This week’s recap shows the juxtaposition we find the reserve in at the moment. The water table is still as high as it can be, the seep lines continue to flow, and there is an abundant lush green blanket all over the reserve. However, there is slightly more than a whisper of winter with a crisp nip in the morning air, a golden sunrise that dominates the start of the morning drive, and the attentive would have noticed the browning of certain grass tips. Despite this, there has been an abundance of magical sightings all around the reserve as the animals gear up for winter.
On the leopard front, we see the Three Rivers Female in lush greenery, the Nkoveni Female makes a reappearance after a long period of spending time in the eastern parts of her territory, and we spend some special time with the Nhlanguleni Female. The Senegal Bush Male is looking as impressive as ever, sporting a few more battle wounds.
And when we turn to the lions, the Talimati Pride have been spending time around the western parts of the reserve along the Sand River, with the pride’s subadult male looking impressive! He is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
The young male cheetah has still been lurking in the eastern parts of the reserve and making a name for himself. Hopefully, he continues to stick around.
Let’s not forget some other magical sightings of a myriad of colourful birds, with some of the seasonal migrants still hanging around as well as the general game, elephants, and buffalo in abundance.
Let me know your favourites in the comments section below.
Enjoy This Week In Pictures…
Resting in a perfectly comfortable fallen marula tree, the Three Rivers Female fixates her gaze on a herd of impala in the distance.
In a lush green tambooti grove, the Three Rivers Female pauses to asses her options of available trees to stash her kill (and catch her breath!). It always amazes me to watch the cogs turn as a leopard plans the next move and combine that with the dappled light, we could have sat there forever.
The last of the Woodland Kingfishers are still around, presumably due to the excessive rain and resulting greenery. Synonymous with summer, these beautiful blue birds have started their migration north and as the green backdrop fades, so will their call.
Golden hour in the afternoon, the sand river in the background, and Kyle Gordon and guests fixated on a termite mound. Look a little closer and you’ll see why. We spent the afternoon with the Plaque Rock female as she meandered through her territory of the grassy crests east of camp. This image was taken a couple week’s ago, and was a different perspective on what Kyle saw.
The Plaque Rock Female resting on this mound gave Kyle and I the perfect opportunity to snap a number of different shots of her.
A Red-billed Oxpecker came in to land as this large hippo gave us a stare-down. I’m sure the birds were oblivious to the menacing glare, and much more focused on getting something to eat before sunset.
A Wild Dog (as known as the African Painted Wolf) pauses briefly from digging frantically into a termite mound. With the rest of the pack around sleeping the shade, had this individual smelt a potential meal inside (notice the blood on the head), or perhaps more excitingly, are they looking for a new potential den site? I certainly am rooting for the latter.
As of late, I have been seeing a great deal more Bronze-winged Coursers around than usual. A special sighting during the day of this nocturnal bird allowed us all to marvel at its beautiful yet discreet colouration.
The Senegal Bush Male is looking as impressive as ever, albeit sporting a few new scars. On this morning he paused briefly before moving off higher into the branches of the Marula to feed on his kill.
The distinctive Ntomi Male takes a break from feeding and sat panting in the shade of our vehicle. How much longer this male will continue to stay around is anyone’s guess, but our hope is for as long as possible!
Passing a waterhole in the afternoon heat usually provides a hive of activity and a myriad of colours. This female Yellow-billed Stork patiently waiting for an unlucky fish to pass by is a great example of both!
Following the Ximungwe Female out on a territorial patrol early in the morning, we saw a rise in the road ahead. Setting up for the shot, we captured this eye-level moment. There is purpose in the stride, beauty in the paw, and a certain mystery only applicable to Leopards by not seeing her face.
The last moments of golden light fell on this large elephant bull as he fed slowly towards us through the grass.
The young male cheetah has been providing some excellent viewing of late, as he spends time in an area usually devoid of cheetahs. One gloomy, windy morning we followed for hours as he desperately searched in vain for a herd of impala. Pausing to scan his surroundings, and with a picturesque backdrop, this shot captures a memory for me.
We spent the morning with a portion of the Talamati Pride lying in the long grass. Hearing a distant roar, surprisingly this very impressive young male stood up and marched with intent directly toward the offending lion (and happily directly toward us!)
Zebra will often stand head to tail, with their tails constantly swishing, to help chase flies away from each other’s faces. Clever, but also provides a memorable view!
In the same sighting as from before, the older female of the Talamati Pride watches intently as the young male walked past our vehicle and off into the distance.
The Ximungwe Female has been elusive of late, with a shift further south into the grasslands being a possible explanation. Sitting in the long grass, staring at a herd of impalas in the distance, tracker Ray Mabilane pulled off a phenomenal spot to find her. The resulting excitement on the vehicle was unbelievable!
After months of not viewing the Nkoveni Female, our morning was made when we found her walking down the road. Needless to say that a blue sky, green grass and a golden leopard all combined on this termite mound for a beautiful moment.
A Female Bennets Woodpecker clings to the branch of a bushwillow tree. The impressive ability of these birds to hop around in the branches, and their striking colours are incredible. When this elusive bird offered the opportunity out in the open for a shot, it was all hands on deck to get it!
The Nhlanguleni Female paused in the long, unique Plume Chloris grass to watch a column of vultures in the sky. The branch in the background lining up with the angle of her head was a bonus!