Botswana Birds

Copyright Notice: All photos in this blog are copyrighted by the owner, Jo Ann Creore. All rights reserved.

 

 

Beautiful, fascinating, frustrating. Most birds look best in flight, if you can see them. On land or tree branch, they seldom strike interesting poses, and their expressions seldom change. So unless their plumage was remarkable, or water added a reflection to the picture, I consigned most of my bird photos from this trip to the discard file.

Vultures are not pretty. In fact, with their bald heads, they are downright repulsive until they take flight.

Take off at sunset

Take off at sunset

 

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Working up the colour ladder, some birds just naturally have character, even when they’re not doing anything.

We apologize for interrupting your nap.

We apologize for interrupting your nap.

 

Others just seem to be part of the landscape.

Two eagles

Two eagles

 

We saw a number of hammerkopfs, usually in lighting that made them dark blobs. Water and a bit of sun helped show off this bird’s beautiful head.

Hammerkopf

Hammerkopf

 

You don’t need colour if you’re an ostrich. A nice pose will do.

Back to back dance

Back to back dance

 

And if you can pose like this heron, black and brown are all you need.

I think Rembrandt would be impressed.

I think Rembrandt would be impressed.

 

Black and white work well too.

I have no idea what bird this is, but it has wonderful legs.

I have no idea what bird this is, but it has wonderful legs.

 

Black and white also go well even if they are not on the same bird. These two egrets were frequently found together.

Slaty egret

Slaty egret

White egret

White egret

 

A wacky expression and a bright yellow beak make the hornbill an interesting subject. Our guides called them flying bananas.

Yellow-billed hornbill

Yellow-billed hornbill

 

All this bird has to do is show up.

No ID, but I'd know him anywhere.

No ID, but I’d know him anywhere.

 

Bee eaters made me wish for a very long zoom lens. All I had was a 300mm.

Bee eater

Bee eater

 

And now, my favourite bird, not just in Africa but on any continent. This amazing bundle of colour doesn’t have to do anything.

Lilac-breasted roller

Lilac-breasted roller

 

In flight, it speeds by as a blur of colour. But the burst mode on my camera captured its true glory.

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A little out of focus, but you can't beat the expression.

A little out of focus, but you can’t beat the expression.

And now for something completely different…

I still have a lot more animal photos to share from my trip to Botswana. But one can’t be serious all the time. The place:  Livingstone, Zambia. The time: last month. The occasion: Another crazy escapade in a long life that’s been full of them.

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls and the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabway

Victoria Falls and the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe

The Bridge

The Bridge over the mighty Zambezi River

Now you get the idea.

Now you get the idea.

Yes, that's me.

Yes, that’s me.

Forgive the quality. These are stills from a point and shoot video.

Forgive the quality. These are stills from a point and shoot video.

Still flying

Still flying

It's a long way down.

It’s a long way down.

But eventually you reach the end of the rope.

But eventually you reach the end of the rope.

And once you get back up, it's high fives all around.

And when you get back up, it’s high fives all around.

 

Was it scary, exciting, lots of fun, unpleasant?

None of the above. I had sometimes wondered what it would be like to do a bungee jump, and I decided that there would never be a better place to find out than at Victoria Falls. Having satisfied my curiosity, I see no purpose in repeating the experience.

Of course, people ask me, “What if the rope breaks?” When you’re 77, I think the only reasonable answer is, “So?”

The older I get, the more I want to try new things.

Lions: The Faces of a Predator

Copyright notice: All photos on this blog post are copyrighted by Jo Ann Creore. All rights reserved.

 

 

If the leopard is a marvel of grace and beauty from the whiskers on its nose to the white tip of its tail, the same cannot be said of lions. Powerful and majestic? Certainly. The top predator of Africa looks the part, but that powerful, majestic body is not what drew my eye when looking through a viewfinder. I have perhaps a hundred photos of lions on my memory card, and almost all focus on the head. With the cubs, it’s the eyes that grip me. With an adult male, it’s the incredible range of expressions. In fact, the photo below is one of only three that I took of  lions standing up. The other two were taken a few seconds later and are even worse.

Brothers

Brothers

I much prefer the following view of the male.

Here I am at my best.

Here I am at my best.

Okay. Maybe he looks a little like Bert Lahr in The Wizard of Oz, but he’s a lot more impressive lurking quietly in the grass than wandering through the brush.

Sunlight and a sculpted head make beautiful images.

Cub looking for Mom

Cub looking for Mom

She's not there either.

What’s over there?

And then a cub turns his eyes on me.

Do I know you?

Do I know you?

And what eyes!

Through the lens, we share a private moment.

Through the lens, we share a private moment.

We came upon four cubs devouring a baby zebra. After a first glance to confirm that we were irrelevant, they returned to feasting.

This is OUR meal!

This is OUR meal!

It didn’t take long for the zebra to become unrecognizable. And as the pieces got smaller, brotherly love turned to fierce competition.

It's mine!

It’s mine!

We stopped by the scene next morning. The cubs didn’t leave much.

Remains of the feast.

Remains of the feast.

Remains of the feast

Remains of the feast

Remains of the feast.

Remains of the feast.

Where did it all go? It was still there, waiting to be digested twenty-four hours later.

A very full belly.

A very full belly.

With a little water to wash it down. Note that one cub is a lot smaller than the other. We weren’t sure why.

Brothers

Brothers

The cubs are cute, but an adult male is a master of expressions that almost require a human interpretation. The following photos were taken of the same lion over a period of several minutes.

Butter wouldn't melt in my mouth.

Butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth.

Yawn! See what a big tongue I have.

Yawn! See what a big tongue I have.

I am oh so superior.

King of the beasts? Indeed!

The laugh's on you.

The laugh’s on you.

The most memorable encounter with the lions occurred as daylight was failing. Two brothers asleep, wrapped in each other’s arms. As the limits of my ISO were exceeded, they proceeded to wash each other like house cats before finally rising and wandering off for the night’s hunt.

Male bonding.

Male bonding.