2019-10-13: Leopards

I finished off last Sunday’s post with the promise of sharing a few more leopard images this week, and here they are.

I was fortunate enough to spend time with this mother leopard and her cub on a couple of different occasions, in slightly different areas, providing a nice variety of images.  All the ones shared today though were taken on the same morning.

I hope you enjoy the selection below.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving today; I hope you have the opportunity to share the day with people that you care about, and can take some time to reflect on all the things to be thankful for.

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Five seconds that felt more like five minutes.  This tracker remained calm and completely still when the leopard stopped by and checked him out. 
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Once Mom was away from the kill in the tree, and out in the open, the cub came out of hiding.
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Greetings between mama and her cub.
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I like to share images like this to show the reality of a lot of leopard sightings, which is often viewing them through trees, tall grass or other obstructions.  Still beautiful to see (of course!) and it makes the moments when they are completely out in the open that much more special.
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Something startled Mom and caused her to sit straight up and look around; the cub is quite indifferent and sniffing an interesting spot of grass (which reminds me of walks with my dog!)

2019-10-06: Feasting Leopard

I said this month was going to be freestyle for my Sunday posts, and as I was going through my catalogue earlier in the week, I was taken by images of this leopard and decided to edit a few to share.

One of the things I love about being in the bush is witnessing some of the drama that unfolds.  This sighting was definitely more than met the eye at first glance.

The previous evening, we had very briefly driven to this area, as there was a leopard on an impala kill.  It was getting dark though, so we decided to carry on and make this area our first stop the next day.  When we headed out on our morning drive from Chitwa Chitwa, other vehicles were already at the sighting, so we had to wait a bit, but when we got there, we found a different leopard on the impala kill.  So, sometime during the night, the male leopard that we initially saw left, and this female snuck in to have an easy meal.

Things were made even more exciting by the fact that she had a cub who was also nearby, but you’ll need to check back next week to see some images of the two of them together.

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While it doesn’t look like there is much left on the impala, it was still a valuable, and free, meal for this leopard.
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If looks could kill.

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She was really working to gain access to a new spot on the carcass.

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The tracker on this vehicle had *nerves* of steel.  The leopard came down the tree, and paused in front of this vehicle and stared up at the tracker for 5 – 10 seconds before making her way off.  It doesn’t sound like a long time, but witnessing it, it sure felt like it.   The entire time he did not flinch or move a muscle.  

More of this beautiful leopard next week.  Until then, wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

Weekly Challenge: Today Was a Good Day

The first thing I thought of when I saw this weeks photo challenge was seeing all of the big five in a single game drive.

It was our first game drive leaving from Chitwa Chitwa, and the first of the big five we came across were the elephants.  We ended up in fairly dense bush amongst a large herd, and I know some of the other people in the vehicle were a little nervous of the proximity!  At some points, we were completely surrounded by them (I was thrilled!!!)

A little too close for comfort for some of the people in our vehicle. 1/1000sec, f7.1, ISO 1000, at 98mm.
A little too close for comfort for some of the people in our vehicle.
1/1000sec, f7.1, ISO 1000, at 98mm.

The second we came across was the leopard.  She was only steps away after we started moving away from the elephants.  We followed her through the trees as well, and spent some time with her as she rested atop a termite mound.

A gorgeous leopard rests atop a termite mound. 1/400sec, f8.0, ISO 5600
A gorgeous leopard rests atop a termite mound.
1/400sec, f8.0, ISO 5600

We stopped for a sundowner drink and spotted a group of 3 rhino in a mud wallow off in the distance.  The light was fading, and the viewing was certainly better without the camera.

A crash of rhino enjoy an early evening mud wallow. 1/100sec, f4.8, ISO 6400
A crash of rhino enjoy an early evening mud wallow.
1/100sec, f4.8, ISO 6400

Just as we were getting back into the vehicle after our drinks and snacks, Surprise our ranger pointed out a couple buffalo crossing the road off in the distance.  The photo is awful, I knew it would be when I snapped it, but I thought I should take it as evidence of seeing 4 of the big 5 in a single drive.

Two buffalo cross the road, long after my camera was able to take a photo without a flash or spotlight!
Two buffalo cross the road, long after my camera was able to take a photo without a flash or spotlight!

As we were heading back to camp for dinner, we followed the tracks of some lions, and came upon them resting quite close to the camp.  And with that, it was the big 5 all within the space of 3.5 hours!  An absolutely amazing time.

A gorgeous lion rest in the early evening darkness.  A female was close by as well. 1/160sec, f6.3, ISO 6400
A gorgeous lion rest in the early evening darkness. A female was close by as well.
1/160sec, f6.3, ISO 6400

Of course, most people know by now that I am thrilled to view anything when on a game drive, from the smallest bird to the tallest giraffe and everything in between.  Here are a few other interesting sights from that drive.

A chameleon that our tracker spotted while we headed back to camp.  I don't think he was too thrilled with being pointed at, he has a rather sour look on his face.
A chameleon that our tracker spotted while we headed back to camp. I have no idea how they can see them in the pitch black from a moving vehicle, but it seemed to be a skill most of the trackers had!  I don’t think the chameleon was too thrilled with being pointed at, he has a rather sour look on his face.
A yellow billed hornbill perched at sunset (or as my Dad calls them, a flying banana).
A yellow billed hornbill perched at sunset (or as my Dad calls them, a flying banana).
A pair of white backed vulture perched in the fading light. 1/200sec, f5.6, ISO 1100
A pair of white backed vulture perched in the fading light.
1/200sec, f5.6, ISO 1100

Have a great day everyone!

Today Was a Good Day

World Elephant Day

Anyone that has read more than a few of my blog posts knows that I love elephants.  I could spend an entire day happily watching them; scratch that, I’m pretty sure if I saw them every day for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t grow bored of being around them.  I find them fascinating, beautiful, amazing and peaceful creatures, and being in their presence, even just for a few moments, is a blessing.

Here’s just one of many, many photos I have, I hope you enjoy.

A breeding herd of elephants stops by the watering hole outside of the Chitwa Chitwa main lodge for an afternoon drink. 1/500sec, f11, ISO 1600
A breeding herd of elephants stops by the watering hole outside of the Chitwa Chitwa main lodge for an afternoon drink.
1/500sec, f11, ISO 1600

African Harrier Hawk

Partway through our game drive on our last morning at Chitwa Chitwa, I spotted a fairly large bird in some trees a short distance from the vehicle, and our guide Surprise quickly realized that it was a hawk that had been successful hunting.  We headed closer but the hawk was definitely not too comfortable with our presence and headed for a new tree as soon as we got too close.  After that happened twice, we moved on to allow him (or her) to enjoy breakfast in peace.

It was such a cool sighting and I am very grateful I was able to capture it.

Have a great evening!

An African harrier hawk flies with a green spotted wood snake in its mouth. 1/1000 sec, f8.0, ISO 320
An African harrier hawk flies with a green spotted wood snake in its mouth.
1/1000 sec, f8.0, ISO 320
Coming in to land
Coming in to land
He seemed to be settling in to have breakfast, but soon changed his mind and was off again. 1/1000sec, f8.0, ISO 280
He seemed to be settling in to have breakfast, but soon changed his mind and was off again.
1/1000sec, f8.0, ISO 280
We moved the vehicle and for a few moments, had a closer vantage point.
We moved the vehicle and for a few moments, had a closer vantage point.
Off again 1/1000sec, f5.6, ISO 140
Off again
1/1000sec, f5.6, ISO 140
The poor snake had tied itself into a knot while clutched by the hawk.
The poor snake had tied itself into a knot while being clutched by the hawk.
One last view before he was off.
One last view before he was off.

Vulture Silhouette

If you been following my blog for any length of time, I think you’ve probably noticed that I enjoy silhouette photos.  Especially of birds.  While staying at Chitwa Chitwa, we stopped for a sundowner and just as I picked up my glass of wine, I noticed the vulture in this tree.  Actually, there were two, but the photo of both of them didn’t work out so well (perhaps if I had the 150mm-600mm then…)

I’ve included here both the cropped image as shot, with only a pass of Nik’s output sharpener as my editing, and one that has been further enhanced with both Silver Efex and Colour Efex.  I’d be interested to know if there are any preferences.  I like both (or I wouldn’t post them!).

Have a great evening.

This is the un-enhanced photo.
This is the un-enhanced photo.
And this is the one that's had just a little work done.
And this is the one that’s had just a little work done.