I am ecstatic about some of the images I managed to capture this past week-end (6th/7th July 2013) in a mere 24 HOUR time period.
My partner and I arrived on location late Saturday afternoon and left again early afternoon the following day. Here is a short “photo journal” of some of the sightings and happenings within those 24 hours.
Equipment used: Canon EOS60D, Canon 70-200mmL F4, Canon 10-22mm, Canon 24-70mm L F2.8.
Just to give an indication as to distances, the longest zoom used throughout this entire series was 200mm. My partner works in close relation to the parks and we are therefore sometimes able to do things “out the ordinary”, I would like to remind readers to please always follow the park rules and remain in your vehicle in all areas where you are asked to do so.
Our first sighting was (as could be expected) an Impala. The lighting however was quite superb and I couldn't resist taking a quick snapshot of this Individual.
Next we came across 3 rhinos making their way along the road. There is something quite special and exciting about having such a massive and powerful animal walking towards you while you’re crouched down low on the floor trying not to draw too much attention.
A tighter framed Image of one of the 3 rhinos (the other 2 have already made their way into the surrounding vegetation)
After observing the 3 rhinos for a while, it was evident that they were making their way to a nearby waterhole. We decided to make an attempted approach from another direction in order to try capture some images of these rhino at the water. While we were still walking on the road and about to direct our path off into the bush, we heard a rustle towards out right. We very soon found out that it was more rhino, but this time a mother with a very young calf. We immediately stopped dead in our tracks and crouched down to avoid drawing any unnecessary attention. The calf came speeding out the bush into the road, running up and down filled with energy and excitement (one of the most rewarding and joyful scenes I have seen) but our amusement and focus on the calf ended very abruptly when the mother came storming out with an obvious agitation about our presence. She stood about 10m in front of us at full attention while we stood our ground keeping as still as possible while still trying to snap a couple of photographs.
The calf racing out the bush shortly before the mother made her appearance.
After about 3 minutes the mother made her way into the road whilst still stopping several times to give brief “warning displays”, all this time the calf was still racing around up and down, around the mother, into the bush and back out on the road again.
Eventually the mother and calf both turned and started walking up the road, and soon after disappeared into the bush again.
After the mother and calf disappeared we sighted more rhino up the road again, close to the location we sighted the first group of 3. (It seemed as though we were surrounded by rhino)
We made our way up the road and stopped at a cross-road to wait for the next approaching trio, hoping that they would make their way right past us. At this stage the sun was at the end of its final hour for the day, and rapidly disappeared behind the distant horizon.
While watching the sun set waiting for the next trio of rhino to pass us by, we noticed that 2 individuals seemed very pre-occupied with each other. We soon discovered that they had some rather conflicting interests. It was unclear whether it was a young adult being defensive over its mother (the third member) or if it was 2 males fighting over the female, the one male however was distinctively smaller than the other.
We watched the 2 battle for a short while until the lighting was too low to see and capture much more.
We then made our way to camp for a quick meal and chat with managers before heading out again to attempt a star trail. By the time we left the camp there was unexpected light mist and a hint of cloud cover which greatly reduced the visibility of the stars. We were contemplating whether to still head out or to call it a day, but decided to try our luck anyway.
After making contact with the rangers to inform them about our location, we set up in an open area in front of a tree which we had “sussed out” on a previous trip.
I was not too impressed with the first few exposures due to the visibility and mist, but soon the sky started to clear completely and things started to improve. We sat around for about 2 hours, staying alert and paying attention to surrounding noises. Fortunately there were no close encounters or surprises, only jackal calling in the distance and a couple of rhino and Impala snorts nearby.
The result – an awesome star trail image from that evening.
We finished off our star trail with a star scape before heading back to camp to go sleep.
We had quite a late start the following morning but sighting were still incredible. We came across a small herd of about 7 elephants. These magnificent animals are still some of my absolute favourites.
A sub-adult grazing in the field
The Matriarch passing by.
We stayed with the herd for a while, until they disappeared off into the surrounding bush. Then we continued along the track to try and get closer to a large bull we had spotted in the distance. Instead of getting closer, the track veered off away from where we had seen the bull. We continued to follow this track until we joined up with a road that led back in the direction of where we last saw members of the herd. Suddenly we came across the same herd now walking back in the other direction which gave another opportunity for some close up interaction.
A juvenile showing some curiosity.
The herd was very calm and we were able to maintain a fairly close distance. One of the sub-adult bulls however came walking into the road and started displaying and mock-charging.
….. How to throw a tantrum ;)
The sub-adult calmed down and continued grazing on our left, while the large bull we spotted earlier came to join the herd on our right.
Another Sub-adult appearing out the bush on the left.
After several awesome hours with the elephants, it was getting close to time to head back home. As we were driving out we stumbled across 4 lions. One of the females seemed very edgy and gave us “the stare” that tends to make you feel that you’re about to be lunch!
We decided to slowly retreat from the small group of females and head towards the male we could see in the distance who ducked into the nearby vegetation and kept a low profile until we passed.
The male was the last stop and sighting of our short trip and an awesome 24 hours.
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