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  1. 25 likes
    Encouraged by one or two I thought I'd start this thread to share not only a bird of outstanding beauty in the eyes of the beholder but to share the experience of seeing it too. I thought I'd start with this one :- Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) When I first started birding a friend told me his ambition was to photograph a Wallcreeper and described this stunning little bird. On a visit to the South of France I looked but failed and it was 8 years later before I got my chance when on a trip to Bulgaria. I was so impressed the friend I was with and I returned a year later having made a special journey back to the site we had been to. To set the scene. Wallcreeper site by Dave Williams, on Flickr A roadside lay-by just before entering a tunnel. Down on the gorge below a river can be heard but other than the occasional passing car there is silence. Suddenly we hear the bird, the weirdest and eeriest sound from a bird I have ever heard, indescribable really and nothing at all like the one suggested in the bird guide book. A mournful but stunningly beautiful sound though and one that echoes from the steep cliffs that surround us. Then we spot it, right there fluttering more like a butterfly than a bird as it crosses over the gorge and lands just feet in front of us. Wallcreeper Bulgaria by Dave Williams, on Flickr Not the most spectacular bird at first sight but then it opens it's wings and wow! Wallcreeper Bulgaria by Dave Williams, on Flickr It's probably not the most visually spectacular you'll see but it explodes in to colour in the drab surrounds it tends to inhabit. It's a huge photographic challenge too which adds to the satisfaction of seeing one.
  2. 23 likes
    The check out time at camps inside Etosha is set at 10:00 am so guests can do their morning drives, came back for breakfast and move on. I have decided to give the Okakuejo side another chance to show us its cats. Yesterday we have seen a lazy male under a tree near Natco waterhole, too far away for any decent photo. And a circular route Okakuejo - Okondeka - Adamax - Natco - Okakuejo should get us back into camp well before check out time. The morning light was soft and golden. White road lined with golden grass. A Kori Bustard looking for a snack, and a Black-backed Jackal eyed us through the golden grass. Life was good! First stop, the Okondeka waterhole, was empty. We pushed further towards Adamax when I noticed a movement on the road. "Look, springboks!" I informed the passengers. Who, having much better eyesight then me, have already grabbed the cameras and started to give me instructions how to position the car. What I saw as a springbok (mostly for its colour) was a lioness! Walking down the road Determination in her eyes Not a very friendly expression Off the road now She was followed by two males, mr.Grumpy on the left and mr.Handsome on the right. First to approach us was mr.Grumpy. Not his morning A quick glance at the bush Nope, definitively not his morning Following the queen Next it was time for mr.Handsome. Isn't he a handsome guy?! Hmmm, someone left a message here OK, let me add mine also And off the road at the same spot Wow! Three lions, all walking, on the road in the golden light ... what more a mere tourist like us could ask for?! Our car was parked diagonally so Zvezda and Tanja would have open line for photography; I was thinking, if the car would be parked parallel and there would be more space left on the left side of the road, those three lions might walk past us?! Maybe even close enough for me to touch the mane of mr.Handsome?? Again our game viewing strategy has paid off! But anyhow, it is about being lucky. Remembered the two ladies that have left the scene only 15 minutes before the two couples near Olifantrus decided to move closer to the road?! So while our adrenaline was still floating freely in our veins, and we have explained to each other how exceptional the scene was and how lucky people we are, a overland truck approached, very slowly, from the same direction as the lions only minutes ago. Truck stopped by us and driver asked us if we have seen any lions. Apparently there should be some lions in this area, he told us. With a smile as big as a sun I have told him that yes, we have seen lions. He should drive further down the road and maybe, just maybe, they will still have an opportunity to see them before they will disappear into the shrubs. They moved about 50 meters and stopped and when we came to them, this is what they have frantically taken photos of: Disappearing lions We don't have much luck with leopards. That is a well known fact by now. But we are one lucky safaristas, no doubts here .
  3. 20 likes
    Here's my second nomination, and again i can give a little background information too. The Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) is a bit special simply because it's the world's smallest bird. It's endemic to Cuba and not that common either. In fact it's becoming increasingly uncommon I believe. As it's so small it's also more difficult to find I imagine but for me it was very, very easy. This enterprising couple have, for a small fee, opened their garden to birders and have a steady stream on guided tours as well as one or two who like me found their own way there if they had transport. Hummingbird garden by Dave Williams, on Flickr That's the lady and behind her the tree and it's flowers the bird favours. The neighbours must be envious as they don't have one! These birds are so used to the visitors now that they will come to hand held flowers dipped in sugar solution. Bee Hummingbird by Dave Williams, on Flickr That gives you an idea of size too. The male is slightly smaller than the female which isn't as attractive either. Sorry ladies, it's usually the case in birds but not humans of course. Bee Hummingbird Cuban endemic by Dave Williams, on Flickr The male on the other hand is a bit of a stunner. Bee Hummingbird endemic to Cuba by Dave Williams, on Flickr What is really amazing is that suddenly the plumage appears to change colour. Bee Hummingbird endemic to Cuba by Dave Williams, on Flickr I guess if it was a bigger bird the effect might be even more amazing! I went to Cuba determined I would nail this bird but even after spending three visits and several hours on each I came home unhappy with the results. Maybe I'll have to go back and try again, it wouldn't be a hardship. Hummingbirds are, in my opinion, the most fun birds to photograph and I'd love to try for more than the 5 species I have seen so far on my travels.
  4. 19 likes
    Day 12: Tracking Desert Elephants We said good-bye to Madisa camp. It is a very scenic camp, withe well equipped private campsites, but there is really not that much that can be done, or explore, around it on foot. And for visiting nearby attractions, I think there are other camps better positioned. D2612 took us past many cattle farms where free grazing cattle enjoyed the juicy and abundance of grass. Farms mostly hosted basic homes for owners, and very basic shacks for workers. Happy cows Like car like house Still on D2612 we arrived at the turn-off to Twyfelfontein. It was coffee time for me so detour was obligatory. A few words about coffee. We have brought our home coffee with us ... but I have forgot to bring also the đezva. The aluminium kettle looked so unhappy that I did not want to put it on the fire ... and there was no other pot adequate to make our coffee in. Thus we have skipped coffee at breakfast, and have had to stop for it whenever possible. Lesson learned for next visit. There are several attractions along the road and close to Twyfelfontein Country Lodge: Damara Living Museum, Burnt Mountains, Organ Pipes and rock art. The museum was still closed when we have passed by, and although we drove all the way to the parking lot for Organ Pipes, we only turned around. Caffeine deprivation was stronger, and the sun was already high on the sky. Twyfelfontein Country Lodge impressed me! I have read some bad reviews in the past, and also some good ones, after the management has changed. The location is as scenic as it can be, the lodge itself (at least the main building) very impressive, and service top notch. Coffee was good also. Main building with pool area View from the open but covered porch Even before we have parked the car, a guy approached us asking if we are interested in tracking down desert elephants. He gave us his price (280 NAD pp) but let us go for coffee first. The starting point for driving the dry Aba Huab riverbed is where the workshop is (just follow the sign from parking lot). The man saw us driving past the airport, and he quickly descent the game vehicle, and entered our car. Because driving my own car was half the attraction for me; it is possible to drive there on your own, but with a guide it is much safer, both because there are elephants there, and because one can get stuck easily in soft sand. The recovery party is never too far away, but the costs must be much higher then what I have paid to the guide. After first cautious few hundred meters on the sand (L4 engaged) guide spotted the first group of elephants. Yet before I was able to position the car properly, a group of horsemen spooked the elephants! Herd ran away, and our guide tried to warned the head horseman about elephants and horses not being the closest friends. I don't think he understood the message. Another 15-20 minutes of cruising along the riverbed and we have found another (or maybe the same) group. This time no horses to ruin the experience. These elephants really look different to those we have seen later in Etosha. But do judge by yourself. Thinner and with longer legs Family protects their heirs I want to look like a lion Happy childhood Eye-to-eye So many memories, so much wisdom
  5. 17 likes
    As a wannabe wildlife photographer there are so many places and events across the world that I would love to witness and photograph. Some I might be lucky enough to witness one day, others I will just have to admire from other people's experiences. My list would include East Africa's great migration, bears catching salmon in N America, Great White Sharks in South Africa, Orca's chasing seals off the west coast of America, the march of the Penguins in Antartica and those are just the one's that immediately spring to mind. Hopefully someone can post a brief account of and some photos to demonstrate their own ambitions fulfilled. Here in the UK we are limited to a large extent but we can suggest one or two. Starling murmurations before the nightly roost on a cold winter's night are indeed incredible spectacles that let the mind run riot with the images presented. Starling murmuration Conwy RSPB by Dave Williams, on Flickr Starling murmuration Conwy RSPB by Dave Williams, on Flickr Starling murmuration Conwy RSPB by Dave Williams, on Flickr Starling murmuration Conwy RSPB by Dave Williams, on Flickr
  6. 17 likes
    Does the Blue-eared Kingfisher merit a place amongst these beauties? (Kinabatangan River, Sabah.) 2R4C1317 by Whyone, on Flickr 2R4C1084 by Whyone, on Flickr
  7. 17 likes
    The Harenna Forest - a huge part of the park in its South, along with the adjacent State- and community-managed forest outside the park, it constitutes an area of over 4,000km2. It is also the largest cloud forest in the country. The lodge is in this area, and from here we first tried to find the Bale Monkey. There are some clearings with good visibility ... ... but overall the forest is very, very dense, and it´s not easy to make progress here. Even harder to spot anything - it´s far too easy for all animals to hide very effectively, and since they will hear you coming long before you are even close it´s a rare occurrence to find any of the forest´s shier inhabitants (like Giant Forest Hog or Bushpig, not to speak of predators like Lion or Leopard - but I would not have been too hot on finding some of these on foot anyway.) Impenetrable as the forest may seem, it´s still used heavily from the locals - we saw a lot of these bee baskets for example. Which is harmless usage of the resources - the amount of wood collected in the forest is definitely not. Birding is very difficult here, the only worthwhile sightings were in clearings, and mostly up in the sky. Ayre´s Hawk Eagle Sharpe´s Starling Northern Fiscal And the omnipresent Augur Buzzard. We also saw Crowned Eagle on two occassions - and I suspect their presence was a big reason why the monkeys decided to go into hiding, they are the Eagle´s preferred prey after all. A very peaceful, soothing setting in the forest, and even though we did not see all that much I greatly enjoyed this. Unfortunately also a place under huge pressure - a lot of illegal burning going on, which is slowly but surely eating away from this irreplacable habitat.
  8. 17 likes
    Day 4 (parallel reality #1): Desert is Alive Swakopmund is offering many activities, for more active and for less active and for more curious etc. One thing was sure to us, we will go with Batis Birding, whatever the tour of the day will be. We did booked Living Desert Tour for Tanja, and 1/2 day birding for Zvezda and me. The day before I have phoned Louise only to be told that there will be no birding guide for us the next day. A quick reshuffle, and Zvezda joined Tanja on the tour, and me, I've got 100 NAD and a free day. What a man can do with 100 NAD, that was a mystery to be solved in the "parallel reality #2 . First photos from the tour. While from the road the dunes looks deserted and void of any life, up close and personal, desert is alive! The tour is about to begin Quad bikes are popular around Swakopmund Train to Nowhere Go up, get low The scene is set Focused on Nature I have a long and sticky tongue (to be continued)
  9. 16 likes
    Well, most of them were pretty far away, hundreds of metres. But we had three sightings very close to the road (maybe 10-20 m or something like that?), and we were often out walking and approached them that way, which worked quite well - maybe within 50 m or similar (difficult to estimate) though it was not so easy taking photos out of breath as we were - the altitude of more than 4,000 m is quite taxing. I remember this was the very first Wolf we saw on our way in, far off the road, and only when looking at my pictures did I realize there had been a second one. This was our first "good" sighting on our full day - it had just crossed the road. I ran after it afterwards but (obviously) could not keep up with it - but I did see it devour some rodent. This one was also on foot. There were three Wolves in total close by (but never actually interacting), they used the Cows to find prey. Both having lunch. This one was kind of our farewell present when we left the park - spotted by Eagle-eyed Abiy of course. Quite close to the road. He was busy which is probably why he did not run. Most other Wolves were pretty or very far away, sometimes only visible with binocs or scope. But our closest sighting was a pair of them, one having dinner, the other apparently standing guard. This was at the end of our "full Wolf" day. It was really fascinating hearing them like this: And that concludes the Bale part of the report. Did we like it there? Hell yeah!
  10. 16 likes
    Two happy Bale visitors. So how did we spend our time in the park? As Lynn already pointed out, it´s far more than just the Wolves, and there are a lot of different habitats. We only devoted one full day to the Wolves. That might sound surprising but we were happy with our sightings for that day, and also saw Wolves when we were driving (from BML) to Dinsho, and also on the way out. Additionally the Bale Monkeys were giving us a real hard time, and stubborn as we were, we invested basically two full days in the Harenna Forest to finally get them. (Also for Menelik´s Bushbuck.) I´m sure we would have done a full second day on the plateau if we had found the monkeys earlier - and generally they are much easier. Augur Buzzard taking off. We did not really spend much time in the Gaysay grasslands, we just passed through on our way in and out. This was partly owed to the fact that we already had seen Serval in Guassa, otherwise I´m sure we would have made different decisions - Gaysay is a good place for them, and there´s also a (remote) chance for Caracal. Spot-Breasted Lapwing - another of Ethiopia´s many endemic birds. The grasslands are only a tiny fraction of the park. I guess because it´s such a small area the Mountain Nyalas here, who love this habitat, have decided there´s just no way to avoid people, so have become extremely habituated and it´s possible to get very close to them here. (Even more so in the area around Dinsho). Anywhere you stop in Ethiopia kids will appear out of nowhere. Groundscraper Thrush. There´s also an incredible amount of Warthogs and Baboons in the grasslands - all well-fed animals. The Baboons are quite used to getting goodies from truck drivers, so they approach cars very closely, and are kind of demanding. Especially with the big males it´s not a bad idea to close windows when they come too close - they can be feisty. Blue-Cheeked Bee-Eater There are no "safari tracks" or anything like that here, game viewing can just be done from the main road.
  11. 15 likes
    Our search for the elusive Bale Monkey continued. A bit higher up is a thin bamboo belt, their favourite habitat. The town (or village) of Rira is also up here, so a lot of this area is no longer "wild" by any means. The locals have fenced off big parts of the park here for their needs. Abyssinian Catbird - another endemic. Here we finally had a decent sighting of a male Menelik´s Bushbuck. This montane race is generally thought of as only a subspecies though exact Bushbuck taxonomy is highly complex and controversial - would be a good one for @Safaridude. Over fourty races have been identified in Africa varying in coloration, size and habitat type. Menelik´s is a pretty distinct phenotype, no estimates about their population exist (at least I haven´t found any), and their general shy nature does certainly not help establishing their numbers. They are extremely beautiful animals, with a coat longer than that of other bushbucks, perhaps because of living in the lower temperatures of high altitudes. I also thought the males are slightly larger than other Bushbucks I´ve seen so far. It did not like to stay for further "studies". Our time in Harenna and Rira was also when our weather luck was fading a bit, we had some rain, though nothing too bad. This Cinnammon´s Bracken Warbler did not mind - their song is beautiful. African Emerald Cuckoo had been high on my list for quite some time, so I was very happy when Abiy located one. When you see them in the birdbook you´d think they must be incredibly easy to find with those colours. It´s the opposite, they blend in amazingly well between the green and yellow leaves, it´s really effective camouflage. One of the many Colobus monkeys we did not want to see - sorry for having become Colobus snobs after Langano. African Mountain Wagtail And another endemic - the Abyssinian Woodpecker The falls are quite lovely - nothing spectacular but a beautiful little place. It was late afternoon on our very last full day in Bale when we finally, finally found our Monkeys. At first they were shy and ran, but after a while they grew accustomed to us and continued feeding in the bamboo. We spent almost an hour with them, this was one of my favourite experiences of the trip. There´s something magical about animals starting to accept you, losing their fear and then going on with their lives. Again, it´s really worth pointing out that our experience was very atypical. Abiy was almost desparing, because he had said the Monkeys were no problem at all, and he had expected to find them very early on. And most people do, you can have amazing sightings of them just by the road. So we just were a bit unlucky with them - but OTOH our ultimate success was so much more rewarding because of the efforts we had made.
  12. 14 likes
    For our third day at Cheetah Camp, we had an early start at 4:30 a.m. It took an hour to our destination, inside the Maasai Mara. Moon and Jupiter over the Mara. Our first adventure of the day... Preparing for lift-off An endless sea of grass Lots of zebra. Hyenas on the prowl. A pretty BIF.
  13. 14 likes
    Indeed @Peter Connan you'll need a flash to get shots like this. (I promise this is the last hummer for now, don't want to hog the thread!) This one is from Colombia.
  14. 14 likes
    Nice idea for a thread, and it gives us some opportunities to showcase birds outside of the usual safari destinations! Since @Dave Williams is so desperate for hummingbirds, I can provide a few How about this beauty; Although this next one isn't the best angle for a portrait, it shows off one of his beauty marks These were taken at Wild Sumaco Lodge on the Eastern slope of the Andes in Ecuador. If you want hummingbirds, Ecuador is the place to go. I've got lots more where these came from
  15. 14 likes
    Racket Tailed Roller must be a contender. It even has the pose.
  16. 14 likes
    If there´s one thing I would change about the itinerary it´s Dinsho. We only had a few hours there, and it was quite a long drive from the Lodge to get there. It would have made a lot more sense to stay at Dinsho Lodge on the first night, and from what we saw from it, it would have been absolutely acceptable for one night - definitely better than Guassa, the place had electricity and running water, and was reasonably clean. I do not think that the itinerary would have been much improved by also spending the last night there - actually the drive from Bale Mountain Lodge to Lake Awasa is quite ok. Mountain Nyala are tame as cattle around Dinsho. I did not quite understand why, the area is not fenced off from the rest of the park, and generally Nyala are supposed to be very shy animals. Again, I can only assume they have learned there´s just no point to running with the number of people around. Maybe one can also take it as a good sign, an indicator that there´s not much poaching going on, otherwise they surely would have to be more afraid. Majestic animals, and they are huge - the males are larger than Greater Kudus. Like "regular" Nyalas this is a pronouncedly sexually dimorphic species - the males can be nearly twice as heavy. They are classified as endangered, with not more than 3,000 or 4,000 mature animals left in the wild. As montane specialists, they have been eliminated from most of their former range. Bale is now their major stronghold, at least half the population is found here. Smaller relict populations apparently occur in Chercher (Amhar) Mountains (Asba Tafari, Arba Guggu, Din Din), Arsi Mountains (Chilalo, Galama, Mt Kaka, Munessa), and West Bale (Somkaro-Korduro ridge). Cattle encroachment must be a huge problem, they are outnumbered by far by livestock in the grasslands. To my surprise it´s still legal to hunt them. "Trophy hunting blocks in Arsi have been hunted out and hunting concessions have moved to Bale (legal hunting is restricted to adult males); with continued pressure by the industry for additional hunting blocks and larger quotas. Effects of current trophy-hunting programs are not well understood and current trophy hunting quotas may be unsustainable in the long-term (Sillero-Zubiri 2013). On the other hand, sustainable trophy hunting has very high potential for generating the revenue needed to fund effective conservation of this species." (From the IUCN website.) Mounain Nyala are not kept in zoos, so their survival as a species is highly dependent on how effectively BMNP will be managed in the future. We really enjoyed walking around in Dinsho, it somehow has an golden autumn feel to it, and being in such close proximity to majestic animals like the Nyalas is a wonderful experience. Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher - another Horn endemic. Chocolate lovers should like this bird - its Latin name is melaernornis chocolatinus. Reedbucks are also very common around Dinsho. Menelik´s Bushbucks less so - I think we only saw this female. Warthogs were also around in good numbers, and we glimpsed another Golden Wolf here. I feel a bit guilty about our "Owl guy" climbing the tree, it´s not something we would have asked, but it did give me an OIF.
  17. 14 likes
    Thank you, @jeremie, that report is encouraging! A bit more about Accomodations in and around Bale Mountains NP were always a problem, the hotels in the neighbouring cities and villages had an infamous reputation, and I´ve yet to see anybody report how much they enjoyed Dinsho Lodge. And any of these options are pretty far from the Sanetti Plateau where all the Wolf action happens, so certainly not ideal. Bale Mountain Lodge was the perfect solution to these problems. It´s only been in operations since 2013. Obviously they are trying to be a bit more high-end than many other lodges in Ethiopia but their prices are not unreasonable, especially considering the logistics running a place like that in such a remote area. (See here about the rates: http://wetu.com/iBrochure/en/Information/29665/Bale_Mountain_Lodge/Rates) I loved this Elephant-with-rider-shaped rock, one of the main views from the lodge. It´s a beautiful place, the rooms are very spacious and beautiful (Lynn already showed photos), and food was good to very good (not excellent). Power is a bit of a problem, we often couldn´t switch on the lights in the bathroom for example, but not a big deal. They are partly dependent on hydrodynamic power and obviously the lack of rain has created problems. Service-wise staff are friendly and helpful, but they still have some way to go to reach the level of established safari camps. But all bagatelles - I liked the place a lot, especially the wonderful scenery around, and it´s definitely the best option (by far) for anybody wanting to see the Wolves on the Plateau. The clearing in front of the lodge can be interesting, some guests had been lucky enough to see even lions there. For us, it was only Warthogs and Baboons - and the inevitable dogs which are (as pointed out by Lynn) a huge problem for the park. About the lions: They are definitely around, two weeks prior to our stay they had killed a horse less than a km from the lodge. And I´m very sure I heard one very early in the morning when I was walking around on the road. And yes, I returned to the lodge a bit faster after that than originally intended. :-) Generally, though, this time of the year (March) is not very suitable to find Harenna Forest´s larger mammals. An incredible number of locals is busy in the woods, and most animals retreat far back into the most remote areas. The best time to look for stuff like Lion, Leopard or Giant Forest Hog is apparently after the rainy season, October being ideal I was told, Nov/Dec still reasonable. Wild Dogs haven´t been seen in the park for more than four years now. We did two night drives in Harenna Forest which really were a waste of our time - we found nothing, not even a Bushbuck crossing the road. I enjoyed walking around the lodge grounds, some nice birdies to be found. Well, I did to get a better view of this Long-Crested Eagle but afterwards I told the manager they should really have a look at the platform, it was not in a very stable state, and I did not dare stepping on some of the planks. The lobby Dining room African Dusky Flycatcher - a very common highlands bird. This Yellow-Billed Kite was often sitting on the lodge´s roof. BML has eight forest cottages with a nice view into the forest. Around here I had my best view of a White-Cheeked Turaco. Also saw some Hyrax on the stone path. A staff member also showed me a Chameleon at night. Nice as the forest cottages are, it´s really quite a walk from there to the main building, which is why we preferred to stay in the rooms right next to the main building. There´s also the "Jackal House" available for guests, with three separate bedrooms.
  18. 13 likes
    A Goodbye from SafariChick and Sangeeta: Our Eulogy to Lady Liuwa Lots of you already know the story of the Last Lioness – and the resilience that helped her survive all alone in a remote Zambian park after her entire pride had been hunted down. With the help of humans, she went on to thrive and lived the remainder of her life with a new pride she eventually called her own. Hers is a story of hope and despair, both for her species and our own. @SafariChick has already written a great trip report detailing our trip to Zambia, but I was very moved by her passing and thought it would be fitting to talk today about the back story of our safari to Liuwa Plain NP in November 2014. At the time, this was the maddest trip we had ever planned. Sometime in the summer of 2013, Jane & I (and @KitSafari too, though she was not able to join us) got a strange bee in our bonnets that whatever else we did or did not do, we were going to see Lady Liuwa and Busangadude before they passed on, so help us God! Both these lions were old and had already lived long lives in the wild, and we were infected by a strange sense of urgency to make this trip happen nownownow. Liuwa is best visited in early November (or May) but that’s also when it buckets down on the Busanga Plains, and the camps there (wisely) close for the season by then. That was also the same year that Robin Pope had discontinued his Liuwa trips and suddenly, there was nowhere nice to stay in Liuwa and no easy way to get there either. The upshot to all this was that we had no place to stay on the Busanga Plains (for Busangadude) and no place to stay in Liuwa (for Lady Liuwa) You’d think we’d have thrown in the towel, but no, no, the fever raged on unabated. We wrote to everyone we knew (and many we did not) in Zambia and every last person told us that it was impossible, foolish and very unwise to try and get to the Busanga Plains once the rains had arrived. So Jane and I measured the kilometers outwards from the Busanga tree line to see if we could possibly prevail on someone do a day trip for us. And we wrote one last time to none other than our own @KafueTyrone. Tyrone & Phil were our knights in shining armor on this trip (against their better judgement, I think). But they were great sports and Tyrone eventually agreed to drive us all the way up to the plains and back again to Musekese – though we needed to be ready to spend the night in the vehicle if we got mired in Kafue’s infamous black cotton soil! Stuck in the mud? Tsetses on the Busanga treeline? Pffft, when was that a problem? High fives everywhere as we had Busangadude sorted! Now what on earth were we going to about the Lady? There were simply no camps open in Liuwa, so where could we possibly stay? After a lot of research, we finally settled on Bundu Adventures, a mobile safari outfitter who came to us highly recommended and who agreed to drive us from Kafue to Liuwa, rain or no rain. But the safari numbers they came back with were scary for just the 2 of us. And so off we went again – this time, looking for prospects to join us on the trip. We first stumbled upon a really nice young man from Chicago, equally smitten by the Lady, who was also looking for safari companions for his return trip to Liuwa. Then we were three. We still needed 1 more person to make this work and Jane finally roped her massage therapist in! Poor AM. Her first safari to Africa was going to be a road trip that crossed half of Zambia, had her staying at the Hollywood Motel in Mongu, in little dome tents and 43 degrees Celsius in the park, dark common loos with big spiders lurking and Lady-obsessed safari companions who were happy to park beside the sleeping lions for hours at an end! If there’s someone else besides Tyrone who needs a medal from this trip, it’s AM. Since then, I’ve often wondered why it is that so many of us get these bees in our safari bonnets. What is it that pushes us and pulls us and forces us to be accommodating, intrepid, persistent, annoying, adventurous and so much more? What is it about these parks and these animals that beguiles us over and over again? Sometimes, it’s just the stories… I was enchanted by Busangadude the moment I saw Swamp Lions, and was fascinated by the many stories about him that I read through @Safaridude and others who were fortunate to see him many times over his remarkable life. We never did get to see him on that trip to Zambia, but at least we know we tried and that makes us happy. He was no ordinary lion. He was a character unto himself and lived a full and storied life, doing things that you don’t expect lions to do. The Last Lioness was a haunting movie that sucked me into the life of a lonely lioness, and along with many thousands of her fans the world over, I too rooted for her to bond with the transplanted males, to have cubs (and was sad when it became clear that she could not), to enjoy her time with her new pride. Nor was Lady an ordinary lion. She too was a character and lived a full and storied life, doing things that you don’t ordinarily expect lions to do. It is sad but fitting that she passed away yesterday, on the eve of the International Day of the Lion. An Ambassador for her species until the very end. RIP Lady Liuwa. We’re so glad we made it out there to you.
  19. 13 likes
    Getting away from Hummingbirds for a moment, here's another beautiful genus from the Americas...the Tody. This is the Cuban Today, but there are Tody's in Jamaica and Puerto Rico as well. I think the Cuban is the prettiest though! These guys are super cute...very small...not much larger than some hummingbirds.
  20. 13 likes
    @janzin Your hummingbirds are gorgeous! This one is more bigger, another Pantanal's star, the toco toucan.
  21. 13 likes
    One more from the Pantanal, the Amazonian motmot
  22. 13 likes
    The Bee-eater family has several stunners too. Here's a few European Bee-eaters: Marakele National Park, December 2016
  23. 13 likes
    I agree @Peter Connan about the Sunbirds but we should stick to one at a time in case we overlook one in a post I was thinking upcoming Kingfishers!!!!! Here's my Beautiful Sunbird (Cinnyris pulchellus) contribution from a trip to The Gambia a year or two ago. Beautiful Sunbird Marrakissa,Gambia 2015 by Dave Williams, on Flickr
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    The afternoon game drive produced some nice sightings, despite the vehicle. Naborr was in a food coma, and her cubs were feasting on impala. Around a bend, and we found the usual suspects, part of the resident Loita wildebeest herd... ... and then... bat eared foxes! Running away, of course. They would stop, I'd struggle to frame a photo, and then they'd run again. Next was a winking black-backed jackal and his mate. I learned that the jackals stay together but do not share the bounty of their hunts with one another. We spotted a leopard tortoise, who took a while to come out of his (her?) shell. We followed a hyena for a while, hoping she would lead us to a den with no luck.
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    Midway into the dunes, the wind settled down, and the sun did its magic on the dunes. There are just so many photo opportunities, wherever you point your camera . Dune 45 must be the single most photographed dun in the world! And it surely deserves all the attention it gets. For the change of the pace (and scenery) this bird of prey was noticed on the top of the tree near the Dune 45 parking lot. Greater Kestrel The Posers Back in the camp, just before the inner gates closing time, and the task of preparing the roof top tent for the first time ever .
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    What about this one, the Rufous-tailed jacamar (Pantanal) ?
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    There is one saying that we have used to describe our family travels: "The three of us are the best couple!". The three of us meant Zvezda, me and our daughter Tanja. That was a perfect traveling team for many years, until Tanja graduated and started to become independent financially; our new love, Africa, did not fit into her budget plans. Until when Qatar Airways has announced a new direct route from Zagreb to Windhoek via Doha. At 550 Eur a trip to Africa was finally feasible. To keep the costs even more within her reach (and anyway it was my secret plan to start traveling this way), part-time camping became part of the upcoming trip. ​April/May is our preferred time, clear blue skies, almost no rain, and decent wildlife sightings. To make the best out of the plane ticket, we opted for a 3 weeks travel. Itinerary was easy to make, usual tourist clockwise route. Also stops along the route were quickly determined, and our travel agent of choice, mrs.Gemma from Discover Namibia did not have too complicated of a job. The route: and the itinerary: Toyota Hilux with two roof top tents, and necessary camping equipment was again hired from Advanced Car Hire. Some needed and useful info has been collected from various sources, and in September 2016 we were all set to go. Why not camping only?! Firstly, to allow the ladies some extra creature's comfort, and inside Etosha, to allow for being at the gate of the camps before they opens. To start with the end: we all have enjoyed the new experience very much! We will camp more often, and we will be back to Namibia.
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    OK I'm back! Still at Porini Cheetah camp. I was chatting with @amybatt today about why I've been dragging my feet on this part of the trip report. I don't think she will mind me sharing it... Me: I am purposefully not reading trip reports right now because I do get a little bummed when my trip isn't as awesome as someone else's. But it was! So I can't read them until I'm done with mine. It's not a competition! amyb: That's the thing, even your next one will be different. I felt it wasn't until my 3rd to the Mara and 4th overall that I got the safari in my dreams but they were all good and special in their own way. The Serval sightings have me sooo salivating. Me: sssshhhhhhh!!! amyb: Oh I won't tell you who because there were multiple people who saw them!!! Me: STOOOOOOPPPPPP, lol So here's the thing, and why I've been dragging my feet. Cheetah camp was the least safari-like but my favorite camp. That's why I want to return, to give it another shot. Katy got sick, Olivia had bronchitis, and the car was substandard. We went back to camp, Katy went back to bed, we had breakfast in camp and just kicked it for the day. amyb: The TR is your impression, like your journal for the trip. Me: We got quality time with Nirmalya and Jui, got to really learn their story of their going into business with Porini. amyb: And you're entitled to just kick it and enjoy the digs! If you read Pault report his wife and mother do all the time. And that's just as valuable an experience. Me: Yes! and I do totally want to return. They became friends, and I know they have so much more to share. So that was day two at Cheetah. Our morning drive started off early; we were supposed to have breakfast in the bush. Olivia (my friend's daughter) wasn't fond of insects so eating on a drive isn't her favorite. Some ellies around the corner from camp were having their breakfast. I love watching their trunks in action. About this time, Katy complained of being queasy. We were unhappy with the vehicle anyway, and Olivia didn't want breakfast in the bush, so as reported above, we went back to camp. It was great to have a down day and I really enjoyed getting to know Jui and Nirmalya more. We climbed the white rock formation and had a lovely view over the area. In the afternoon, we went on a short game drive. We had a very early start the next morning! dik dik reedbuck wee giraffes Verreaux's Eagle Owl, my favorite bird! So glad you birders are here Sundowners
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    Another Bornean kingfisher...this time the Stork-billed version... 2R4C1098 by Whyone, on Flickr
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    She was one of the grand old dames of the lion world, and now she is no more - the famous Lady Liuwa, once (fortunately no more) the "Last Lioness" of Liuwa Plains. She died from natural causes, at an incredible age of 17 years. A truly exceptional animal. https://www.african-parks.org/newsroom/press-releases/remembering-lady-liuwa-last-lioness-liuwa-plain
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    Beautifully said, @Sangeeta thinking about that trip brings back such emotions. It was so difficult to plan and carry off and we had some problems along the way for sure. We never got to see Busangadude but I'm so happy we got to spend time with Lady Liuwa. So sad to hear she is gone but she lived a really long life. What an amazing lioness. RIP, Lady Liuwa. Here is our report from that crazy trip: The part after we actually got to Liuwa starts at page 4 at post 94 though the trip to GET to Liuwa starts earlier. Here are probably the two best photos I got of Lady Liuwa from that trip:
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    So we have reached the last bird of this year Namibia trip; with over 150 different ID we are very surprised, and happy to be able to present you with so many different birds ... and also proud that not too many mistakes have been done. I thank you all for viewing and liking and commenting! See you in about 2 months, with a very different repertoire of birds! BY 230 / NAM 154 Lark-like Bunting - Emberiza impetuani Ameib ranch, 30 April
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    BY 227 / NAM 151 White-throated Canary - Serinus albogularis Barchan Dune Retreat, 23 April BY 228 / NAM 152 Black-throated Canary - Serinus atrogularis Hoada camp, 04 May BY 229 / NAM 153 Yellow Canary - Serinus flaviventris Ameib ranch, 01 May
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    My next nomination might surprise as it's bird that is so often overlooked as they are often seen as a bit of a pest as they are noisy, hang around in groups, make a mess and are generally unwanted guests.. their Latin name says it all really But hang on a minute and look again. Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris Starling by Dave Williams, on Flickr When in Bulgaria I was in a hide specifically to photograph European Bee-eaters but this particular bird was having none of it. It stomped and shouted and displayed defiance that the perch belonged to him and no one else. Annoyed at first I came to marvel the display that was put on. I would love to have posted the video but sadly that, along with all my foreign photo records have been accidentally deleted. Starling Bulgaria by Dave Williams, on Flickr From a photographic point of few one of the greatest wild life spectacles in the world is provided by Starlings ( food for thought for another thread there too!). I'm lucky that this has happened on my doorstep several times in recent years when each evening tens of thousands of birds gather to perform amazing acrobatic displays before descending in to the reed beds to roost in huge numbers for protection from predation. Starling murmuration Conwy RSPB by Dave Williams, on Flickr better still on a sunnier evening Starlings at sundown by Dave Williams, on Flickr There are more attractive Starlings as individuals but nothing that puts on a display like this.
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    If you love wine, you cannot come to South Africa and not visit a winery. So for my last day in Cape Town, I went to wine country. The weather could not have been better. The first stop was Drakenstein Prison. Why go to a prison? It was the last prison for Nelson Mandela and where he famously took the long walk to freedom in 1990. It's a low security place and I found it odd that there was an ATM right at the gate. Franschhoek is a beautiful and very scenic little town. I'd love to spend a night here so I could avail myself of some of the many little cafes, restaurants and shops. Of course, it's very photogenic also. I went to two wineries and the first one, Antonij Rupert, had the best wine. This was a wine tasting like no other I've ever experienced. They give you a good portion of wine to taste, not just a teeny sip. They also provide a lovely sampling of cheeses and olives and crackers in a beautiful presentation. Also as a red wine drinker, there were 2 reds, a port and one white. Love this winery. There is a shop if you wish to purchase wine or other items. The owner of the winery has an extensive car collection that he displays at the Franschhoek Motor Museum. There is a cute little tram that transports you from the winery to the museum. There are four buildings housing all the cars. He has quite the collection. I wasn't quite sure how I would like this museum as I'm not all that interested in cars, but it was highly recommended and I can say that I would highly recommend going. I really enjoyed it. The second winery was Babylonstoren. This place dates from 1692 and has some beautiful farmland and vineyards. It's a great place to visit and they have some lovely food on offer. However, I dint like the wines or the presentation of them as compared to Antonij Rupert. They also do an olive oil sampling as well So this completes my Cape Town adventures. If you are doing a Southern Africa safari, Cape Town can easily be added at the beginning or end of your trip. BA, for example, has a direct non stop flight from London. Photos: 1. The long walk to freedom 2. The ATM at Drakenstein prison 3. The Huguenot Monument, Franschhoek 4. Dutch Reformed Church, Franschhoek 5. Tram to the museum 6, 7. Scenic wine country 8. Franschhoek Motor Museum 9. Mandela's car 10. Who doesn't like a red car? 11. Lovely salad at Babylonstoren 12. First animal sighting - Franschhoek 13. Wines at Antonij Rupert 14. Motor museum 15, 16. At Babylonstoren 17. Tasting presentation at Antonij Rupert
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    @janzin, I think it will take a hell of a lot more than just a flash for me to get a magnificent image like that! Coming back down to earth for a moment, here is probably the most-photographed bird in Southern Africa: I guess it needs no introduction here?
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    @Peter Connan Yes, I usually am using flash for hummingbirds because a) I am always trying to get them in flight, when flash is necessary; and b- I am often shooting in dark understory in places like Ecuador or Colombia. But I am using a very low output fill-flash for these--from -1 to -1.7. (For stopping them in flight, its different.) Here's another gorgeous hummer. You can see how he got his name!
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    I will jump in with a Sunbird supermodel - Mr. Variable Sunbird. In addition to being a supermodel, he is a pop singer (he was regaling us at the time in Nairobi NP).
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    A few pics of this amazing lioness. Thanks Michael for sharing this information.
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    BY 222 / NAM 146 Red-billed Firefinch - Lagonosticta senegala Ameib ranch, 30 April male female juvenile BY 223 / NAM 147 Green-winged Pytilla - Pytilia melba Hoba, 13 May BY 224 / NAM 148 Black-faced Waxbill - Estrilda erythronotos Hoba, 13 May BY 225 / NAM 149 Blue Waxbill - Uraeginthus angolensis Hoba, 13 May BY 226 / NAM 150 Violet-eared Waxbill - Uraeginthus granatinus Hoada camp, 04 May male Hoba, 13 May female
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    Weavers are more colourful! BY 212 / NAM 136 Chestnut Weaver - Ploceus rubiginosus female BY 213 / NAM 137 Sociable Weaver - Philetairus socius Etosha, 08 May BY 214 / NAM 138 Southern Masked Weaver - Ploceus velatus Hoba, 13 May female Uis, 01 May male BY 215 / NAM 139 White-browed Sparrow Weaver - Plocepasser mahali Hoada camp, 05 May
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    Sparrows ... sometimes overlooked as there are so many of them, but they do count. BY 209 / NAM 133 Cape Sparrow - Passer melanurus Swakopmund, 25 April female BY 210 / NAM 134 Great Sparrow - Passer motitensis Ameib ranch, 29 April female Barchan Dune Retreat, 23 April male BY 211 / NAM 135 Southern Grey-headed Sparrow - Passer diffusus Ameib ranch, 28 April
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  44. 9 likes
    When we arrived at the Naboisho airstrip, we were surprised to see a vehicle from another company waiting for us. Porini Cheetah opened on June 1st, and by the time we arrived on June 19, were nearly full to capacity. They'd leased the car as a temporary measure until their new cars were delivered, but it was kind of awful. There was very little headroom and the door sills were below eye level, even for shorties like my daughter and me. This made gave viewing difficult and photo taking impossible. We were off to a rocky start as we entered Ol Kinyei conservancy. Eventually we made it to camp where we were warmly greeted by Moses, the camp manager, and Nirmalya and Jui Banerjee, the camp hosts. Nirmalya and Jui, originally from India, had lived in Nairobi for 7 years until deciding to go into the safari business. Their arrangement with Porini is an equity partnership. The tents are lovely: spacious, with furniture for suitcases, large bathrooms with cubicles for bathing and the toilet. Porini Cheetah Camp is located between a seasonal swamp and a beautiful white rock feature. During the 4 months of camp construction, animals mostly stayed away due to the noise, but by the time we arrived, they were back in force. Vervet monkeys played alongside the stream (river?), elephants were often in view, giraffes hanging out around the bend, baboons adjacent to the swampy area. View from the white rocks, overlooking camp We were frank with Nirmalya and Jui about the state of the vehicle. They were apologetic and assured us that we would have the better car once a large party departed. Teething problems, and understandable. Update from Nirmalya, from a couple of weeks ago: Hi Amy. Our own vehicles will be ready soon. The first one will be handed over to us on Friday and will be driven down to the camp over the weekend. The next one will be available at the end of this month. We sent back the vehicle you were initially given, after your feedback and had it replaced. We're hoping our own vehicles will be really good. Not only will they be completely open on all sides but also have a fibre glass flip top roof that will normally provide protection from the sun but can be flipped up much quicker than the usual canvas roofs, in case a tall person wishes to stand and take photos with a clear view all around. It will also have a small fridge in the boot to keep the beer and white wine chilled.
  45. 9 likes
    Story time! Our first " bush job" was taking pictures and shooting wildlife footage, to be used on social media by the marketing company of the lodges where we were at (two sister lodges close to each other). We only got to guide or manage when the regular guides and/or managers were on leave. Our vehicle was a typical Land Rover adapted for game viewing with customers, but it had no roof and no doors. We got to go out whenever we wanted, as long as we wanted. It was a wild time, in more than one way. Then our boss tells us he wants special footage and he's hired a company with a beetle cam (a rock on wheels with a camera inside, you can guide it close to the animals and get awesome ground-level footage). My wife is doing relief management, so I take these two gentlemen on a game drive, in search of lions. At that time we had some lions that were often seen on our farms; two lionesses that were very used to vehicles, and a coalition of three males, called "the Trilogy". They didn't have individual names, as the lodge owners didn't like that. But I often referred to them as Limpy (was limping, since birth apparently), Beauty (scored all the ehm... pussy) and Grumpy (very aggressive, growled if you drove too close to him). So I'm looking for the lionesses, find tracks, track them down, and what I find is one of the lionesses mating with one of the Trilogy boys. Just my luck; for once it isn't Beauty but Grumpy who is mating with a female. I keep my distance and radio our guides and the guides of the other lodges that share the same "traverse". Paying customers got priority! Besides, I got time enough. When lions mate they don't move much, and go at it on average every 15 minutes, for about three days. Guess you all know that. Two vehicles rock up, so I hang back. A queue forms (on the radio), and when one vehicle leaves another takes it's place. There's a 2-vehicle maximum for any sighting. But I guess you know that too. Finally all vehicles have seen the lions and when everyone drives back to their lodge for breakfast, I approach them again. They are in the middle of the road (or rather; a two-track), so I park about 25m away, in the grass. As I switch off my engine, the lioness gets up, which is the males clue to try and mount her. But this lioness is very used to us, so she walks straight towards my side of the car. At about 5m away from me, she flops down and he mounts her. Mating takes only 15 seconds or so, and when done she gets up from underneath him, and has a post-coital roll in the grass, now 3m away from my (absent) door. The whole time the male has only had eyes for his female, but now he sees the car, and we are way too close for his comfort. He's not growling yet, but he's making an angry face. And his tail is thrashing around wildly. The guy next to me (who has done a lot of work for BBC and NatGeo) loses his nerves and mumbles "dude, I don't like this". So I mumble back; "neither do I but if I start my engine now, he's going to come flying..." We sit still for a bit, and the male relaxes. His tail is still flopping around a bit, but he sits down. And a bit later he lays down, paws in front, like a sfinx. We all let go of a sigh of relief. Time to move the car to a safer spot and start filming with the beetle cam. But just as we relax, the guy in the back with the beetle cam on his lap, whom we hadn't heard in the last 10 minutes, let's go of the loudest sneeze I've ever heard. WRAAAAAGHTSCHOEM! Immediately the female gets up and runs off, and the male gets up as well and charges me. No time to turn my ignition key (let alone find it). All I can do, as he comes towards me, growling loudly, is wave my hands in the air and shout back as loud as I can. This is part of our training; any animal's first instinct is not to attack you. It is life preservation. So if you do anything that animal does not suspect, it will rather run away. The male and I are face to face for a short second, and then he does run away, but not because of my shouting. Rather just because he sees his female run off and wants to stay with her. I look down. His spit is on my shoe. TL;DR Had shouting match with angry male lion. Won (sorta).
  46. 8 likes
    Now that we have sorted out Weavers, lets move to last few birds fro our Namibia trip. BY 217 / NAM 141 Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah - Vidua obtusa Etosha, 11 May BY 218 / NAM 142 Shaft-tailed Whydah - Vidua regia Etosha, 08 May
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    On the final run home we stayed overnight near Ken Dee marshes in Galloway in a Farmhouse B&B that had Red Kites and Buzzards overhead but my BIF shots are even worse than static ones. However we called at RSPB Mersehead and RSPB Leighton Moss on the drive south and picked up a few extras:- 143. Yellow Hammer. Mersehead feeder. 00-61B. Greenfinch. Mersehead. 144. Reed Bunting. Mersehead. 145. Marsh Tit. Leighton Moss. 146. Bullfinch. Leighton Moss. 147. Eurasian Nuthatch. Leighton Moss. 148. Black-tailed Godwit. Leighton Moss. 149. Little Egret. Leighton Moss. 150. Pied Avocet with chicks. Leighton Moss. 00.124B. Sheldduck. Leighton Moss. Finally to end with a teaser. Anybody care to tell me what kind of wader this is? 00. I did see Coots and Moorhens but won't use the photos yet in the hope I get better ones. That's me home for a while but if anyone sees me out snapping at hum drum birds that I usually ignore you know who to blame! Now where is that House Sparrow again?
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    We waited at the waterhole for quite some time. However, the tiger family had other ideas. It was now starting to get really hot and they must have settled down for the day in a shady area. In the meanwhile, we got info that one of T60’s cubs was sighted near a waterhole. The hope of getting T-39 and family were slim. So we moved to the area where the cub was seen last. Alas, the waterhole was empty. We checked couple of other waterholes in the area, but came up empty. There was dry riverbed nearby. Himmat decided to check for tracks in soft sand. Instead of tracks, we found this! It was a male cub from T60’s latest litter, approximately 18 months old. Nearly as big as his mother (though she was nowhere to be found). The cub was panting heavily and to call his niche “a cave” would be stretch of imagination. When I enquired with Aditya and Himmat, they confirmed that there were much better places for tiger to spend a hot afternoon including the multiple waterholes that we had visited. The cub looked as if it was almost having a sunstroke. After taking a few shots, we decided to move into shade and look for its siblings. Himmat was sure that they would around as the tiger families tend to stick together. After some intensive search we found second male cub, seeking shade under a thick bush. Close up! In summers all tigers show this froth stuck to their chin! Effects of some heavy panting. Soo these paws will be the size of dinner plates. After a few quick shots, we parked in the shade and decided to wait/ have packed lunch. (By now it was almost 3 pm). Tigers would surely start moving once the temperature cooled down a bit. Prediction was that they would seek each other out and we may get to see the whole family together. An hour and a half was spent chatting, drinking water with rehydration salts, aam pana(a homemade mango drink), lassi etc. I was carrying 1 litre of rehydration salt solution which I was sipping since morning. The water was now hot enough to make some tea with (not that it would taste any better). As the sun started dipping, the prediction came true (well sort of). One male cub started moving towards dry river bed and sat down. It was soon followed by the second male. The third cub (a female) was seen very briefly as she moved through the bushes and disappeared. The cub moving through dry river bed Some more shots. We did get a good sighting of the two male cubs as they greeted each other. First male cub sitting in dry river bed. Second one walks into the scene Greeting ceremony Gentle nudge Parting shot. Those two white dots on the back of their ears are just beautiful, aren't they? The young male's mane is just coming through It was now getting late and we had some distance to travel to the gate to make it within the stipulated time. So we said good bye to the tiger and made our way back to the gate. Just outside the gate, there were many peacocks sitting on trees, giving me an opportunity to click last few images of the day. Smiling faces all around told the story of a successful day in the Ranthambhore National Park. Cold beer awaited us in the lodge and we couldn't resist anymore!
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    Day 2 (part 1): Choosing the knife Zvezda and me loved Barchan Dune Retreat 2at first sight" so it was the obvious choice for our first night in Namibia. And we did not opt for camping, and this was a lucky draw as rain was on and off through the evening. The dinner was delicious, and as in many of such places, a communal affair. We have met other guests, and have exchanged interesting stories. A few photo impressions of this unique lodge: Our room Dinner table Tanja's room Early morning wake up call was not needed at all. This is the view of the main house and of one of the cabins Before breakfast we went out to have some practice: Unknown beetle Local lady Resident meerkat Rock Agama - male ... ... and female Photographers at work Another local lizard ... ... and a huge grasshopper As the dinner also the breakfast is prepared in a very upscale manner: (to be continued)
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    Finally I am continuing the report. I’ve had a particularly hard time trying to decide which photos to post for this day because so much happened and I have so many so it’s taken a little longer than it might have to get back into this! I will do my best to not overwhelm you with photos! This day started with a beautiful sky as the sun began to rise. It was an auspicious beginning to what would turn out to be an incredibly jam-packed day. At not quite 7 a.m., we encountered the original pack we had seen on the first afternoon, the one with two pups called the Tui pack. We had to laugh at the way we found them. We had been looking off road where we thought we had signal from them and got into some really thick bush that was quite tricky to get back out once we realized they were not there. Just as we finally got back to the main road, all of a sudden there they were running at us on the road. We were thinking great, we should have just waited here instead of getting into that mess, but we were still very happy to see them coming towards us, one pup having a dik dik leg in its mouth. After they finished off the bits of dik dik they had brought with them, they ran off out of sight for a bit. While we didn’t see another kill, they apparently caught more dik dik and we caught up with them eating again about 5 minutes later. As we were watching them, suddenly from behind and to the side of us, a Hyena came walking up! As you’d expect, this began an interaction in which the hyena tried to steal some of the bounty. The dogs resisted and moved away, carrying the leftovers with them and still eating. But more Hyena appeared and eventually one intimidated a pup into dropping a dik dik head! [/url] After the drama with the hyenas was over, Mugambi asked if we wanted to get on the ground with the dogs, and this time both Mr. Safarichick and I said yes. The dogs were coming towards the road from one side of the road and we quickly got out and got on the ground on the other side of the car, then Mugambi backed up the car. This time, unlike the first time, they were interested, looked right at us and some came up until they were maybe only a couple of feet away and sniffed at me! My heart was pounding but it was amazing! Mr. S. took this one of me with the dogs in the background: and we got some shots of the dogs from ground level: and Mugambi took a few of us from the vehicle with my phone (the other vehicle in the background is other guests staying at LWC who drove up after we were already on the ground and the dogs were already approaching us): With all that had happened, we were with the dogs (and hyenas) for about an hour. When they started to settle down for the morning, we decided to leave them to their rest and move on. [/url]

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