Cuteness overload with a lioness and her three cubs
04.11.2018 - 04.11.2018
Having had a lovely relaxing breakfast, it is time to go out and see "what nature has to offer us" today.
Presumably injured in a fight for food, this hyena is limping badly.
Short Toed Snake Eagle (I think)
Black Shouldered Kite
Lioness with cubs
Perched on the edge of a kopje (rocky outcrop), a lioness tries to sleep as her three cubs mill around, suckling and wanting to play and explore their surroundings.
One of the cubs appears to have an eye infection.
Why so melancholy, young man?
Over the time we spend observing these little cats, the different personalities of each of the cubs begins to shine through.
"Mum, I'm bored!"
This guy has a bit of a 'gormless' character, he looks like he is blissfully happy but doesn't know why.
I take over 1,000 photos of the young family, and make no apologies for the cuteness overload to follow.
I would love to get a picture of the lion cubs on my mobile that I can upload to Facebook when we get back to the lodge tonight, and after lamenting that I am unable to zoom in enough to get a decent shot, Malisa takes my phone and tries to take a photo through the binoculars.
While it works reasonably well, the lions have other ideas and by the time Malisa has managed to line everything up and focus both binos and phone, the cubs have moved out of sight. Doh.
Not a bad picture considering it was taken with a mobile phone through binoculars
The world is full of LBBs (Little Brown Bird), also known as SUBBs (Small Unidentified Brown Bird). On closer inspection this one turns out to be a Rattling Cisticola.
We follow this lone hyena down the road for a while.
Common Morning Glory
Unlike our two previous visits when we have travelled at the end of the rainy season and everything is green with an abundance of flowers; at this time of year seeing flowering plants is a bit of a novelty. Malisa never ceases to amaze me with his knowledge: not only can he identify animals and birds, he also knows the names of the plants we see.
White Bellied Bustards
Doing their best to hide in the long grass.
Black Backed Jackals
There are two of them.
We spot a cheetah mum with two five-month old cubs.
She appears to be a good mum as both she and her cubs look healthy and well fed. This morning she starts to stalk a Thomson's Gazelle for their breakfast.
Unfortunately the Tommy spots the hunter and makes a dash for it; so no breakfast for the beautiful cats this morning.
Instead she leads her family to find some shade – a single tree next to a low kopje.
Mum has a good sniff around to make sure they are not settling down on the patch of a rival cheetah family or other obvious danger.
The cats are quite some distance away (the photos are taken with a 600mm lens and significantly cropped in the post processing stage), but here in the Serengeti off-road driving is not permitted so we can't get any closer. We are therefore rather dismayed to see several cars blatantly flout this law. Shame on them.
When the cats settle down under the tree we leave them to it and move on.
White Rumped Helmetshrike
Ficher's Sparrow Lark
So far on this trip we haven't seen many elephants, but that is about to change as a herd - or memory as they are also called - of 15 elephants walk past.
They have some very small babies too. Aww.
Having a herd of elephants just strolling by your car as if you are not there is a magical experience, making you feel like you are part of some wildlife documentary.
Mwanza Flat Headed Rock Agama
You'd be forgiven for thinking these are two totally separate species of lizards, seeing the flashy and vibrant male against the terribly drab female.
Little Bee Eater
Colourful as they are, it is not the lizards that are the star attraction here at this kopje – there are nine elephants dotted around, between and on top of this rocky outcrop. I have to say that it is the first time I have seen rock climbing elephants!
These enormous creatures are surprisingly quiet as they walk – the soles of their feet have built in 'sponges', which not just makes them 'light' on their feet, but they also use their feet to communicate. One elephant will 'talk' with his trunk on the ground, which others can pick up by putting more pressure on one leg than the other. When you see elephants leaning to one side, they are basically having a chat with their mates. Pretty cool eh?
Copying the older elephants, the five-month old baby tries to pick up smaller stones from the kopje in order to get to the essential minerals.
A couple of other trucks have gathered here too, including one containing an overexcited Asian female, squealing in an infuriatingly high pitched voice “OMG OMG OMG, those red things” when she sees the rock agama, followed by “OMG OMG OMG he's smiling” and “OMG OMG OMG he's peeing” referring to the elephants. Thank goodness she is not in our vehicle.
Nothing can mar the magical experience, however, of having a herd of nine wild elephants walk right around the car, a mere ten feet away.
It seems everywhere we look there are elephants.
One of the youngsters squeezes through a gap between the rocks, but when his older sister tries, she gets stuck for a while before wriggling herself loose.
The youngster is still suckling.
We stay with them for one-and-a-half hours (taking hundreds of photos) until they walk off into the distance. What a special time that was!
Two Banded Courser
Lappet Faced Vulture
Amazingly, this is the first vulture we have seen on this trip, when we came before we encountered so many kills left on the ground with the remains being devoured by a variety of scavengers. Not so this time.
Time to stop for lunch after yet again spending an exciting morning in the Serengeti. Thank you to Calabash Adventures for another terrific safari.