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Another bloody safari - Mara and Ol Pejeta October 2015


pault

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There is so much amazing drama over the last two and a half pages, from all sizes of animal. Just great stuff.

Love the cheetahs and the springhare in particular; the latter is an especially impressive photographic accomplishment.

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You can't miss this one, even if it's another of the "boring ones".   Strange, new creatures there were! Giant caterpillar cats.       The rare Eastern Black Lion

So that was a pretty impressive reintroduction to Olare Motorogi. Still it couldn't carry on like this could it? It was like Dial-a-Predator. Well, we didn't do any dialing (or not that I noticed, alt

@@madaboutcheetah I have one shot of the top of a male's head. Not what you were hoping for I am sure. Incredibly, we just didn't have time to see the males. We spent quite a long time with the animal

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The territory around Serian belongs to the River Pride, but probably since most of their territory is outside the reserve. they are realtively wary of humans and keep a low profile. @@bettel was fortunate enough to see them, but we were not (and we were the normal ones in this respect). So, for close-to-guaranteed lions, Serian have to share the Cheli pride. I beleive they are now over 30 strong, so it isn't that much of a guiding feat to find some, and no problem for Jonathon. All the main Mara North prides seem to have grown, with each having close to 30 members now, and in the case of the Cheli pride it is certainly due to recent good survival rates for cubs - there are a large number of young sub-adults.

 

Anyway, we spent a bit of time with this pride on three occasions while in Mara North, and the first members we met were busy making even more cubs.

 

I was thinking how can I make shots of lions mating more interesting? How can I catch the essence of something? How can I be different? And then I realised that i always though like this and that in fact I didn't actually have a full set of the stages of mating from a normal point of view. So that's what I got. If you don't know what the pictures are going to be, you haven't been reading enough trip reports. :P

 

 

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the last shot and the one below show both how handsome he is - a classic lion look - but also how windy iit was... look at the combover he's got going on below..

 

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Another time we visited an area the guides apparently refer to as the tea planatation (for obvious reasons). It's all green bushes - almost like a landscaped garden - and hte lions like their shade. The sub-adults were there with a couple of adults (maybe 10 in total) and they were quite active. However, the constant movement made it very difficult to photograph them between the many bushes - one would run out from behind one bush but by the time you got her in focus, part of her would already be behind another bush. Great fun to watch though - playing and fooling around on the move.

 

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Moving through the "tea plantation" (no, it is not really tea)

 

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Only by twisitng and turning could I catch them ina ction between the bushes, and in this case I had to shoot through a space too small - I can't even remember what it was. I could crop but I kind of like the framing, and it gives me an excuse for a shot that could have been a bit better timed and a bit sharper even (a gimmick in other words).

 

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On the other occasion they were resting and relatively inactive. By the way, you don't need to ask Cheli & Peacock for permission to view "their pride". :)

 

 

 

 

A few more shots from around Mara North

 

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Juvenile Yellow-billed Stork

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Very young Thomson's Gazelle with mother

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More giraffes ( I say more because there are a lot of photos of from Ol Pejeta, but of course you haven't seen those yet.

 

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Hippo towards sunset (taken from the tent at Ngare Serian)

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And now we get to the bloody bit.

 

The day after the night drive we were scheduled to go to the Serian tree house, which was actually only 5-10 minutes walk from our tent. We made a 20 minute walk of it by starting our journey from the bridge (itself 2-3 minutes from our tent) and looking at every bit of scat and footprint going but we were not going too far really. It was already quite late when we left (again by design) and cloud was starting to build, so we were a bit concerned that the thing might end up rained off. The wind was actually beginning to howl too.

 

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Dinner and a portable bar had already been transferred there for us by invisible hands, so we were not going to be roughing it.

 

Jonathon checking the house for leopards or flying hippos or something before we go up.

 

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It's beautiful and has lovely views over the river.You can sleep inside (well sort of inside - covered) or outside on a deck with just the tree branches for cover. Really very, very nice. if you want to have a slumbery evening on safari. As bettel mentioned, the guide sleeps in a pup tent on the ground, discretely out of sight and mind behind a bush but within shouting distance just in case (not that we thought there would be a case).

 

Jonathon served wine (look at that natural wine waiter's stance he has - hahaha) and after chatting a while unwrapped the dinner and left it on the counter for us to serve ourselves, which we did.

 

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As it got dark the sky was looking ominous, and the wind was getting very strong- we had to eb careful where we left things so they wouldn't fly away. However, Jonathon was of the opinion that the wind was too strong for rain and that these rain clouds would dump their load elsewhere. And he was right - for that night at least,

 

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Everyone was enjoying themselves as real darkness fell and I stood up to go and get some more pie (a bean pie I think, but it was dark - certainly a vegetable one). My wife had told me to wear my head torch 3-4 times now, but she does that... nag a bit. I'm not a kid you know - can look after myself quite well

 

Thwak!!!!

 

I walked straight into the branch photographed below (the next morning). No grazing or bumping or anything - just marched into it like a man trying to decapitate himself. I was stunned but aware enough that I needed to stop and then to gradually crumple to the ground. I could feel the blood running doen my face. Both my wife and Jonathon were possibly more shocked than me initially, so I tried to lighten the mood by pointing to a piece of some kind of squash on the floor, fallen from my pie, and doing the "I'm okay. I'm okay. Just a fleshwound. Oh! Is that a piece of my brain?" routine. My wife cracked up but it didn't have quite teh same efffect on Jonathon. We had no medical supplies (well camp was not far away at all, but I really didn't want to abandon the tree house) but my wife got ice and tissues and managed to stop the bleeding more or less (these wounds always bleed dramatically at first). It looked terrible,and I had a headache of course, but U was clear headed and so we tried to carry on with the evening as if nothing had happened. Jonathon excused himself - maybe he thought we were mad or jsut that it was time to go as I was lying down - talking and drinking wine, but lying down as I felt better that way,

 

 

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Anyway, the wine didn't help much and so I decided to go to bed. My wife stayed up and ended up sleeping on the bed outside, under the stars. That was just as well as I had a very restless night and woke up to find I had somehow kicked my shirt out of the window (i hadn't put any screens or nets down as there were no noticable mosquitos). Mix of malarone and head injury probably, or maybe I was coming down with something.

 

In the morning we headed back to camp and I didn't feel great - but not bad really. I didn't think there was any concussion. We got the wound dressed at camp, had breakfast and I went out on a game drive, but after 2 hours asked Jonathon to come back as i was feeling pretty terrible. I was running a fever and generally just felt like a fly landing on my nose could crush me. No other symptoms except for sore joints. After three hours sleep I went down to lunch, not really eating much but getting some fever killers (ones Roisin used for malaria, although in fact my wife was carrying them). We had ana agreement that if i wasn't any better by 4 Jonathon would take me to Governor's Camp to see a doctor.

 

I practically collapsed back into bed but woke up at 5 feeling fine - like I could go on a game drive. My wife did not think that was a good idea and, just in case it was concussion-related, I thought I should follow her clear-headed advice. So I basically wasted a whole day in Africa in bed, ill. A real first. It was kind of like malaria, but of course it wasn't. No idea what hit me and how could it be a coincidence that I hit my head the ngiht before - or was that because i was already getting sick? And how could there be a link? Who knows? I was 100% next day, but that was unfortunately our day to drive to the aristrip for a morning flight. Almost a sad end (except of course it wasn't really).

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Tom Kellie

~ @@pault

 

Very sorry to hear that.

Did likewise about ten years ago.

Glad you recovered.

Tom K.

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~ @@pault

 

 

 

Very sorry to hear that.

Did likewise about ten years ago.

Glad you recovered.

Tom K.

I deserve little sympathy Tom, and if you did what I did neither did you! Completely my own fault. All sympathy should be with my wife and the Serian staff who had to treat me.

 

And with people who have to tolerate my typos - turning reading into a decoding exercise. I am getting bad again - had one post with almost none.

Edited by pault
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That beats my acacia thorn stuck in the forehead. Who needs a torch?

Edited by Patty
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That beats my acacia thorn stuck in the forehead. Who needs a torch?

 

Ouch! I'll be sure to have either you or Paul walk in front of me if we are out of an evening anywhere, but especially on safari :P

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Soukous

What a safari you had @@pault

lion hunt/kill and a cheetah hunt/kill

 

plus so many beautiful sightings of spotted cats - your next safari will have a lot to live up to

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@@pault

I am just up to the wonderful black and white photos of the trees - excellent

And then spring hare, zorilla and aardvark - what a great drive (to follow on from your romantic dinner!)

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@@pault

 

Fantastic report and I really appreciate that I'm not the only one to suffer from head wounds on safari!

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ZaminOz

@@pault

Which was more painful; the bump to the head, or the "I told you so" you no doubt got from Mrs pault a little later?

;)

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armchair bushman

Well I've just caught up with several days' worth of TR. And I continue to be amazed at the sightings and the quality of the photography. And continuously amused by the story-telling.

Highlights for me from the past few days:

1. Hornbill killing/eating puff adder and holding it by the open mouth!! I can't believe no one else has made much mention of this!

2. Cheetah wildebeest kill. Really enjoyed your description of the mum walking around "coaching" her cubs rather than getting involved.

3. Wildebeest line on the horizon with balloon above - what a typical Masai Mara scene

4. Two Leopard Gorge trees. I have photos of the same two trees, though nothing nearly as dramatic as yours.

5. Aardvark and Zorilla #2!

 

I'm interested to see you were in a Land Rover at Ngare Serian. I've always known Alex as a die-hard Land Cruiser man.

Also really good to see your photos and read the experience in the tree-house (minus the brain on the floor - sorry about that). The website doesn't explain it very well or represent it very well in photos.

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@ZaminOz The head wound is long healed. The other continues.

 

And @everybody, as I hinted.... that isn't quite the end. It couldn't end on a low note like that, could it? Roisin told us we didn't need to be at the airstrip until 10.30, so we could take out breakfast and actually have a pretty good length final drive the next morning. That was supposed to be depicted in this post, but I haven't had time to process any photos this week and so I'll have to reverse the order of my posts and give you the "postscript" first.

 

Since I have dropped strict chronological order I didn't want to make the lions fight for space with the serval that we saw on the same day as the too-flat--for a-photo third lion encounter - actually the morning of the night drive.

 

We came accross a Kicheche vehicle parked next to some bushes and a lugga. Jonathon looked for a few moments. "Do you know Onesmus?" he asked. No, we didn't - we knew Benjamin from Kicheche Mara Camp.. "Hmmm.... He has found a serval."

 

And so he had, following where the photographer in Onesmus' vehicle was pointing (and hey, he's waving at us - we'd been at Kicheche Bush Camp with them) I could see a serval, out in the open. Joy! We spent about an hour with her - mostly waiting for her to do something or to reappear from the lugga, and often with her choosing to put herself between us and hte sun, which was getting higher and higher... but still, fabulous. She was very relaxed. Just went about her business - inspecting for prey, cleaning herself, short nap then more chekcing for prey. She didn't catch anything by the way - and in fact didn't seem very hungry, but she gave us a bit of a show. I'd seen a serval once before but it was hunting in long grass and didn't show us any other behaviour really. Servals are kooky cats.

 

 

Sun behind but a very clear view of the long legs, tiny head, big ears and stubby little tail.

 

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Down in the lugga she went did some pretty thorough grooming. No sun but enough light for a very nice view of her at work.

 

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And I had just enough time for a couple of quick shots when she came out into the light for once - but if I was her I would have stayed in teh shade too as it was a hot day.

 

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A couple of other bits and pieces missed before....

 

Crocodile sunbathing

 

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Our tent from the conservancy side of the river - this drive answered my question about how visible our tent was from this area, which was of passing interest since we had an outside shower. answer - surprisingly, it is not that easy to see. We had to come in quite close before I could get a photo. In any case, nobody really drives in this bit of mara North - it is way off road. But that wasn't why I had traveled there (if somebody were able to take pleasure from the sight of me taking a shower they would be welcome to enjoy). It was for the photo op. My wife is not just sitting on the deck there in a dress by coincidence.

 

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And we wanted a picture of the treehouse from the other bank too. See how well hidden it is, even though it feels so open when you are there in it,

 

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A couple more shots of our neighbours...

 

There were a lot of them...

 

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Next post will be the last from the Mara and a nice way to end. Hyena den, jackal cubs and a tree are the highlights. Will you follow me to the end (and beyond... I still have to tell you about Ol Pejeta!)

 

 

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.

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madaboutcheetah

Brilliant Serval .......... OMG - that relaxed!!! I've seen images online from the Mara of relaxed Serval - but, now you are proof that they really do exist! ;)

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Zim Girl

Love the crocodile on the rocks - and definitely still following!!

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michael-ibk

Can I have just a few days of your "boring" trips, Paul? Pretty please?

 

Sensational stuff, I can´t believe the kind of sightings you were having. Crossing/Climbing Topi-Megaherds, Eagles fighting Marabous, Zorilla, Aardvark(!), Aardwolf(!), Hornbills devouring Puff Adders, Panning Springhares, relaxed Serval (resulting in the very best Pictures I´ve ever seen of that cat). You know you have an exceptional report when stuff like mating Lions, Leopard cubs and even hunting Cheetah seem almost mundane in comparison. Just incredible!

 

Your pictures are of course as magnificent as they´ve ever been, and your writing often made me chuckle or lol even. Perfect description of Safari time: " bumpabumpabumpaclickclickclickbumpabumpabumpaclickbumpawhere?there?clickclickbumpabumpaclickclickclick" :D

 

Sad story about the last Olooloolo Boy, but seeing Malaika and her cubs again through your lens made up for that. Love "The throat, silly, get the throat, silly, don´t lick it, bite it for goodness´s sake", good Thing I wasn´t drinking anything when reading that, my Keyboard would be quite a mess now.

 

Sorry about your back and your head, never ever underestimate the power of a branch. ;)

 

Looking Forward to Ol Pejeta!

 

Oh, and I totally see that Caracal, it´s right next to the Pangolin!

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armchair bushman

Love the closing shot with the Jackal. I feel like I'm there.

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@@madaboutcheetah Yes me too. It's true. The Mara has some very relaxed servals.

 

@@armchair bushman. I thought that photo was rather remarkable too (and a bit of research later turned up a YouTube video where the hornbill does thsi to a clearly still live, unwounded and dangerous snake, so it seems it was no mistake) but I think posting everything together like this, stuff easily gets overlooked. And thanks!

 

Funny thing was it seemed less remarkable at the time @@michael-ibk It was almost like everything waited for us to happen or to appear. There really were all those perfectly normal hours in between (and it wouldn't have been fun if there weren't) which I would usually tell some stories from, but the report is already a long one. And it's all like "if we had found the leopard we were looking for, under a bush we would never have seen the hornbill and snake, and if we hadn't been delayed by that for half an hour (because they took so long to kill and eat it) we would not have found Malaika 10 minutes before hose wildebeest came over the hill. So I'd be reporting on a sighting of a leopard under a bush and Maiaika and cubs under a bush (never knowing that they had just killed a wildebeest). And we would have been reasonably happy with that, no doubt.

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That is a beautiful serval- great photos of a great sighting!

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It was almost like everything waited for us to happen or to appear. There really were all those perfectly normal hours in between (and it wouldn't have been fun if there weren't) which I would usually tell some stories from, but the report is already a long one. And it's all like "if we had found the leopard we were looking for, under a bush we would never have seen the hornbill and snake, and if we hadn't been delayed by that for half an hour (because they took so long to kill and eat it) we would not have found Malaika 10 minutes before hose wildebeest came over the hill. So I'd be reporting on a sighting of a leopard under a bush and Maiaika and cubs under a bush (never knowing that they had just killed a wildebeest). And we would have been reasonably happy with that, no doubt.

 

And there you have it. The essence of a safari (otherwise just go visit a zoo).

One can dwell on being five minutes late to a sighting, or leaving five minutes early.

Or one can marvel at the wonders that nature presents.

Willing the magic to unfold.

For the scene to behold.

And tales that must be told.

 

You will have to excuse me, I am drunk and waxing poetic un-necessarily (and it does not even scan).

Edited by johnkok
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madaboutcheetah

How did I miss that Jackal photo yesterday, I wonder? ......... Brilliant - that last one.

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Glad you survived your branch encounter @@pault!

Really like the hippo photo taken from the tent (is it my imagination or did it appear twice?). Also, awesome detail on the juvenile stork!

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Glad you survived your branch encounter @@pault!

Really like the hippo photo taken from the tent (is it my imagination or did it appear twice?). Also, awesome detail on the juvenile stork!

Haha Photos shouldn't appear twice but that can happen occasionally when I reorganise photos in my online galleries. My old trip reports have a number of such repeats. Oops... I'll have a look. Thanks.

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