Dave Williams

The greatest wildlife spectacles in the world!

30 posts in this topic

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.

25521688522_3377a52b77_b.jpgStarling murmuration Conwy RSPB by Dave Williams, on Flickr

25614193376_7927dab47c_b.jpgStarling murmuration Conwy RSPB by Dave Williams, on Flickr

25272789799_f5aabd8863_b.jpgStarling murmuration Conwy RSPB by Dave Williams, on Flickr

25009858824_15110516bf_b.jpgStarling murmuration Conwy RSPB by Dave Williams, on Flickr

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Awesome shots Dave, love the idea of this topic. Unfortunately New Zealand doesn't have a lot of wildlife to showcase.

Will see if we can find something special.

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A disappointing response so far, maybe we are not so well travelled as a group as I imagined although someone must have witnessed and photographed the Great Migration surely?

@Atravelynn I think sharing an experience with the Gallanas of Ethiopia certainly qualifies as special enough and one I  wasn't even aware of until I read your report.

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@Dave Williams I'll bite with a few!  Firstly (and to contradict @colbol)!!

 

Firstly a sperm whale off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand. An awe inspiring experience to see them so close and to get just a sense of their power as they start to dive.

 

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Secondly swimming with Manta Rays in the Maldives.  We spent about 40 minutes in 3m of water as these large rays circled around us coming within a few centimetres but never touching us. Apologies for the image quality but I think the essence of the experience is conveyed.

 

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Posted (edited)

Finally for now. Not the great migration but a minor variant with around 500 animals gathering and finally crossing the Mara River in Kenya. It was a tense experience with growing anticipation over the 4 hours or so it took for the animals to gather and finally cross. More images and description in my trip report from Porini Lion earlier this year.

 

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Edited by pomkiwi
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@pomkiwi Nice additions. Of the three I think I'd like to swim with Manta rays most of all. Catching the Mara crossing must be very challenging from a photographic point of view , your last shot really gives a sense of chaos and desperation to reach the other side.

As for the Sperm Whale, I love cetaceans, but I have to admit that when in Sri Lanka I got to see the biggest whale of them all, the Blue Whale, it was a bit anticlimactic purely as it is so big! It won't leap out of the water like a Humpback might and it's so long that it's too small in the frame or if you zoom in you can't fit it all in and it barely breaks the surface, well at least relative to it's overall size anyway.

23712278669_b60f16cbf8_b.jpgBlue Whale     Sri Lanka by Dave Williams, on Flickr

However, like your Sperm Whale, it flicks it's tail as it dives down in to the deep revealing the Whalesucker fish that cling to it .

24080085595_96d2b1468a_b.jpgBlue Whale     Sri Lanka by Dave Williams, on Flickr

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"Touche"@ Pomkiwi, great shots all round.

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Posted (edited)

Those starling formations are unbelievable, @Dave Williams.  The last one looks like a prehistoric animal.  Very eerie.  Blue whale for you!  Nice going to find the largest living mammal on Earth.  Even though it might be a little anticlimactic, it would still be a tremendous treat to see.  And you got a decent shot of it.

 

You've put the migration on the map for us @pomkiwi!

 

Here are some spectacles IMHO, in no particular order:

 

The endemic grass eating geladas in Ethiopia that you mention were very special. Guassa, Ethiopia in March, a good time to go.T

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Displaying male Andean Cocks of the Rock, seen displaying in their lek habitat in Manu, Peru in June-Oct.

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Red and green macaws on clay licks in Peru.  June-Oct is a good time.

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Manu, Peru in October

 

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Tambopata, Peru in August

 

Largest mammal migration on Earth is the Straw-colored fruit bats.  Seen in Kasanka, Zambia from late Oct through Dec.  I was there the last week of Nov.  Full moon is a good time to try to get the Batman shot of bats in front of the big moon.

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4th largest migration on the African continent.  (1) bats,   (2) wildebeast in Serengeti and Maasai Mara, (3)  Gazelles and other antelope in Southern Sudan, although it might be bigger than East Africa wildes, (4) Wildebeest in Liuwa Plains, Zambia Oct-Dec, when the wildes drop their calves.  What makes the Liuwa migration special is the terrain that is covered with pink lilies after the rains in late Oct through Dec. The Liuwa Plains trip in early December combined with the bat trip, the end of November.

 

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We saw some new calves with umbilical cords still hanging, but no actual births in Liuwa Plains.

 

Wildebeests giving birth in Ndutu, Tanzania in Jan-Feb.

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All the births I have ever seen were mid-Feb, despite being in Ndutu early Feb to mid-March on different trips.

 

The largest aggregation of snakes in the world occurs in Narcisse, Manitoba in Canada right around Mother's Day in May and about 10 days before and after.  The harmless red-sided garter snakes exit their winter habitat of limestone caves, warm themselves in the Spring sun, form a mating ball, then head out into the surrounding plains to find something to eat.

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I got the hemipene here. (pinkish/purplish)  The males have two, as the name indicates. He was getting ready to participate in a  mating ball.

 

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@Dave Williams, my husband actually did accompany me to this because we drove there.  Needless to say, I was more enchanted than he was.  Probably not something you'll be sharing with your wife anytime soon, eh?

 

Polar bear migration-In Churchill, Manitoba in Canada the polar bears gather to wait for Hudson Bay to freeze from mid Oct to about the second week of November.  Photos are from last week of October.

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Friendly tussling to strengthen muscles

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So who wants to go see that spectacle of migrating monarchs?

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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@Atravelynn And I thought I got around a bit! Lovely experiences and images.

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Wow, some food for thought there @Atravelynn There is absolutely NO WAY I'd get Claire within miles of those snakes and to be honest, wouldn't be too keen myself!!! Polar Bear yes, Galanas yes , Peru very much a place I'd love to visit but out of those submissions perhaps the Bats are the most spectacular?

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19 hours ago, pomkiwi said:

@Atravelynn And I thought I got around a bit! Lovely experiences and images.

Nice to see marine life making the list, such as those rays!

 

 

18 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

Wow, some food for thought there @Atravelynn There is absolutely NO WAY I'd get Claire within miles of those snakes and to be honest, wouldn't be too keen myself!!! Polar Bear yes, Galanas yes , Peru very much a place I'd love to visit but out of those submissions perhaps the Bats are the most spectacular?  The bats were certainly the most plentiful and perhaps the most surprising. The gorgeous sunrise skies and the moon gave the bats a picturesque environment. 

 

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All I can say is WOW!

 

Thanks to all the contributors.

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wonderful pictures all around. the starlings were magnificent, as were the bats and the manta rays - 

 

@Atravelynn was that a call to Batman?! :)

I still can't bear to admire those snake pictures - had to skip them quickly to those gorgeous polar bears. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Kitsafari said:

wonderful pictures all around. the starlings were magnificent, as were the bats and the manta rays - 

 

@Atravelynn was that a call to Batman?! :)  My after school diversion as a kid. I secretly wanted to be Catwoman.

I still can't bear to admire those snake pictures - had to skip them quickly to those gorgeous polar bears. 

 

You are excused from the snakes.The only other place I saw a quite a few snakes in one place was a python pit in....Zambia. 

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Good stuff @Atravelynn

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Fantastic stuff @Atravelynn ! Love the bats, the snakes and especially the bears...that's something high up on my list.

 

And sure, I'd go see the migrating monarchs!

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@Atravelynn Yes, show do us the Monarchs ( they are a popular tourist attraction here in the UK too!). When I was on a trip in Wilpattu NP in Sri lanka we came across an incredible scene of tens of thousands of white butterflies which were covering the tracks ahead and as the vehicles approached took they off like a snow storm. It was very Disneyesque and you expected a few familiar characters to appear and to burst in to song at any minute. What wasn't quite so pretty was the slaughter of thousands getting crushed by the wheels of the trucks. Unfortunately I can't share any images as I have lost them all but it's surprising just how impressive butterflies can be.

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4 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

@Atravelynn Yes, show do us the Monarchs ( they are a popular tourist attraction here in the UK too!). When I was on a trip in Wilpattu NP in Sri lanka we came across an incredible scene of tens of thousands of white butterflies which were covering the tracks ahead and as the vehicles approached took they off like a snow storm. It was very Disneyesque and you expected a few familiar characters to appear and to burst in to song at any minute. What wasn't quite so pretty was the slaughter of thousands getting crushed by the wheels of the trucks. Unfortunately I can't share any images as I have lost them all but it's surprising just how impressive butterflies can be.

@janzin and I will have to make the trek to the monarchs first before we can show you.  The best locations are in Mexico, but I understand there are some places in California too.

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3 hours ago, SafariChick said:

Yes in Pacific Gove, CA which is near Monterey (about an hour and a half south of where I live) the Monarchs come from about October to February.  https://www.cityofpacificgrove.org/visiting/monarch-butterfly-sanctuary

Without being presumptuous, I had a premonition of GTG!  Of course, that means you'd have to stay home for a change.

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@Atravelynn ha ha - sure, that would be great!  Not presumptuous at all - just have to make sure it's at a time when I'm not traveling else where!

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Posted (edited)

Here's PG's monarch count from last season http://www.montereyherald.com/article/NF/20170228/NEWS/170229755

 

While you're here, you can try to catch the gray whale migration too. We typically see our first southbound grays right before Thanksgiving though it's more reliable later in the season http://gowhales.com/sighting.htm

 

I'll be glad to host the GTG at my house!

Edited by Patty
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I've posted these photos elsewhere before but one of my favorite days was watching about two dozen humpbacks lunge feeding just offshore of Point Lobos in late August two years ago. What photos fail to capture are the loud whooshing sounds. Joining the whales in their anchovy feeding frenzy were dolphins, sea lions and countless birds.

 

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@Patty Must have been amazing! I have seen Humpbacks right next to the boat I was in, even got wet from the blow but they weren't breaching although probably a good job they weren't when they were that close.

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