Thursday, 26 May 2011

25th May – Don’t Tell Me it’s Happening Again...

Photo of the Day
Machaton Lioness
Morning Drive
(Chad, Johannes and Herald)
12 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 x lionesses and 9 x cubs) – Kings, Ridge Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants, Vielmetter, Jaydee Access
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Horizon Rd

Afternoon Drive
(Chad and Herald)
12 x lions (Machaton Pride – 3 x lionesses and 9 x cubs) – Kings, Ridge Rd
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Jaydee, Makulu Rd
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Nkhoro Rd

Daily Synopsis
So, Grant goes on leave and the sightings start drying up?  Maybe he is the key, and just keeps playing it down?  Although, I guess, looking at my pictures it wasn’t the worst day I could have spent in the bush, it was still a bit quiet, but then I wasn’t rushing around after anything in particular, besides animals in good light.

Red-billed hornbill
The morning started off warmer than it had the last week or so, but the animals weren’t so obliging.  A brief check around the camp produced nothing bar impalas before I decided to head west to see if the Mahlathini males had perhaps crossed south into our traversing area.
We arrived at Vyeboom Dam to find the hippos resting near the dam wall, and we waited patiently for the early morning light to catch them, and while it did, the hippos didn’t feel like doing much.

Hippos resting at Vyeboom Dam
As the morning light warmed up, the hippos slowly moved to some shallower water to bask in its warmth, and one baby was kind enough to climb out of the water briefly before going back to sleep in the water.

Baby Hippo at Vyeboom Dam
After over an hour with the hippos we carried on west, but sadly found no lion tracks coming into our area.  We did however see some giraffe in the distance, an elephant bull, more impalas and a beautiful male kudu.

Giraffe and elephant
After coffee at Voel Dam I headed back to the east, finding some good general game on the open areas east of Concrete Crossing; this included a troop of baboons, impalas, waterbuck, giraffe and a calf, zebras and some crocodiles and hippos at the crossing.

Baboons, giraffe and calf, zebras and crocodile
Johannes had headed south, and besides tracking a rhino off the property, did get an invite to go and see the Machaton lionesses and their cubs on Kings.
In the afternoon, I needed cats.  The monkeys that had been alarm calling near camp led to nothing, so I decided to try a change of scenery and headed south.
It was a bit quiet en route, but once in the south, we found a couple of zebras, some nice impala herds, and a beautifully photogenic lilac-breasted roller that we spent some time photographing.

Impala, zebras and lilac-breasted roller
While watching another big group of impala, we were invited to once again go and see the Machaton Pride, and I didn’t hesitate to accept this invite and headed in their direction. 

More impalas :)
My timing was good for the light, and when we arrived, some of the cubs woke to go and suckle from mom in some nice golden light.

Time for milk - Machaton cubs
Sadly, the clouds timing was a bit poor, and the few clouds that were in the sky soon covered the sun and took away our light.  The lions in the mean time continued to slowly wake up with movement in the cubs as they realised there was milk on offer.

Young Machaton cubs
Mom eventually woke up, yawned and moved into another position where one by one the cubs and other lionesses came to join her.

Machaton Pride
While the mothers slept, the cubs were a bit more full of live and did play a bit with one another and annoy mom by biting her tail...or her head.  She retaliated like any caring mother would do...with her teeth! 

Annoying mom!
It was a nice sighting to see, but not very good for photography, but we made do with what we had and then headed off for a sundowner.

Maybe not great for photographs, but still a very enjoyable sighting of the Machaton Pride
On the way home, we did find an elephant bull, a breeding herd of elephants, and a civet.  Our search for leopard continued along the Nhlaralumi Riverbed, but unfortunately we couldn’t find anything.
Herald took an easy drive out in the east to look for any sign of anything, as well as a change of scenery.  For once Herald’s magic didn’t kick in, and he had a quiet drive, but his guests still enjoyed being out in the wilder part of the reserve. 
Once again, we can only hope that tomorrow brings about a change of fortune for us on the leopard front!

1 comment:

  1. Hope you find your leopard Chad!!
    Pity about the clouds, because that light in the first few shots was great!!

    Still some great pictures, especially the lilac-breasted roller and hippos, the light for the hippos was great!