Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mashatu in Springtime

I cannot believe how much time flew. I was still thinking of putting these pics up about a month ago. Well in the meantime Christmas has come and gone and I already need to process the last Kenya pics. It has been almost a full year now since I have been guiding C4 Images and Safaris trips to Tuli and in the process have come to know the many and varied moods of this remarkable wilderness.

What striked me most of this last trip to Mashatu was how everything has come full circle since my first trip in April 2010. During April the area had excessive flooding and we almost got washed down the river.

On our last visit the last of some of the pools had dried up completely leaving the hundreds of Tilapia and Side striped Barbs stranded. .

A feast for the numerous storks, kingfishers and Herons. We even noticed tracks of Black backed Jackals frequenting these easy pickings

Velvet mites responded to the rains and could be seen scurrying about on the wet soil.

And when the rains kept us indoors, or at least camp bound, a stroll through camp revealed numerous other interesting inhabitants like this Lynx spider.

Fortunately the rains were not far and several millimetres fell during our stay bringing much needed respite, especially to the fish! The area transformed from dry dusty stubble to a parklike environment in a few days and I cannot wait to get there soon to witness the next stage of this ephemeral region.

The thought then came up that as photographers we are always so focussed in getting the ultimate shot that at times we miss the dramas in nature unfolding everywhere around us. And it is often only when you are really aware of the area when the decisive shots present themselves.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chiefs Camp Okavango Delta.

Quintessential Okavango!!

It seems like the bars are continuously raised on the C4 safaris. Not even the heat of Chiefs Island could dampen anyone’s adventurous spirit as we disembarked the Cesna Caravan at Chiefs Camp’s bush airstrip in the middle of absolute supreme wilderness.

Nothing beats a sunrize with lion cub in the forground!
Birding is always phenomenal in the Delta. Slaty Egrets on every drive, Wattled Cranes and Black coucals to name but a few.

A Slaty Egret, rare in SA, on the hunt.

What better position to photograph this amazing place than from the frog's eye perspective of your Mokoro!
Once settled into our quite spectacular rooms it now feels like the adventure never stopped until our return to Jo’ies four days later. Everything from leopards carrying new born cubs to intricate painted reed frogs kept everyone busy with photographic opportunities jumping at you around every corner (if you’ll excuse the wisecrack).

The wish that came true.
Every photographer has a wish list, often not the easiest of subjects. But when Trevor wished for a leopard on a termite mound you can’t help smiling when one actually peer straight at the lens from atop one. Surreal stuff! The only real problem everyone had was not finding enough time to capture it all and unanimously everyone wished for more time in the Delta. Hopefully this will come in the not too distant future. All of you, who made our time so much fun, as always from Isak and me, thanks a mill!! It can never be fun without great guests and we are looking forward hosting you all soon when we catch up in the sticks.

Now for some arty black and white shots of familiar subjects.

A lion cub and his sibling staring at the motordrives going berzerk on our vehicle parked closeby!

If there's two things you'll see a lot of its water and elephants!
And then I made it a bit of a pet project to photograph the hundreds of reed frogs around camp.

Hyperolius forgotitsnameius? Slender reed frog or something?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Birds of the Mara

We all head for the Mara because of the fantastic predators and the legendary migration. But the excitement doesn't stop there. Here are just a quick selection of pics of the birds of the area, and believe me this doesn't even start to do justice to whats around.

The many kill sites creates the perfect area to observe the antics of up to five different species of cultures.

The enormous Kori Bustard strolling along the plains.

While a Saddle Billed stork puts up a display for the cameras.
A Highly unusual sighting of the normally forest dwelling and secretive Black Sparrowhawk out in the open with its kill.

And not to be outdone by the heavies, beauties such as the Purple Grenadier (above) and my personal favorite, the Brown-throated Watlle-eye (below) also put in regular appearances.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Maasai Mara in Action

A crocs view of a herd of wildebeest crossing the Mara river in front of camp

In my opinion October must be the best time to go to Kenya’s Maasai Mara. The weather is generally much drier that a few months earlier while many of the concentrations of people that came to see the migration have already gone. It does however also mean that the chance is good that the migration herds have also gone. But on our approach to Ol Kiombo airstrip it became apparent that the herds are still around – probably as a result of some late rains on the Mara. Meaning that we get the chance to see crossings! Although there are much more to the Mara than just crossings its understandable that it’s a highlight for many. And none better than a private crossing right in front of camp. In two years living in the Mara and never having this view I made sure to get the eye level perspective I always wanted. The highlights are really too many to mention but one worth mentioning is spending the week there observing the adventures of a mom cheetah and her six cubs. Indeed a privilege to get the chance to spend time with these animals to see what they get up to and not just a mere glimpse as can be the case in other parts of Africa. Here follows some pics from the trip and I hope it can convey in a small the wonder of this fantastic region. Then lastly to everyone who joined us – thanks for all the laughs!! Below follow some pics of the last C4 images and Safaris trip.

PS Jan I am really sorry I nearly lobbed elephant dung on you and Chris I am really sorry I missed you.

Zebra stallions battling it out on the plains.

A Black Backed Jackal pup at first light.

Aggressive Lioness.

We were privileged to follow the adventures of this family of cheetah throughout the week we were in the Mara.

Cheetah cubs in playful mood.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mashatu Photographic Workshop

What a blast! The latest C4 images and Safaris Mashatu workshop could hardly have been more fun. And again, credit to everyone who made it such fun for us all. Amorien and Johan, Melissa and Graham, Gary and Paula, Ed and Nicky, David and Judith, you made our trip most memorable. And also a special thanks form me to Villiers. It was great working with you and your knowledge of the Tuli area proved invaluable. I am looking forward to many more trips in future. Thank you everyone.

Dappled shade can prove difficult to photograph but even this was overcome.

As normal the workhop was packed with action and after an initially slow start the predator sighting started filling our drives and it wasn’t uncommon to find more than two of the apex predators on a single game drive. In the end we managed to photograph Lion Leopard, Hyena and Cheetah (with a kill on our last drive as cherry on top) under various conditions ranging from the most fantastic evening light to dappled shade, all of which posing its own range of photographic challenges. At the end I am happy to say that everyone managed to overcome these challenges and walk away with some striking images

Although predators are always the indisputable highlight of any photographic safari no one passed on the opportunity to photograph Birds, Impala and even the enigmatic Boababs that dot the landscape of Northern Tuli. Again thank you guys and we are looking forward seeing you all in the bundus sometime soon.

Even with all the predators around the birds never disappoint.

The big guns in action!

Richard our local guide is very well experienced in getting into the best position for photography.

Anyone interested in booking their Lowveld workshop in Hoedspruit click on the below Logo.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wilddogs Up Close

Portrait of a wilddog.
After spending more than a decade in the bush and hardly having seen these animals, let alone photograph them, it was indeed a privilege to get to know Africa's second most endangered carnivore. These highly social carnivores never fail to impress and must rate as the most interesting of animals to view. It was quite a surprize to know that after all the publicity they have received over the past few years many if not most tourists were hardly aware of them. Many thought that they were mere feral dogs from the neighboring village quite likely as a result of them being referred to as "dogs". Anyway we did manage to swing that opinion. Below a few pics from Northern Kenya.

We often had sightings on foot.

To view the drama of a kill from below eye level at ten metres is just surreal.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Only in Africa

Make sure you take the right offramp.

Yield to oncoming traffic!

Its always a good idea to get a good vantage when searching for wildlife.

Once you find them you'll feel like a kid in a candy store.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More of the Mara

Some pictures just have Mara written all over them!

Birding the Mara.

One may be forgiven to think that when you are in one of the world’s wildlife hotspots why take the time to look at birds. Well even when looking at the feathered variety the big game is never too far.

Quintessential Cat
One wouldn’t like to be caught one the wrong side of this glare. For the most part of its life an average lion remains inactive for the major part of its day. However when hunger awakens them they mean business and it all start with a determined stare.

On the hoof.

In single file the herds move past on a journeys that never actually starts or ends anywhere. Mating only occurs on the day when female wildebesst comes into oestrus.
When the herds reach the northern limit of their march male wildebeest joust and jostle amongst one another in order to secure dominance and their access to mate. In a march stretching thousands of miles much of the rutting takes place on the hoof. Even at a gallop one male takes the opportunity to ascertain his dominance over another.


Probably not even properly cold this fresh Thompson’s gazelle carcass is stolen from a Cheetah by a Spotted Hyena.