Mashatu Magic

I will show some of my latest Mashatu shots in two instalments.This is the first.

After the Limpopo flooded in February, Mashatu is now in full bloom. It was absolutely astonishing how high the Limpopo river rose, flooding vast areas on either side, which are relatively flat. It must have been frightening to have seen the flooding water reaching so far from the main river course.

The first morning around five I heard a Leopard coughing right next to the lodge – what a way to start with Hyaena whooping in the distance, Black -headed Oriole and Woodland Kingfishers calling – paradise!!!!!!!

The flood waters deposited tons of silt. The flood waters and added silt have made large parts of Mashatu look like the Garden of Eden. The bush is lush and green with wild flowers everywhere. The numerous pools of water everywhere were enjoyed by mammals and birds alike for drinking, playing in and bathing. Another aspect of the Reserve which was very evident was the explosion of young. Hyaenas with pups, Lions with cubs, Elephants, Impala, Eland and Wildebeest with calves

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One of the more unusual stories to come out of Mashatu recently involved a lion pride with two females and eleven cubs. What makes this pride unusual is that the two mothers were kicked out of the pride by their two eldest daughters. This resulted in the two mothers moving off to an adjacent area called ‘Charter’ with two new resident male lions, leaving the remaining two young lionesses with thirteen cubs to raise. Unfortunately, two cubs have died leaving eleven growing cubs to provide for. Interestingly, the two young lionesses seemed to be taking the massive task of rearing eleven cubs in their stride.

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There were vast herds of Impala nd Elephant. We were fortunate enough to spend about a hour late one afternoon amongst a herd of over 300 Elephant. It was blissful but for the trumpeting and rampaging of one or two bulls in musth chasing other younger bulls away.

Not only were the  the mammal sightings superb but the variety of birdlife was incredible.We saw African Hawk Eagles almost every early morning.

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Tawny Eagles were also resident in Mashatu. Unfortunately we did not get to see a Martial Eagle and the migrants such as Lesser, Steppe and Wahlberg Eagles had already left.

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We were also privileged to see a Lanner Falcon fly past with a Wattled Starling it had just killed.

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There were plenty of Cuckoos everywhere from Great Spotted to Stripped and Diederik.

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We also saw a pair of Secretary Birds striding through the open grasslands and rocky outcrops looking for edibles. The male found what looked to be a baby Francolin which it picked out of the rocks and swallowed in one gulp. The next shot is of a female Secretary Bird which does not have the racket type tail feathers of the male.

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Wattled Starlings are not the prettiest birds but were ubiquitous and followed the elephant around catching insects which were disturbed by the elephants foraging.

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These are a few of my latest shots from Mashatu. The Limpopo was the highest I have seen it in recent years but by the time we left in late March it was crossable by vehicle.

I have added to my Elephant, Lion, Cheetah, Cuckoos,  Birds of Prey  and scene categories. Lots more to come next week, once I have a little more time to edit them.

I hope you enjoy them.

Mother nature reveals herself in her own time not ours, but what she reveals at times is astounding.

Have fun

Mike

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