Sunday, 31 August 2014

Follow Me Tour: Bluster and Chop

Juvenile African fish eagle
Day 4 (29 August) started with a wind that promised two things: it was going to be cold on the water, and the animals were going to hide away from us. And it was windy! We didn't see many animals, although the birds were out in full force.

Who says an African fish eagle doesn't hover? The wind was so strong that this bird had to hover for several seconds before it could manoeuvre itself to land on the branch...where it started off in the first place!

There were not many animals out, but here are some more elephant photographs. The hovering eagle is also on display. Enjoy!

PS: All my Botswana photographs (the ones that were worth keeping) will find themselves onto a board on Pinterest. Some are pinned already if you would like to take a peek.

Adult and baby elephants drinking water

The struggle of the fish eagle!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Follow Me Tour: Spectacular sunset

Sunset #1
Day 3 - 28 August - sunset

Like most people I love a beautiful sunset. The photographs you see here are not the result of any editing afterwards - they were just resized, otherwise it would take forever to upload. To be honest I cannot do much editing afterwards anyway, since I neither own a copy of Photoshop (or Lightroom) nor do I have any idea how to use these software programs.
So you might rightly ask how it is possible to take photographs that look black and white, and yet they are not. The easy answer is: camera settings.
Brendon, our intrepid photographic guide instructed us to set the ISO on the camera low and to under expose the image between 1 and 2 F-stops. And I listened :)
So here are two of those images of a spectacular sunset on the Chobe river, taken about two minutes apart as we drifted with the flow of the river.

Sunset #2

Follow Me Tour: And it gets better...

Blue heron
Day 3 - 28 August - the late afternoon

We went out the boat again. We expected the leopard to still be where we had seen her earlier in the day. She had a kill hidden under a tree that we could see and that told us that she could be around for a few more hours.
On the way to the site, we got distracted by other birds and animals, and were a little late to arrive. There were other boats already and they had spotted the leopard. While we didn't catch her drinking, we stuck around and got some more photographs of this gorgeous cat.
I also caught an African fish eagle in flight. Please forgive the lack of sharpness in the photographs as this was the first time that I have tracked a bird in flight and I didn't think it too bad for a first effort.
We also got some great shots, and really close up, of elephants on one of the islands in the river. The baby elephants were too cute as they swung their trunks around still trying to figure out what it was supposed to be used for. We saw one mimicking its mother as she picked the grass, shook off the dirt from the roots and then ate it. The baby got it right until the putting-in-my-mouth part, that didn't appear to be working so well :)

We hit some waves from the side of the boat and I was feeling a bit uncomfortable there for a few minutes, but it passed. If I had to choose between the boat trips and the trips on the vehicle over land, the boat would win hands down.
I didn't have to hold the Nikon camera with its heavy 200-400mm, f4 lens in my hand to shoot with, as the boat is fitted with a rotating tripod. On the vehicle that is not the case.
The roads are very uneven and it is not comfortable to hold on to keep your balance, hang on to a rental camera of high value and also keep an eye out for a good sighting to photograph.

Here are some more photographs to enjoy :)


Giant kingfisher
African fish eagle in flight

Friday, 29 August 2014

Follow Me Tour: I went on a boat!

The selfie is Francois, I am in the dark glasses :)
Day 3 (28 August) of our trip and I went on a boat today. For me that was a really big deal, since I suffer from motion sickness and it is the worst on water. So to say that I was apprehensive beforehand, would be the understatement of the year.
But I swallowed my pride/fear and climbed on board. And what an amazing experience!
Our cameras were attached to special rotatable tripods that moved with the chairs, and that was pretty cool. The best was the view we had of the animals and birds though.
We were so close to ground level on the river, that if felt like we were looking the crocodiles straight in the eye. Not quite literally, but very close.
The water birds were plentiful today, and so were the antelope and buffalo. I took almost 500 photographs today, because...we saw a leopard. It was a female that came right to the water's edge to drink. I kept pushing the button to get as many photographs as I could. Fortunately, the camera kept up with my enthusiastic finger :)

Animals we saw: leopard, buffalo, lechwe, puku, crocodiles, hippopotamus, water monitors, impala, kudu and waterbuck.
African fish eagle
Birds that spotted us: African fish eagles, marabou stork, Egyption geese, African spoonbill, yellow-billed stork, blue heron, goliath heron, large white egret, little egret, black egret, oxpeckers, squaco heron, giant kingfishers, pied kingfisher, spruce winged geese, glossy ibis, sacred ibis and jackana.

Follow Me Tour: Nata Lodge

I apologise - this post was supposed to go live two days ago. Please blame my inability to deal with a slow internet connection :) There will be more coming up today, and I promise to make sure they are posted properly - Linzé

On our way to the overnight accommodation we drove behind a small truck with a bull, a cow and a small calf on the back. I don't know where the people went when they turned off, but I couldn't resist a few pictures as the animals moved around and upon occasion faced backwards, right at us.
When I opened my email, Google+ told me there was a Google+ Awesome picture. Curious, I opened the application and burst out laughing. I took several pics with my mobile phone today, but it picked one of the cattle on the back of the small truck! Awesome indeed :)
And boy are there animals to look out for when you driving this way. Goats, cattle and donkeys. Yep, thousands of them, with the number of donkeys only slightly less.
I had fun with Francois' GoPro camera on the road. He told me to put my mobile phone away and use the GoPro. I took about ten video clips starting from the border crossing to Nata Lodge.
We will charge the battery overnight and then I can play some more tomorrow.

Travel tip: Unless you are an experienced driver on bad roads (read bad potholes and uneven surfaces) avoid the George's Bridge/Martin's Drift border crossing if you are driving into Botswana from South Africa. Francois has a 4x4 and is a competent driver, and yet it was not easy to drive on this road. I would imagine that sedan type vehicle drivers had a nightmare driving this road today. It can be done, but you need to be extra careful not to cause damage to the tyres or the car when you drive too fast for the road conditions. The bad part is about 92 km from the border crossing to Palapye. Thereafter the road (the A1 main road) is much better, with only the animals and heavy trucks to look out for.