The month of June has come and gone, but what a beautiful time of the year to be in the bush. The winter definitely arrived in Madikwe during June, with some mornings dropping below 0 degrees Celsius, but the winter weather in Madikwe is also clear and dry. This presents the opportunity for some awesome photography.
The predators were very present during June, with several Lion, Cheetah, Wild dog and Brown Hyena sightings.
The Mahiwa male Lions, took over the territory from the Chimbro males in May. They have been reinforcing their dominance, and very vocally reinforcing it! They have been very actively roaring in the mornings, to the north of the airstrip. This has really helped us find the Lions. And often while the light is still really good. The Kwena pride have mostly stayed to the east of the Marico river, but we did have a wonderful sighting of the Mica Jamala pride at Vlei Pan.
The female Cheetah has also been hanging around the far north eastern parts of the reserve, mostly close to the Marico river. She has been making forays into the west, we presume to try and find the males and attempt mating again. Her last set of cubs only lasted a few weeks, but it was her first litter, and the probability of her not being successful were high.
The 2 packs of African Wild dogs have been around the east for much of June. The new pack, moved their remaining pups onto the top of the Dwarsberg mountains, In the south of the reserve. As a result of the location, we haven’t been able to see how many pups remain. The older pack have mostly been moving around the northern parts of the reserve.
We also had a number of Brown Hyena sightings all over the reserve. Madikwe game Reserve has become one of the premier destinations to see and photograph these usually rare and shy predators. We even see them in the middle of the day, which is highly unusual.
The winter night skies have also been just incredible, with the clear winter conditions. However, it was incredibly cold getting these photographs. The milky way is clearly visible, and we’ve identified a few spots, that showcase the incredible landscapes that Madikwe has to offer this type of photography.
Bird photography has also been really good, particularly with the incredible light on offer during June. The red dust saturates and filters the light, so the red’s and orange’s really come through in the photos. We had some real highlights, some being seeing all 4 species of Sandgrouse found in southern Africa, at one dam, in one morning. We managed to get some good shots of the Yellow-throated Sandgrouse and the Burchells Sandgrouse, having a morning drink. The Pied Kingfishers have also been really good. They have been really active at first light, from the Terrapin hide, as well as the wetland. And as winters tightens its dry grip, huge flocks of Red-billed Queleas are attracted to the scarce water supplies. The result is that the birds of prey, camp out at water points and ambush the smaller birds from cover.
We also took advantage of the cold fronts coming over Madikwe, during June. The clouds definitely add another mood to the photography, and we prefer heading south to Ophir plains, to maximise these conditions. The open plains, ringed by mountains, with dramatic skies and some really interesting animals, creates and awesome mornings photography.
The herbivores though, definitely haven’t disappointed either. The afternoon light has been mind blowing! Elephants have been at waterholes in massive herds at times, creating mesmerizing moments! Drinking, silhouettes, dust and lots of interaction. The atmosphere created is unforgettable. But the late afternoon light, has been good to all the herbivores, seeking a late afternoon drink and possible dust bath. The afternoon action has definitely moved to the water points!
I hope you enjoyed the blog