2015-12-04: International Cheetah Day

I wouldn’t have known that it was International Cheetah Day if I hadn’t come across a post about it on a blog I follow (de Wets Wild, which I would highly recommend if you are interested in South African wildlife).

I’ve been fortunate to spend a fair bit of time with cheetahs now, both during my time with Wildlife Act last year, and this past holiday.  I’ve seen a somewhat half-hearted (and unsuccessful) hunt, but I have never seen them going at full speed, except on the wildlife documentaries I’ve seen on TV.  Perhaps my time will come to see that in person 🙂

I hope you enjoy my selection of cheetah photos today.  TGIF, and have a great day everyone!

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An unknown male cheetah was spotted our first evening at Londolozi. 1/320sec, 55.6, ISO4500 May, 2015
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On the second night at Londolozi, some time with the resident male cheetah. 1/250sec, f6.3, ISO 5000 Londolozi Private Game Reserve, May, 2015
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Late afternoon grooming time with one of the little ones. 1/250sec, f8.0, ISO 3600 Phinda Private Game Reserve, May 2015
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One of the cheetah brothers at Phinda, heading for a shady spot as the day warms up. 1/640sec, f8.0, ISO 320 Phinda Private Game Reserve May, 2015
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No rest for the weary! This mama had her paws full with 3 rambunctious cubs. 1/1000sec, f6.3, ISO 1250

 

2015-11-26: Trio

A trio of wildlife photos for this week’s topic – Trio.

Enjoy!

Wishing all my American friends a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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A trio of elephants travelling through tall grass on a bright morning. Okavango Delta, April 2015 1/400sec, f9.0, ISO 500
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A trio of cheetah brothers resting in a very small patch of shade. Phinda Private Game Reserve, May 2015 1/640sec, f9.0, ISO 320
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A trio of zebra playing a very close game of follow the leader. Okavango Delta, April 2015 1/1250sec, f8.0, ISO 640

 

Trio

Fortunate

One of the members of the local photography group I’m in recently posted a prompt asking people to pick one word that describes themselves as a photographer or their photographic style, and why.  I spent some time thinking about it recently, and I think the best word for me is fortunate.  It’s a great descriptor not only of my photography, but of my life in general.

Over the relatively short time I have been practicing photography, the absolute best wildlife sightings, and photographs I have captured, have been when I have gone out without expectation of seeing anything specific (or anything at all).  Conversely, the times I have set out looking for a certain bird or a specific type of photo, I have almost always come back empty handed.  In all aspects of my life, I am trying to be more open and allowing of things to unfold… I think I practice this with the most consistency within my photographic work.

Day to day, I take my camera along when out walking the dog; somedays there will be a beautiful sunrise, or perhaps some interesting birds in the area I am walking.  If I can capture a photo of it – great!  If not, I’ve still seen something that has made my day brighter.  And on those days when I don’t see anything at all, I still have had the chance to get some fresh air with my best buddy.  Last summer, I never could have planned to watch the result of eagles robbing an osprey nest (see the post here if you missed it http://jennifersawicky.com/2014/08/10/bald-eagles-versus-an-osprey/) or sharing a walk with half a dozen northern flickers.  I don’t always get great photos of these sightings, but that really doesn’t matter to me.

On my first trip to South Africa, our guide asked us the first afternoon what we were hoping to see, and we all said “Everything!”.  I was so in awe of the place, so amazed to be in a place that I had dreamt of for years, that every plant, tree, bird and mammal was, and still is,  thrilling.  Not only does having this relaxed attitude while out on a game drive takes the pressure off the guides, it allows you to enjoy whatever mother nature has in store for you that day.  Again, some of the most amazing things that I have seen were completely unplanned.  I had hoped to one day see a leopard in a tree; I never expected to see that in the middle of the Okavango Delta, twice in two days!  I had hoped that one day I would be fortunate enough to see a pangolin, but I knew the chances were very slim.  When the call came in that a pangolin had been spotted on my last night on safari, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.  http://jennifersawicky.com/2015/07/02/pangolin/

I think of myself as fortunate not only because I am happy to take advantage of photographic opportunities when they happen, rather than planning and trying to force things, but also because I have the opportunity to get out and practice something I love, sometimes even traveling to places that fill me with joy to do so.

I know this is much wordier than most of my posts, so I’ll sign off on the chatter now, and share with you some photos of wildlife encounters that I consider fortunate, whether they resulted in great pictures or not.

We were heading out for afternoon drive, and not far from camp, a group of elephants turned onto the road, and started heading towards us.  Not in any way threatening, the road was the easiest route, and they wanted to head in our direction.  We kept reversing to give them enough space.  The really special thing about watching this group of elephants, was the tiny baby that was part of the herd.  Our ranger explained normally ellie moms are very protective, and would hide a baby that tiny, but instead she let him play in full view.  He put on quote a show for everyone, waving his trunk around, flapping his ears, and doing multiple face plants into the sand, sometimes eating dirt.  Even if I hadn't gotten a single photo, it would still be one of the best moments I've had on safari. 1/640sec, f9.0, ISO5000 Phinda, April 2015
We were heading out for afternoon drive, and not far from camp, a group of elephants turned onto the road, and started heading towards us. Not in any way threatening, the road was the easiest route, and they wanted to head in our direction. We kept reversing to give them enough space. The really special thing about watching this group of elephants was the tiny baby that was part of the herd. Our ranger explained normally ellie moms are very protective, and would hide a baby that tiny, but instead she let him play in full view. He put on quite a show for everyone, waving his trunk around, flapping his ears, and doing multiple face plants into the sand, sometimes eating dirt. Even if I hadn’t gotten a single photo, it would still be one of the best moments I’ve had on safari.
1/640sec, f9.0, ISO5000
Phinda, April 2015
These zebras took turns having dust baths in the brilliant early morning light of the Okavango Delta. 1/1250sec, f8.0, ISO640
These zebras took turns having dust baths in the brilliant early morning light of the Okavango Delta.
1/1250sec, f8.0, ISO640
While on a helicopter tour of the Okavango Delta, we watched a hippo running through the water, and at one point, launch out of the water.  Here's one on the way up.
While on a helicopter tour of the Okavango Delta, we watched a hippo running through the water, and at one point, launch out of the water. Here’s one on the way up.
And on the way back down again. April, 2015 1/1000sec, f9.0, ISO 900
And on the way back down again.
April, 2015
1/1000sec, f9.0, ISO 900
We were heading back for breakfast at Kalahari Plains, when we spotted a black backed jackal and stopped to take a few photos and hear a little about the jackal's behaviour.  Out of nowhere, an African Wildcat streaked by.  It happened so quickly I snapped what I could.  With the direction of the light, we didn't even get a very good look, but it certainly proved that you never know what you might see while out in the bush. 1/500sec, f9.0, ISO 180 April, 2015
We were heading back for breakfast at Kalahari Plains, when we spotted a black backed jackal and stopped to take a few photos and hear a little about the jackal’s behaviour. Out of nowhere, an African Wildcat streaked by. It happened so quickly I snapped what I could. With the direction of the light, we didn’t even get a very good look, but it certainly proved that you never know what you might see while out in the bush.  Later int he trip, we had a similar experience with a serval, but I didn’t even have time to snap a photo of that one.
1/500sec, f9.0, ISO 180
April, 2015
After being separated for some time, a pair of leopard cubs run and play with one another.  Mama was close by. Ngala, May 2015 1/800sec, f10, ISO 900
After being separated for some time, a pair of leopard cubs run and play with one another. Mama was close by.
Ngala, May 2015
1/800sec, f10, ISO 900
My very first game drive featured mating lions, my second trip to South Africa featured mating giraffes, and this past trip, back to the lions.  It was quite a soap opera, as two males were vying for the females attention for a couple days; she chose the older, more distinguished fella! 1/400sec, f8.0, ISO 500 Sani Sands, May 2015
My very first game drive featured mating lions, my second trip to South Africa featured mating giraffes, and this past trip, back to the lions. It was quite a soap opera, as two males were vying for the females attention for a couple days; she chose the older, more distinguished fella!
1/400sec, f8.0, ISO 500
Sani Sands, May 2015
A CRAPPY photo, but an AMAZING moment.  I had left my camera on timer, hoping for a star trail (no joy with that).  I heard some noise outside and went to the patio door, and found 4 or 5 elephants drinking from the plunge pool on the deck!  Our ranger had warned us that elephants like shiny things and will take things to "play" with if left out (like cameras), and I was sure my camera was gone.  But the ladies were interested only in having a drink.  I stood mesmerized watching for as long as they stayed.  This is the closest I have to a photo of that moment - when they crossed in front of the camera that was clicking away at the stars.
A CRAPPY photo, but an AMAZING moment. I had left my camera on interval timer, hoping for photos to create a star trail (no joy with that). I heard some noise outside and went to the patio door, and found 4 or 5 elephants drinking from the plunge pool on the deck! Our ranger had warned us that elephants like shiny things and will take things to “play” with if left out (like cameras), and I was sure my camera was gone. But the ladies were interested only in having a drink. I stood mesmerized watching for as long as they stayed. This is the closest I have to a photo of that moment – when they crossed in front of the camera that was clicking away at the stars (the grey shapes at the very bottom of the image).
Our last morning at Phinda, it was just my Dad and me heading out, so we took a leisurely drive to a different area of the reserve.  We stopped to look at a raptor far in the distance.  Our ranger was incredibly excited, as the raptor was a southern banded snake eagle, a bird that is listed as near threatened (I believe our ranger mentioned there was less than 2 dozen breeding pairs in South Africa, but I could be a little off on that number).  With the distance and poor light, this was the best I could do for a photo.  It's wonderful to be a part of a sighting that the ranger gets really excited about though - you know it's something out of the ordinary :) 1/200sec, f5.6, ISO 200
Our last morning at Phinda, it was just my Dad and me heading out, so we took a leisurely drive to a different area of the reserve. We stopped to look at a raptor far in the distance. Our ranger was incredibly excited, as the raptor was a southern banded snake eagle, a bird that is listed as near threatened (I believe our ranger mentioned there was less than 2 dozen breeding pairs in South Africa, but I could be a little off on that number). With the distance and poor light, this was the best I could do for a photo. It’s wonderful to be a part of a sighting that the ranger gets really excited about though – you know it’s something out of the ordinary 🙂
1/200sec, f5.6, ISO 200
Someone call the firemen; there's a kitty stuck in a tree! This lion cub climbed up in a fit of playfulness, and soon realized the error in his ways.  Thankfully he didn't crash land. 1/60sec, f5.6, ISO 6400 Phinda, April 2015
Someone call the firemen; there’s a kitty stuck in a tree!
This lion cub climbed up in a fit of playfulness, and soon realized the error in his ways. Thankfully he didn’t crash land.
1/60sec, f5.6, ISO 6400
Phinda, April 2015
A group of cheetah cubs wrestle behind mom's back. 1/1000sec, f6.3, ISO1250 Phinda, April 2015
A group of cheetah cubs wrestle behind mom’s back.
1/1000sec, f6.3, ISO1250
Phinda, April 2015
Over two days, I spent about two hours with two different leopards in trees in the Okavango Delta.  They are wonderful to watch, and the agility moving about a tree is amazing.  I was so lucky to click the shutter at the right moment to capture this one heading out of the tree. 1/2000sec, f8.0, ISO1000
Over two days, I spent about two hours with two different leopards in trees in the Okavango Delta. They are wonderful to watch, and the agility moving about a tree is amazing. I was so lucky to click the shutter at the right moment to capture this one heading out of the tree.
1/2000sec, f8.0, ISO1000
I've had some good success getting photographs of hares in South Africa.  This one just tugs at my heart though.  To witness such a tender moment, with the young one suckling, was so unexpected.  I saw this while we were heading back to camp; we only kept the light on for a really quick photo, so as not to draw attention to the area. 1/200sec, f5.6, ISO 6400
I’ve had some good success getting photographs of hares in South Africa. This one just tugs at my heart though. To witness such a tender moment, with the young one suckling, was so unexpected. I saw this while we were heading back to camp; we only kept the light on for a really quick photo, so as not to draw attention to the area.   Sabi Sands, May 2015
1/200sec, f5.6, ISO 6400

2015-10-12: Monochrome Monday

Mama cheetah alternates between scanning the surroundings and having a rest on the road, while her 3 cubs laze away the late afternoon nearby. Phinda Game Reserve, May 2015. 1/320sec, f5.6, ISO 1250
Mama cheetah alternates between scanning the surroundings and having a rest on the road, while her 3 cubs laze away the late afternoon nearby.
Phinda Game Reserve, May 2015.
1/320sec, f5.6, ISO 1250

CEE’S WHICH WAY CHALLENGE 2015 WEEK #33

Everyone should have figured out by now – I absolutely love photographing African animals!

For the which way challenge this week, a selection of animals blocking the way.

A group of male nyala block the winding way forward. Phinda Private Game Reserve, May 2015. 1/160sec, f8.0, ISO 4500
A group of male nyala block the winding way forward.
Phinda Private Game Reserve, May 2015.
1/160sec, f8.0, ISO 4500
A mom and three young cheetah cubs block the road (as does a zebra, farther off in the distance). Phinda Private Game, May 2015 1/250sec, f7.1, ISO 1000
A mom and three young cheetah cubs block the road (as does a zebra, farther off in the distance).
Phinda Private Game, May 2015
1/250sec, f7.1, ISO 1000
A crash of rhino at a bend in the road. Phinda Private Game Reserve, May 2015 1/320sec, f5.6, ISO 640
A crash of rhino at a bend in the road.
Phinda Private Game Reserve, May 2015
1/320sec, f5.6, ISO 640

CEE’S WHICH WAY CHALLENGE

Travel Theme: Mellow

I did a quick scan through my last batch of travel photos to find a few mellow shots to share.

I hope you enjoy!

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A leopard rests peacefully in a tree top near Baines Camp in the Okavango Delta. 1/800sec, f9.0 ISO 640
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A lion cub chills out as dusk descends on Phinda Private Game Reserve. 1/500sec, f5.6, ISO 1600
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A group of cheetah cubs take a rest on the road after a hard days play. 1/320sec, f5.6, ISO 1100
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Sunrise over the Sabi Sands. 1/320sec, f5.6, ISO320
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Sunset on the Timbavati, and the first star of the evening. 1/60sec, f4.5, ISO 500

Travel Theme: Mellow

Londolozi Highlights

Londolozi is well known for having amazing leopard sightings, and I certainly had one during my stay, but you’ll have to stay tuned to a future post to hear all about it and see the photos, as that encounter definitely deserves to be a post on its own (as does the Pangolin sighting!!!) 🙂
We had an absolutely fabulous time during our two night stay, and a lot of laughs with our ranger Dave and tracker Judas. I’d be back there tomorrow if I could (I think in fact I asked Phil the camp manager more than once if I could hide myself away somewhere just so I could stay longer).
The following are just a few of the moments that made me smile during my time there; I took over 1500 photos during my stay, so you can be certain you’ll see many more in the coming days and weeks.

This very blog was started after my first trip to Londolozi in 2013.  In case you missed those first posts, you can find some of them here (or use the search function at the bottom of my home page to find them all!)

My First Leopard Sighting

Leopard Sightings – Even Better the Second Time

Here is a link to my guest blog post from my first trip to Londolozi, in case you missed that:

A Home at Tree Camp

And now for the images – I hope you enjoy!

A small group of wildebeest gather around a tree, on a perfect autumn afternoon. 1/1000sec, f10, ISO360
A small group of wildebeest gather around a tree, on a perfect autumn afternoon.
1/1000sec, f10, ISO360
A saddle billed stork on one of the sandy banks in the river. 1/1000 sec, f9, ISO 560
A saddle billed stork on one of the sandy bars in the river.
1/1000 sec, f9, ISO 560
This photo brings me close to tears; I think it shows what I love best about being out in the bush, just bearing witness to the day to day lives of animals.  I absolutely love elephants, and capturing this tender moment when the youngster had a chance to suckle was one of the benefits of parking ourselves in the river and hanging out with this small family. 1/1000sec, f8, ISO 360
This photo brings me close to tears; I think it shows what I love best about being out in the bush, just bearing witness to the day to day lives of animals. I absolutely love elephants, and capturing this tender moment when the youngster had a chance to suckle was one of the benefits of parking ourselves in the river and hanging out with this small family.
1/1000sec, f8, ISO 360
We parked in the river to watch this small family group drinking and crossing the river.  What came next??? 1/1000sec, f8.0, ISO 400
We parked in the river to watch this small family group drinking and crossing the river. What came next???
1/1000sec, f8.0, ISO 400
Well and truly stuck! Our position in the river gave us brilliant viewing and photographic opportunities, but unfortunately left the land rover with tires at least half buried in the sand.  Dave was so worried that we would be upset at waiting for rescue and being late for breakfast, but we all had an absolute blast; just another part of the safari adventure!   1/1250sec, f16, ISO900
We got well and truly stuck!
Our position in the river gave us brilliant viewing and photographic opportunities, but unfortunately left the land rover with tires at least half buried in the sand. Dave was so worried that we would be upset at waiting for rescue and being late for breakfast, but we all had an absolute blast; just another part of the safari adventure!
1/1250sec, f16, ISO900
The tractor arrived to remove our stuck vehicle from the river; I'm not sure if Dave has lived that one down yet.   1/1250sec, f10, ISO500
The tractor arrived to remove our stuck vehicle from the river; I’m not sure if Dave has lived that one down yet.
1/1250sec, f10, ISO500
The result of having to call for rescue, Dave ended up with the dreaded pink ammo pouch.  I think it may be good luck though, as we had some amazing sightings after he took possession of it!
The result of having to call for rescue, Dave ended up with the dreaded pink ammo pouch. I think it may be good luck though, as we had some amazing sightings after he took possession of it!
Even after getting dragged out of the river, Dave still stopped in the sand along the river so I could photograph this beautiful white fronted bee-eater. 1/1250 sec, f10, ISO 1000
Even after getting dragged out of the river, Dave still stopped in the sand along the river so I could photograph this beautiful white fronted bee-eater.
1/1250 sec, f10, ISO 1000
The morning sky was like a painting, and I was happy just to sit and watch that;, stumbling across this herd of elephants made it all the better. 1/640sec, f5, ISO 3600
The morning sky was like a painting, and I was happy just to sit and watch that; stumbling across this herd of elephants made it all the better.
1/640sec, f5, ISO 3600
My first attempt at photographing lightning; I set up my camera on the tree camp deck under a patio umbrella, and let the camera do it's thing on a timer function while I enjoyed wine and dinner.  We were out on drive and returned just before the rain started, but watched the most intense part of the lightning from the vehicle on the way back to camp.  I'm pleased with the results for my first attempt; it was basically focusing and aiming at nothing and hoping for the best! 25sec, f11, ISO 800
My first attempt at photographing lightning; I set up my camera on the tree camp deck under a patio umbrella, and let the camera do it’s thing on a timer function while I enjoyed wine and dinner. We were out on drive and returned just before the rain started, but watched the most intense part of the lightning from the vehicle on the way back to camp. I’m pleased with the results for my first attempt; it was basically focusing and aiming at nothing and hoping for the best!
25sec, f11, ISO 800
A slightly different editing technique, but from the same storm as the other lightning photo (one of only a few periods of rain I had on holiday). 25 sec, f11, ISO800
A slightly different editing technique, but from the same storm as the other lightning photo (one of only a few periods of rain I had on holiday).
25 sec, f11, ISO800
I asked both my Dave's to find me owls, and they both succeeded :)  The light was not in my favour for photographing this southern white faced owl, but I really like this black and white conversion. 1/1250sec, f6.3, ISO 900
I asked both my Dave’s to find me owls, and they both succeeded 🙂 The light was not in my favour for photographing this southern white faced owl, but I really like this black and white conversion.
1/1250sec, f6.3, ISO 900
A couple of iconic African shapes - elephants and  cheetah. 1/250sec, f7.1, ISO 3600
A couple of iconic African shapes – elephants and cheetah.
1/250sec, f7.1, ISO 3600

Phinda Game Reserve

I spent an amazing few days at Phinda recently, and was lucky enough to not only have a fabulous ranger and tracker team to work with, but also got along brilliantly with the other guests on the vehicle.  I have so many photos to go though when I get home; some of the highlights included some of the tiniest babies I have had the pleasure of seeing in the bush (elephant and rhino), spending time with two families of lions, a mother with 3 cheetah cubs, 3 older cheetah brothers, and some really cool eagle sightings.  I’d still rather be outside than on the computer, so here are just a few of the special moments from Phinda.

I asked Dave to find me an owl if possible during my stay - he said give me 15 minutes (at 4 in the afternoon).  About 20 minutes later he and Thoks found this adorable sleeping southern white faced owl.
I asked Dave to find me an owl if possible during my stay – he said give me 15 minutes (at 4 in the afternoon). About 20 minutes later he and Thoks found this adorable sleeping southern white faced owl.
3 cheetah brothers lounging on a termite mound at sunset.
3 cheetah brothers lounging on a termite mound.
Look between the leader’s front legs, and you will see a tiny elephant calf 🙂 Quite possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen.
I had two opportunities to photograph lions at night with red filters.  I am looking forward to the black and white conversions when I get home.
I had two opportunities to photograph lions at night with red filters. I am looking forward to the black and white conversions when I get home.
We spotted Mom and and the cubs late one evening, and came back in the morning to view.  Sadly, in the night the mom had lost one of the cubs, leaving her with the 3 seen here.
We spotted Mom and the cubs late one evening, and came back in the morning to view. Sadly, in the night the mom had lost one of the cubs, leaving her with the 3 seen here.
The young lions were far more interested in getting up than the adults.
The young lions were far more interested in getting up than the adults.
The resident genet at Phinda, hanging around the dining area at night, hoping someone will drop something tasty.  They call her Genet Jackson.
The resident genet at Phinda, hanging around the dining area at night, hoping someone will drop something tasty. They call her Genet Jackson.

Kalahari the cheetah

Here are the last few cheetah photos that I had flagged for editing from my October / November 2014 project with Wildlife ACT.  It took a few days for our first sighting of Kalahari the cheetah, but I was very lucky to get to spend a fair bit of time in his presence, and learn a bit about his personality.

I’m not sure what will be up next, but I still have quite a few photos from that trip that I would like to share.  Have a great day everyone!

On the move - look at those huge feet!
On the move – look at those huge feet!
I included this photo only to show how difficult it can be to spot a cat, even with very little ground cover.  He looked up briefly, watching us watch him, but as soon as he put his head down, you could have walked past and missed him laying there.  I'm pretty sure we drove back and forth a few times before finally catching sight of him.
I included this photo only to show how difficult it can be to spot a cat, even with very little ground cover. He looked up briefly, watching us watch him, but as soon as he put his head down, you could have walked past and missed him laying there. I’m pretty sure we drove back and forth a few times before finally catching sight of him.
This was taken around the same time as the black and white conversion I posted earlier in the week, but from a different vantage point.  After watching him from below for some time, we drove up to the road at the top of the dam wall.  To get home we had no choice but to drive past him fairly close; we went slowly and quietly, and it gave us some lovely views :)
This was taken around the same time as the black and white conversion I posted earlier in the week, but from a different vantage point. After watching him from below for some time, we drove up to the road at the top of the dam wall. To get home we had no choice but to drive past him fairly close; we went slowly and quietly, and it gave us some lovely views 🙂