So today, with our system in place we head off out and what did we see, what did we experience :) Well, lets start of with the sun popping round the horizon to bring us natural light and natural warmth. On the hill in the distance a herd of buffalo awake from their sleep just in time for our cameras to capture their silhouette.
Once the sun appears with her orange glow setting the sky on fire you have to stop and watch, real eye candy I call it. It is the time of day when I understand how fast thing happen, different every second and how much I miss in regular life by also rushing here, there and everywhere.
It is hard taking a decent photo of a wildebeest, in ordinary light they seem to meld into the landscape but catch the right light on their coat and oh WOW, how beautiful. Yep, we really must learn to see things from all angles to appreciate.
A small area of water, surrounded by shrub and this wee choppy sitting waiting patiently to be capture by my lens.
Yellow Throated Long Claw - this bird has a very long back claw and shuffles along when walking on the ground - but so far we don’t know why.
William and Pete are glassing again, scanning the landscape, reading the environment and somewhere in the distance another MGM lion is spotted. Why MGM, not the Latin name, not real name but a fun name given to the beautiful Black Maned Lion who looks like the one used by the MGM film company. What a beautiful boy he is, I take a picture and have a look to see what it is like, zoom in, did I get him in focus and what else do I see, he is covered in flies, so many flies and my first thought were - crap - I can’t use this for my card making, nobody will want to see this beautiful creature covered in flies. Oh dear! but see, even though I harp on like I do, I too am part of the plastic, look pretty society :) I carry on taking photos of him but they are my photos, I really don’t care about the flies. I ask Pete about the flies and find out they are called Lion Flies, they love lion, they live with lion, therefore they must have a purpose in the circle, take them away and the balance is gone.
Blacked Maned Lion
From under the bush Mrs. Lion appears and she, with her hubby, saunter off to another location just a few feet he settles down again.
Mrs. Lion, has a bee in her bonnet and plays around for a bit and through the magic of the camera lens I caught this comical expression. I have to admit, I love the expressions of the some of the wildlife I am seeing, not just what they look like but their personalities too, each an individual in their own right.
One last image of Mr. Lion in all his glory before leaving this couple to continue on their journey.
The one animal I so desperately wanted to see on this trip was cheetah having never seen one before. I saw leopard many years ago and one the other day, I have seen many lion but until now never the Black Maned Lion and yes, my first cheetah in Lewa. Chatting to Pete I told him that there really was nothing else my eyes wanted to see for themselves, everything is now a bonus, seeing the cheetah the other evening going through all the motions of hunting was incredible, it gave me another perspective but if I hadn't seen it, no worries. Yes I am so content. Don’t you just love it, when out of nowhere, magic happens, I know I do, and look what happened after the Black Maned Lion and his wife. A leopard, out in the open, not hunting, not hiding, just doing his thing and I felt we were almost being invited to share part of his mission with him. There must have been a female around and he had one thing on his mind, to find her. Hunger, sleep, us, were all non existent in his single vision of a bit of nookie. Seen that in the human world rather a lot hahahahahahaha. We stayed with the leopard for about a hour, I must have taken well over 200 hundred photos, so here you are, without me chatting, a very small selection so I can share with you what I saw.
William is over the moon, he knew we had experienced something very special and I think he also appreciated that we tried to understand not just take the picture and move on but absorb the whole picture.
After all the excitement of the morning and having totally forgotten about breakfast our tummies started to remind us that bacon, sausages, pancakes and fruit along with tea and coffee were sitting there ready to be enjoyed. Time to find a location and catch out breaths.
Here we have Alan doing his reptile act, warming his body temperature or is he trying to be a bird - I have no idea but I love to see adults remembering how to be children, not a care who is watching them, not afraid to be seen as silly, just having fun and enjoying life.
Our breakfast location, by the river.
And, joining us for breakfast several Ruppell’s Long-Tailed Starlings who, when the light catches them are the most incredible colour.
Ruppell’s Long-Tailed Starling
A few happy snaps to set the picture for you, now add to this hot coffee, bacon, sausages etc. - a little bit of heaven.
Now odd some things that happen are. Flamingo don’t live in the Mara, but here we have a flamingo who must be lost, all alone, no buddies, no structure. I wonder what is going on in his/her mind. We love of structure but when things don’t go to plan we so often can’t deal with it, get angry, get frustrated, get all tied up in knots. I too like structure, it helps keep the flow going but I do my upmost to avoid the panic, I call it flex planning, have the plan, if it changes no worries just step back and go with the flow. I remember some time ago when I was seeing a psychologist to get me over my fear of needles (I have arthritis as was at a point where I was having to face injecting myself weekly with the medication - now that was a hard road to travel) and we were talking about people who are late for appointments etc, all part of the being in control stuff. I had to travel for an hour to get to my appointments and told her, that I do my upmost never to be late for anything, I was brought up to be five minutes early for everything and as it bugs me when somebody is not responsible enough to be on time and therefore waste my time, I don’t do it to others. She then asked me what I would do if I broke down and was late for my appointment with her. My answer was - tough, not my fault, I would not be upset or start to panic about letting her down, I was assume I had already proved I was responsible and therefore there was a good reason for my lateness which she would find out when it was convenient, it certainly wouldn't be my priority to get a message to her to apologise - life is to short for that. There was another instance, when Alan was working in the UAE and I was having my first visit. My flight from Newcastle-upon-Tyne was an hour late in departing which meant I missed my Air France connection from Charles du Gaul to Abu Dhabi. Nothing nice to say about Air France so I won’t go there apart from saying I needed their help to get a message to Alan. Wonderful, they gave me a phone card that was for local phone calls only and nothing else. Right, missed flight, no way of letting Alan know, totally out of my control. I could panic and get uppity or I could see it as an adventure - seeing it as an adventure sounded much more fun. I am lucky, Alan has the go with the flow philosophy. I knew he would be at the airport to meet me and then discover I was not on the plane, from there he would just wait for me to contact him when I could. Now the weather was still dreadful in Europe, many flight cancelled, people all trying to get a particular location and ending up somewhere else. I ended up on a standby flight to Dubai flying with Vietnam Airways. The guy behind me made some comment about the airline I had been put on to me along the lines of how third class etc. it was, my response, haven't heard of the airline mentioned in the news therefore their planes don't crash, that is fine for me’. He looked at me as if I came from another planet. I made the flight and once in Dubai was bundled into a taxi to take me to Abu Dhabi. Between the Gulf Air staff in Dubai (not the Air France - they were dreadful) and the taxi driver I had several chats with Alan who now knew where I was and would have the kettle on as I arrived at his apartment - no hassle, no panic, a new experience, a story to tell - I did nothing but go with the flow. I am a great believer everything happens for a reason in its own time, if you want something and it is hard to organise then you are not meant to have it yet, it will only bring you disappointment and trouble in the long run, if it is meant to be it will all fall into place. Leaning to embrace something that seems so bad at a time and turning it into a positive is the key for me. Being told at the age of 17 when the arthritis beat me up that I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was in my 40’s didn't give me a rosy future. Who the heck wanted to walk beside me in my journey, a sad and hard time for me but, I ended up going to Kenya with my folks to recuperate when I was 18, met Alan, my other half. If I hadn't got arthritis I would never have met Alan, I would not be the person I am. So arthritis and I are buddies, every cloud has a silver lining :) :) :) - So back to the flamingo
Warthogs - so hard to get a picture of these guys, they sit in mud puddles, lounge around, but you stop the car and they show you their butt then run off.
A baby Impala
Amazing crocodile - so pre historic - no need to evolve any more, unchanged, natures success.
One hippo feeling a little peeved :)
The two headed Masai Giraffe :)
Ahhh - family reunion
And then - a cheetah, eating. She had just made a kill, something small which we think was rabbit. She didn’t gobble her food, just took her time with an occasional look our way.
Or sitting up to check what was going on before settling down again to chew on a few bones.
When she had eaten enough she picked herself up and walked away. Within seconds a Tawny Eagle swooped down to finish off what she had left behind.
We followed her to an ant hill where she took the classic pose :)
After all the a need for liquid to wash down her dinner. What a privilege to be allowed to enter her world.
The sun is on her way to bed, time to head back to camp and out pops the Silver Backed Jackals, mum, dad and four cubs - precious. These we guys are so hard to capture, as soon as you get your camera on them they are off, great bum shots but not often their beautiful faces.
So close to a sunset now and Pete spots a great view for a photo, the blue and orange sky with an Acacia tree for the silhouette. The vehicle in position, Alan about to hop out the car to remove excess water from his system and I look to the right. In the bushes, about 12 metres was another ‘MGM’ Black Maned Lion - this one was a real ‘King of the Jungle’ - oh so beautiful, so proud, so knowing. He sat a while watching us, got up, stretched, walked towards us and then settled down again so close. Another couple of hundred photos taken here, go to have a least one good shot.
Time to move again, not far, something has caught his attention.
As he comes even closer to use, licking his lips, I am wondering if he thinks we might be a rather nice snack (not really :) lol) something far more interesting than us has caught his attention.
He settles himself down on an ant hill and gazes off into the distance. From the bushes in his line of sight appears his wife, she is in no hurry, then wife #2 appears and four adolescence.
A big yawn, does he now know his ‘me time’ is over and it is now time to be sociable?
As wife #1 draws close he stands up to welcome her home.
She comes up to him to greet him, something each lion will do in turn of importance in rank. He must love her as he seemed to enjoy this greeting.
When wife #2 did the same thing there was a bit of argy bargy and when the adolescence greeting him it was very much a - case of ‘OK - enough is enough’. He then turned tail and headed off with his family behind him.
What a truly magnificent day, wonderful photography, wonderful experiences, wonderful memories.