Lions vs a leopard

The experience on my last game drive of my previous holiday is something I have wanted to post about since I got home. I am glad I have finally had a chance to go through the photos, select my favourites, and relive the experience.
We spent the last two nights of our trip at Londolozi, where we had the pleasure of having the team of Dave and Judas guiding us through the bush.  For anyone that missed it, I posted a few highlights from this trip previously: http://jennifersawicky.com/2015/06/29/londolozi-highlights/
On our last game drive, we had yet to see a leopard at Londolozi; and being that the property is known for amazing leopard sightings, our ranger was hoping we would see one before we set off for home.  We started a leisurely morning drive with a group of three rhinos, and then moved on to a herd of elephants in the most gorgeous morning light.  If that was all we saw that morning, I would have come home happy (me and elephants, everyone knows my love of them by now). Dave took a call about a leopard sighting quite some distance away, but a very unique one, a leopard that had been treed by a pride of lions. Dave put us on the sighting wait list, and we continued on with our drive. During a drive through a dry riverbed, we spotted an owl; while the light wasn’t favourable for photographs, I was still thrilled.
Still waiting our turn, we stopped for a coffee and watched a pair of giraffes grazing on acacia leaves. A hare hopped by and paused long enough for me to take a few photos before carrying on its way. Coffee finished, we took the call that our turn was coming up, and we made our way over to the area. As we drove into the area, two impala rams were facing off, rutting season being in full swing, and the noise they were making was absolutely incredible.

When we arrived, a female leopard called Mashaba was high in a tree, with the Tsalala lion pride lazing around near the base.

A full grown leopard in a very scrawny tree!
A full grown leopard in a very scrawny tree!
The group of lions waiting below.
The group of lions waiting below.
Her eyes were on either on the lions, or scanning the distance for other threats.
Her eyes were on either on the lions, or scanning the distance for other threats.
One of the young males of the Tsalala pride.
One of the young males of the Tsalala pride.

We weren’t there long though when the lions picked up the sounds of the nearby impala, and one by one, they slowly moved off.

Lions on the move.
Lions on the move.

As soon as the last lion was out of sight, Mashaba quickly made her way down the tree and disappeared, so we went to find out what had happened to the lions.

By this point, she had been in the tree for several hours.  She must have been tired of that perch.
By this point, she had been in the tree for several hours. She must have been tired of that perch.
Getting ready to begin her descent.
Getting ready to begin her descent.
Watching the lions moving off.
Stopping to scan again.
In the tree tops.
In the tree tops.
Such amazing agility.
Such amazing agility.
Pausing to scan for further threats.
Pausing to scan for further threats.
Heading for lower branches.
Heading for lower branches.
On the move.
On the move.
Double checking that the coast is clear.
Checking again that the coast is clear.
Leaping to safety.
Leaping to safety.

Viewer discretion is advised…

We found the lions a short distance away, and the impala rams were no longer.  The pride of seven took down two impala at the same time, and devoured them in less than a quarter hour.  I was concentrating more on still shots, but I did take a few video clips, which I have included more for the sound than anything. Mostly the lions fed relatively peacefully, without coming to blows with each other over the choice pieces.

Family dining.
Family dining.
The group made short work of two adult male impala.
The group made short work of two adult male impala.
Tug of war!
Tug of war!
Trying to grab a chunk to take away (at least one of the lions moved off with a large chunk of impala to enjoy in peace under the bushes).
Trying to grab a chunk to take away (at least one of the lions moved off with a large chunk of impala to enjoy in peace under the bushes).
Such intensity will eating.
Such intensity while eating.
This was how we left the group; not much left to their meal at this point.
This was how we left the group; not much left to their meal at this point.

It was a thrilling end to an amazing trip!

2015-09-021: Monochrome Monday

A gorgeous female leopard lounges on a fallen tree.  I love the positioning of her head and the curl of her tail.  I even like the harsh shadows, as it shows she was out and about long after leopard are usually tucked away for the day to beat the heat. 1/1600sec, f7.1, ISO 640  Monochrome conversion using Nik Silver Efex Pro
A gorgeous female leopard lounges on a fallen tree. I love the positioning of her head and the curl of her tail. I even like the harsh shadows, as it shows she was out and about long after leopards are usually tucked away for the day to beat the heat.
1/1600sec, f7.1, ISO 640
Monochrome conversion using Nik Silver Efex Pro

Weekly Challenge: Today Was a Good Day

The first thing I thought of when I saw this weeks photo challenge was seeing all of the big five in a single game drive.

It was our first game drive leaving from Chitwa Chitwa, and the first of the big five we came across were the elephants.  We ended up in fairly dense bush amongst a large herd, and I know some of the other people in the vehicle were a little nervous of the proximity!  At some points, we were completely surrounded by them (I was thrilled!!!)

A little too close for comfort for some of the people in our vehicle. 1/1000sec, f7.1, ISO 1000, at 98mm.
A little too close for comfort for some of the people in our vehicle.
1/1000sec, f7.1, ISO 1000, at 98mm.

The second we came across was the leopard.  She was only steps away after we started moving away from the elephants.  We followed her through the trees as well, and spent some time with her as she rested atop a termite mound.

A gorgeous leopard rests atop a termite mound. 1/400sec, f8.0, ISO 5600
A gorgeous leopard rests atop a termite mound.
1/400sec, f8.0, ISO 5600

We stopped for a sundowner drink and spotted a group of 3 rhino in a mud wallow off in the distance.  The light was fading, and the viewing was certainly better without the camera.

A crash of rhino enjoy an early evening mud wallow. 1/100sec, f4.8, ISO 6400
A crash of rhino enjoy an early evening mud wallow.
1/100sec, f4.8, ISO 6400

Just as we were getting back into the vehicle after our drinks and snacks, Surprise our ranger pointed out a couple buffalo crossing the road off in the distance.  The photo is awful, I knew it would be when I snapped it, but I thought I should take it as evidence of seeing 4 of the big 5 in a single drive.

Two buffalo cross the road, long after my camera was able to take a photo without a flash or spotlight!
Two buffalo cross the road, long after my camera was able to take a photo without a flash or spotlight!

As we were heading back to camp for dinner, we followed the tracks of some lions, and came upon them resting quite close to the camp.  And with that, it was the big 5 all within the space of 3.5 hours!  An absolutely amazing time.

A gorgeous lion rest in the early evening darkness.  A female was close by as well. 1/160sec, f6.3, ISO 6400
A gorgeous lion rest in the early evening darkness. A female was close by as well.
1/160sec, f6.3, ISO 6400

Of course, most people know by now that I am thrilled to view anything when on a game drive, from the smallest bird to the tallest giraffe and everything in between.  Here are a few other interesting sights from that drive.

A chameleon that our tracker spotted while we headed back to camp.  I don't think he was too thrilled with being pointed at, he has a rather sour look on his face.
A chameleon that our tracker spotted while we headed back to camp. I have no idea how they can see them in the pitch black from a moving vehicle, but it seemed to be a skill most of the trackers had!  I don’t think the chameleon was too thrilled with being pointed at, he has a rather sour look on his face.
A yellow billed hornbill perched at sunset (or as my Dad calls them, a flying banana).
A yellow billed hornbill perched at sunset (or as my Dad calls them, a flying banana).
A pair of white backed vulture perched in the fading light. 1/200sec, f5.6, ISO 1100
A pair of white backed vulture perched in the fading light.
1/200sec, f5.6, ISO 1100

Have a great day everyone!

Today Was a Good Day

Travel Theme: Mellow

I did a quick scan through my last batch of travel photos to find a few mellow shots to share.

I hope you enjoy!

20150818_Travel Theme- Mellow-3
A leopard rests peacefully in a tree top near Baines Camp in the Okavango Delta. 1/800sec, f9.0 ISO 640
20150818_Travel Theme- Mellow-4
A lion cub chills out as dusk descends on Phinda Private Game Reserve. 1/500sec, f5.6, ISO 1600
20150818_Travel Theme- Mellow-5
A group of cheetah cubs take a rest on the road after a hard days play. 1/320sec, f5.6, ISO 1100
20150818_Travel Theme- Mellow-2
Sunrise over the Sabi Sands. 1/320sec, f5.6, ISO320
20150818_Travel Theme- Mellow
Sunset on the Timbavati, and the first star of the evening. 1/60sec, f4.5, ISO 500

Travel Theme: Mellow

Chitwa Chitwa Highlights

I was originally planning to combine the two areas of the Sabi Sands I stayed at into one highlights post, but I’ve been having such difficulty finding the time to work on my photos the last few weeks that it just wasn’t feasible.  Fingers crossed I’ll be able to get to the final highlights post this weekend, so I can move on to the other editing projects that I want to do – and get out and do some more shooting too!

This guy only had eyes for one thing (the female that  is out of shot).  More about that in another post.
This guy only had eyes for one thing (the female that is out of shot). More about that in another post.
We turned the corner, and there he was!
We turned the corner, and there he was!
A huge group of vultures gathering near a kudu carcass.  They were waiting for a female lion to clear off before heading in fight for scraps.
A huge group of vultures gathering near a kudu carcass. They were waiting for a female lion to clear off before heading in fight for scraps.
A wild dog peers at us from between two small tree trunks.
A wild dog peers at us from between two small tree trunks.
A lion take a pause from his kudu breakfast.
A lion take a pause from his kudu breakfast.
A dagga boy.  One of the old buffalo bulls cooling off in the watering hole.
A dagga boy. One of the old buffalo bulls cooling off in the watering hole.
A yellow billed hornbill, or as my Dad likes to say
A yellow billed hornbill, or as my Dad likes to say “the flying banana”.
A wildebeest enjoying the cool air of early morning.
A wildebeest enjoying the cool air of early morning.
Not who you would expect to see in a wallow.
Not who you would expect to see in a wallow.
One of my favourite birds, the beautiful lilac blasted roller.
One of my favourite birds, the beautiful lilac breasted roller.

This time-lapse was one of my first attempts, and shows a mid afternoon at the dam in front of Chitwa lodge.  Lots of waterbuck around that afternoon!

I hope you enjoy, and have a lovely day!

Timbavati Highlights

While I have been home now almost a week, I thought I would continue on with posting my highlights of each area I visited in Southern Africa, and then move on to other blog post formats.  I came home with over 13,300 images, so I will have lots to work through over the next couple of months.

I hope you enjoy, and have a great day!

After moving all night, this lion just couldn't go any further, and laid down for a nap on the road.
After moving all night, this lion just couldn’t go any further, and laid down for a nap on the road.
The beautiful textures of the inside of an elephant's trunk.
The beautiful textures of the inside of an elephant’s trunk.
This is what it looks like driving through the bush at night.
This is what it looks like driving through the bush at night.
A heavily pregnant alpha female wild dog looks our way from behind some branches.
A heavily pregnant alpha female wild dog looks our way from behind some branches.
A leopard cub peers down between the branches of a tree.
A leopard cub peers down between the branches of a tree.
Hyenas come in small, medium and large at this sighting.
Hyenas come in small, medium and large at this sighting.
A lioness looks on while the cubs swarm her sister.
A lioness looks on while the cubs swarm her sister.

Okavango Delta Highlights

The area of the delta where I stayed was one of permanent water, but day by day, changes in the landscape were apparent as the flood waters flowing in from the Angola highlands began to fill previously dry channels.  I think I had the best of both worlds as I was able to see the delta from both land and water – and as a special treat, by air on a helicopter tour.

I took over 1800 photos in 3 nights in the delta.  I hope you enjoy a few of the highlights.

A lone giraffe wanders through an area of new flood.
A lone giraffe wanders through an area of new flood.
A leopard peers down from a tree.
A leopard peers down from a tree.
A spectacular sunset over the delta, taken while on a sundowner boat trip.
A spectacular sunset over the delta, taken while on a sundowner boat trip.
A gorgeous female leopard using a fallen tree as a vantage point.  I had no expectation of seeing leopard at all in the delta, but I had told my guide the previous afternoon that my dream photo would be capturing a leopard on a tree branch.  In two days, I saw three leopards.  Talk about lucky!
A gorgeous female leopard using a fallen tree as a vantage point. I had no expectation of seeing leopard at all in the delta, but I had told my guide the previous afternoon that my dream photo would be capturing a leopard on a tree branch. In two days, I saw three leopards. Talk about lucky!
A pair of spotted hyena cubs rest outside of their den.
A pair of spotted hyena cubs rest outside of their den.
Stand-by passengers at the airstrip?
Stand-by passengers at the airstrip?
A fish eagle from above.
A fish eagle from above.
The delta by air.
The delta by air.
A herd of elephants from above.
A herd of elephants from above.
Water crossing!  One of the camp vehicles carrying luggage from the airstrip to the camp.
Water crossing! One of the camp vehicles carrying luggage from the airstrip to the camp.afr

My First Leopard Sighting

Londolozi is well known for the number of leopards they have living within the bounds of the property, and I was lucky enough to see three of them during my visit.  They were elusive at first though, and it wasn’t until our third afternoon game drive that we finally saw our first leopard; the lions stole the show for the first half of our visit.

The photo opportunities were slim based on how the vehicle had to park, and how deep under the bushes the leopard was.  Thankfully, the light was decent (unlike when we saw the lion cubs!) so I managed a few obstructed shots.
The photo opportunities were slim based on how the vehicle had to park, and how deep under the bushes the leopard was. Thankfully, the light was decent (unlike when we saw the lion cubs!) so I managed a few obstructed shots.

It was around 4:30 when Talley took a call that a leopard had been spotted with a fresh kill, and even though the viewing was not likely to yield great photos, we headed in that direction anyways, since we had yet to see a leopard.

When we found him, he was deep under some bushes with an impala ram.  He had already had his fill, but was still working on pulling the fur off of the impala.  The view from the vehicle was obstructed by the bushes, while I managed to get a couple shots and a short video clip, mostly I just watched.

This boy had a full belly, but he wasn't about to leave his kill for another animal to steal anytime soon.  As the light started fading, we left him alone so he could hoist the impala or drag it to a new location to avoid hyenas.
This boy had a full belly, but he wasn’t about to leave his kill for another animal to steal anytime soon. As the light started fading, we left him alone so he could hoist the impala or drag it to a new location to avoid hyenas.

We came across this leopard, as well as others, the next morning.  The photographic opportunities and the story of that morning viewing were amazing!

The Camp Pan male leopard with an impala ram, April 4, 2013 at Londolozi.
The Camp Pan male leopard with an impala ram, April 4, 2013 at Londolozi.