The sun is coming up, time to head to the vehicle and start the next page of our adventure.
Sunrise from our veranda
I have known of the Masai Mara for years, call it the Masai Mara, know it is a place to view game, a world renowned park but, hand on heart, until this morning, I have never wondered what’s the literal translation of Mara to be - well now I know - the land of dots. Looking at the Mara landscape it is made up of trees dotted around, ant hills dotted around, bushes dotted around - hope you have the picture :)
Time for our early morning drive, we have been heading out of camp each morning at around 6:15 a.m. with our breakfast with us to be devoured later in the day. This time of day is so beautiful, not just to watch her birth, feel her warm up but also for photography. We normally make it back to camp for lunch around 12:30 and then go back out for another adventure at around 4:00 - 7:00 pm.
There had been a kill no to far from our camp last night, probably about half an hours drive away - don't ask me that is distance, we generally poodle around at low speed so as not to miss anything. OK so vulture shots are not the prettiest, but as I said before, everything creature, no matter how pretty or unattractive, how big or how small has an equally important part to play in the circle of life. I get so sick of plastic pretty people who don't seem to have a proper important part in life - what is it I usually say to folks - look into the eyes of the person you are talking to and see their soul - if you only look at the packaging on the outside you really have no idea who you are dealing with.
So here we are with the not so pretty birds but WOW - what a job they do, they are natures sanitation department, cleaning up the dead and removing the meat. Can you imagine the smell if the Vultures and Marabou Storks were not around, the meat not removed by the carnivores would rot rapidly and rotten meat is not a pleasant odour. Then after the smell what would happen, I don't know, because thankfully, the Vultures and the Marabou Storks have managed to remain in charge of this department, man has not managed to mess it up yet!!
White Backed, Vulture Rupples Vulture and a Marabou Stork
White Backed Vulture - look at these wonderful feathers
Who is a clever boy then - daddy ostrich, babysitting while his wife has a rest. I love equality and this put such a smile on my face :) :) :)
These birds area amazing, such striking black and red. The bird in the background is carrying a worm and is heading to the female to give it to her as a gift. I did get the shot but it is blurred so you will just have to trust me when I say he completed her mission.
At last, a Hyena, I love Hyena, not sure why, I just do. In some ways they remind me of the bully in the class at school, the one always seen as trouble. I used to have a way of dealing with bullies in my class when I taught, no lectures, no singling out etc. When I knew there was a bullying problem going on I would tell the class some general story about a past experience of mine and now that I had grow up I could see the other side. We should really feel sorry for the bully not afraid of them as they are only so hard core because they are weak. Nobody wants to be bottom of the pile, for some it is easy in our world to be at the top - we as humans hold money and brain power in such high esteem but have forgotten about balance. So the cleaver children get all the positive reinforcement they need from both inside and outside of the education system, the pretty ones get it too, but the ones who have to struggle the hardest miss out the most. Most get by as middle men, desiring to be at the top but thankful they are not at the bottom but there are those who just don’t have the inner confidence they can get out the hole the right way and look for the easy option - violence, cheating, stealing, bullying etc. So I used to tell the children that these were the weak people in life, the ones who needed our sympathy and pity, and not to be afraid of them. It was always interesting to see the bullies reaction (never direct eye contact when I spoke like this), the bully would generally slide down in their seat and be very quiet. I hardly ever had a issue of bullying or bad behaviour in my classroom - all were equal.
So here we have my lovely Hyena, the thug, the lion tease, the comical one, not the bottom of the pile (I don't think there is a pile in nature like there is in human society - maybe that is where we have gone wrong!!) in this case, just a way of behaving that is part of the circle of life.
Spotted Hyena - did you know the hyena is one of the most successful predators in Africa, most folks think he is just a scavenger, an opportunist at all times ready to steal what others have worked hard for.
Moving on and we come across a family of Banded Mongoose, this little fellow is on guard duty. The Meerkat - you know that lovely program on Animal Planet is part of the mongoose family and watching them you can see just the same behaviour.
Oh, I could not resist, I know I have already taken a photo of the Topi but had to take this one too, in the classic pose, standing on an anthill on lookout duty while others graze.
The young animals we are seeing, so so many. This adorable we soul is a young Topi and I am guessing is only a few days old.
Time to head off to the river for breakfast, a cup of coffee is calling and I know there are going to be pancakes, fresh fruit, sausages and bacon to nibble on. Yum, yum, yum. I am after a cool picture of a croc, not just one lying in the sun on the sand back doing nothing but sleeping but one with his mouth open so I can see those teeth!!! This lovely croc was doing the usual sunbathing but in such a beautiful location with the light just right.
And then the Hippo. I have always been told the Hippo is related to the horse family, if I remember correctly, something to do with their feet. Now I am told they are actually related to the whale!!! That gets me thinking about how, as humans, we are so conditioned to just blindly believe what we read, what we learn in school, what we are told as the truth, without question, without asking why. I wish I was told at school, while being conditioned, that what I was being told was what was understood at this time but as we learn more many change. Talking about education - I was no bright spark at school, usually bottom of the class, the education system at that time did not work for me. It was not till I reached my late 20’s when Alan had worked his magic on me that I understood why I did not learn at school - there was no ‘why’ allowed - it was ‘I am telling you this, you will learn it as correct. I used to tell the kids in my class who had no interest in learning about computers and so just wanted to be trouble makers that I really didn't care if they learnt nothing, and that to me education was not about learning the facts (as I know knew they changed later in life) but about being given the tools to find the answers, how to read books, how to use encyclopedias, how to ask other’s for their point of view, how to use more than one source of information before coming to a conclusion, how to use the tools of the trade so to speak. Again, I was surprised at how many of the problem kids in the school tried so hard in my lesson to take something positive away from the teaching time I had with them. I used to hear other teachers in the staff room complain about this kid and that kid and I would sit there with a warm feeling inside as that particular kid was a lamb for me. Don’t get me wrong, I had tough kids too, ones who just were so in their own zone, with experiences far to heavy for their shoulders that I could not soften the edges of - and all I could do was do my best to try to understand where they were coming from and try to send them some love. It really worked, that is not a skill I have.
And then zebra, a large group of them having fun.
Another bird, I don’t keep birds and have no desire to but to see them flying free, so many different shapes, sizes, colours, reasons for being what they are - I am in awe.
Black Shouldered Kite
Kory Bustard - this guy is the heaviest flying bird in Africa, weighing up to 18 kg or more.
Then just along the road another of my lovely hyena, in the classic position - lying in a mud puddle hahahahaha
This Crested Crane has got his eye on something, wonder what he/she has seen???
A Thompsons Gazelle with her baby having breakfast.
And now for our breakfast too, in such a pretty location by the river.
No reason what so ever for this photo other than I just love the peace and tranquility of what I see here.
The sun is shining high in the sky now and the lion are resting up, normally hidden under the shrubbery but this beautiful girl has decided to concentrate on her suntan.
Her sister had other ideas but could not resist having a peek at the wildlife watching her :)
Another of the group needed re-hydrating.
Time to leave the majestic lions, I could spend so long just watching them, looking like over grown pussy cats that would not hurt a flea but, at the same time appreciating that when the time comes or the moment arises they could take my life in a second. The big cats draw us all don't they.
What, who is that? A leopard - oh WOW. Not the best of pics, he really didn't want to be sociable, and just after this pic, removed himself from sight
Back out again after having had lunch in the camp and a couple of hours to revisit the wonders of the morning, time to reflect, to put it all into context and reinforce the memory for a later date when I need to transport myself back to where I love.
4:00 p.m. comes all to quick, time to grab the cameras again, make sure spare batteries are in my pocket and head off to the vehicle with the feeling every child has on Christmas morning, wondering what is hidden and about to reveal itself.
A Black Headed Weaver
A Verreaux’s Eagle Owl
Then - word comes of a cheetah (duma in Swahili), on the hunt. Pete and William scan the landscape, what they call glassing and is done several times a day, not looking for what should be there but looking for what should not, watching the animals around and their behaviour - reading the landscape as if it were a book. A wonderful thing to see in action :)
Here she is, standing to proudly for us, as if to say, OK you have found me, don’t get in my way and I will allow you into my world - what a privilege.
She walk, then stops and looks, just like Pete and William doing their glassing, she listens, then she makes a decision. She has seen the impala, with shrubbery between her and them, they have not noticed her yet, she knows she still has surprise on her side. We follow to where we can see what she does and stop the vehicle, just to sit and watch. Here she is, hiding in the scrub, watching her dinner and occasionally looking our way to see what we are up to too. She has to be careful what prey she chooses, she cannot afford to be injured. A male impala walks past, she does not flinch and lets him go, then a second. In the scrub on the far side she has spied a baby impala - no horns to injure her, a safe choice.
I do have some photos of her taking off at rapid speed, across the grassy area between where she has been hiding and where the impala have been emerging from. At the last minute, twisting and turning in the bushes she changed her mind, seeing a young topi beyond the shrub. The young impala lives for today and she has misjudged, her energy seeping she also misses the topi. I am sad, not in the least, I don’t want to see a kill. I will watch because it is part of the circle of life, but my heart will be beating so fast and I know I will need the tissue box at hand afterwards. For me this has be perfect, I have seen how she studies, how she hides, how she moves, everything to do with the kill without the final action.
Here is our princess resting up in the sunshine, catching her breath.
And then ready to start to hunt again. Time for us to leave her, we have been with her for about an hour and a half and as you can see the light is fading.
Heading home at the end of the day a most beautiful Africa sunset.
Another day full of wonder, full of peace, full of a heart bulging with joy :) Night all xx