2024-06-16: Lions

This past trip was quite exceptional for the number of lion sightings that we had. And not just seeing lions doing what they do best, sleeping in the shade, but interesting interactions between the pride: playing, feeding, mating and a pride on the move towards the sounds of a nearby herd of buffalo.

A female greeting a young male lion as the pride got on the move after beating the heat of the day in the shade. Klaserie Sands Game Reserve, South Africa. April, 2024.
A male lion on the move in the early morning in Chobe Game Reserve, Botswana. April, 2024.
Our amazing guide, Miss B, found this lioness and her cubs behind a washroom facility at a picnic site. There were groups of people enjoying their morning coffee break not far away from this spot. It was an amazing sighting, but also a great reminder to always pay attention in the bush, and only go on foot to areas that have been inspected by the guides and deemed safe. Chobe Game Reserve, Botswana. April, 2024.
This lion cub could be in need of a dentist after chewing and playing with a metal directional sign that was pulled from a road marker. Savute Game Reserve, Botswana.April, 2024.
A pair of lions in between bouts of mating. Savute Game Reserve, Botswana. April, 2024.
A young lion with a full belly at sunrise. Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana. April, 2024.
A pair of lions each feeding on a warthog head. These two were both very keen on keeping the prize, and remained locked in place like this the entire time we were at the sighting. Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana. April, 2024.
A group of lions on the move, followed by one of the other vehicles from our group. This was an amazing afternoon and evening in the bush, and its one where the photos don’t do justice to how wonderful the sightings were and how much fun it was. Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana. April, 2024.
This is the same group of lions as the image above, gathering prior to crossing to the other side of the channel, in towards a large herd of buffalo. Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana. April, 2024.

2024-06-02: Chobe River Sunrise

On our last morning at Chobe Game Lodge, our group had the option to either have a short, early morning boat cruise, or sleep in (we didn’t have time for a full game drive because of our flight time to go to our next camp). I’m an early bird by nature, and try my best to never miss an activity when on safari, so the choice was easy for me. The people that slept in certainly missed out on a beautiful morning on the water.

2024-05-26: Southern Africa 2024

It’s been a while since I have posted any images; between preparing for a trip, the time spent away and then the return to normal life, the blog fell by the wayside for a bit. I’m slowly working on cataloging and rating images from my time away; and while I have a long way to go before that is complete, I don’t want to wait to share images until all that background work is done.

Today I decided to pick one image from each location I stayed at. It seemed like as good a starting place as any.

Leopard mother and son, sharing an affectionate moment. The cub is on the left, and at basically the same size as his mom, his days enjoying her company and her providing for him are numbered. Timbavati, South Africa. April, 2024.
This was a first for me; watching a hyena stash its impala kill in a small waterhole. Klaserie Sands, South Africa. April, 2024.
This trip was the trip of lions, with many sightings over the different areas I stayed in. This lioness was seen in Chobe National Park, Botswana. April, 2024.
The other standout for sheer volume of animals were zebra, seen in vast numbers in Savute. Our trip timed it just right to encounter some of the zebra migration. Savute, Botswana. April, 2024.
A once in a lifetime sighting in Moremi Game Reserve. An endangered Pel’s fishing owl. We were fortunate enough to see the mother and offspring that were nesting at the camp next door to where we were staying. Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana. April, 2024.
Elephants racing for the water on a hot afternoon. The areas where I traveled were experiencing significant drought, and it will likely be very, very hard on many animals come September and October, before the start of the next rainy season. For now, there was still decent amounts of water and vegetation to be found, and the animals we saw were still in good condition. Makgadikgadi Pan National Park, Botswana. April, 2024.

2023-11-26: An assortment of birds

I felt like some colour on a dull day, so small birds with bright feathers it is. The lilac breasted roller remains one of my favourite birds to spot on safari, and I was quite excited on my past trip to have the chance to see other types of rollers as well. I didn’t get great photos of the other rollers, but included them anyways to show the variety of colours.

A lilac breasted roller.
A purple roller.

It was unfortunate to only see the purple roller and racket tailed roller high up against very bright skies, but at least I did get the racket tailed roller at the right angle to show off the interesting tail feathers.

A racket tailed roller.
A southern masked weaver.

These weaver images were taken in different areas; the southern masked weaver is wide spread and they create very interesting nests that often hang over water. The males are in charge of construction, and the females in charge of determining if the nest is up to standards or not. When you come across a large colony, you will often see nests that have been abandoned partway through construction.

A southern masked weaver colony in the midst of nest construction.
A male long tailed widowbird in breeding plumage.
A male violet backed starling.

2023-05-21: Elephants at play

Midday is generally not considered the best time for photos, with harsh glare and intense shadows. But a group of elephants, happily frolicking in a muddy puddle, is too good not to shoot, regardless of the conditions outside.

I know I’ve said it many times before, but spending time amongst elephants makes my heart happy.

Elephants at play, Chobe National park, Botswana. November, 2022.

2023-04-23: Birds around the water

My photo sharing has been quite haphazard and random lately, and today is no different. As I got to my computer to work on images, the heavens opened up with the first thunderstorm of the year. After calming the pups down from the surprise of the loud noises, I thought decided to focus on bird around the water for today.

All of these birds are ones that I had seen before, but I still needed to go to my bird app to double check on both the heron and the kingfisher. Hopefully I have those identified correctly.

A hamerkop seen whilst on a drive around the town of Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe, 2022.
A group of pelicans spotted while on a game drive in Zambezi National Park. Zimbabwe, 2022.
A pair of African skimmers seen while on a boat cruise in Chobe National Park. Botswana, 2022.
A brown hooded kingfisher seen while on a boat cruise for the Zambezi River. Zimbabwe, 2022.
A striated heron seen along the banks of the Zambezi River. Zimbabwe, 2022.

2023-04-02: Birds in Southern Africa

The arrival this week of the robins makes it feel like spring is finally on the way, despite the volume of snow that is still on the ground. Listening to their song and seeing them on the road reminded me that I have posted very few bird images lately, even though my last trip was bird focused.

The selection for this week is fairly random; just a small sampling of some of the birds seen on my most recent trip, with more to follow.

A pair of lesser striped swallows seen in Madikwe. There were several pairs nesting in the photography hide at Jaci’s lodge, giving some great opportunities to watch these birds up close. South Africa, November, 2022.
A southern masked weaver perched in the reeds along the edge of a dam. This individual was spotted whilst on a bird trip just outside of Johannesburg. South Africa, November, 2022.
A long tailed widow bird spotted near Johannesburg. These birds are amazing in flight; their long breeding feathers nearly pulling them out of the air.
A starling, I believe the greater blue eared, seen while traveling in Zimbabwe. November, 2022.
A violet backed starling in perfect morning light. Botswana, November, 2022.

2023-02-25: Hippos on land

While on a day trip to Chobe National Park, our group did both a game drive and a boat cruise, which was similar to my experience in Chobe 2013. In 2013, we saw multiple hippo pods in the river, most with huge numbers of members. On this trip, hippos were another animal that was a rarity, but we did get some good sightings while on our boat cruise of a few individuals, both in the water and on land feeding. Our cruise was in the afternoon and the light was quite harsh, but I still happily varied between snapping photos, watching the scenery, and sipping on a few local beers.

Hippos are impressive in their bulk, and if you have the opportunity to see them open their jaws fully, you can truly appreciate why they are such a dangerous animal. While we can laugh about it now, it really wasn’t a funny situation when our boat stalled in 2013 and drifted dangerously close to a hippo pod. Thankfully our guide got it started and us to a safe distance before anything bad happened.

Here are a few hippo images from my day in Chobe in November, 2022.

A hippo being closely followed by an egret, which feed on the insects disturbed by the movement of the animal.
A hippo with a couple of oxpeckers perched on its back.
A grazing hippo. Chobe National Park, Botswana. November 2022

2023-01-08: Impala Lambs

The majority of my time in southern Africa has been during the fall and into the winter (the dry season) which also happens to be the time for the impala rut. The dynamics at play during that period are very interesting to watch, and sometimes the result for the fighting males can be an untimely end (I shared some images taken during rutting season here, if you’re interested).

This time, while traveling through the bush, we saw many heavily pregnant impalas, and were hopeful of the chance to see some newly born lambs. Our group lucked out in two areas, Zambezi National Park and Chobe National Park, and had the chance to see two of the newest members of the herds. In both cases, these were our guides first lambs of the season. We were a bit early for the baby boom, but it was nice to see the couple that we did.

This tiny impala crossed our path as we were heading back towards the boat launch to return to Tsowa Island Lodge in Zambezi National Park. While its legs look spindly and unsteady, it was able to move very quickly, and it was a sighting where if you blinked, you missed it.
It was nice to see this lamb with its mother to get a comparison of the size. This little one needs to grow into their ears a bit 🙂

2023-01-01: Violet backed starling

I was glad to start the new year working on my photography a bit, even if it was primarily behind the scenes, housekeeping type work, like finally finishing my first round of star rating my trip photos. When I came to the few photos I captured of the male violet backed starling, I smiled remembering how excited I was to finally have the opportunity to capture one of these birds in fairly decent light; that was enough to decide that this was the photo to edit if there was only going to be time to do one.

Our tour had a one-day trip into Chobe National Park in Botswana. It was a place I had visited on my first trip to Africa, and our group even had lunch at the same lodge I visited the first trip, so it really was a walk down memory lane. Being a different season, the experience was significantly different, but still very enjoyable. After border formalities and getting to the park, we were driving towards the river when our guide heard of some lions off of the main road about 20 minutes away. Our two guides chatted for a few minutes while slowly driving along, before making the choice to turn back to give people the chance to see some big cats. We spotted this starling just before making the decision to turn around, and it was only one of two that I saw on the trip (the other not offering any photo opportunities) so I am glad we carried on as far as we did before turning back for the lions.

Male violet backed starling, Chobe National Park, November 2022.

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