked a bit shell-shocked as we drove past him near the Sand River, where it gets significantly colder.
With the winter season comes the bloom of aloes throughout the Londolozi Camps. This attracted several species of birds who come and gorge themselves on the fresh nectar provided by the flowers. This juvenile scarlet-chested sunbird was clearly enjoying himself as can be seen by the light dusting of orange pollen on the base of his bill.
The Xinzele Female had been found with a hoisted duiker in the northern parts of the reserve the previous afternoon. We went up first thing in the morning to see if she was still around and found her resting in an open match of ground at the base of the tree as the sun was rising. In the past six months we have seen this female expand her territory to now dominate a rather large area north of the river; in the process shifting the Makovsava Female beyond our boundary for the most part.