As a ranger in Africa, you will hit a so-called “Purple Patch”. Amazing sightings seem to be on pause until the moment you get there, and then the action starts. Leopards are literally presenting you with their cubs, lions that have been sleeping for hours start to roar the moment you arrive and switch your engine off, and you leave camp each day brimming with confidence that you are going to see something else epic. We have been incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time to see some amazing things take place over the past week.
A weevil. Don’t ask me what species, but I will try to find out. This tiny little critter was crawling along the rifle rack on the front of the Land Rover as we stopped for coffee this morning, providing a perfect opportunity to get the Macro lens out and take some shots.
The flip-side of the coin is that I know this run of luck will probably end soon, and a 4-hour hack, trying to find a leopard that is keeping just ahead of us will be what my drives are replaced with. But I’ll ride the wave as long as I can.
The Thickbilled Cuckoo is a very special bird to see. There were actually two of them in this sighting, most likely a male and a female, and this was probably only the fourth or fifth time I have ever seen this species. They are migratory, coming down from North and West Africa for the Summer, but these two have arrived quite a bit earlier than we would have expected.
Wild dogs from the pack of 8 (that we were ironically looking for in the Dudley Riverbank/Camp Pan sighting of two days ago) delight in each others company as they reunite after a successful hunt. f2.8, 1/1250, ISO 400
An African Fish Eagle soars majestically over the Sand River.
This point in the Sand River is rather appropriately named ‘Old Elephant Crossing. Go figure. f8, 1/800, ISO 500
Summer’s creatures are starting to appear in greater and greater numbers as the weather heats up. This tiny frog was found next to the Pioneer Camp car park as we waited to depart on morning game drive. It was still quite gloomy, so with Mike shining the spotlight I was able to capture a shot with a Macro lens. f5.6, 1/320, ISO 2000
This poor lioness from the Mhangeni Pride had 7 little cubs vying for suckling rights on her 4 teats. As you can see, she was NOT impressed, yet whenever she tried to move off she was followed religiously by the hungry things, not allowed a moment’s peace. f8, 1/500, ISO 400
A tender moment between cub and mother in the Mhangeni Pride as they settle in for the day on the cool sand of the Sand River. f5, 1/1000, ISO 400
A Fiery-necked Nightjar alights on a thorny branch next to the road. It’s rictal bristles can clearly be seen in this photo. These modified feathers supposedly help funnel insects into the mouth.
A rare visitor to Londolozi, the Piva female is occasionaly seen in our Southern areas. On this day she had caught a duiker near Weaver’s Nest Pan and hoisted it into a Weeping Boer-Bean tree. f2.8, 1/800, ISO 640
The South Pride is a pride we don’t often see.
The Tamboti female and her cub explore a fallen Jacket Plum as they head East towards an impala kill the adult female has made.
The pair line up together for a drink and a wonderful photographic moment at Gert’s Pan. This was less than 200m from where the wild dogs were lying and we believe the leopards had actually been chased by them earlier, as when ranger Greg Pingo first found the female she had been calling urgently for her cub. I simply kept my shutter button depressed, shooting at high speed, hoping to capture both tongues out at the same time.
Photographed by James Tyrrell