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    • Tom Kellie
      Fancy Dancer     Taken on 3 July, 2023 at 3:09 pm in Manyeleti Game Reserve, Ndzhaka Camp, using an EOS 1D X camera with an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II telephoto lens   ISO 800, f/5, 1/2500 sec., handheld Manual shooting mode in a safari vehicle in bright afternoon light   **********************************************************************************************************************************************************   ~ We'd gone for days without any warthog sightings. Our final game drive featured a close warthog encounter.   He'd been standing in a pond, covered with red-billed oxpeckers before trotting up to and down the track with unmistakable élan.  
    • Galana
      Our time here comes to an end tomorrow. Not the best of choices. It just does not work for us. The bed I would take home with us. Wonderful and comfortable but the rest is just not up to snuff. It seems we are in a different market. Well equipped but poorly executed. Some of the 'construction' tecniques set my teeth on edge. If they used a joiner he should be shot. If they actualy PAID him for his work THEY should be shot. I don't think the posh owners have any concept of self catering. A Teapot without a cosy is next to useless. We do NOT subscribe to the scruffy modern trend on sticking  a Tetley tea bag in a mug of boiling water. I was taught the art of tea making by none other than Miss Twining herself. And how can a man have his boiled egg for breakfast if there are no bloody Egg cups? Or a whisk for making an omelette? DO people really need a Hot tub in the garden when it is pi$$ing down with rain? Anyway tomorrow we head for Barra from Oban. Where on arrival we look forward to dining with @Soukousin the Castlebay Hotel as we are sharing the same Ferry and by coincidence using the same B&B. Our Hostess, Mrs Angela McNeil does a mean poached egg too.    
    • Galana
      It's not all doom and gloom here with us either. All bad things come to an end and we are on the Ferry to Barra tomorrow where we will have dinner with Martin. Four days with Corncrakes in the garden follow. This is about your trip and all seems to be OK. Don't mention 'bikes'. Half our island seem to be Cavendish wannabes. The other half want to go even faster and many end up in hospital or worse. If you want a ride in a helicopter and/or find a Doctor quickly just get on a Honda Fireblade or some such. As for hire cars. Surely Claire drives. Anyway I enjoy your short tale of Balearic fun and sun. Inspiration for others.   I hope your resolve holds up for Rosemarkle. See you there if it does.
    • KaliCA
      Today we say good-bye to Kanha NP and I liked this park a lot, since we had good tiger sightings and the landscape with lakes and meadows is also appealing to me. We have a long road transfer to the city of Jabalpur where we catch a local Indigo Flight back to Delhi. (I like the double meaning of the airline's name) Kanha and Bandhavgarh NP are both located in central India, Madyah Pradesh, so getting back to Delhi is taking all day.    In Delhi, we go back to the Radisson Blu Hotel (a highlight) and are upgraded to an executive suite. How wonderful! and we have continental food in the restaurant. No more Manjurian chicken.Yay! The next day, we drive to the holy city on the Ganges river, Haridwar. The ride takes us North through rural India again and we see a cow patty “factory”, and according to CB many people use those as fuel for making Naan bread in the Tandoor. We see more sugar cane fields than wheat fields along the way.       Tea break along the way. Our driver never sits with us for some reason... The town of Haridwar is a holy city and therefore eating meat and eggs is not allowed in its vicinity. We are greeted by a giant statue of Shiva. Many monasteries built on hills surround the area. A little further upriver is the town of Rishikesh, where, famously, the Beatles spent time in an Ashram. After checking in, we visit the bazaar area and are immersed into the colors of a bustling city full of pilgrims. Many of the poorest stay in tents in the flood plain                   Haridwar... to be continued...
    • TonyQ
      An amazing start to your report. You and your driver and guide worked hard. The photos are beautiful. The Sunda Leopard cat is stunning 
    • Dave Williams
      Birdwatching on Majorca isn't the biggest attraction for your average tourist by any means. Other than the usual beach holidays I think the biggest reason people visit is for cycling and the centre for cycling seems to be the north east corner where we were staying. The roads are full of lycra clad cyclists and they can be quite an obstacle to pass in built up areas. Fair do's they have as much right to the roads as everyone else but they do seem to be an arrogant lot on the whole, ignoring common rules like stopping at zebra crossings or if in a large group stopping at a roundabout once the leading riders have taken to it. They just keep on coming. The cycling industry is estimated to be worth £150m p.a. to the island so they are of course welcomed by those who stand to gain. On day 6 of our trip I suggested we might try somewhere different and a suggestion was made.The girls were glad of an opportunity to escape the usual routine because after the first couple of days the weather had become very iffy. Too cold, and too dull to sit on a sun bed and read so yes, let's all go for a day out even if it is to a birdwatching spot. Alas it wasn't to be. Saturday was race day. The big 312km around the island race. The entry was 8000, full capacity and no more allowed. We set off too late to escape the road closure and sat for 25 minutes watching them pass a particular point we were stuck at but even then we were soon to find we were encircled with no escape because of road closures. We gave up and returned back to base. We had had one evening during the previous week when we'd been able to go to the local beach and photograph Audouin's Gulls which was enjoyable and the girls had had a walk along the promenade to explore whilst we were doing so. Audouin's Gull   Majorca 2024 by Dave Williams, on Flickr It was probably my favourite shoot of the trip. Lovely weather, sandy beach, blue sea and my top of the wish list bird to see for the trip.  What's not to like? Audouin's Gull   Majorca 2024 by Dave Williams, on Flickr I didn't quite get the shots I was hoping for even though I took hundreds. Audouin's Gull   Majorca 2024 by Dave Williams, on Flickr However, Steve didn't seem too keen to repeat the event so we didn't go again. A shame because there was something for the girls to do there too. Rather than the usual evening hide I dropped him off there quite early and took the girls to Cala Sant Vicenç, a nearby beauty spot and tourist destination. The weather wasn't exactly conducive but we had a  wander around town and an ice cream to pass the time of day.   During tha first week we had another reason to worry too. Steve had cut his forehead before coming away and had ignored the warning signs of headaches and swelling to the point that Kerry 'googled' the symptoms and declared he definitely needed anti biotics. off we went to the chemist but we were told we needed a doctor's prescription. A doctors clinic was found and Claire and I sat in the car watching the rain fall in old town Pollensa while they went to the surgery.   We had nothing better to do in the weather so sitting there wasn't a problem. To our amazement they were in and out of the surgery in minutes complete with the needed paperwork for the chemist having seen a doctor. How come if I want an urgent appointment I have to ring the surgery at 8.00am and wait around 25 minutes to get through if I want to see anyone, not necessarily a doctor. Oh no, you have to be screened by a practice nurse first. Then you might get an appointment. If it's not considered urgent by the receptionist an appointment can take up to three weeks to get. What's gone wrong with our once world renowned National Health Service? How come Majorca can cope with a huge influx of millions of tourists each year without problems it seems. Anyway, it didn't rain everyday and I decided to have a game of pool. Not swimming pool perhaps but not far off it!   The cover had a leak so the cloth was often wet at first which slowed the balls down and made for frustration at times to say nothing of the unusual sight of spray coming off the table! A three way nightly tournament ended up with me loosing the final, beaten by Kerry . At least I wasn't last and we had a laugh along the way. Other than that, we visited just two other spots for birding both of which were largely unrewarding. The highlight of one was a Blue Rock Thrush. Blue Rock Thrush by Dave Williams, on Flickr the other, Son Real, I visited twice, once with Claire on a dull afternoon having dropped Steve and Kerry at the usual evening reserve, the second time on our way back to the airport for the flight home when I got to capture one of the target birds , Common Crossbill, which I was pleased to see.  Common Crossbill by Dave Williams, on Flickr and a bonus was a wild Tortoise, one of three species found on the island. Hermann's Tortoise by Dave Williams, on Flickr That just about summed up our holiday really. We were lucky in that the weather improved dramatically for the last three days and we did have some glorious sunshine but it was too little too late to be able to say the trip had gone to plan. The failed driving licence renewal had been pivotal. Steve relied on me to go everywhere and although I tried to please everyone as much as possible, towards the end I realised how fed up Claire was getting and that there was more than two bird photographers to consider and her needs had to be considered too. We'd hardly seen anything of Majorca, too much of it I'd sat looking at the same patch of water holding the same birds.  At least we managed one evening when Claire and I went for a stroll around the old town of Pollensa and sat and had a Mojito and just watched the people go by.Made a lovely change and something we should have done more often if truth be known. That however isn't everyones choice.   We agreed that if we were to do the trip again, two small cars were a better option than one big one even if it did add to the expense. The freedom to do our own thing when we want to and  to keep everyone happy most important. However, on this occasion two cars booked would have added to the problems. We'd have lost the deposit on one and been forced to change the other for a bigger car at the going rate demanded. They'd have had us over a barrel no doubt. So the moral of this story is make sure you check the validity of your driving licence if you intend hiring a car and while you are at it, makes sure that your passport has at least a clear 6 months before you leave home. Apparently many travellers are being turned away at the airport for not having sufficient validity left on theirs. Bet you all go and check now if you are not 100% sure so it was at least worth the effort of writing this report if someone is saved ! cheers Dave  
    • Scooter
      We chose to leave the sighting when Sebastian left to get a drink at the river.    We followed him,  and then continued on to the airstrip.    Funny to see him be quite timid approaching the water,  watching for crocs - when we just watched him be the super-predator.     The Hunter becomes the Hunted.   4 hours later,   we are sat in the Joberg airport.   Back in "civilization".    Watching  people come and go.     Shaking our heads,   that we had just come from feeling like we had been dropped into a DavidA documentary.       Hook firmly set.
    • Atdahl
      I love reading reports from Sabah.  It's truly an amazing place.  @johnweiryou are off to a great start.  I am already REALLY jealous on your Tarsier sightings since we struck out on both our trips.  You have some really nice night shots which I know are very hard to get.  I agree, the leopard cat is gorgeous.      Glad to hear the Mike is still the best spotter in the business.   Looking forward to more.   Alan
    • Dave Williams
      Oh dear, sorry to hear that things ain't going too well Fred. The sun has come out here this afternoon after what has been a typical miserable Spring Bank Holiday weekend. Oh well at least they won't need to run the heater in the car in the traffic jams going home! I hope it bucks up for you, and for me too for that matter. A week on a wet island off the Scottish coast followed by a stay in a caravan by the edge of the sea might test me again yet! Meanwhile I'll try and knock up a quick addition before I go outside for some evening photography in the garden. We have welcomed a new visitor this week.  Red Fox by Dave Williams, on Flickr
    • Galana
      I am so enjoying this. Many similarities that I can relate to. One NP I visited had the 'office' well inside the boundary and as we drove in to get the permit we naturally stopped at 'sightings'. We got arrested for 'looking at things without a permit!'. Full tale recounted elsewhere here. I can also relate to the hire car rental problems such as wiper and indicators being the 'wrong way' round. One car a KIA did not even have a handbrake, you tapped the pedal to release it. This took some doiing as , despite being from IOM I still only have TWO feet. So tapping the brake release whilst releasng the clutch and pressing the throttle pedal all in conjunction was a skill that eluded me. I once ended up running over the Lady Gs foot whilst she guided me away from an obstruction that had run into the road. Keep it coming Dave. I am inside out of the rain and despite this being our sixth day in this 'luxury cottage'  I can't yet fathom how to get the TV to work and all the windows are set so low one could not see out even if there was anything to see. (Which there is Not! The sole capture on my trailcam has been of myself settng the thing up each night.)
    • Dave Williams
      On that first day my enthusiasm was still high and we didn't return to the villa until around 1.00pm having on the return journey bought some bread, ham, cheese etc to have for lunch. Steve's enthusiasm for avian photography was insatiable and straight after lunch he was out and about the local area searching for opportunities which were in short supply despite plenty of birds being around. Two Wrynecks taunted us with their calling to each other but we, or at least I, never did see them although I personally didn't look very hard. As soon as the sunlight started to soften we were off to another reserve which is just 10 minutes or so away sandwiched between Pollensa Port and Alcudia, the Parc Natural Albufereta.  This park only has one single hide and the main species numerically were more Greater Flamingos but the star attraction were Stone Curlews, a particularly shy bird which are incredibly difficult to get close to as they spot you coming a mile off! In this reserve though they spend time on one island, albeit about 60-70m away and the furthest from in front of the hide where they gather in numbers and call each other in. I think the idea is to attract a mate and it's a sort of social meeting ground. Watching their behaviour is interesting , they are quite amusing in fact but getting a decent shot at that distance isn't the easiest even with a 1.6 crop sensor body and a 500mm lens with a 1.4TC attached. Stone Curlew by Dave Williams, on Flickr On just one occasion a bird landed on a nearer island briefly and at least that gave the opportunity for a better detailed shot. Stone Curlew   Majorca  2024 by Dave Williams, on Flickr For an additional amusement, trying to catch one flying in became the order of the day but they were always distant too and the equipment needed was different so it was challenging to say the least. Stone Curlew by Dave Williams, on Flickr My best moments came when a Yellow-legged Gull arrived back at the island meeting ground where it had a nest and decided to break up the party sending the Stone Curlews scattering in different directions. Stone Curlew by Dave Williams, on Flickr We never did get to see an actual mating, maybe being largely nocturnal they wait until darkness falls! Stone Curlew by Dave Williams, on FlickrOther than that, a Kentish Plover pair had their nest right next to the hide and over a couple of weeks we witnessed the eggs hatch and the chicks starting to forage before running back to mother for cover when ever anything big threatened to land nearby which didn't happen often. Kentish Plover by Dave Williams, on Flickr At least Steve got to take some photos of a Whiskered Tern, a first for him, which frequented the lagoon for several days running. Whiskered Tern by Dave Williams, on Flickr I was getting bored with the repetition of it all. Up , out, same place, back for lunch, out again to the same place for the evening session. The weather was effecting the photography but it was having a greater impact for Claire who was left sitting in the villa reading a book. The highlight of our day was the evening gathering for drinks and a BBQ which was good company and lots of laughs. At least going for more supplies to the local supermarkets broke the monotony post lunch but not everyone seems to like that either. TBC
    • Dave Williams
      It wasn't too long a drive to the reserve although on the first day Steve decided to direct me the long way around to avoid going through town I guess, not that town was busy at well before 8.00am however on the first day we were met at the park gate by a security guard who told us the park was shut until 9.00am unless we had a permit for early entry which was available free of charge from the visitor centre inside the park...which opened at 9.00am! No matter, just 30 minutes to kill so we wandered down to the near beach to see if there was anything of interest there. There wasn't but it was lovely to get some sea air and brilliant sunshine compared to the rotten weather we'd been having at home. Once in the park it's a long walk to the visitor centre and the nearest bird hides, about a mile in fact, so some exercise was going to be guaranteed in the coming weeks!   With the exception of just one venture outside the boxed area on the map which proved to be unrewarding I still managed to walk an average of around 5km per visit. The park itself was usually quiet first thing but by lunchtime was getting busy with casual visitors with little interest in the wildlife but using the tracks as a country walk or a cycle ride. The hides are in good order but the point of view for photography not ideal as you are looking down on any nearby subjects. The best birds , for me anyway, were Greater Flamingo Greater Flamingo by Dave Williams, on Flickr Pied Avocet Pied Avocet.   Majorca.  2024 by Dave Williams, on Flickr Red-crested Pochard Red-crested Pochard by Dave Williams, on Flickr and three species I have only seen once before, on the Spanish mainland. Marbled Duck Marbled Duck by Dave Williams, on Flickr Red-knobbed Coot  Red-knobbed Coot by Dave Williams, on Flickr and Purple Gallinule, which it turned out are egg predators when the occasion arises. I missed the opportunity to see it for myself as I had gone walkabout but Steve captured some excellent photos of what we both thought was a vegetarian species! Purple Gallinule by Dave Williams, on Flickr   There were other species about, of note were the constant singing of Common Nightingales and Cetti's Warbler but getting a decent shot was nigh impossible for me as the Cetti's  rarely showed well for more than seconds and the Nightingales were either in deep cover or high up in the trees. Numerically Common Shellducks and Black-winged Stilts seemed near the top of the list and I think altogether we probably spotted about 40 species there. Not a lot considering the size of the park and if I'm honest I got bored visiting the same place and watching the same birds virtually every day. The hoped for migration didn't happen. Waders dropping in were a rarity because we had such torrential rain on occasion the water levels had risen considerably flooding potential feeding grounds and endangering birds nests too. Black-winged Stilt by Dave Williams, on Flickr One one occasion, and the day Claire decided to come for a walk with us in the afternoon, the rain was so heavy and the wind so strong the hide became a refuge and all the viewing stations closed as everyone was getting soaked even sat on the back row away from the windows.   It was a different experience sitting in the dark anyway! What had been this view from the hide on our first day more often looked like this    Dull and poor light for photography. TBC
    • Dave Williams
      Anyway, there we were in the parking lot of Centauro rental cars and me sat behind the wheel of a totally unfamiliar car. At home I drive a 14 year old Skoda Superb which when new had all the latest I presume. The other car is a  fully automatic Toyota Yaris which has so much gadgetry the battery has a tendency to run flat if left at an airport car park for any length of time over a couple of weeks. The Hyundai doesn't have a traditional handbrake but a lever to release the brake which only works if you put your foot on the footbrake. New to me but Steve seemed to think I should know that and was also raising eyebrows when the windscreen wipers came on instead of the indicators. Anyway we got to our destination with no trouble at all and after a light lunch at a beach cafe/bar which cost 40 euros pp for burger and chips and a soft drink we went in search of our villa which was to our satisfaction.   A secure gated car park Looked nice   A decent sized pool and far reaching views across largely unspoilt countryside. An outdoor BBQ and seating area and an indoor kitchen and lounge/diner. Everything was fine even if the weather was soon to change for the worse. We managed to eat on our terrace every night bar one even if it did mean wearing several layers. Everyone except Steve's wife Kerry stayed out of the pool and she only managed a few brief dips due to the threat of Polar bears and hypothermia but never mind it was nice and warm on the sunbeds so for our first morning Steve and I were up early at my suggestion and by 7.30 am we had arrived at our destination, the Parc Natural S'Albufera De Mallorca,the biggest bird reserve on the island. The girls were happily tucked up in bed getting over the long day we'd had travelling. TBC
    • Dave Williams
      https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/news/motoring-news/almost-a-million-drivers-at-risk-of-receiving-1000-fine-could-you-be-one-of/   Amazing statistics... you are certainly not alone Steve. 2% of UK drivers forgot, that's around 900,000 people.  
    • Dave Williams
      @GalanaI'm told you get sent a reminder by the DVLA but I haven't as yet needed one. Maybe you have to sign up for it ? Anyway, I have all my reminders set on my computer calendar, some are set to remind me every year until cancelled and an alert can be set before you get there. I still manage to forget our wedding anniversary on a regular basis though
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