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.
The pygmy is the smallest of the kingfishers seen in Southern Africa, and they really are a treat to spot, with jewel tone feathers and an intensely orange beak. This one was seen in typical woodland habitat. The barbed wire seems out of place in the bush, but the track we were driving along had an open construction excavation along the length of the road (I believe putting in a new water pipe), and the wire provided some demarkation between the work zone, and where it was safe to drive.
We were fortunate as this kingfisher kept flying off and back to almost the same spot on the wire, giving everyone in our group ample opportunities for spotting and photographs.
I believe this is a tawny eagle, but raptor identification has never been my strong suit, so I hope if I have that wrong, someone will provide a correct ID. I saw a lot of raptors on my trip, but didn’t get into the habit of writing down names, as often they were spotted when I couldn’t get an image of the bird. It was different being on a specific birding trip, rather than a general safari. Birding was concerned with sightings, whether they were close up or far away (and some of them were really, really far!), whereas a general safari is more focused on close sightings and photography. It was interesting learning more about birding during my trip, but I must admit, I prefer my bird watching to be closer to me, where I can really enjoy them, rather than a small spec through binoculars.
Today, I made it to the end of the weekend long before the end of my to do list, so I’ve just selected one image today to work on. I’ve decided to share a lovely sunrise along the Zambezi River. Our group was fortunate to have a few sunrise and sunset river cruises, thankfully they happened after all the wild weather we had with heavy rains at the start of the trip.
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.
It’s a grey and dreary day today, and a black and white image felt like the right thing to work on. This mare and foal were part of a small group of zebras, and just outside the frame was the stallion, working to keep the group together and moving it in a cohesive direction. This was one of several very young zebra foals that I had the pleasure of seeing during my last trip.
When I was in Namibia in 2017, I thought that would be the time when I would see a brown hyena, as they are a fairly regular animal to spot along the Skeleton Coast. Instead, we saw substantial aftermath of hyenas, in the form of numerous seal pups littering the beach, but didn’t spot the hyenas. Fast forward to my trip in 2022; on the drive from the Madikwe air strip to the lodge, my guide told me there was a brown hyena den on the property that we would would try to get to during my stay. I was quite excited about the prospect of finally seeing one of these animals.
Luck was on our side for a sighting, but not on my side for a great photographic opportunity. Heavy rains had closed many roads, giving us quite a long drive to get to the den site, and the approaching darkness meant we could only stay a short time. We had hoped that an adult would come back to the den while we were there, but it was not to be. We did see a youngster at the mouth of the cave where the den was located, but watching a cave entrance in the approaching dark from significant distance doesn’t provide the best chance at a decent photo.
But, while the photos matter, in that I enjoy taking them, editing them, sharing them and creating with them, they also don’t matter, because enjoying the moment is more important to me than coming back with an image of it. I will share what I do have of my first ever brown hyena sighting, because it was interesting and special for me. I’m hopeful that someday, I’ll get a better look at these creatures.
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.
These images caught my eye while I was trying to decide what to work on this week. I do love a dramatic sky, and while the rainstorms I can do without, the clouds at sunset are beautiful watch, as the colours change moment to moment.