Our guide, Moses, knew every tree in the Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park where the famous Tree Climbing Lions of the sector hang out, and on our first evening there, he took us to every one of them. The lions of Ishasha have developed the habit, over many generations now, of resting on the lower limbs of the big Acacia trees in the park. No one had seen one in a tree for several days when we visited, according to the rangers at the entrance gates, but we still made the round of all the trees. We had given up and were headed back to the lodge when Moses spotted this pride of 5 lions resting under brush 70 yards from the road. We are thankful for Moses’ sharp eyes. We could have easily driven right by. It was getting dark fast, and I used the Sony’s Anti-motion Blur mode to make the most of what little light remained. As we had seen two radio collared lions in the northern sector that morning, these made for a 7 lion day! Not bad. I posted the last photo on Facebook from the lodge that night but it deserves another showing here.
Two more shots of the radio collared Leopard at Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. I told the story of finding her yesterday. The director of the Carnivore Project threw her two pieces of medicated meat. After the first she returned to the shade. After the second she decided to “stalk” the truck were the meat was coming from. The top panel is her in her pounce mode, and the second is a close-up of her hunting face. When she showed no signs of backing off, the Carnivore man put his truck in gear and drove off rather quickly. She paid absolutely no attention the other vehicles in the convoy, before or after he left, even though she was less than 10 feet from us. She knew exactly where the meat was coming from. Once the meat wagon was gone, she settled back into the shade. What a beautiful animal! Sony Rx10iv at around 300mm and 1200mm equivalents. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. Assembled in Framemagic.
After spending time with the lions on our Experiential Safari Experience at Queen Elizabeth National Park (see yesterday’s post), the tracking vehicle went off looking for a radio collared Leopard who just gave birth to a kitten. The director of the Carnivore Project at QENP was driving one of the other vehicles in our convoy. The kitten is still well hidden but they are supplementing the mother’s diet while she is nursing with some medicated meat, and this was the day for her visit. The tracking vehicle called our ranger when they had located the cat, and since she was resting quietly in the shade under another stand of brush, we were able to approach. This shot was taken from maybe 30 feet, at about 480mm equivalent, as she got up to retrieve her medicine. I like lions, and prize every encounter, but this experience with the Leopard at close range was something really special. Sony Rx10iv. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. #Epic_Uganda_Vacations.
At dinner at our lodge on the high escarpment overlooking Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, our driver, Moses, promised us a “special treat” for the next day. Honestly, we hand already had so many “special treats”, so many wonderful and unexpected encounters, on our Birds and Wildlife Safari with #Epic_Uganda_Vacations that we were hard pressed to guess what he might have in mind. The next morning we lined up at the gate to check into the wildlife drive in the northern sector of QENP, and witnessed a lengthy negotiation at the check in building. It turned out that Moses was trying to secure a place for us in the “Experiential Safari Group” for the morning. Up to 4 vehicles are allowed to go out, each with a ranger, in convoy, following the research vehicle with the tracker who keeps track of the radio collared lions in the park, and going “off-road” to find them…providing a pretty much guaranteed close encounter with lions…and perhaps with leopards as well. Indeed a special treat, and one that we were not expecting. We followed the radio vehicle for well over an hour across the untracked savanna, before we finally located the lions…two females resting in the shade of a large thorny clump of bush. The rangers kept us at a respectable distance, but we were close enough so that I never got above 600mm on camera’s zoom, even for the portraits. Queen Elizabeth National Park is part of larger complex of parks that make up a Lion Research Area, and the Carnivore Project at QENP monitors the largest number of Lions of any park in Uganda. A special treat indeed.
While on our small tour boat, we came across a group of Water Thick-knees along the banks of the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. As you see from the first two shots, the Thick-knees rest with their legs folded at the thick heal (not the knee…it would be more accurate if they were called Thick-heals). Other members of this family are called “Stone-curlews”, though they are not related to curlews either. Most Thick-knees are nocturnal foragers. Our guide said it is possible these are young birds. Sony Rx10iv at 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
There is perhaps no bird more emblematic of Africa than the African Fish Eagle. It ranges over the whole continent south of the Sahara, and is common wherever there is enough water for fish. I have seen and photographed it in Greater Kruger National Park along the Olifants River in South Africa, on snags in the rift valley lakes in Kenya, in the marshes along the shores of Lake Victoria and on the banks of the Nile River and Kazinga Channel in Uganda. It is not threatened, endangered, or even rare, but it is worth a look at every encounter. And it’s call is familiar from hundreds of African film soundtracks. These shots are from our small tour boat on the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Take a look at the talons on this bird…fish hooks indeed! Sony Rx10iv at 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Besides Hippopotamuses, a boat also provides one of the best opportunities to get close to Kingfishers. These three species were along the Kazinga Channel between Lake George and Lake Edmond in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda…all taken from our small tour boat. We have the Malachite Kingfisher, which we saw several times on our trip, the Grey-headed Kingfisher which we saw here and, surprisingly, deep in the dry brush of Murchinson Falls National Park, and the Pied Kingfisher, which we saw just about wherever there was water. Sony Rx10iv at 600-1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. #Epic_Uganda_Vacations.
As I have said before, the only safe way to get close to a Hippopotamus is in a boat…and the most dramatic views are from a small boat, where you are close to the waterline. On our boat tour of the Kasinga Channel between Lake George and Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda, we had a smallish launch, maybe 14 foot, and were close to the waterline indeed, and eye to eye with the Hippos we encountered. The Hippos in the channel are used to people in boats, some smaller even than ours, and, though certainly aware of us, went about their business pretty much undisturbed. This shot is at 600mm equivalent. Sony Rx10iv in Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
We got to Irungu Forest Lodge, where we planned to have our first lunch in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Western Uganda before the noon cook fires were even lit…so we had a good 90 minutes to explore the little thicket between the cabins and around the water tank. Irungu is only a few moments from the boat ramp where we would take our afternoon tour on the Kasinga Channel, which connects Lake George and Lake Edward. It turned out to be a rewarding 90 minutes as the small area was rich in birds. This is the Brown-throated Wattle-eye. It is actually 2 shots of the same female and one shot of an immature. The male would have a white throat with a black chest band. Birds of East Africa says it is a common bird across its range, but Irungu is the only place we saw one on our #Epic_Uganda_Vacations Bird and Wildlife Tour. Certainly a strikingly unique bird. Sony Rx10iv at 600 to 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.