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.

2023-03-26: Wild Dogs

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.

2023-03-12: Safari Sampler

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.

A vervet monkey inspection some leaves.
A young male lion doing what lions do best – snoozing!
An elephant strolling by.
Giraffes and zebras aplenty.
A pair of rhinos grazing in the late afternoon.

2023-03-05: Jackals – Mama and pups

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.

One of the jackal pups with mama. Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa. November 2022.
Two jackal pups, with mama out of the shot, but not far away. There is a camera trap in the background, which is not uncommon for passively recording activity.

2023-02-26: Moose

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.

Mama moose. I only wish we just had that much snow currently.

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 🙂

The fence is great for showing scale; at 42″, the top of the fence is below the top of the front legs.

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 🙁

Baby moose, with mama in the background. Prince George, February 2023.
Mama moose, February 2023.
Mama and baby, conveniently moving in opposite directions.

2023-02-19: Wild Dogs

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.

2023-02-12: Rhinos

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.

A rhino family in the late afternoon. November, 2022.
Rhino cow & calf. 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 🙂

2022-12-04: Returning after a long hiatus

An elephant seen in Madikwe, South Africa. November, 2022.

It’s a challenge to get back into old routines when they’ve been allowed to slip away. This seems to be true for a variety of things, from health and fitness routines to participating in hobbies. The last post I shared was back in January, almost a full year ago. At that time, I needed to let photography and posting slide as I was trying to deal with my final semester of school (plus raising a new puppy and dealing with other life challenges). Once school ended in May, I thought I would be able to easily jump back in to doing all the things, but that wasn’t my reality. Instead, I eventually came to the realization that I was burnt out, and needed to give myself some time and space to add things back into my schedule.

At the start of November, I embarked on the first trip I’d taken since 2019. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to focus on things that I enjoy, and pick my camera up again. While I still have lots of different places I want to visit, heading back to Africa felt like the right thing to do. I wanted to be back amongst elephants.

It didn’t take long before creating images felt natural again, and I am hoping I will be able to find the same with editing in due course. I’ve played around with a few different types of software over the years, but have decided to try Capture One for cataloging and editing. Right now, it feels like a steep learning curve, however, I think returning to Lightroom would likely feel the same after being vacant from editing for almost a year.

I’m looking forward to working through my images and sharing some of the experiences I had on my trip over the next while. I’m hopeful I can get back into a routine of creating and posting.

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