Saturday, 10 August 2013

Selous GR - Day 3

Lion and lioness

Again we were up at at the gate by opening time the next morning.  We planned to see if we could find the mating lions, so headed to where we'd seen the pride of males the evening before.  

Pied kingfisher

Of course they were nowhere to be seen, but with the mating couple couldn't have gone to far, so we drove around the area.  Just at the spot stopped to talk to a passing safari vehicle, there was a lion slightly hidden from view on our left.  It's nice when a safari guide asks if we've seen anything and we can point out a lion right there to them ;)

Impala ram
And it got even better going round the corner - we had the mating pair right next to the road resting between sessions.  They didn't seem to be as enthusiastic as the day before, because we waited for about 45 minutes, and they still didn't mate.  

Striated heron with a croc in the water
So we decided to give them a break and see what else we could find in the good morning light.  But mating lions are hard to resist, and we were soon heading back only to have just missed them mating - typical... wildlife is such a patience game...
Watching closely

So we stuck with them for a while and were finally rewarded, not with mating but with another female lion arriving on the scene.  She was staring so hard at the other female, that we thought she might attack the lion, but after the male stood up and sprayed around a few bushes, she seemed to calm down and lay near the mating couple.

Young giraffe
It didn't seem like much else was going to happen, so we took a drive to Lake Manze and for the 3rd day in a row we found the lion pride that we'd originally with the buffalo kill. We watched them for a while but they weren't doing too much so we drove the area for a while before heading back to them.  

African pied hornbill

And good timing too, as they'd just got up and were on the move - they actually looked like they were looking to hunt, with the younger lions hanging back while the females decided to head towards a lone male impala.  

It was a long shot though, and it was soon aborted when the impala spotted one of the lionesses and bolted.   But after a bit of play between the youngsters, their attention was soon riveted on a small herd of impala on the marsh.  

Slowly they stalked their way towards the impala, but the antelope must have sensed something was not quite right, and soon they had headed through the dried marsh and into the bush on the other side.  

While one of the females followed them, the rest of the pride held back and went to drink some of the stagnant water collecting in the marsh pools.  

And that's when they came onto an unexpected find - a decaying carcass of what seemed to previously have been a wildebeest.  It looked pretty old and dried up but that didn't stop the lions from trying to get every last bit of meat from the carcass.  

We couldn't get too close because of the marsh, but it was entertaining to watch 3 of the lions trying to rip apart what was left of the rotten kill.

 After leaving the lions, we headed to a nice spot to have lunch overlooking the river and photograph a few birds before doing the afternoon drive.  Not long after we started, we found another mating pair of lions.  It was the lone female that we'd seen the day before who seemed to have found one of the males of the pride of 5 males.  

Eating a rotting carcass

The mating couple had found themselves a nice shady spot under a tree near the river.  Unfortunately their mating was pretty unenthusiastic compared to the original couple we'd seen, so we left them after about half an hour to carry on our evening drive.  

We had planned to find a hyena den that we'd heard about although the instructions were a bit dodgy - "on the main road turn left at the tree and should be down the road"... needless to say there are a few trees in Selous and though we had a general idea of where it could be, we couldn't find it.  Heading back to the river, we almost missed another couple of lions.  

Luckily the safari guide pointed them out to us just as they were walking out of the bush (how did we miss them??) and it turned out that it was the original mating lion pair we'd seen the day before and the morning.  This time they were in lovely sun and were nice enough to mate right near the car, giving us some good shots of their aggressive display.

Mating lions
After a bit more driving around, we went back to the area where the hyena den was, and finally found it based on the latrine nearby.  We could see some hyena tracks around, but couldn't be sure it was still active, so spent the last half an hour at the den hoping something would show.  

African fish eagle

As luck would have it, nothing came out or went in, and in the end we had to race back to make sure we made the gate closing on time. We did... just...

We suspect these hippos were mating...

We spent the evening camping out in the Selous river lodge car park.  We'd known when we'd booked in that we could camp for the first 2 nights in the campsite, but the 3rd night was fully booked.  

White-crowned lapwing

Luckily the owners had said it was fine if we didn't mind camping in the car park for the 3rd night, and with a roof tent and the very minimal setup we do for camping, it wasn't too much of a hassle. 
Chilling out in the car park

In fact, with the new campers being a loud group of about 16 campers, it was actually a lot quieter in the parking lot and we spent the evening relaxing and listening for the bushbabies.

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