This is one of my favorite captures from our Africa trip. It was taken in early morning sunlight which gave the lion a great glint in the eye. Couldn’t think of a better picture to illustrate the forward look and promise of a brand new year. Best wishes to all for a Healthy and Happy 2012!
Living in San Diego, we’re a little “challenged” for winter photos so I had to dig into the archives to find some from last year’s ski trips. This first one was taken near Lake Tahoe. We were driving to a ski area when I noticed a coyote in a field. With my current fixation on wildlife photos, this one says winter to me….
But then again, as a skier, I had to include one other photo taken at the Solitude Ski area in Utah. It tries to capture the skier’s dream of being able to cut that first set of tracks in the deep powder on a crystal clear winter morning run.
So here’s the 4th member of the Big 5 – the Cape Buffalo. These large beasts are pretty imposing and although they look kind of docile, they earned their reputation as a dangerous animal. Wikepedia says that they still gore and kill over 200 people a year (sounds high to me). Whatever the stats are, the buffalo’s stare is enough to tell you not to mess with them. This one, like most of the larger, slower moving animals we saw, had a red billed oxpecker feeding on the parasites that live on them. I was lucky to get a shot with both faces prominent in the frame…..
The yellow billed hornbill. There were many, many incredible and colorful birds in South Africa but I really like this one. Its imposing bill and wonderful plumage are part of it, but those eyes are what makes the difference. No matter where we found and photographed them, the eyes seemed to be peering into yours. Hope you get that feeling from this pic…..
You may already know this, but they are striped so that, when in a group, they look like a large striped mass that a predator cannot distinguish as separate animals to plan an attack. The second reason is that although they stand out to us against the African background, their main predator, the lion, is colorblind and the zebra’s stripes blend in with the grasses and brush. I thought this photo was a good example of the first type of camouflage – the two zebras standing end to end look very much like one single animal and it is hard to figure out which way it is going to move as it appears to have two heads.
We went for a short walk around the neighborhood last night and found a house with an extraordinary display of christmas lights of all kinds. It was a high voltage extravaganza that defies description. It drew a crowd of spectators and was a nice place to experiment with the lights and the faces. In looking at them, I liked the colors of the originals but somehow thought they might also be good B&W shots. What do you think?
And, as always, I couldn’t resist taking a dog picture….
In keeping with my current Africa theme, I thought this one fit pretty well for two interpretations. The fact that youngsters are always trying to get between objects – in this case the baby was running in between Mom’s legs. And more importantly, the bond between Mothers and Children – no matter what the species. Have a tremendous Holiday everyone!!
We had been looking for Baboons since we arrived in Africa. They inhabit the rocky coast line near Cape Town but we only got a quick glimpse of them as there were government road workers nearby who didn’t want us out of the car to take any photos. The baboons down there are well known for stealing any kind of food they can find and they can even open car doors if left unlocked. So we didn’t get a good look at any baboons until our second day in Kruger. This intent looking gentleman was the “leader of the pack” and kept a good eye on us as we watched the group.
If you’re familiar with African safaris, there is always a lot of hype around seeing/photographing the “big 5” – it is in virtually all of the advertising for these types of trips. The big 5 are, in no particular order, the elephant, the rhino, the lion, the leopard and the cape buffalo. What many people don’t know is the origin of the term “big 5”. It is actually a term used by game hunters to describe the 5 animals that were the hardest (and most dangerous) to hunt on foot. In today’s world it is much more commonly used to gauge whether you’ve seen the animals that you “should see” on a safari. It is actually very misleading as there is so much more to see than these 5 animals. In any case, today’s photo is a pair of white rhinos. Our guide told us that it actually started out to be called the WIDE rhino but people misunderstood it and it turned into the white rhino. This photo was taken at dusk and there were actually 3 rhinos in the group. They seemed to be a little nervous that we were there and kept rearranging their formation. The White Rhino (count this as number 3 of the big five in our virtual safari….).
Thought I’d take a break from the Leopard photos for the sake of variety and post a few of another favorite African creature – the Giraffe. These large, sometimes gawky, sometimes graceful creatures seemed to be plentiful in our area of Kruger and we saw many of them over 3 days. The interesting thing is that even though they lurk above many of the brush lines and on the level with many of the trees, they can be amazingly difficult to spot – because of their spots….This first guy wasn’t too difficult as he was clearly above all of his surroundings and framed against a dull sky – allowing us to get a good facial portrait.
As with many of the other animals we got to see some family groups with youngsters. This next photo just looked to me like a mom talking to her daughter about something that she wasn’t thrilled with. I’m sure they were just enjoying their breakfast but I’ll always interpret it as a conversation….