During the 30 minutes before our family of Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park got tired of us and moved on, the three youngest off-spring spent almost all their time playing. The youngest, in particular, seemed to have just discovered that it could climb and was busy trying out the vines and brush around the edge of the breakfast clearing, with more or less success depending on whether the vine would carry its weight.
My article on the whole adventure, with lots more photos, is done now, if you want to take a look here.
Sony Rx10iv at about 225mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
This is female, the mother, in the family of Mountain Gorillas we visited in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda. As I mentioned yesterday, the Gorillas at Bwindi live in family groups, generally one male, or silverback, his mate, and their offspring. This family was 6: dad and mom and 4 youngsters. One of the rules of any Gorilla encounter is that you do not make eye-contact, even through your lens. (The other is that you do not eat or drink in their presence.) That is easier than you might think, as the Gorillas avoid eye-contact as well. Though they were certainly aware of us, they did their best to ignore the humans invading their breakfast nook by never looking directly at us. Sony Rx10iv at 250mm and 375mm equivalents. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr, Apple Photos, and TouchRetouch (to remove out of focus flies).
This is the “silverback” male of the family of Mountain Gorillas that I visited in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. It will take me several days to post even a few of my photos from our Gorilla Trek, and I find that I have way too much to say about the whole experience for any reasonable post or series of posts. Over the next few days I will build a blog post on psnp.info to share the experience in more detail. I will post a link when I am done for those who are interested. For now, just realize that after 2 hours of hiking through the, steep, muddy, dense, “impenetrable” cloud forest of Bwindi, we entered a small clearing, like a room 20 by 20 feet, where this silverback, his mate, and four children, aged maybe 4 years to 2 months, were enjoying a late breakfast and some play. We spent 30 minutest with them, before they had had enough of us and moved on up-slope and out of sight…but those 30 minutes are some of the most treasured in my life. Sony Rx10iv at about 210mm equivalent (I said we were close!). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr, TouchRetouch (to remove flies), and Apple Photos.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is home to 10 primate species, from the Mountain Gorilla and Chimpanzee to small nocturnal monkeys. On our way to our lodge in the center of Bwindi, Moses, our sharp-eyed guide, spotted a group of monkeys working in a tree just off the road, and we stopped to see what was what. Of course, most of the monkeys took off deeper into the forest, but individuals of two species hung around long enough for photos.
This is the Red-tailed Monkey, also known as the “black-cheeked white-nosed monkey,” “red-tailed guenon,” redtail monkey,” or “Schmidt’s guenon”, depending on what reference you check. This is the best shot I managed before the whole troop disappeared, but you can pick out all of the features that give it its various names.
The somewhat larger Blue Monkeys in the tree were bolder and hung around longer, giving me more opportunities for photos. They were also more curious and actually came down closer to see what we were up to down on their road. Notice the length of that tail!
We had not been back and continuing our journey more than 5 minuets when we drove up beside another Bwindi monkey. It took two tries. The first scampered away and a few moments later we managed to roll to a stop beside this L’Hoest’s Monkey, who was busy with something in the short grass along the road. L’Hoest’s are generally shy, and I feel privileged to have gotten this shot.
Sony Rx10iv at various focal lengths as needed to frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
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.