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


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@@pomkiwi, what a wonderful sighting. You did well to capture it, and I think I too would love to sit there and ponder the tension in the air. Did Jackson have any thoughts on what caused the crossing like this, it seems to me maybe irregular? In any event what an incredible surprise, and without all the crowds of high season!

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@@AmyT Thank-you for your comment. The zebras joined in the second crossing and provided some more stories and some nice photo opportunities that I will post later or sometime over the weekend.


@@amybatt Thank-you as well. We were fortunate in that the crossing itself went on for a while (about 15 minutes) and as such there was time to decide what to concentrate on - I pick out a couple of aspects later. We were also beautifully positioned (as usual) by Jackson.

I have tried to read up a little on the migration and crossings as well as trying to remember the conversations we had at the time. I think this was unusual in that there probably about 500 animals involved (much smaller than the seasonal crossings but larger than I understand to be normal in between the main migration movements). The reason seems to be that it has been very dry earlier this year and for a few days we had quite heavy rainfall on 'our' side of the Mara. Christopher in particular was both excited and relieved to see the Mara turning green almost before our eyes. It seems that the small groups generally seen around at this time of year had come together as they were following the rain and we ended up with the sighting we had. I understand this was not the only medium sized crossing during this period.

I am not an expert and hope that if anyone has more knowledge they will correct any inaccuracies.

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The zebras join in


The flow of wildebeest coming into the river was constant but didn't seem too extreme.




Zebra started to come down as well and began to enter the water




Pressure to leave the water seemed worse but the widebeest seemed fairly patient.




As the zebras reached the other side there seemed to be greater tension to get out. It appeared as though there might be some competition between the species as things seemed to quieten down a little later on when only zebras were present.






I will apologise in advance for the number of similar images and the number of black and white conversions. It was quite a powerful scene and I felt that black and white conveys this better.









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Following a foal


I mentioned earlier on that it was good to have a long time in a good position to watch the crossing. Having tried to record some of the activity and tension of the bigger group I decided to try and concentrate on some individuals. As a result I took a sequence of pictures following a foal across the river.





















It all seemed to go quite smoothly although I did wonder if the foal would get into trouble in the crush to exit the river. It was interesting to note that this foal and some of the others I followed seem to be left on the outside of a group and as such potentially more vulnerable.

As an aside when watching the few wildebeest that did jump into the river they seemed to be the larger animals and seemed to be aiming to get into the centre of a group - again to avoid potential danger?

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Game Warden

@@pomkiwi Yes, the B&W really conveys the drama and chaos of the crossing well. The facial expression of the zebra in the 7th image of post #78 really caught my attention.



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Yes, the image singled out by Matt is powerful. Really like those. IMHO B&W is good because (i) zebras are made for it and pop out even more (ii) the colours are pretty much as dull as Mara River water anyway at that time of day.


Very well observed crossing! Not too many shots at all.


Only in the Mara while you wait for a crossing you fit in some cheetahs, some lions and a nice breakfast!! Classic.

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A lucky escape


We hadn't seen much of the crocodiles but as the crossing slowed we saw a couple cruising up the river.

Watching one group of zebra a couple suddenly turned and started swimming in the opposite direction.


There was then a large splash and one of the zebra came up out of the water a little




It was then dragged away upstream




It appeared to be struggling to get towards the bank




Then suddenly it managed to stand up and scrambled away.




Looking closely at the group in the foreground however I'm not certain there isn't one being dragged under.



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A casualty


At least two crocodiles continued to look for opprotunities.


One approached from upstream.



It closed quickly on a small group




In an instant it grabbed a foal around the muzzle




A second later it was dragged under - and did not reappear




We saw a couple of other approaches that were unsuccessful



Jackson explained that the crocodiles are confused by the currents and eddies created by a large group crossing - in this case it seemed more that the crocodile was trampled under the hooves.

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All over


It seemed as though the last group of zebra were safely out when one decided to return back over the river.




Although crocodile was close it didn't give chase



The returnee then came back to the bank with a few stragglers



They all crossed safely - note that although there are a few vehicles close to the exit they were all positioned well away from the direct path which was typical of the relaxed and respectful attitude that morning.



On the way back we stopped briefly for the topi sharing sentry duty



Then for a bit longer when a flat tyre needed to be changed



Finally back at camp I was able to work out just why the buffalo sounded so close last night.....



What a superb morning. We arrived back with big smiles on our faces and I allowed myself a lunchtime Tusker as a quiet celebration.


However the afternoon wasn't too bad either with a cheetah, lots of lions and another leopard awaiting us..........


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Game Warden

@@pomkiwi Your photos make me want to be in the Mara. Right now...



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@@Game Warden Thank-you very much. I must admit to having spent some time plotting way to return in the month since I got back! (although no clear plan has emerged - yet).

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@@pomkiwi, I've only been home 8 days and I'm trying to scheme a return! Thinking September-October-ish...

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@@pomkiwi, I've just read this thread from the start to now today, what a fantastic trip so far. Lots of amazing sightings, I'd say the stalking leopard has to be my favorite so far. And as others have said the black and white photos really bring out the details of the crossing. Looking forward to more, thanks for sharing.

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A gentle start to the afternoon


Somehow I find it difficult to return to the great time I had in Kenya given the appalling news from Sosian. I have no connection with that area and have not travelled with Offbeat but am still saddened. However although I'm still struggling to process the news I will continue to reflect positively on my experience of Kenya.


From my tent I could see a car settled under a tree for a good long while. With the aid of binoculars I could just about make out the shape of a cheetah. We headed off to see for ourselves - this was the view from afar.



We spent a while with a cheetah that was just relaxing in the heat of the day, not doing very much.





We saw a chanting Goshawk (I think ) in poor light




A juvenile tawny eagle (again I think) and again in poor light.






A secretary bird looking very officious



And an agama lizard catching the last sunlight.





Edited by pomkiwi
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I really enjoyed your crossing tale - we get many reports and pictures of these on Safaritalk but I thought yours was quite special because you perfectly conveyed the feeling of what it was like to be there. Well told, and great pictures!

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@@michael-ibk Thank-you for your kind words. I'm glad I succeeded in what i was trying to do! It was a privilege to spend a couple of hours there and I was probably more engaged with wat we were seeing in the lead up to the crossing than in the event itself. The air of tension when the first group of zebra were separated and calling incessantly was impossible to convey in pictures but unforgetable.

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An afternoon with lions


We went back to the pride we had last seen getting very muddy whilst dealing with a zebra. Today they were much cleaner and the two males were also with them. As previously the pride were taking some shade in the bushes and getting clear views was quite challenging.






The adults were generally trying to get some rest while the youngsters were busy trying to get some reaction from siblings. cousins or grown ups. Some were just trying to get some feeding done.





The relative size ot the generations is shown by the size of the paw beside the scrapping youngsters.





The male was shortly to get lots more attention....

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More lion cubs (warning - gets very cute)


The cubs continued to be active and feeding in equal measure.




One in particular appeared determined to try his luck with one of the males.






The adult was remarkably tolerant despite some repeated provocation.










Eventualy he got tired of the irritation and expressed this clearly




Christopher had suggested that the 3 week old cubs of one of the females might be hidden close by. In fact they were all tucked under the bush at the back of the group.


Their mother had decided that this was the moment to introduce the cubs to the wider family. We were told that this was quite young but reflected the coherence of this family group (all 4 females currently have cubs and all are sisters). The introductions mainly happened out of clear view unfortunately but we could see that the next most junior cubs were closely monitored by the mother in their approaches to their young cousins.






It was time to move on and allow the other vehicle a clear view...

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  • 3 weeks later...

One of the best days comes to an end


Apologies for the gap in posting but I've been away to Chile - a short report will follow as it was a family trip and most of the photography took in landscapes rather than wildlife.


After the lions we moved on to a kingfisher.




This moved off smartly.





We however were left stuck in the mud and had to be towed out before finding anther kingfisher to stop for.





We found a dik-dik





Finally another male leopard who was generally lazing around.







Eventually he heard some guinea fowl and got up to investigate.







His hunt was unsuccessful and we finished this amazing day under an acacia as no game could be found for Jackson's sunset photo....








It truly had been one of the best days as Christopher said between smiles.











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The 1st two images in #94 are a Little Bee-eater

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@@pomkiwi No worries. Some good images in your report and that's an impressive male leopard in #94 too.

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@@Geoff Thanks again for the kind words. The second leopard (the one in #94) was considerably smaller than the one seen earlier in the day although we were told that they were about the same age. Te trip in general was a dream for photography with this day in particular. One more morning drive to report on!

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Chile ... your apology is accepted ... yet the trip report has to be longer now :) .

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Lions 0 - Hyenas 1


Being on safari has a way of levelling one. Yesterday was a superb day full of amazing, almost magical sightings. This morning was very, very quiet. It was as if everything was having a lie-in after putting such on a show. We searched for the silhouette against the rising sun but even the topi and gazelles weren't really playing well.






We drive around and scouted around the river banks. At one point the questions was asked, 'What are we looking for'? Quick as a flash Jackson answered, 'Anything'.


I think I went nearly 120 minutes without using my camera (a record I think). Then we came to a fresh buffalo kill with 2 lionesses having a fairly relaxed feed. We were told that the rest of the pride were somewhere quite close as the two lions we saw would have needed help to bring down the buffalo. It was clear though that they had all fed well recently.




Their hearts really weren't in the task of eating in the sun and they wandered to get some shade.




The waitng hyenas approached cautiously.



The jackals weren't in for anything yet.




The rest of the hyena clan joined in.




Then the lions came back.




They were met by a concerted stare.



After a period in natural cover they disappeared again.





The hyenas continued their breakfast and we went off for ours.




The jackals were still waiting....



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