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.
I selected a few more images from my wild dog sighting this past November to share today. I’d previously posted a few wild dogs images from this trip, which you can find here if you missed them. There are also lots of images in my archives of wild dogs, which can be found with the search function, if desired.
This first image is to show how well camouflaged animals are in the bush, even when the vegetation is not particularly dense. This sighting was at sunset, and we knew the location of the dogs and approached from off road. We weren’t that far off the road, maybe 15 or 20 feet, but had we been on the road and unaware of the dogs location, we likely would have driven right by them.
These dogs were part of same pack and also seen at dusk. These individuals were getting ready to be on the move, and just waiting for the other members to move off. There were five dogs in total in that sighting.
The other sighting I had was mid morning, and quite an adventure to get to. The other people on my vehicle had decided to sleep in, so I was off just with my guide, and we were both happy to see what we could see, and find what we could find. We had a call from another guide that he’d found a pack of dogs, and we ended up traveling off-road over very rocky terrain, up fairly steep hills. These was concern that a wrong turn could damage the vehicle, so it was slow going, but eventually we ended up with the dogs. They were on the move which added challenge to finding them, and they were in dense bush which didn’t provide too many photo opportunities. But even an obscured sighting of wild dogs is an incredible experience.
Today I thought I would share a selection of a few different safari images. Part of the excitement of being out on game drive is never quite knowing what you may see around the next bend in the road or over the next hill; but, on a South African safari, you’ll probably have the opportunity to see all of these at some point.
This past trip was my first opportunity to see jackal pups, and they are absolutely adorable creatures. Both sightings happened when I was staying at Madikwe, here are a few images from the first sighting, on m first evening at the reserve. We were definitely lucky to have such nice late afternoon light for the sighting.
Our group was quite fortunate as the jackal sighting from start to finish was less than a minute. Had we lingered longer at the elephant we had been watching before this, we probably wouldn’t have seen them at all.
It has been a long, challenging winter here in Prince George. Even the locals, who generally seem far more easy going about the cold and snow than I am, are getting tired of it. In the past two weeks we’ve had about 2 feet of snow, but there has been one bright spot with all the white stuff; the ability to spot animals, and for the puppies to entertain themselves follow tracks in the snow.
The best tracks by far have been the mama and baby moose that have been around the neighbourhood routinely in the past few weeks. I’ve watched them once in the yard, and found their tracks crossing back and forth over the road on a couple occasions. With the roads being in bad shape, decent walks with the pups has been a challenge, but they wear themselves out when they have the chance to sniff fresh tracks. The tracks of the two moose moving through the yard kept them entertained on walks for two days 🙂
Taking photos out the window at dusk isn’t a way to get a great image, but I couldn’t go outside without risk of disturbing them, and even if I could get outside, the snow was too deep to stay at a safe distance and get any images. Maybe I’ll get lucky someday and see them on a nice sunny afternoon, but until then, these will have to do.
These images were taken before the latest couple dumps of snow we’ve had. The fence that you see in the images, which is a 42″ high enclosure where I can take the dogs to play, now has snow right to the top 🙁
I’ve never been shy about sharing my love of wild dogs, and it was thrilling to have the chance to spend time with two different packs during my recent trip to South Africa. Today though, I am short on time so I’ve only edited one image, but I’ll be back with more and some info on the sightings in the coming weeks.
I’ve been fortunate to see many rhinos over the years, and it is always a thrill and a privilege to have the opportunity to view them. Sadly, rhinos still face intense pressure from poaching. Many reserves are needing to make the decision to dehorn rhinos in an effort to avoid the animals becoming targets, and seeing rhinos with horns may be less likely on safari in the future. Horn or not, they are impressive animals to be around.
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.
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.
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.