Trip report: Mokala National Park, October 2012

My wife had another weekend off, so we decided to spend another weekend at Mokala National Park near Kimberley – where else? Two of our friends also decided to join us and we had lots of fun – so much that one of our friends ended up in hospital on Monday morning to remove gall bladder stones. Luckily we got a booking at Mosu lodge – not to waste time getting to the game area and my favourite waterhole on the Matopi loop.

 

As usual we took the Jagersfontein – Fauresmith – Koffiefontein – Jacobsdal – Richie as there are still some road works & stop-go on the main road to Kimberley. We arrived at Mokala a bit late – so there wasn’t time for an afternoon drive. Just a nice and relaxing Friday evening with a braaivleisie and the necessary fluids.

 

On Saturday and Sunday we spend the mornings at my favourite waterhole but it was a quiet around the water – o well, such is nature. It could be because the water container next to the waterhole was overflowing. Here are a few photos – as you can see, if you want to practise your bird in flight (BIF) photography, this is the place to be with all the turtle doves around. All the photos were taken using a Wimberley type head on a vehicle window mount – my usual gear when shoot to the right from my vehicle.

 Cape turtle dove

Cape turtle-dove

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO640, f5.6, 1/6400, exposure = -0.67, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

_______________________________________

For the first time, I saw this flock of mousebirds gathering around the waterhole – not easy to develop the photos because the birds do have the same colour as the background.

 

        Mousebird coming for landing  

Mousebird coming for landing

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO640, f7.1, 1/2500, exposure = -0.67, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

_______________________________________

 

 

 Mousebird bad landing

Mousebird bad landing

This photo was just the next frame of/after the previous photo. Luckily we do have better pilots flying our aeroplanes than this mousebird

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO640, f7.1, 1/2500, exposure = -0.67, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

_______________________________________

 

Also a first around this waterhole – the well-known Hadeda Ibis

 

Ibis drinking water 1 

Hadeda ibis drinking water

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO800, f5.6, 1/5000, exposure = -0.67, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

_______________________________________

 

In the afternoons, it is better to go to the hide at Stofdam facing directly east meaning you’ll have the sun from behind. The dam is getting more water each day and it is much filling up nicely. There were lots of activities during the 3.5 hours we spent inside the hide on Saturday afternoon. Lots of general game such as Kudu (I really would like to re-name the park: “Kudu National Park”), springbok, buffalos, bush buck, water buck, warthog, Once again (just like my previous visit), a bush buck paid the dam a visit for a quick drink of water. I’ve used my tripod and my Wimberley type head to take the photos from within the hide.

Bush buck drinking water

Bush buck drinking water

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO800, f5.6, 1/4000, exposure = -0.67, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

_______________________________________

 

Some of the other highlights of the afternoon around Stofdam – one definitely being the Bee-eaters coming for a drink of water. Interesting to see how the drink water – just like the fork-tailed drongo – just diving into the water to drink. But boy o boy, is it difficult to catch them diving of emerging from the water as they do approach the water at speed. This is the first time I saw this type of behaviour from bee-eaters and it is my first try at photographing such behaviour. Well, hopefully next time I’ll know what to expect and I’ll do better.

Bee-eater drinking water 1

Bee-eater drinking water

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO640, f5.6, 1/3200, exposure = -0.67, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

_______________________________________

 

 Buffalo bath 1

Buffalo bath 1

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO400, f5.6, 1/800, exposure = -0.67, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

_______________________________________

 Warthog bath 1

Warthog bath 1

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO400, f5.6, 1/320, exposure = -0.67, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

_______________________________________

Yellow bill duck swimming

Yellow bill duck swimming

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO800, f5.6, 1/1600, exposure = 0, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

Take note – I’ve changed my exposure compensation to zero when I realised the duck (my primary object) is relatively dark. You do not want to clip or under-expose the dark areas of the duck too much – it can also create a lot of noise.

_______________________________________

 

O ja, by the way – keep your eyes open for the smaller this in life like this Agama aculeata (grondkoggelmander) sitting high on a branch in the sun. Taken on our way to Stofdam (very close to the dam).

Grondkoggelmander 1

Grondkoggelmander

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO500, f7.1, 1/5000, exposure = -0.67, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

_______________________________________

 

Sunday morning, on our way to “my” waterhole on the Matopi loop, we came across the red crested korhaan very relaxed and foraging next to road allowing us ‘n few close-up shots. This male korhaan was so close I had remove my 1.4 converter. They usually move quickly into the grass/bushes as you stop next to them – we were very lucky

Red crested korhaan

Red crested korhaan

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fix lens, ISO800, f4, 1/4000, exposure = o, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

Once again, a darkish primary object and my exposure compensation as moved to zero despite the light on the bird itself.

_______________________________________

Red crested korhaan foraging

Red crested korhaan foraging

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fix lens, ISO800, f4, 1/4000, exposure = o, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

_______________________________________

 

 

And, once again, Mokala National Park produced the goodies – if you are not really interested in the big five but rather enjoying the smaller things in life. I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip as much as we did.

 

Message to take home:

Do not always just go for the big five when you visit a nature reserve. For once, look around you to see what else Mother Nature wants to offer you. You can get really interesting shots – and possible award-winning shots – by just keeping your eyes (and especially your mind) open for the smaller things around you.

 

Until my next trip (Kgalagadi Trans. Park in November 2012 – we’ve experienced 4 seasons in 1 week), keep on shooting!!!

Advertisements

  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: