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Posts Tagged flight
Nov 18 2010
African Buffalo‘s one a morning drive through the Mara and spent a little bit of time photographing them. This one bull had a Yellow-billed Oxpecker which was really irritating him, as Oxpeckers tend to do, and every now and again the bull would attempt to shake the Oxpecker off of him only to have the bird return within seconds to continue pecking at his skin. I watched this behaviour for a few minutes and then finally the bird was in the right position, the bull was in the right position and the moment the bull twitched I fired and got this image. I love the look on the bull’s face where for a brief moment he looks his irritating companion in the eye. One often finds solitary groups of old male Buffalo’s in wildlife reserves throughout Africa. There are two schools of thought or theories as to why the older males spend their golden years away from the herds. One group says that the herd kicks them out when they get too old and the other says that older male Buffalo’s choose the solitary life themselves as they get old and grumpy. Personally I like the latter explanation and I guess one day we may have a solid explanation for this behaviour.
Sep 14 2010
first day in the Mara behind us we had a great introduction to what the Mara has to offer and I think everyone went to sleep with their brains working overtime from excitement, mine perhaps a little too much as I barely got 3 hours of sleep and eventually at around 4:30 am the camp’s generator kicked in and that was sleep time over. A quick morning coffee, camera’s armed and ready for action and in the blink of an eye we were back in the vehicles and off on our first morning drive. The sky was heavily overcast this morning and the day started off quite cool which is nice because the Mara can get quite warm when the skies clear. Our first sighting of the morning was a male lion who looked like he had been in a serious fight the night before. The sun made a very brief appearance through a tiny gap in the clouds and that was pretty much all we saw of the sun rise. Our vehicles tracked this male lion for around 10 minutes but he was constantly on the move and definitely not interested in spending time near us and soon made his way off into some thick bush. Light really was not great but I did get one shot of the lion with the sun rising behind, more of a record shot and not one I think I’ll ever be printing Shortly after moving on we came across two young jackals hiding in a bush. After our vehicle stopped one of them came out into the open and posed for a few seconds before running off. I managed to get one shot of the cute little guy but light conditions were not the greatest, so yet another shot for the record books. Our morning drive continued and we did our first river crossing to access other parts of the reserve. It looked like we were set for a day of gloomy skies but this did not seem to worry anyone as quite frankly we were in the greatest game viewing area in the world and loving every moment of it, during our drives from one sighting to another our vehicle was abound with talk and laughter, not a moment of having fun was wasted. Shortly after our river crossing we came across some old male African Buffalo. Some schools of thought say the older males get kicked out of the herd but other’s say the older males simply prefer to be alone. Either way finding small groups of old male Buffalo does make for some good photography opportunities as it is much easier to get shots without other buffalo intruding, such as when photographing large herds and I was happy with the opportunity to get some new material for my collection. We spent a while with these buffalo during which we were treated to a hippo sighting at the same time. A hippo was walking through the grassland area and chomping on old carcass bones, apparently they do this to get calcium into their diet. So we quickly left the Buffalo for a few minutes to get a shot of the hippo and on cue he gave us a nice open mouth display. A quick return to the Buffalo and once again we were on our way to another part of the reserve. We came across a Juvenile Martial Eagle in a tree who put on a quick flight show for us and I managed to snap some images of him as he swooped down low over the grass and headed directly towards the camera. We then came across two rather lazy male lions, no big surprise there, but they were in incredibly good condition with coats that looked like they has just come from the parlour. The animals of the Maasai Mara are definitely in much better condition than other game parks I have been to in my life, due to the huge abundance of food in the Mara it comes as no surprise. Our groups then met up at the side of the Talek River for our morning breakfast and coffee stop. It was a great time to stretch the legs, check the plumbing and stand outside in the wonderful Mara air and talk about the morning’s events. I can tell you there was never a moments silence with our group of photographers and everyone got on like a house on fire. Whilst we were relaxing and taking in breakfast a group of Wildebeest started gathering on the banks of the Talek River preparing for a crossing so once we all boarded our vehicles it was a very short drive and we were right there, actually you could have thrown a stone from our breakfast spot to where the Wildebeest were gathering. Crossings of Wildebeest, also called Gnu’s, can take hours to take place, the Wildebeest gather and mull around often for hours deciding whether they are going to cross or not often with much grunting / gnu’ing noises filling the air during the whole process. Every now and again some of the wildebeest will approach the water’s edge to check things out and then very skittishly they will run back to the herd. Until such time as one Wildebeest take’s that leap of faith into the river, the herd will just keep mulling around. Approximately 30 vehicles were on this sighting and every vehicle was lined up away from the water’s edge, ready and braced for the moment when the crossing begins. The groups of vehicles had correctly left a big opening where the wildebeest would exit the river, but as with anything in life, there’s always one who cannot play along and one vehicle all by himself thought he would park right in the middle of the path and he probably could not figure out why no other vehicles had not picked that prime spot. Luckily one of our vehicles went to kindly inform him he was in the way of the crossing and after a few minutes and a few grunts of his own he eventually moved his vehicle. It was barely a few minutes after that and the first Wildebeest hit the water and vehicles raced to the water’s edge. The action we had all come to the Mara for was actually happening and camera’s were firing like we were soldiers in battle and what we were witnessing was very reminscent of soldiers marching into battle. Chapter 2b – The Crossing … coming soon.
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