Wildlife & Nature Throughout the Seasons in Southern Africa

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Photography is a way of expression. It is a medium for story telling and it is an extremely important as a way to share that story and your experience of your travels. Here’s a few notes on photographing throughout the seasons, in this case, specifically in the African bush, when shooting wildlife and nature and animals.

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Understand the seasons

March through May is temperate as the season changes from summer to the start of winter and the days are mild and warm with the nights becoming cooler. There is a slight drop in temperature and you are able to head out on game drive slightly earlier in the afternoons in order get more time out in the bush in the daylight. After the rains in summer the bush is still lovely and lush which makes for a wonderful canvas when photographing the cats.

This is a great example of the green vegetation as the backdrop if the Kashane male – Photographed by Mike Sutherland

Male Lion at Sunset - Rich Laburn

Male Lion at Sunset – Rich Laburn

June, July and August are mid-winter in South Africa and can be some of the best months for game viewing.

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A beautiful night sky.

Winter Weather

Winter Weather and golden colours

For the months September through November the weather is temperate and signals the change of season from autumn into summer. You will find a lot of the elephants making their way into the river in order to source water as the first rains have not yet come. As the first wet storm arrives we begin to see the migratory birds returning, the impala lambs popping up all over the place and the wild flowers start adding to the colours.

Elephants in the River - Elsa Young

Elephants in the River – Elsa Young

Nicknamed 'Chinese lanterns', the sicklebush flowers came out this week.  Although this thorny bush looks like an Acacia, it is of a different family and of less nutritional interest, is seems, to many of the browsers we see at Londolozi.

Nicknamed ‘Chinese lanterns’, the sicklebush flowers come out in November.

Impala lamb

One of the fist impala lambs of the season that has stood still for long enough to capture a picture. These new born lambs are extremely vulnerable, so it is understandable that they are quite skittish for the first few weeks of their lives.

With the months December through March being the height of our summer these are, therefore, the hottest months.  The landscapes are filled with hundreds of wildebeest and impala on the horizons as all of them have been dropped which creates wonderful landscape opportunities. The days can get to upwards of 35 degrees  celsius and in the late afternoons, their is the chance of an impressive African thunderstorm owing to the build up of heat and precipitation which can make for a great shot. This is also a time to bring out your macro lens as the dung beetles are rolling their dung balls rapidly!

The one thing that I love about the bushveld is the sheer abundance of the impala. They look so healthy, energetic and alive!

The one thing that I love about the bushveld is the sheer abundance of the impala. They look so healthy, energetic and alive!

Summer Thunderstorms

A dramatic Summer Thunderstorm

 

I know they're not birds, but I wanted to include a pic of another one of the 'smaller things' around the bush lately.  The dung beetles have been out in swarms and make for very exciting sightings!  Generally you will see a dung ball being rolled by the male, with the female clinging to the side, like above... but

The dung beetles are out in swarms and make for very exciting sightings in the summer months! Generally you will see a dung ball being rolled by the male, with the female clinging to the side.

It is important to do some research prior to arrival. Have a look through some wildlife blogs, Facebook pages and nature photographers work of the area you plan to visit. Get an understanding visually of what can be achieved out here and set goals according to the season. Read a little on animal behaviour and learn from your guide and tracker to understand when to shoot and when to be patient. With a little knowledge, your photography will improve.

 

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A Giraffe at sunset in winter

Written by: Kate Neill

Rich Laburn
Rich Laburn is filmmaker, photographer and writer who is based at Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Spending his time capturing scenes of the wild and communicating the beauty of the African bushveld, he runs the Londolozi Blog as a way to entertain and engage people wishing to visit these wild lands.
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