PHALANX

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About PHALANX

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  1. I filmed this in March this year on Ol Pejeta & around Sweetwaters tented camp.
  2. We were staying at Kitchwa tembo camp on the west side of the Masai mara, just outside the actual reserve. We chose this area as we knew from past experiences that this was good Lion country. We were not far from the Musiara mash and it's famous Lion's when we thought we had found Lion's on a kill, technically we had, but on close inspection we realised that the Zebra was still alive. The other unusual thing was, all the Lion's were youngsters. We could not see an adult, but did not think these young Lion's had made this kill as they did not seem to know what to do with the Zebra which was braying and trying to get up. Two of the female Lions were holding the zebra down while the male kept walking backwards & forwards near to the head. It was as if the females were waiting for the male to finish the Zebra off, and the male looked like he knew he should, but how? He jumped on the Zebra which gave out a stifled cry. He bit at the Zebra's neck but looked confused, as did the females who were depending on the male to give the coup de grace. The male tried to pull the Zebra over to expose it's throat but the females holding it would not let go. We had been here about half-hour and it was a little distressing but were aware this has to happen for the youngster to learn. The male walked around the other side and jumped upon the Zebra again biting at it's neck. The zebra was kicking out weakly when the other female decided to join in and grabbed at the Zebra's flailing leg's. As the Zebra struggled it cried out in desperation which startled one of the Lion's which leapt backwards looking a little confused. At that moment we noticed a movement in a bush just beyond where the Lion's were. We thought it must be another youngster about to join the struggle. We drove slowly around to the other side and there was the architect of the kill, Mama. She had reacted to the Zebra's last cry of desperation, probably not believing her young had still not finished the job. She made no attempt to go and help them. She had chosen well, the Zebra was a sub adult, a good size to test her youngsters but had they been paying attention when she had previously shown them what to do? From what we had seen so far the answer was No!. The last effort by the Zebra caused it to turn more onto it's back and the male suddenly gripped the Zebra by the throat, a few adjustments and a final effort by the Zebra to get free, and it was all over. It was only now that Mama came over to show them the art of opening up their pray. As distressing as it all was, we must assume the Zebra was in shock through out. It had been about one hour in all and mama had resisted any temptation to help. She had done her part in bringing the Zebra down. You can imaging the scenario; Ok kids, here is your lunch. You have seen me do it now don't disappoint me. And eventually they didn't. On another occasion in the north of the Masai mara near the Talek river we saw a mother Cheetah do the same thing. She caught a young Thompson's Gazelle and carried it back to her three cubs. She dropped it in front of them and surprisingly the gazelle just lay there.The cubs stood looking at the young gazelle and then at each other and then back at the Gazelle. The gazelle got up but the cubs never moved, the gazelle started to run and the cheetah cubs instinctively gave chase. They soon caught the up with the gazelle and the lead cub tripped it with a quick flick of it's paw. The three cubs once again surrounded the gazelle and standing there staring at the gazelle seemed totally bemused as to what they should do. Two of them clawed at their prey but without any real conviction when suddenly the gazelle was up and running again. Once more they gave chase and caught the gazelle once again, this happened two more times until mama decided that was enough practise for one day, and she calmly walked over, dispatched the gazelle, opened it up allowed the cubs to feed first. Resting a short distance away she waited until they had finished and then ate herself.
  3. Just for you Pam; Egyptian goose, in a tree? Black shoulered Kite, some call it a Black-winged Kite? Egyptian Goslings. Cute or what Yellow necked Spurfowl/francolin African Snipe The resident Tawney Eagle(pale phase) There has been a pair nesting at Sweetwaters for many years now. Bearded woodpecker. There are many around the camp. Darnaud's Barbet. The beautiful duet of these birds is one of natures pure joy's. White crowned Shrike gathering at dusk Wattled starlings. There were literally flocks of hundreds around the camp LBR surely one of natures master pieces. A regular migrant on Ol Pejeta The cattle Egret. I have recently seen one where I live on the south coast of UK. That was a surprise. Must be up from southern Europe. Blue naped Mouse-bird, just beautiful. Finally the common Kestrel
  4. As I said in my trip report "BACK HOME, OL PEJETA" the birdlife on the conservancy and especially around the camp at Sweetwaters was amazing. Cardinal & Grey woodpeckers. While one cannot photograph every bird, though I tried my best, Sulphur breasted Bushshrike there were plenty of opportunities to capture a lot of the wonderful sighting I saw. White bellied Bustards Red billed tea yellow billed Duck. There were a lot of migrants, trans African as well as European around which added to the variety of birds I saw. Northern Wheatear Brimstone Canary And a regular sighting of raptors. Jv Black chested snake Eagle. African Fish Eagle Martial Eagle Augur Buzzard. Here are a few more. Crowned Hornbill. Greater blue-eard Starling. Brown Parrot. Rupples Starling. Speckled pigeon. If you you can bare it, i may upload some more.
  5. The waterhole at Sweetwaters had not been overly busy during the day, but at night there was a lot of activity, especially between 7-9 O-clock. At dusk the Defassa waterbuck would arrive settling down after drinking for the night. Then the Buffalo would arrive. Herds of about 60/70 were the norm but on one evening a big herd of about 150+ arrived. With the ground having reverted back to it's pre storm dryness the movement of 600+ hooves moving across it created dust screen which in low lighting gave the scene a surreal feel to it. Three black Rhino had arrived just before the Buffalo and were drinking quite peacefully but then became very agitated by all the commotion & upheaval that comes with a large herd of Buffalo intent only on sating their thirst. One Rhino in particular was really put out by it all and was charging around snorting and caused a moment of panic when he mock charged a mother & calf. The Rhino continued strutting up & down and snorting his displeasure, while the other two continued drinking and then all three finally moved off leaving the Buffalo to finish drinking, and probably thinking "what was his problem". On another night a lone bull Elephant had an altercation with another pair of black Rhino. On this occasion it was over the drinking rights at the best spot which is where the camp keeps the waterhole topped up. At this spot the water is fresh and unsullied and a lot of the game has learnt this, but not all. These, natures heavyweights, both knew this was the prime spot and both were intent on drinking there. As the Rhino moved in like a pair of heavies the Elephant backed off, which must have made the \rhino feel quite smug, but the Elephant was just sizing up the competition and after a few minutes moved forward menacingly. One Rhino backed away instantly, they other needed a little more persuasion. A deep rumble came from the Elephant and with a forward lunge of his head was more than enough to deter the other Rhino from staying any longer. The rhino moved away to drink at the waterhole leaving the Elephant to sate his thirst after what had been a very hot day. My time at Sweetwaters & on Ol Pejeta was coming to an end and as I look back I will always remember a most wonderful morning in camp when we had herds of Eland, Giraffe and Zebra came together with the regular Impala & wart hogs and what a magical scene it was. Then there was the morning when three big bull Elephants came. They were noticeably very close, constantly rubbing against one another. And while they drank, all together, they would rub heads in a way I have not seen before, it was very touching. One morning down by the river we came across a herd of Giraffe drinking from a pool left by the storm, set among yellow Acacia trees it was such a beautifully natural scene. On another morning while I was sitting outside my tent I saw a large herd of animals in the distance. Picking up my binoculars I focused them & my goodness, they were Defassa Waterbuck. I had never seen them in a herd before. I counted 35 all together. They were coming strait towards me, it was such a lovely sight. These were not the resident waterbuck I usually see. Some of them drank briefly at the waterhole, otherwise the moved on in unison across the camp and vanished into the bush. The little things are always a bonus, like the Steenbok we surprise near to camp, and the slender Mongoose which ran across my path in camp and the pair of bats I found while I was birding. In the evening I would walk to the far end of camp, torch in hand, and on most nights I would get to see 2/3 Bush babies. My bird count finished at 174 species with 130 of them seen around the camp grounds, which is quite astonishing in such a small area. Some final memories. I hope you have enjoyed your time with me on Ol Pejeta, until next time(Oct?)................
  6. I just love the scenery around the Chyulus. Great photo's. AJ
  7. Ol Pejta' stars were also doing very well, both Black & White, and there were many calves to be seen. In fact it was difficult not to see them on a game drive so well are they breeding. The whites were always in small groups, but the black were generally in pairs, mother & calf, or alone. A nice piece of interaction I observed was between three whites. They were moving across a plain with great purpose then stopped when they came across a pile of dung. They all took great interest in it and in turn each sniffed at it for several minutes. Then the largest of the three defecated, without the usual spreading of it's dung with it's back legs, then they all moved off, again with the same urgency they had shown before. I was fascinated by this. Firstly this site was not a midden, there was no spreading of the dung at all, so was this literally a message? It certainly appeared to be, for after they had absorbed it's content, they then left their reply and went on their way. It was all so simple, and so fascinating. Ol Pejeta is one of the few places in Kenya, if not the only place, to see Jackson's Hartebeest. In Uganda they are as common as Cokes Hartebeest are in Kenya, so it was nice to see that they were also breeding well, though I did hear that one fell prey to a Cheetah. As I have said, the conservancy was extremely dry with inch wide cracks in the ground around the camp. The marsh was green but bone dry leaving the Defassa waterbuck a little confused. There was water in all but one of the dams, though far from full. Elephant dam had a little water when I arrived but within a week it was dry. All this is in stark contrast to my second afternoon in camp. Each day rain clouds would build up in the distance around Nanyuki, the sound of distant thunder could be heard intermittently, but nothing ever developed from this. But, during that second afternoon all that was to change. After lunch I was sitting outside of my tent having a cup of coffee, the rain clouds & thunder over Nanyuki went through their routine, but this time I could smell the rain. Within half an hour the sky darkened noticeably and it became very cold. The wind had also picked up appreciably and for a moment I thought we may just get some rain. Hold that thought, "may" get some rain. Within fifteen minutes the first drops started to fall creating little puffs of dust as it hit the parched ground. Ten minutes later I was scrambling into my tent with my coffee, camera & binoculars, then frantically trying to zip up the tent & windows, which was proving difficult as the wind was blowing directly at the front of the tent causing it to bow dramatically. By now the rain had become a storm and I could barely see the waterhole as I peeked out through the corner of one window. Standing there I felt my feet were wet. Looking down I could see water coming through the zips which were being forced apart by the strength of the wind, and as the rain was being blown directly into the front of the tent it was running down, no cascading down the front like a waterfall. I tried as hard as I could to push the front of the tent outward hoping the zips would close a little but it was like it was alive. As much as I pushed the front outward the wind would lift the bottom and the rain would come in there. Thankfully, after about twenty minutes the wind turned and was now blowing across from left to right. I took this window of opportunity to get some towels and lay them along the bottom zips. This stopped any more rain getting in, but when I checked the zips when it was all over the wind had torn the zip lining away from the tent itself. The fundi man(maintenance)was very good & quick in repairing the damage and my tent was ready for the next storm. After two hours the storm had passed and the light rain stopped half hour later. The camp grounds were waterlogged but within a couple of hours you would not had known it had rained, apart from the ground being soft. Twenty four hours later after a day of sunshine the ground was bone dry again. Over the next few days we had some showers in the evening but no more rain. As I write this I have heard that it has not rained again since I left. In the cool evening air the game was noticeably more active, especially the Waterbuck who are normally quite sedate in their evening routine. The impala were running to & fro with no obvious reason for their activity other than enjoying some relief from what had been a very hot day before the storm. The waterhole was relatively quite that night, unlike other nights while I was there. More on that next time.....................
  8. Hi @@penolva. No, I am not a film maker, not professionally, I just enjoy capturing wildlife on film for my own enjoyment, and of course for any of my family/friends who are interested in wildlife. I have posted quite a lot of short clips on you tube. I go under the name of PHALANX47, if you are interested.
  9. After a few days rest it was time to venture out and see what splendours Ol Pejeta had in store for me. Well, those splendours were, an abundance of young. The were Zebra foals and Buffalo calves everywhere. Impala & Defassa Waterbuck were also breeding well, and as a friend at camp said, "this is good news for the Cheetah". Not a thought that sprang readily to mind, but I understood what he meant. That said, I never saw a cheetah during my time here, though I did hear they were being seen. With the dense croton/whistling thorn bush which covers a lot of Ol Pejeta seeing the cats was never going to be easy. That said, my first drive gave me my only sighting of Lions. Two big males, which made up for any other lack of sightings. They were lying out in the open about thirty meters apart enjoying the early morning sun before it became too hot. Night drives were more successful, with lions being seen quite regularly as well as Hyena. One night at camp the call of a Hyena was so loud I instantly thought it must be very close to camp. Curiosity got the better of me and with torch in hand I headed off to the far end of camp where the call came from. As I shone the torch into the bush the waterbuck, which move close to camp at night for safety, were very agitated. They suddenly moved away in that delightful trotting way they do, then suddenly there he was. The Hyena appeared from behind a bush moving across the line of the waterhole and slowly vanished into the darkness. The waterbuck settled down again and calm was restored. Ol Pejeta was very dry, but the rains were due, and with this in mind the Elephants had started to appear in good numbers. Back from their migratory wanderings on Mt Kenya and the Laikipia plateau, they too had many young among them. I was fortunate, no blessed, to see Elephants on every game drive I took. One memorable moment was when a youngster about 3/4 years showed great bravado in threatening us with mock charges. He did this several times then retreated behind a large bush. He would then peer from behind the bush at us, and as we had not taken the hint, he would repeat the scenario again. On the last charge his mother moved from where she was feeding passing behind us to feed on another bush across the road. On seeing his mother move off his bravado melted away as did he into the bush. Back at camp the resident Egyptian Geese had nine very young gosling, and I found myself counting them each day to make sure they were all safe, as there was a rather persistent Pallid Harrier taking an unhealthy interest in them. He appeared regularly through out the day, but after three days I never saw him again. An African Harrier Hawk made a brief appearance one afternoon but was chased off by a mob of starlings. I was becoming a little apprehensive about the survival of all nine goslings, though mum and dad showed great courage in the face of the Pallid Harrier. Every time he appeared, swooping low the goslings instinctively took cover and mum & dad reared up, wings spread out and Honking their contempt at his audacity to think he would be getting an easy meal. The small guy's were showing a lot of courage around the waterhole and on another occasion three Pied crows saw off a Tawney Eagle that had come a little too close to camp for their liking. Watch this space for news on Ol Pejeta's stars & more..................
  10. Well, it has been several weeks since I got back from my favourite place in Kenya, Ol Pejeta, and with what will be months of sorting & editing, and finally putting a film together of my latest trip, I thought I would ease myself in by sharing some of memories with you. So. Let me take you back four months. I arranged my twelve nights accommodation directly with Sweetwaters tented camp, that sorted I scoured the internet for a cheap flight from London to Nairobi, I finally found a possibility with KLM, flying Kenyan airways. KLM own 25% of Kenyan airways so often use their partners Nairobi flights. The return would be via Amsterdam, no problem, but it's arrival in Nairobi would be at 05.00. Not a problem if you are staying over, but I would be flying from Wilson airport to Nanyuki that morning, and that flight was not until 09.20 and that is a long wait in an airport(?) with very little to occupy oneself. So, after some thought, and a change of plan, I decided to go by road, but still fly back . I use Real Africa safari for all my transport, transfers & my overnight hotel on my return journey, and Sam, my driver, was there waiting for me as I came out of Arrivals. There was an advantage to driving to Nanyuki, apart from the numb bottom I would acquire from the four hour journey, the road going out of Nairobi would be relatively quite as most of the traffic would be coming into Nairobi. This was a good plan, and was confirmed as such when the flight came in half an hour early at 04.30. I was off the plane & through passport control quickly, my bag arrived shortly after I reached the carousel and we were on the road by 05.20, Wow! The day was getting better & better. We were passing through Thika by the time it got light, sadly no stop this time at the Blue post Inn to see Chania falls, and we reached Karantina by 07.45. My driver enquired if I needed a toilet stop? "hapana, asante" I replied, practising my kiswahili, and we drove on. We were in Nanyuki by 08.50 and turning left off the main road we headed on to Ol Pejeta conservancy. We arrived at the gate by 09.15, paid the conservancy fees and I was walking into Sweetwaters reception by 09.30. The staff were quite surprised to see me, expecting me around noon as I was coming by road. After a brief explanation and a cool juice, I was asked if I would like breakfast?. "Breakfast" I replied lamely. I was not expecting that, so as I say, the morning was getting better & better, and was about to get even better. As I made my way to the dining room a friend greeted me & said there are some friends of mine at the waterhole. My table was next to the large glass doors looking out onto the waterhole, and WOW! there were fourteen reticulated Giraffe. I have now totally forgotten how tired I am from a rather sleepless overnight flight & four hours on the road, and almost in one movement I removed my jacket and retrieved my cameras from my hand luggage and slipped out through the glass doors to capture my first photo's & footage of my stay at Sweetwaters. It took me a little time to refocus on breakfast, but I did, and once refuelled & after reacquainting myself with the many friends I have made here, it was a leisurely unpack to the sound of bird song, and the occasional distraction of Zebra coming to the waterhole(snap,snap). After completing my bathroom rituals & a very welcoming shower I decided to have a walk around the camps grounds before it got too hot. The camps grounds are quite large with a nice variety of habitats, which of course makes birding here a great joy. The waterhole throws up many waders, storks & herons, the wooded areas are abundant with Barbets, Tinkerbirds, Shrikes and much more,while the garden areas are full of Sunbirds, Starlings, Cuckoos & Woodpeckers, and the skies are full of Swallows & Swifts. My first walk was most rewarding, and with no great effort I saw my first 38 species of birds, and then relaxing after lunch outside my tent brought many more. Of course march is migration time as the European/Northern species head home, so I was a very happy camper with my first day being so rewarding. Watch this space................
  11. I can see it was a fabulous trip, and finishing at the orphanage was a real plus. thanks for sharing.
  12. I I Love the shot of the Lions walking away.
  13. the "GAMBIA" #1: Guinea Baboon #2: Lizard Buzzard #3: Pearl spotted Owlet #4: Western Agama #5: Monitor Lizard #6: Red Colobus #7: Blue breasted Kingfisher.
  14. We were staying at Mara Serena, it was July a great time for Widow birds, on this occasion our need was a central location to make the most of what the Mara triangle could offer and to visit friends who lived in Kilgoris on the Siria plateau. During our stay we met the senior warden of TransMara which includes Mara triangle. During our conversation we mentioned that we were going to visit friends in Kilgoris. At the mention of Kilgoris a big smile spread across his face and he said "I will come with you if I may, as I have no transport at this time to get home, and then you can meet my father who is 108 years old". His Father lived in his house on the slopes of the Oloololo escarpment. We set off after breakfast amid a heavy mist which was clinging to the Oloololo escarpment. We were taking the road that follows the escarpment to the Oloololo gate and on our way there we saw a very large herd of Elephants off to the right, in the direction of the Balanite woods. They were a bit to far away to really appreciate them, especially with the mist, and there were no roads near to where they were. But, when your travelling companion is the senior warden, this problem was soon resolved. He took us quite close, and after assessing the situation even closer. In no time the whole herd was all around us feeding contently, then out of the mist appeared several youngsters who found our vehicle of great interest. We made our way back to the road and the warden was looking very pleased with himself. we think he was pleased to have been able to give us something in return for us giving him a lift home. We arrived at the wardens house about eleven o-clock and getting out of the vehicle sensed we were being watched. The wardens children had never seen wazungu (white people) before. The warden called to his father and as we moved towards the house a very tall elderly Masai appeared in the doorway. He came out into the courtyard and we were introduced to him. He had a slight stoop at the shoulders, and was wearing glasses with rather thick lenses. Understandable if you are 108 years old. He smiled politely revealing that he still had some of his own teeth, and greeted us with a firm handshake and a loud Karibu(welcome). From the volume of the welcome we realised his hearing was one thing that his age had affected. We were invited into his home, and using the few words of maasai we had, we responded with "ashe oleng", thank you, and he smiled politely. We made ourselves comfortable and were offered a cold drink which was most welcome as it was now becoming very warm. The Children were watching all this from behind various pieces of furniture a little unsure as to what they should do never having had wazungu in their home before. We were introduced to each one in turn, and as is the Maasai custom, each child came and stood before us bowing their heads in respect and we placed a hand upon them in acknowledgement. They then ran off and sat looking at us and giggling. There was a new born in the family who was brought out to be introduced to us, and my wife could not get her hands on the baby quick enough. After initial bouts of crying she settled down staring at my wife with a mixture of uncertainty and fascination. The older of the children, a girl, came and sat near to me, all the time looking at the floor. Slowly she became more comfortable with the situation and moved a little closer and briefly touched my arm. I smiled at her and she laughed. She looked at my arm again so I proffered it and with the other children looking on with eyes & mouths wide open, she put her hand upon my arm and stroked it. This brought much laughter from the children and from the warden & his father. The wardens father did not speak much, but his presence spoke volumes. He had an air of almost royalty about him and I found myself wondering what amazing things he had seen during his lifetime. As another Masai friend put it when his father did not have a lot to say "He does not have many stories". I thought that was a lovely way to put it. The wardens wife was a school teacher and was in class at this time, but he insisted that we meet her before continuing our journey to Kilgoris. We said our farewells to the father & the children and with a parting Ole seri(goodbye), we left with the memory of this tall elderly Maasai surrounded by his grand/great children hanging around his legs giggling and waving excitedly to their wazungu visitors. We did not take photo's of this visit, we did not feel it would be the correct thing to do. But we did with our friends & their nieghbours in Kilgoris.

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