I was quite good about going through my photos while I was away, adding keywords and even doing some ratings, to make it easier to sort through when I got home. Until I had my session in a bird hide that is. The volume of photos was so immense (over 1200 from two mornings of shooting) that I wasn’t able to work on them while away, and so any time over the last week that I have had to work on my photos, it has been spent working on bird identification and adding keywords. Not that I mind that type of work at all, it just seems like forever since I have posted anything. Hopefully, now that I am able to actually sort through my photos effectively, I’ll be able to get back into posting more routinely.
Now for today’s photo. I chose this because before my hide session, I had never seen an oxpecker anywhere but on the back of an animal (giraffe, buffalo, rhino etc.). We had quite a few visit during the time in the hide, and several even came right up to the glass to investigate. While my main camera was on a tripod, I had my macro lens on my second body and was able to snap this shot of the bird less than a foot away.
My first trip to Africa, I was lucky enough to see a pack of wild dogs, and we spent a short amount of time with them while they lazed away a hot afternoon under the trees. This trip, I spent a great deal of time with the pack, as we tried to monitor them twice a day; first thing in the morning as they were settling in for their days rest, and then in the late afternoon as they set out on the move. This much time in close proximity of the dogs gave me ample opportunity to witness a variety of pack dynamics and behaviours. Watching them play was definitely one of my favourite moments with them.
I’ll get this out of the way, right away. The following are no where near the best photographs I captured of kingfishers on my recent trip to South Africa. But, as anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time knows, I am always happy to share what I found to be an interesting capture, regardless of whether the photos end up great or not. It’s about the experience.
While at Zimanga Private Game Reserve, I had the opportunity to photograph the Pied, Giant, Pygmy and Brown Headed kingfishers. Some I even captured from the comfort of a hide, resulting in some fantastic images which I look forward to going through and sharing. The one I only saw in glimpses, and never managed to photograph, was the Malachite kingfisher.
After Zimanga, I spent two fabulous days at Thonga Beach Lodge (which I can honestly say I wish had been two weeks). I went on a sundowner drive along Lake Sibaya, and while most of the guests were hoping to see hippos and crocs, I looked forward to what shore birds I might see. On my last night, I was having a glass of wine along the shore enjoying the herons, egrets and a pied kingfisher hovering above the water. The skies were dull and grey, night was fast approaching, and it was raining. Another guest asked if the kingfisher I was watching had landed in the reeds next to the lake, which I replied no as I was still watching the pied kingfisher hovering. Our guide Thulani then answered that yes indeed that was a kingfisher, the Malachite. Once they directed me to its location, I captured the best photos I was able given the quality of light and my distance away from the bird (I didn’t want to go too close to the edge of the water, given the possibility of crocs and the fact I wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking as much as what I was shooting).
I watched as the kingfisher went on several fishing expeditions, and managed to capture her success, with what appears to be a tadpole in her mouth. I gave in to the growing dark after that and watched until she took off further down the lake. It was great to watch, but of course I do hope the next time I see one, the sun will be out to really show off the beauty of the feathers.
While we were out looking for the cheetah on our afternoon drive, Graeme came across a leopard tortoise that was dangerously close to getting stuck in the electric fencing at the property perimeter. Thankfully he managed to free it without giving himself a shock, and I managed to snap a couple photos as the tortoise headed off on its way.