Africa Live: 10, Not for the faint hearted

Africa live photography blog

Welcome back. Warning there are some predation pics in this entry! If you are a bit sensitive to those things you might want to skip this one (it’s not that bad though).

Another early start and we decided to out a little further away from camp today to show the group some more of the Mara’s ecosystem and to see what the weather was doing to the migrating Wildebeest in a larger context.

We scouted the plains and headed for a small herd that looked to be moving towards a possible larger group over the hill.
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Sure enough we found the herd and positioned ourselves for some running shots against the blue sky thanks to us being downhill from them in a rather open area. Making sure everyone was still shooting raw was key here, as a compromise in terms of exposing for the shadows vs highlights is always tricky in situations like this. A raw file will give you much more latitude to boost the shadows in Lightroom without introducing noise and blotching common in jpeg files.

 

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Wonderfully rich colours this morning.

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Suddenly Patrick nudged me and gestured to look into the distance ahead. He had spotted a pair of Ostriches courting and with that I motioned for us to head over as this really is not something you get to see in the Mara all that often.

 

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And much like this Warthog… We were off!

We arrived just in time and not wanting to disturb the romance I again opted for a down hill position to get them against the sky. The lighting was pleasingly diffuse so the cameras could handle it. Had it been a harsher morning in terms of light I would have moved around with the light over our shoulder. It’s often little differences and planning like this that can elevate your images from snapshots to something more.

 

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What a performance! What lady could resist this dance???

 

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She was of course impressed and so it begins…

I am a huge believer that a still image captured at the right moment can tell a story as powerfully as motion if not more so. However on this occasion the movement was so spectacular that I decided to capture round two with the D800’s fantastic video mode. You can see this just below the next few pictures, just hit play!
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Here is the video sequence taken of round two. It looks slowed down to start with but I promise it isn’t! They are huge animals and their movements are very broad in general. It looks a little blurry inline below so please use the HD button to see it properly.

 

All that voyeurism is hungry work so we had our picnic breakfast out on the plains as usual. Always a treat with the honking Wildebeest around whist fresh coffee and sandwiches are consumed to replenish us after the early start.

 

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We then took off into a new area for the trip as Patrick had heard from a fellow guide of some young Lions in the area. Sure enough after an hour or two of searching we glimpsed them over the hill and made our way in.

We found these small guys following mum from a distance and they stayed very close together as there was a greater distance between them and the adults than I usually observe.

 

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Finally caught up with the adults!

 

Then the posture of mum changed drastically. She had clearly spotted something and instantly trotted off in that way that I have come to learn means trouble for something four legged nearby. We instantly saw what she was going for, a young Eland in the not to far off distance.

Young animals are always vulnerable as they are much slower and less agile than a full sized adult and often an easy meal. You really see the cats get excited when an opportunity like this comes along.

 

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Classic posture of a Lion hunting in an opportunistic way. Often people are surprised that the cats don’t always run flat out on first sight, but they always save this for the last moments.

 

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We were unable to get to the scene of the action quickly and certainly not in time so I decided to leave the vehicle so we could watch and capture the action with the longer lenses. Often you can miss moments if you insist on rushing up and being in close on every moment to see. Here you can see the chase with mum running for her life too. Eland are big, but need numbers to fend off a stalking Lioness.


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And like that it was over.

 

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Recovering from the chase and regaining her orientation. After a run most of the cats scan the surroundings as they can be so focused on the prey that they loose themselves for a moment.

 

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Seeing the rest of the pride not far from where she left them (and noting they were sat down!) she began to move the kill in their direction.

 

 

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A confused mum looking on. It is always hard to witness this but it is nature and she has a Pride to keep alive too.

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Meanwhile with the nearby Hyenas…

 

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Especially over the rocky land it is hard work to move a kill, even a relatively small one.

 

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Not far now, checking where the pride are.

 

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We moved ahead to the pride who were relaxed and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the meal.

 

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And fed for another day. There is a lot of prey around the mara at the moment, especially young ones and that means the cats are doing very well for now.

A very interesting start to our day! It is always a test of everyone’s skill when there is cat action afoot. Patrick has to ensure we get where I have requested safely (for us, the animals and the vehicles which is no easy task sometimes) as well as getting everyone’s settings and mindset ‘in the zone’ for taking the shots when they happen. This occasion was a little more relaxed as we were unable to race in and get ahead as I normally try to do, but still presents challenges.

Thanks for stopping by again, always a pleasure and check back in a few days time for the continuation of our day!

Rich.

We also have our Big Cats trip in place for February 2016 now. If you fancy seeing all this and more with me out in the Mara then swing by the tours page and take a look at the details

TOUR DESCRIPTION
DATE
AVAILABILITY
DETAILS
BIG CATS OF THE MARA
Feb 2020
LAST SHARING PLACE LEFT
DETAILS
BIG CATS OF THE MARA
Feb 2018
FINISHED
DETAILS
BIG CATS OF THE MARA
July 2017
FINISHED
DETAILS
BIG CATS OF THE MARA
Feb 19th 2016
FINISHED
FINISHED
THE GREAT MIGRATION
Sept 26th 2015
FINISHED
FINISHED
BIG CATS OF THE MARA 1
Feb 11th 2015
FINISHED
FINISHED
BIG CATS OF THE MARA 2
Feb 16th 2015
FINISHED
FINISHED

VIEW PREVIOUS DIARY ENTRIES HERE..

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