2017-10-23: Monochrome Monday

My Monochrome Monday choice for this week is from a wonderful lion sighting during my time spent in Etosha National Park in Namibia.  You really can’t ask for better than this!

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Lion brothers in Etosha National Park.  April, 2017. 1/1000sec, f10, ISO 450

 

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2017-07-16: Highlights of Little Ongava

 

The second stop on my recent trip to Southern Africa was at the beautiful Ongava Game Reserve adjacent to Etosha National Park.  Like at our first camp, here we also found a familiar face, as the camp manager we met on a previous trip to Namibia had moved over to this region, and was running the lodge during our stay.  We had a wonderful time catching up with Maggie; I am still amazed that we not only found familiar faces so far from home, but that people remembered us as well 🙂

Typically, we went into the national park to explore on our morning game drives, and the spent the afternoons on the private reserve. The Etosha region had also received higher than average rainfall, and was very lush and green during our stay. Right before we arrived, they had a day of heavy rain, and on our first game drive we ended up stuck in the mud on one of the roads on the Ongava Reserve.   After about 45 minutes, our awesome guide Willy managed to get the vehicle moving again.  We were all covered in splattered mud from head to toe, but laughing and smiling; its all part of the safari adventure.

We spent time with elephants and rhino, lions and wildebeest.  We saw zebra, oryx springbok and impala, and an abundance of birds.  The reserve had a lovely hide, but due to the rains in the region, water sources were abundant and the man-made dam near the lodge was not being frequently used during our stay (with the exception of the resident terrapins).  It was a beautiful region that I hope I have the opportunity to explore again in the future.

Here are a few images from my 3 nights in this beautiful area.

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A bull elephant on Ongava Game Reserve.  This big guy was attracting quite a crowd, as he is one of only four elephants on the reserve.  All the elephants ended up there after breaking in from neighbouring Etosha, and then deciding to stay.
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We saw many herds of zebra during our drives through Etosha.  
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This young wildebeest was part of a sizeable herd, but was unfortunately injured and hobbling around on a broken leg.  This one will definitely be the animal the lions size up as a potential meal, the next time the pride and the herd cross paths.
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We were fortunate to see both white and black rhino during our time in the Etosha area.  Such impressive creatures.
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One of the highlights driving through Etosha was coming across this group of brothers chilling out next to a waterhole.  They were very close to the road, giving lots of people a fantastic opportunity to see lions up close.  One of the brothers went into stalk mode, and crossed the road towards a group of springbok, but they had spotted him quickly so it was a no go for some springbok for breakfast.
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A rock hyrax seen near the dining area at Little Ongava.  This little one was calling out constantly and making quite a racket, but it took me a bit of time to spot it.  Apparently, this hyrax is always hanging around the camp.
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A pair of ostrich seen during a drive through Etosha National Park.
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A waterbuck on the Ongava Private Game Reserve.  Waterbuck are not a naturally occurring species in the area, but were introduced the the reserve around 10 years ago to see if they could cope with the terrain and climate.  The population there has been thriving.
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Our last morning in Ongava, we spent time on the reserve rather than in the park, as we had a fairly early flight to our next destination.  We were having a rather relaxed drive when another guest on the vehicle spotted a lion hidden in the grass in a thicket; we were able to drive closer and find the entire pride having a rest as the day heated up.

 

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2017-07-09: Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in Namibia

I am so excited to finally begin sharing some stories and photos from my recent adventure in Southern Africa! It’s taken quite a while to go through my catalogue of images and work out which ones are worthy of further review, but I am finally in a spot where I can begin the fun part of editing.  I have decided to create posts highlighting some of the experiences at each of the areas I spent time in, and since starting at the beginning of the journey makes sense to my brain, that’s what I am going to do.

The first stop we had was at the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, a beautiful and very remote location in north western Namibia. I had anticipated amazing landscapes, and the area delivered that and then some, but I honestly didn’t anticipate the abundance of wildlife that we saw. We were lucky to arrive in Africa after a wet season that had provided much more rain than expected, and even in the desert, there was water to be found and amazing pockets of lush greenery amongst the sand and the rocks.

The camp was absolutely beautiful, and we were thrilled when we were told our guide would be Chris, and then realized that we had met him during our previous trip to Namibia, in Damaraland. During 3 nights at the camp, we had the opportunity to take a day trip to the coast and see the dunes and the seal colony, we spent time with the desert adapted elephants and we saw one of the few desert lions on a giraffe kill (amongst lots of other things!).

I hope you enjoy these first images from my time in Namibia. There will definitely be more of them to share in the future.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.

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A sandstorm blowing through an area near the camp.  The days we were there, we had foggy mornings (that cleared very quickly), heat that built throughout the day, and then windy afternoons which brought up sandstorms.  It made for some surreal and beautiful photo conditions.
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Desert-adapted elephants graze on devil’s thorn; a plant in bountiful supply after the rain the region experienced.
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A steenbok pauses with some rather barren looking desert in the background.  But despite appearances, even in these areas, there is a lot of life to be found.
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On an early morning drive, I spotted this wild cat in the drive river bed.  Given how far we were away, I was rather impressed with my spotting abilities.
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A pair of oryx graze on devil’s thorn alongside the road.
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Due to the heavy rains prior to our arrival, the normal driving route to the coast was closed, and we ended up taking a 20 minute flight to get there instead of driving.  The landscape from the air is absolutely stunning.
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A small part of the seal colony along the atlantic coast.  The smell in the area was pretty overwhelming, so we were all taking photos through the closed windows of the vehicle.
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We stopped for a photo op at the top of a large dune; mist from the ocean can be seen in the distance.  I’m pretty sure my Dad and Chris were discussing something to do with the engine or 4-wheel drive capabilities of the vehicle.
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The desert provided the clear skies and unobstructed views necessary to try a bit of astro photography.  I didn’t return home with many more night sky images, as most of the camps were in lush places without a clear view to the sky.
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Elephants heading out of the riverbed after a drink and a mud bath.
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Morning drama on a game drive.  After spending a half hour or so following lion tracks through the desert, our guide Chris spotted a giraffe acting rather odd, walking in circles around a clump of bushes.  When we drove closer, we could see the drag marks into the bushes, and a lioness feeding on a baby giraffe.  From the tracks surrounding the bushes, the mother giraffe had attempted to charge the lioness several times, but it was too late to be of an help to her baby, which we found out was only a few days old.
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It is easy to feel badly for the mother giraffe in this situation, but the lions in the desert are in rather dire circumstances, and I was thankful even to have the opportunity to see one, let alone one on a kill.  Several desert lions were shot or poisoned by a farmer in the last year, in retaliation for livestock being taken.  Human-wildlife conflict is a complex subject, but it is especially tough to hear about animals, who’s populations have already dwindled substantially, taking a hit like that.
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A lovely sunset from a hilltop sundowner drinks stop.  The wind was gusting incredibly, but I managed to get this shot while holding a glass of wine in one hand, camera in the other, all while being pelted by blowing sand.  A rather fun evening!

 

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2017-03-31: Feel Good Friday

Happy Friday!  The work week is over and it is time to relax a bit.  Wishing everyone a great weekend ahead.  And try not to do too many nasty pranks tomorrow!

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Lion cubs laying with a stick in the Masai Mara, Kenya.  September, 2016.  (I’m kinda feeling like the cub on the left at the moment!)

 

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2017-02-17: WPC Against the Odds

On my first trip to Africa, we spent a very rainy afternoon game drive with a pride of lions, and at one point, all the little ones climbed up onto a fallen tree and were playing with each other.  While I did my best to capture the moment, the photos turned out awful.  Don’t believe me?  You can go into the way back machine and see the post about that first sighting here.

On my most recent trip to Africa, during my time in the Masai Mara I was fortunate enough to spend time with two different lionesses with cubs (including two of the tiniest cubs I have ever seen).  On an afternoon game drive, we first viewed the mother with the tiny cubs, and when they retreated into a thicket we turned our attention to the older cubs and the pride males that were snoozing nearby.  My guide Wilson thought that the males would soon start rousing themselves, so we had a sundowner drink and waited to see what would happen.

And much to my delight, while mama  and the boys lounged nearby, the two cubs climbed up onto a dead tree and began playing with each other.   And while it was growing dark, the camera I was using was  better equipped to deal with it (as was the camera operator!), and I managed to come away with a few usable shots.  And if you checked out that old post, you’ll notice I did say maybe this will happen again someday… You never know what you might find when you’re out on a game drive 🙂

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WPC: Against the Odds

2016-12-09: Feel Good Friday

This sighting made me smile; watching these cubs playing with each other while their Mom and the pride males lounged around nearby.

I’ll have a few more images to share from this experience in the coming weeks and months 🙂

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A pair of lion cubs playing tug of war with a stick.  Masai Mara, Kenya. September 2016.

Wishing everyone a great weekend ahead!

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2016-10-09: Holiday Photos

Every month the photo club I belong to has a photo topic of the month, as well as being able to submit a further 5 photos for review and discussion.  Since all I have captured since I returned home are a few grainy images of one of the local deer (and lots of my dog) I thought I would share them here as well.  I am hoping to get back into the swing of things with my “What I’ve seen this week” Sunday post very soon.

Until then, I hope you enjoy some images of Uganda and Kenya.

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This image stirs up so much for me.  I can almost smell the fever trees and the acacia and the scent of the elephants, I can almost hear the rumbles, the crunch of branches and chewing of leaves, I can almost feel the warm of the sunlight.  Working on these images takes me right back and gives me a mini mental holiday 🙂
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Three young male lions had taken down a wildebeest in the night, and shortly before I shot this, all three were still picking away at the carcass.  There were a half dozen jackals hanging around, trying to figure out how to safely get close enough to grab a morsel or two.  This one only took another step before turning away.
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Witnessing a river crossing involves a lot of waiting, and then a lot of chaos in a short period of time.  I’m looking forward to sharing more about this experience!
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Just like human babies, the mountain gorilla infants that I saw were incredibly curious, and explored their world by touching everything.
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A lappet faced vulture lays claim to a wildebeest carcass that looks to be little more than some fur and bones.
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The repeating lines of tea fields near the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.

2016-03-11: Impala Rut

If you’re in Southern Africa in the autumn (April/May) you’ll be there during the impala rut.  And believe me, you’ll find yourself uttering the same phrase I did repeatedly “What on earth was that noise?”

I still don’t understand how a creature like this, can make a sound like that.  To hear it for yourself, check out sound number two on this website.

Both in Botswana and South Africa, we heard a lot of noise and commotion, and saw a few different groups of bachelors going crazy, running and jumping and locking horns.

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That’s the face that goes along with the noise.  So attractive!
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Is this what the ladies do when they hear that sound and see that face??? 🙂 I was in the right place at the right time to watch a herd of impala bounce through the bushes. This is a composite of 5 different photos.
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A clash of horns.
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Racing around, making noise, fighting about who is the manlier man.

 

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Unfortunately, the guys kind of lose their minds during this time, and throw their normal caution and vigilance to the wind.  The result…

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They end up as a snack for a hungry pride of lions (or leopards, cheetah, wild dog, hyaena).    This was actually a very interesting sighting in itself, you can see more about it here.