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  2. Oh Xelas, it was amazing and the Elephants were just being viewed by us and 1 other vehicle, so peaceful, it was brill.
  3. Thank you. Michael's bravery in dealing with discomfort will surface again. Bale's hauntingly beautiful habitat Bale (pronounced BAH lay) The most endangered canine in the world, the Ethiopian Wolf, drew us to Ethiopia, then the rest of the itinerary followed. While Ethiopian Wolves live in six areas of the country, Bale is the most popular park for wolves because of both the numbers of wolves and wolf sightings. There is a more detailed map on page 13 of this study from several years ago, pre-2015 distemper outbreak and pre-2014 rabies outbreak. https://portals.iucn.org/library/efiles/documents/2011-090.pdf Ethiopian wolf stalking in Sanetti Plateau, Bale Mountain National Park Tragically, between July 2015 and March 2016 about half of the wolf population in Bale was wiped out due to distemper transmitted by domestic dogs. That brought the wolf population down to around 100 in Bale and 350 total wolves throughout Ethiopia, according to Abiy’s estimations. That is similar to numbers from the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme; they put the Bale population at around 130. A Sept 5, 2016 National Geographic article gave the total number of Ethiopian wolves as about 500. Other sources note 400-450. But when any of those #s were established is important because they may omit the loss from distemper. Ethiopian wolf stalking in Sanetti Plateau, Bale Mountain National Park There are many dogs in the villages that have been erected inside the park. We even saw a domestic dog that had made it all the way to the Senetti Plateau. Very unsettling. A population of 20,000 people has permanent residence in the park but that doubles in the wet season when up to 160,000 head of livestock roam the park. People, cattle, and especially the dogs (rabies, distemper, risk of possible inbreeding in the future) take a toll on the wolves. Rira was the largest town within the park boundaries and we passed through it each day when we traveled between Bale Mountain Lodge and the Sanetti Plateau. There were homes, a school, a mosque, shops, businesses, restaurants, even billboards advertising the restaurants. Water on the plateau, Bale Mountain National Park - Ruddy shelducks and Blue-winged goose Rabies is also a threat that has swept through the wolf populations in 1991, 2003, 2008, and 2014. An oral vaccine was developed and administered in 2016 that had an 86% success rate in providing wolves that ate the bait with immunity from rabies according to Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme. Injecting the wolves was also done but that’s more time consuming and costly. Thousands of domestic dogs have also been vaccinated against rabies, but there too many dogs for the vaccine to ever remove the rabies risk for wolves. Unlike the rabies vaccine, there has not been a vaccine developed for distemper. Sanetti Plateau, Bale Mountain National Park The future of the wolves may depend on the implementation of Bale’s 10-year General Management Plan (the previous 10-year plan spanned 2007-2017) that was in progress during our visit. I’ve tried to get the results since returning home, without success. Maybe it is still in progress. There was speculation that Bale Mountains (on the “tentative list” for World Heritage status) may propose a policy like the Simien Mountains (a World Heritage Site since 1978), which has translocated some villages and is continuing the efforts. Bale Monkeys in Harenna Forest and Ethiopian Wolf drinking at a distance in Sanetti Plateau, Bale Mountain National Park Near Bale Mountains National Park entrance and Gaysay Grasslands (roadkill is civet) Approaching the Bale Mountains National Park entrance and Gaysay Grasslands
  4. Okay, let's finish up. After all, how many photos of yet another bear eating yet another salmon can one look at? The answer, of course, is "a few more." I'll jump back and forth with a few unrelated images below, before finishing up with a couple of final thoughts. I mentioned previously the different fishing techniques of different bears. Now, I don't know that the fellow immediately below was the best fisher, but he certainly seemed the most efficient. Meet Brave Heart: Brave Heart's technique was both simple and elegant: Sit down in the middle of the river, facing downstream, such that an eddy formed immediately in front of him. Then, he'd wait until a fish swam into that eddy, and he would scoop it up, moving only his head and front paws. On consecutive days, one of the people in our group kept track of how many fish Brave Heart caught while we were there. The total? Twenty-six each day (just while we were there). Wow. Occasionally, another bear would come along and try to fish in the same eddy, which didn't seem to bother Brave Heart too much. Other bears had identifiably characteristic behavior as well. One of the rangers noted that if two adult males were play sparring, one of them likely would be a bear known as Mask. Immediately below, we have an older, larger bear, known as Aardvark, on the left, and Mask, on the right: In the next image, the smaller Mask works the body of his larger playmate: I think I learned a lot about bear behavior on this trip. I'm still precessing how much of that knowledge is applicable elsewhere, however. When hiking or backpacking in grizzly country, which I've done quite a few times, one of the cardinal rules is: don't come anywhere near a mother and her cubs. At McNeil River, however, one ends up in situations like the following, which is no big deal, at least there: These bears, walking in a constricted area on the edge of the lagoon (there's a rock wall off-screen to the right), are heading straight toward us and now are not more than 10 meters from us. The cubs (referred to as "COY"s, for "cub of the year," meaning they were born earlier this year) are clearly a little wary, as this is their first season, and thus their first season of experience with humans. The mother, however, is quite relaxed and calm; rather than turn around or head out into the water to bypass us, she simply walks ahead, and the cubs follow her. This scenario--running into bears in this constricted section--was raised with us just that morning by the ranger leading the outing. Our tactic?: move as far from water's edge as possible, right up against the rock wall (allowing the bears the option of staying on course or moving out into the water), get out cameras in advance (so as not to be fumbling around as the bears passed us), and wait. We got our shots, the bears moved on, and all was well. This works at McNeil River, but I wouldn't even consider this in the other places I've encountered bears. All round, a fantastic experience, perhaps once in a lifetime. I WILL apply for another permit when I'm again eligible to do so, but who's to say whether I'll win. For me, this experience was right up there with mountain gorillas in Zaire in the mid- and late-80s, albeit somewhat less exotic. For those interested, our per-person costs directly related to the McNeil River portion of the trip were: Nonrefundable permit application fee: $25 Four-day guided permit: $350 for non-Alaskans Roundtrip float plane fare between Homer and McNeil River: $700 ($750-$800 might be more typical) Self-purchased and self-prepared food and drink while camping at McNeil River: $100 (guesstimate) Rental of waders: $25 One also has to get to Alaska, of course, so that would be a major cost for most international visitors (but not so bad for those of us on the west coast of the U.S.). A note on the permit cost: Apparently the cost of the permit has not increased since it was initially established. Revenue from the application fee and permit sales used to fully fund the program; with the passage of time, however, the fees and sales now cover only about half the cost of operating the program. The state is now evaluating costs, and seems likely to approximately double the cost of the permit, to $700 for non-residents. Bear in mind that that would be $700 for four days of guided activities, a bargain by world standards, in my opinion. Happy to answer any questions, if you have them, and I promise not to inflict and more images on you. -tom a. portland, oregon
  5. Today
  6. @Kitsafari I hope that adding the Tinga images here will not detract from your beautiful pictures elsewhere (everyone - these photos are much too bad to have been taken by Kit!) Tinga lounge/mess area Tinga bandas Tinga - view from mess area Tinga - Menu du jour Tinga curio shop Tinga bar area Tinga - cool wall art Tinga bedroom Tinga bedroom Tinga bathroom Tinga shower Tinga toilet Tinga ceiling fan Tinga stucco walls Tinga mess/lounge area Tinga sit out and fire pit Tinga bulletin board Tinga beverage station Tinga artisanal Tinga vehicle
  7. ischial callosities After this insulting comment that had me in tears, I am just going to turn the other ischial callosities (thickened skin found on the buttocks of animals, especially the baboon) cheek and take this opportunity to make a complimentary observation. I saw in your most recent report you are from Scotland! That is not surprising, as everyone I have ever met from Scotland (I have not visited yet but @Tony's report of birds and squirrels, etc. in Scotland is inviting) is so friendly, personable, and good-humored. You fit right in. Really. There, now don't you feel guilty? But I am serious about the very amiable character of every Scot I have ever met, ages early 20s-70s, male and female. Next, you'll probably be insulting the waterbucks! Ischial callosities close up I think the stars did not align for us in Awash and Ali Deghe for optimal viewing conditions. My best Abyssinian Roller and Abyssinian Ground Hornbills were in Awash/Ali Deghe, plus the best nursing oryx of any safari ever. I would think the guys would agree also. So it had its moments. You might be luckier, too. Retraction and correction! Thank you @michael-ibk for the correction on the incorrect identification of my travel partner. I overlooked the key markings of the "Red Backed @AndMic." This faux pas gets me off the hook for identifying the birds if I can't even ID with whom I'm traveling.
  8. For those of you traveling with us on this trip - plus for those of you who may be interested in what the Tinga rooms and facilities look like, here are some photos taken this past February by me when I was at Zakouma. The re-furbed room were occupied at the time, so I could not visit them. But it was a only a soft refurb, so not much was changed other than the soft furnishings. I'll also upload these in Kit's trip report since I had promised to do that. I have not edited these images at all - they are straight up from the camera. I have inserted a Camp Nomade vehicle image here - with proper bucket seats and great suspension. The other vehicle images are of the Tinga Camp vehicles - much more basic, but they have the wicker canopy too, and that is the most important thing in Zakouma as the sun is very strong and the shade really helps. Mess / lounge area Mes/lounge area - very nice and shady and very comfortable, I thought. Bandas / rooms Views from Tinga Views from Tinga Menu du jour Curio shop Bar area This is the Tinga vehicle Typical Tinga bedroom - there is a ceiling fan Tinga room Tinga bath close up Tinga shower Tinga toilet Tinga and I Close-up of Tinga vehicle seats Tinga water tower Mohamet and Tinga ceiling fan! Nice stucco wall outside - keeps the interiors relatively cool. More lounge Lovely sit out and fire pit - the lions were just around the bend from here at the water hole Staff vehicle Tinga wall stuff Tinga beverage station Tinga curios Lovely Tinga curios Camp Nomade vehicle
  9. Of course. Like xelasI have nothing pencilled in after June next year and I am a lower maintenance driver/guide than him. I can drive all day on a bottle of wine and a kind word.
  10. I think the tree you show is a boabab. You may well have seen much larger specimens elsewhere during your trip. They can be massive and very old.
  11. How nice you saw one of the 140 000 Red Squirrels. Such adorable ear tufts. The jay, with understated blue under the wings is lovely. Sheep on the beach with a castle, a Scottish triple play! You scored with the puffins.
  12. As we headed back towards Salen Ringed Plover (we also saw another distant otter in this loch. White-tailed Eagle being mobbed by Hooded Crows - great to see the eagle in flight Another Red Deer The light was fading a little, We saw a small group using binoculars and long lenses, scanning from a parking spot. We pulled in and were very excited to see Short-eared owl, crossing the ground hunting. This was the first time I have seen one of these birds. A real treat. We headed back towards Salen as we had a meal booked at the very good Meditteranea restaurant. But we still had time to see another red deer by the side of the road to round off a great day.
  13. Lochbuie is a lovely place Here, the old Post Office had been turned into a shop/café. When we were there – but was operating on an honesty system. You make yourself a cup of coffee, buy a snack and put your money in an honesty box. I think sometimes it is staffed. The Chaffinch are very used to people and will be keen to share your food. Sheep on the beach With castle We also saw a number of Wheatears, Gannets and a distant pair of Red-throated Divers.
  14. A drive to Lochbuie A lovely day, slowly driving to Lochbuie in the south of the island, stopping at lochs, scanning hills and generally relaxing. First we drove to Grasspoint. Buzzard We were told that Buzzards are the most common birds of prey on the island. They are often confused (by tourists) with Golden Eagles. They are much smaller, but size can be difficult to determine if they are high overhead. Stonechat – we saw a number of these in this area Back on the “main” road Red Deer at the side of the road. Then on the small road heading to Lochbuie Fallow Deer (probably captive but not sure!)
  15. @Towlersonsafari thank you, that is a very useful list @Kitsafari thank you - they are lovely birds and it is great to get so close to them!
  16. On a trip to Dublin earlier in the year we estimated there were about 400 Common Gulls in Dublin harbour area, where they were going who knows but they are pretty rare in North Wales,
  17. @amybatt oh don't get me started on how long we waited also - though not as bad as you since we only got there 3 hours before the flight - but yes, through security so quickly and waited forever at a gate that seriously had only a Lavazza coffee shop that was not open until about 7:30 a.m. and then said its coffee machine was broken and could not make anything but instant decaf for which they charged me almost 5 euros!! I don't think they intended to have you bring the screwdriver with you as they said if you require one for your case, do that before you get to the airport. Of course, this begs the question how will you put it back together after they inspect it?
  18. @xelasand @Dave Williams As you have seen Safaritalk was opened up to non wildlife/non safari reports some time ago now and I do not see why these should not continue. Cape Town is of course one place that many people might visit prior, or subsequent, to a safari. Whether @Game Warden would support a ' My 2 day trip to Paris' Trip Report is questionable. He can of course comment when he gets back on line.
  19. @offshorebirder you may also be interested to know that I found a whole flock of Grey-Crested Helmet-Shrikes 300m from the lodge. I only saw them once, but they were right in front of me, plain as day. No chance they were White Crested or even hybrids. It's a probably a good thing I didn't have non-birder guests with me as my excitement was a little hard to contain.
  20. There is a noise reduction built in the camera. It's the only one I used. But yes D500 is a fantastic camera with high ISOs. And I really needed it because of big distances sometimes, spotlighting and also because my Sigma 150-600 lens. However I do think I made a bit of an overkill. I think I could have reduce the ISO a bit if I did it manually but I choose to have Auto-ISO with a maximum 51 200. Could also maybe have reduced the maximum ISO number on my settings. I used much Auto in darkness simply because of lack of time and that the spotlight always change the lights and also sometimes fast moving animals where you need quite fast shutter speed. There is no time to test ISO, shutter speed... or something else for that matter. if you see something, shoot! Before the Aardvark is in the tall grass again. Therefore I have most settings on AUTO when photographing in darkness and then process them thru Lightroom instead. I tried a bit to adjust things manually but ended up with too many blurry pictures. Not worth it when the D500 do so good on Auto-mode in dark conditions. I also need to say that I am a very much amateur when it comes to photographing. I´m using the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary lens. The first Black footed cat picture was so close. So no need to zoom anymore. The second picture of Aardvark was probably just shoot as fast as possible before it´s gone They don´t stand still very long... you will notice when you get here. Because you really have to go to Marrick if you are in to see some rare nocturnal animals. If you going to South Luangwa in Zambia you will have ALOT of good spotlighting photo possibilities. Beside Marrick this is the place where nightdrives are outstanding if you ask me.
  21. Just my 2 cents, @Dave Williams, before administrators gave their definitive answer. Personally I see Safaritalk as a meeting place, and as an excellent option for all of us that do love to share our travel stories but do not have a blog or similar. Already the subforums under Travel Talk says this site is not only about Africa and safaris, and many great trip reports from other parts of the world are already posted. And I do recall at least a couple of non-wildlife related ones, lke the one by @penolva from Argentina and Chile. As one can see a bird on almost every part of this world, adding a couple of bird photos will always make a trip report to be "Safaritalk friendly" . They might not generate as much audience as classic African safari ones, but they all have their share of enthusiastic readers. I will put my theory on test in about 2 months time !
  22. I'm enjoying your reports too @busyliz but I would point out that I never saw a Rhino in Butlins !! I can see your logic of putting reports under separate countries but I can see the logic in it following on too. Maybe you should end your report for one country by pasting a link to the page where the new one begins ? The other point I, as a new member, would like general clarification on ( by ST admin) @wilddog @Game Warden what is what or what shouldn't be posted in Safaritalk. Is it meant to be exclusively about African Safari's ? Is it exclusively about wildlife? How far can you wander from those two classifications? Certainly it's a worldwide base, and yes it does have a core that's all about our love of wildlife but many of us we have a suffering other half who puts up with our obsessional passion and goes along on the journey but has to be considered too. Your mention of South Africa would possibly reveal some interesting ideas of what can be done as part of a trip that I would be very interested in. I'm thinking S.A. may well be my next big African adventure and for my long suffering wife perhaps visit some gardens or vineyards that you could share experiences about?
  23. @SafariChick American Airlines advised me to get to CDG 4 hours before my flight home in May. I did, foolishly, and ended up sitting killing time for 3 hours and 45 minutes! Seriously, I was through security (including the interview) in 15 minutes. I didn't take anything out of my bag at the time, but also only had my phone and point and shoot pocket camera at the time. So you can bring a screwdriver onboard to gain access to your gear? I'd think that'd be a confiscatable object! @Tulips I actually love Schiphol and found it efficient but for Delta's ridiculous interview process that you have to go through to find out what gate you're flying out of. I'm assuming that's just US airlines that do that as I didn't see it for other airlines.
  24. Okey, fine. Your post is very ignorant and I think you don´t know what youre talking about...at all. Feral cats/ crossbreed cats is the most dangerous invasive species on our planet. It is alone the reason for the last 19 of 20 exterminations in Australia. Yes, they are in many places more dangerous than humans (If you don´t consider that the humans bring them in, in the first place). In Australia there is a huge project of killing 2 millions!! feral cats because of this. So YES, they should be taken away from Marrick and everywhere else. If you don´t think so, it´s up to you. But then you are a part of exterminate species. And THAT is loathsome. My guide Johnny completely agreed with me that they would be killed from Marrick. In fact it was his suggestion in the first place. Otherwise there will be no African wildcats left anymore.
  25. What a great first drive - wonderful sightings.
  26. @xelasIf @busyliz would like the Namibia sections joined under one heading that can be done. It would certainly make easier reading of the full Namibia story. The others are I think correctly placed in the country they cover. Let me know what you think @busyliz and I will sort it for you over the weekend (GW off grid at the moment; back soon)
  27. Maybe @Game Warden can sort this out, joining all three posts into one?? Another great Etosha sightings, and lions at the kill ... ouch!
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