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It was one of the best days - Porini Lion, Olare Motorgiri Conservancy


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Creative Interlude


Jackson is a keen photographer (the Gamewatchers Facebook feed often has contributions from him) and during every drive there would be a search for a suitable animal and suitable position to produce some iconic sunrise / sunset shots. This morning it meant a few minutes away from the lions (probably a relief for them and for the audience here) and the opportunity to get creative with a rising sun, topi and impala.











Next up - back to the retreating lion pair





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Being creative is very important in photography, @@pomkiwi , and your sunrise shots are very good examples of that While lions are a eye-catching (even if just being lazy) they cannot compete with the topi with a rising sun in its background! Show them more!!

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@@xelas Thank-you and I think I agree! This trip was a bit different for me in that for the first time I went without feeling I needed to get photographs of specific animals in a 'portrait' mode (although I still took some and will always do so as there is always room for a different or better portrait). What I was conciously trying to do this time was to get images that reflected the animal in a place (and the photos of topi in front of a rising sun or beside a sterotypically African tree are examples) or alternatively images that share some experience of animal behaviours. The latter was the reason for the sequence of lion photos which I hope recorded some of the courtship behaviour of the female even if the technical quality is open to some significant critcism. I made a tongue in cheek comment in one of the planning threads that going on my first trip to Kenya was like playing with the grown-ups and I guess in terms of photography I feel a bit the same.


None of this is to be taken too seriously but it is great to have two pastimes (safari travel and photography) that encourage a bit of serious thought as well as being great fun and very relaxing. :)

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Time to Leave


Once the sun was up we returned to the lion pair who had moved up to the bank of a small river. There was still the sound of lions calling from afar.


The male returned some calls but was clearly uncomfortable with the response.



Although he sat and then lay down he was clearly not in a mood to relax.




The female curled herself around him but other than one polite sniff he didn't seem even to be able to pretend to be interested.














Eventually after more roaring from the distance he got up and crossed over the river without a backward glance. The female followed shortly afterwards and the pai disappeared.







It was interesting to watch the pair interacting but very impressive to see the dominance exerted by a pair of male lions over this male from a distance of several miles away.


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The wildebeest as drama queen: my first Mara (mini) crossing


A short break from lions (we will return).


Christopher pointed out a small group of about 40 wildebeest on the other side of the small river just crossed by the lions. The group decided to cross but for reasons I don't fully understand chose an area of thick cover and a near vertical drop to the river. All too easy to imagine a predator or two could be lying in wait and how easily an injury might occur.








It was difficult to get a clear view and we moved on. It was with some disbelief that a few minutes later I saw that they were about to cross the same river again when all the risk could have been removed by them wandering around the small loop of the river. The crossing spot was rather easier but even so there was quite a lot of pressure within the herd as they crossed despite the absence of any obvious predator - I guess instinct is a strong driver.







I quickly realised that wildebeest look much better in black and white.




Rather sadly I was quite excited that I had seen my first 'crossing' and quite prepared to use carefully edited images to act as proof. Fortunately for my conscience and also anyone still following this report there was someting rather more genuine and involving a proper river to follow the next day - there will be pictures.


It was not easy not to be affected by the plight of one calf who had clearly got lost in the two crossings and was now very likely to find itself falling prey to the efficient local predators.





Edited by pomkiwi
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A dominant force


We decided to go and find the lions that were having such an effect. They were a surprising distance away, about 10 minutes steady drive.




They were a handsome pair who had already turned away and were returning towards the pride by the time we arrived (quite how they knew the potential threat was no more I have no idea but assume there was something in the calls from the retreating male).








Rather than follow them any further we turned around in search of a breakfast spot - but not before an interesting river crossing of our own.



Edited by pomkiwi
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@@optig @@xyz99 Thank-you both for your comments. There were a lot of excellent opportunities for photography and the condition of all the predators we saw (not just the lions) was very good - they clearly have a good life in the Mara :)

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Well done Jackson and @pornkiwi on the topi sunrise. Almost perfect Love the boys taking a walk too.


Clearly from the last picture, the Mara has not been badly hit by the drought affecting some areas of Kenya.

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@@pault Thank-you for your comment - is it to late to edit the user name you have credited me with? :o


I got the impressin that the rains and the greening had been very recent - there was a visible change in the three days I was there.

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@@pault Thank-you for your comment - is it to late to edit the user name you have credited me with? :o


I got the impressin that the rains and the greening had been very recent - there was a visible change in the three days I was there.

Indeed it is too late. Sorry but now you're stuck with it. Sorry, I'm prone to this at the best of times and I am flu-ridden at the moment. If it is any comfort it is a perfectly respectable username in Thailand. I know lots of nice girls called Porn and even a Supaporn and have male colleagues called Pornchai, Pornanan, Pornwit.

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@@pault No worries - I shall try to avoid having to discuss my 'new' username with my wife though........

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Breakfast and my only view of elephants


Anyway returning to the trip report....


We found a place that felt it was on the top of the Mara for breakfast.




The truck was going need a bit of a clean later.




A warthog arrived late for the sunrise but I felt the need for some photographic playtime.




I got my only sight of elephants on this trip - a family group on a journey.





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Vultures (and a bullied eagle)


After breakfast we decided to stop and spend a few minutes watching a group of vultures finishing off the very last remains of a wildebeest.




They provided an easy opportunity to practice some basic bird in flight techniques.




It proved remarkably easy to identify the dominant bird as it landed and immediately took over the feeding opportunity:













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The same bird then took off to where there was another vulture feeding.







It didn't break step whilst claiming the prize.







If it was human you could interpret this posture as indicating some embarrassment about all the fuss over a small bone.








Honour and status were restored however by chasing off a tawny eagle.








It was very interesting watching the interaction and witnessing the pecking order (pun intended) within and between the vulture species and then between the various groups of birds.

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Some (mainly) smaller diversions


A few individual sightings were made as we followed the lions. A brief round up:


An agama lizard




A close encounter with a curious hippo




A rather elegant jackal




Some banded mongoose doing their morning stretches



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An unsuccessful hunt


It had been a good morning but we had one last highlight. A female cheetah who looked as though she was pregnant was scanning for prey.






She set off on a slow but purposeful prowl.






We could see that she had an eye on a small group of topi and in particular a small calf. Unfortunately for her the topi could also see what she had in mind.




They moved off and after a show of defiant caring the cheetah settled herself down in the shadow of a tree.









We took this as our cue to head off for lunch. Although it looked as though a storm was brewing it came to very little where we were.






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Ladies that lunch (1)


It was a hot afternoon but cloudy although the threatened rain didn't arrive until after dark. In the end the whole afternoon was spent in the company of female predators in the process of eating.


We had been light on leopards so far and when Jackson heard on the radio of a sighting in the national park we went over. This was a bit of a culture shock as we had got very used to cruising around pretty much on our own in the conservancy. The leopard in question was tucked in a gully that opened into the river. There must have been about 20 vehicles around the gully with more arriving. Because of the way she had tucked herself into the undergrowth and the number of vehicles it was difficult to get a clear view.
















Opposite us was a car with some very serious cameras on board. There was some fairly aggressive shouting and we were waved away as 'they want to shoot with wide angle cameras'. Slightly to my surprise we did move but I had to smile a little when another vehicle moved into our space 20 seconds later....


The leopard moved to the lip of the gulley with the remains of the kill




However as the gully was by now completely ringed by cars her only exit was to retreat to the river. At this point we decided that we had seen enough and headed away for the peace of the conservancy. My first taste of 'Mara madness'. In conversation afterwards we were told that we probably wouldn't have bothered if we had seen any leopards previously (my companions in the car had been on safari in Kenya for nearly a week and hadn't seen one) - we were to be rewarded with a couple of much calmer sightings later on.

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Ladies that lunch (2)


We headed back to where the cheetah had given up hunting and taken to resting in the morning.

500m or so away we found her looking very well fed having killed a small impala.







Compared with the leopard we had just left it was clear how urgently the cheetah need to eat. Unlike the leopard there was no time spent grooming after every few mouthfuls.






She was constantly looking around and it was easy to imagine how vulnerable she was to loosing her kill.







The other remakable thing was that it was the first time I've ever seen a cheetah looking anything other than pristine!








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There will be more big cats and food to come but for a moment of calm.....


A lilac breasted roller steadfastly not rolling.




Some dramatic landscapes (rain is always best appreciated from a distance).






A zebra family making the most of the new grass.





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The cheetah meal looks like a gazelle rather than impala, although there's not much left to go on - I am definitely not going to guess whether it is a fairly mature Tommie or a Grant's fawn!


Great stuff. Love the Mara when the weather is changing all the time like that.

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The cheetah meal looks like a gazelle rather than impala, although there's not much left to go on - I am definitely not going to guess whether it is a fairly mature Tommie or a Grant's fawn!


@@pault Only on Safaritalk (probably) :D

Anyway I promise that there will be no need of a forensic opinion to identify the subject of the third lunch........

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Cubs at Play


It was on the way to getting dark when we returned to the pride of lions we had seen yesterday.


One particular cub clearly had an excess of energy to use up.




Time to attack something



What is the best target?








I'm tough enough




Yep I can win this one



Got her pinned down now.



See - I'm the boss


OK who's next?


Edited by pomkiwi
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