We spent the morning at Estero Llano Grande State Park and World Birding Center in Weslaco Texas yesterday. It was overcast but the birds were still beautiful on the pond by the Visitor Center, there was lots of activity around the trails. This White Ibis is caught in a classic pose over its reflection. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. +1EV to deal with the bird silhouetted against the bright water. Processed in Polarr.
On my safari in South Africa in September of 2016, the dominant species of antelope, by far, was the Impala. In fact, in South Africa they call the Impala the MacDonalds of the savanna: they are everywhere, they have a big M on their butt, and they are fast food. 🙂 Because of my experience in South Africa I expected much the same in Kenya. Not so. The Thompson’s Gazelle was the dominant species…found in beards the same size as the Impala herds of South Africa, and we did not see any large groups of Impala. We saw individuals, and small herds of up to 30 animals…often in association with Thompson’s and/or Grant’s Gazelles, but nothing like the numbers or the concentrations I saw in South Africa. This handsome Impala buck is from Tsavo West. Sony RX10iv at 450mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
This is the magic of being on Safari in Kenya. Standing up in the Safari Van, with our heads above the open roof, the wildlife often came to us. Of course it was the the skill of our pilot, John Osege, to put us in the right place at the right time for these views, and, over and over, he managed to do just that. There is nothing like it! Sony RX10iv at about 110mm equivalent. Program mode. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
We also saw Warthogs everywhere we went on our Kenya Safari, but I did not come back with many photos. Again, put it down to prejudice. I have yet to learn to like Warthogs, and they are so common…or put it down to they were always far off and generally running fast. Or put it down to I never saw The Lion King. All of the images above, except the first, are from Hell’s Gate National Park, where foot and bike traffic has acclimated the Warthogs to human presence, and they don’t bolt as soon as the van stops. The first image of the Warthogs feeding is from Amboseli and was taken at full telephoto from a distance. I am sure Warthogs have many redeeming characteristics when you get to know them. Evidently “tastes good” is not one of them, or there would be far fewer of them. Sony RX10iv mostly at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
Driving through the marsh at Amboseli National Park, we found this Bohor Reedbuck, rarely seen in daylight, standing not far from the track. The Reedbuck is only found in the marsh and the marshy edges of Lake Amboseli in the park, and spends most daylight hours hunkered down in deep grasses, hiding from predators. Only the males have horns. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
We saw Thompson’s Gazelles in every park or reserve we visited in Kenya. The images above are from Tsavo East, Amboseli, Crescent Island on Lake Naivasha, and Masai Mara. They were, on our visit at least, by far the most numerous of the antelope species, perhaps because their preferred habitat is also the most common in East Africa. They are on the smallish size, smaller then either the Impala or Grant’s Gazelles they often associate with…and the black slash on the side makes them stand out even at a distance. Sony RX10iv at various focal lengths at the long end of the zoom. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
We only stayed one night in Tsavo West, at Ngulia Lodge far in the southern section. On our way back out the next morning we went to Mzima Springs for Crocodiles and Hippos and whatever else we could find, and as we left the springs on our long drive to Amoboseli we encountered a large group of Baboons right by the road. Like any troup, there were baboons of every age, from full grown males and females to infants, and everything in between. They were moving along beside us so we slowed and stopped and they proceeded at a long diagonal past the van and across the road ahead of us. Sony RX10iv at various focal lengths. Program mode. Processed in Polarr. You can view any of the images a full screen by clicking or tapping the one you want.
This little Chipmunk seemed to think he needed to explore me while I was walking the trail at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Wells, Maine. I first saw him near the trail, but when he saw me he scampered back into the woods, only to make a loop at about 12 feet, and come back toward me. He eventually ran out into the trail and around me in a tight circle, inches from my feet, before heading back into the woods on the same side as he started from. Who knows? These three shots were taken at close to my lens’ minimum focus distance of 4 feet at 600mm equivalent. Sony RX10iv in Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
So, I am thinking this bird is a Song Sparrow. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I can not be sure. For one thing, there was a flock of them, feeding together in short grass between the drive and the edge of the woods and/or hedge at Laudholm Farms in Wells Maine. They would fly up and into cover when I approached. I have seen Song Sparrows behave that way, but only during migration, and only at Cape May, New Jersey. Still, it is the right time of year. For another thing, most of the birds lacked any noticeable central breast spot…but then, Song Sparrows are notoriously variable. Finally, they seemed too small, and not “plump” enough, but then I generally see Song Sparrows posted up (and probably puffed up) singing. The alternatives are not good either. I have other shots from further away, and in no shot can I see even a hint of buff where it ought to be on a Lincoln’s and I have never seen a Lincolns out in the open feeding as these were. Savannah? I should see at least a hint of yellow above the eye on some bird, don’t you think? And way too brown for Vesper, and lacking the bold eye-ring. So, Song Sparrow. I think. Unless am just missing something obvious altogether. I am probably overthinking it, but I have seen what happens when people post pics with the wrong ID. (Not pretty!) This is one of those cases where it really would have been better to make the ID in the field, and not rely on the pics when I got home. (You can, by the way, take a look at each photo at higher resolution.) On the other hand, I really like the photos. The bit of fall foliage and the poses, etc. Great Sparrow shots…just not totally sure which Sparrow. And really, I ought to know better (or at least be more confident). Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
Grant’s Gazelles were the most common Gazelles in Tsavo East and Amboseli National Parks, where these shots were taken. As we traveled further west, the Thompson’s displaced them. Grant’s are slightly larger and a bit heavier boned…but still very elegant. The mature males have horns almost as long as an Impala, but not quite so recurved. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.