A fun day out

26 03 2014

I was leading a photographic safari recently, and we were lucky enough to find a pride of lions with a little surprise for us.  Hidden amongst all the teeth and claws of the adults in the pride, was a tiny cub, around 2 months old.  This little lion was having a wonderful time exploring his new environment, and seeing what life as a lion was all about.

We were captivated for the better part of an hour with the little cub’s antics, taking every photographic opportunity available.  It is not always the easiest thing in the world photographing a cub so small, because every time he moved off the path, he was completely covered by the grass.  Only every now and again would he pop out into the open and give us a few images.  When we did get a clear opportunity, the cameras went into overdrive – it was fantastic.  Eventually though, the mother of the cub decided we had been lucky enough, and they moved off into some thicker bush.  We didn’t want to overstay our welcome so left them to rest peacefully, and moved off to look for our next subject.

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Every time is playtime

26 11 2013

One of the joys of being young is having endless energy; another perk is that you have no responsibility, so every time is playtime.  Now take that thought, and add some seriously cute little lion cubs and you get an amazing sighting!

I was in Kenya recently leading a photographic safari, when we came across a family of lions – a female with her three small cubs, probably around three months old.  It was late in the afternoon, and they had finished chewing an old warthog carcass they had found.  The cubs decided this was a great time for a bit of rough and tumble, and so the games began.  They were darting back and forth, stalking and jumping on each other, biting their sibling’s ears until said sibling didn’t find it funny any more and a real little scuffle broke out.  Peace was restored time and again when another of the siblings found a stick to play with, and this became the most sought after possession, which would leave us photographing a line of cubs, all chasing the leader with the prized stick.

The mother, who had been keeping a watchful eye over the young bundles of fluff, was not excused from their list of play items, and it was not long before one of the cubs took on something a little larger than itself.  Her patience was commendable as she let her youngsters try to ‘hunt’ her.  They jumped all over her, attacking her tail, ears, face and paws, until eventually she started giving them a bath, which was when they returned to the magic stick that had once again been discovered (cue small line of lions following a stick).

It is not often that you are allowed into the world of such great predators, so when you get the chance, I highly recommend keeping your camera ready!

To join me on safari, click here!





An old friend returns

17 01 2013

For those of you who have been following my blog from the very beginning, you will know that it was started as a day to day recording of the adventures, and often mishaps, of the camera trap, (a device where the animal breaks an invisible beam that then triggers the camera), I had setup in various locations around the African bush.  If you are new to the blog, you now know how it started.  The blog has changed shape a little over the years, but the camera trap kept clicking away in the background, doing what it does best: providing a unique look into the African bush, often from right next to the animal it photographs.

 

I am delighted to let you know, that the BBC Wildlife Magazines website, found my camera trap images, and ran a gallery on their site, showcasing the photographs.  It is always rewarding and exciting to see your images presented on a site that carries such weight in the industry I work in.

 

I have many exciting stories from when I have been to set the trap up, or gone back to check the images, but I will leave you with the one that stands out the most to me.

I had stopped next to the river where the trap was set, grabbed my gear and started the hundred-meter walk to the traps secret location.  When I was about thirty meters away, I saw a female leopard standing on a small sand ridge directly above the trap.  She saw me at the same moment, and slinked off through the trap – success, I thought, and even better, I (sort of) got to see the trap in action! I waited twenty or so minutes to give the leopard time to leave the area (as surprises of that nature are not always fantastic), and made my way down to the trap with the excitement and expectation of a child on Christmas morning.  Slowly looking over the sandy ridge where the leopard was standing only a few minutes earlier, I was heart broken not to see the trap.  There were plenty of elephants footprints however, and tracks showing how they had kicked and dismantled the trap, literally to pieces.  Still upset over missing the leopard image, I went about finding the pieces of the trap.  They had been spread quite a distance down the riverbank, but I did find everything.  I think I muttered and moaned the whole way back to camp, thinking of new ways to outsmart the elephants, but it was all forgotten when I checked the images on the camera.

 

Have a look through the gallery below, and see if you can find the (final) image from that day!

To join me on safari, click here!

 

 





2012 in review

31 12 2012

Thanks to everyone for all the support during 2012!

I have put together a quick collection of highlights from the year for you, and want to wish you an incredible 2013 with plenty of good sightings, all of them in great light!

To join me on one of these amazing safaris, click here





The fun way to do it

30 10 2012

Over the last few months, we have seen various ways of dealing with the hassle of crossing Africa’s rivers.  The male lions started us off by casually starting to cross the river, then hitting an absolute panic and splashing their way nervously through the rest of the crossing.  It wasn’t graceful by any means, and the slip at the end, landing the lions head in the water and his tail in the air, didn’t help.  Next to cross was a large male leopard.  Always poised, and with a certain arrogance, he went for the cool, calm, collected approach.  He moved through the river as if it were not even there.  The judges gave him a solid nine point five.  Following the leopard, we had an example of how not to do it.  The young wildebeest that was trying so desperately to cross the Mara River, got trapped in some underwater rocks, and had a less than pleasant discussion with a monster crocodile.

We now have a new method of dealing with river crossings – the fun way to do it.

We came across a troop of olive baboons early one morning on a photographic safari in Kenya.  They were slowly approaching a small river that was flowing with some real vigour after a night of solid rain.  With almost no warning, the large male leading the troop took a single step run-up, and leaped across the hazardous water, clearing the obstacle in one go.  We quickly got into position, and enjoyed the rest of the troop, nearly fifty individuals, going for gold as they jumped across the water.  A good ninety percent of the troop made it without even touching the water, and that includes mothers with babies of various sizes attached to their fronts and backs.  The remaining ten percent were youngsters that were just too old to be carried by their mothers.  It was fantastic to watch, as the little guys gave it their best shot, but fell a little short drenching themselves in the process.  The sighting lasted for about ten minutes, most of which was filled with the constant clicking of some hard worked cameras.





An interesting dinner party.

3 07 2012

On safari, it is incredible how quickly things can change! A simple gust of wind started a chain reaction, which no one could have predicted. I had found a pride of lions, doing what lions do best – sleeping hard! Not much was happening, and given the overcast conditions, it didn’t look like much was going to happen. That all changed when the wind suddenly picked up, and brought with it some juicy information.

Immediately, all four lionesses got up and changed gear to a brisk walk. At the same time, I got a call about a young male lion on a buffalo kill, in the direction the lionesses were heading. Putting two and two together, I left the ladies and made my way ahead to the newly discovered buffalo kill. There was another great surprise in store for me as I arrived though…

Two male lions were in the process of teaching a young male lion (the original owner of the kill) what life’s all about! They never managed to get a hold of him, luckily for the young gun, but when they returned to the kill site, they were frothing at the mouth in a rage that would have impressed Mike Tyson on fight night!
The four female lions had made their way to the buffalo, and one of the ladies lead the way into the ring. She approached slowly, nervous of the much larger male guarding the kill, but still showing great interest in the rather smelly buffalo. When she was well and truly committed the male came over to deliver some alpha male, but instead got sidelined with a quick battery of claws and hatred. She had two separate goes at him, making contact on both occasions, which was enough to send him scent marking a nearby bush.

Luckily for me, the kill site was relatively open, which gave me the chance to snap some images of all the madness!





Almost…

12 06 2012

Lions are without question the largest and most feared of the African predators. Majestic in their day to day, they carry around a certain nobility, a respect if you will, until they climb a tree… Lions are not gifted climbers. Trees are the domain of the leopard, and when lions decide they should give it a try, it is usually quite a comical affair.

I came across a pride of lions trying to deal with the heat of the day. The (much wiser) adult females took their cover in some lush grass at the base of the tree, but the youngsters just had to give tree climbing a try. They went up one at a time, the others watching the below-par efforts of their siblings. They started with a tree that had been partially pushed over by an elephant, and had a good angle to it. That was manageable, but did pose a few difficulties for the younger lions. That tree got boring quickly, and the bravest of the bunch, a young male, went for a vertical tree. As is always the case with lions, going up is fine, it’s coming down that is the problem! He made it almost effortlessly to the first fork, and then…

He stayed there for a while, sussing out his options, before deciding it was time to come down. Easier said than done. He was stuck.
Accepting the situation, he slept. Going for the classic leopard ‘drape’, he lounged out over the lower branches, getting it all wrong! He just looked desperately uncomfortable. It did make for some interesting photographs though. It isn’t everyday you see a lion in a tree!
I waited around to see how he would negotiate the path back to solid ground, but with no luck. He was still very much in the tree when I left, with what looked like no easy way down.