Trip report: Kgalagadi Transfron. Park, November 2012 (Part 2)

Right – I hope you are all still on board, so let’s continue with my trip report re: our visit to the Kgalagadi Transfron. Park during the month of November 2012. Like I’ve mentioned before in the previous post, (a) no real “wow” sightings and (b) I am not going to do this report on a day-to-day basis. I will rather post some interesting photos and comment on these photos. Although the sightings were not that great, the Kgalagadi has so much to offer when it comes to photography. One must be on the lookout for such opportunities and be VERY patient. Two major mistakes I made during my first few visits to the park.

 

Here is an example of a meerkat just outside the gate of Mata Mata. We drove one morning to Mata Mata for some diesel and as we exit the gate we saw a few meerkats foraging. Nothing really was going on but from experience one knows that one meerkat will be looking for a bush to be used as lookout point. After about 20min one meerkat just did that. Unfortunately it was close to midday, the sun was very hard and the meerkat was some distance away – anyway, it was worth waiting for and giving it a try:

 

Meerkat watchdog

Meerkat watchdog

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO400, f5.6, 1/1600, exposure comp = -0.7, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

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Another example of patience – waiting for the bee-eaters enter and exit their nest in order to feed their young ones. For this particular bee-eater family we had to park in the middle of the road and wait for the bee-eaters because their nests are next to the road in the ground. A few times we had to change our position because of  other cars wanted to pass. One only needs to be patient and wait.

Bee-eater emerging from nest

Bee-eater emerging from nest

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO640, f7, 1/4000, exposure comp = -0.7, WB = sun, Aperture mode) (Interesting to note my shutterspeed and still the wings of the bee-eater is not sharp (it is soft/blurred) – just to show you how quick are these birds)

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And then the ever-present Springboks. These three photos were taken very late in the afternoon on our way back to camp and the sun was already behind the dunes (the reason for the high ISO levels). We saw these two young ones playing around with each other and then all of a sudden both got stuck. Lukcily I was prepared and shooting:

Springbok salute 1

Springbok salute 1

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO3200, f4, 1/2000, exposure comp = 0, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

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One Springbok managed to free himself but the other one…

Springbok salute 2

Springbok salute 2

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO3200, f4, 1/2000, exposure comp = 0, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

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One of his legs/hooves got caught between his horns. He was jumping around and only after a few minutes managed to free himself. A first for me. Too bad there were some other Springboks in the way spoiling the photos – therefore, these were the only decent shots I got.

 Springbok salute 3

Springbok salute 3

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO3200, f4, 1/2000, exposure comp = 0, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

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It was not just the Springbok who got stuck – the cape turtle doves and the bees around 13th bore hole. Almost every day we drove to the 13th bore hole and we sat waiting for some action. For two days there were lots of bees – the lion and the jackals did not like the bees but it looks like the doves could not be bothered.

Dove and bee 1 1024 300k 72d sRGB W

Dove and bees 1

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens , ISO1600, f5.6, 1/3200, exposure comp = -0.33, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

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O yes, lets look at another example of patience. We saw two Tawny eagles sitting on the ground next to Autherlonie waterhole. We heard the third one in the big tree next to the road. We quickly summarised the situation (and it was not really necessary to do it “quickly” after all but one never knows) and parked our car according to our “calculations/anticipations” in order to try to get a shot of the eagle taking off. We waited nearly 50 minutes (during which Morkel Erasmus also parked next to us but because of his kids, he decided to move on, so did a few other cars) and eventually I got this shot. This time around our anticipation was spot on as the eagle took off into the wind and turned towards us to join the third eagle in the tree. One is not always that lucky. Photo already entered into a few salons – awaiting the outcomes.

 

 Tawny eagle in fligth 1

Tawny eagle in flight

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens, ISO500, f5.6, 1/5000, exposure comp = -0.7, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

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Now this is also what can happen – we saw this Bataleur near Leeudril and as we stopped (just enough time to get the cameras up and ready), the Bataleur decided he does not trust us and took off. Just too far for a decent shot but nevertheless, a nice practice shot.

Bataleur taking off 1

Bataleur taking off 1

(Nikon D3S, 600mmf4 fixed lens with 1.4 convertor = 850mm, ISO800, f5.6, 1/2500, exposure comp = -0.7, WB = sun, Aperture mode)

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Message to take home

One does need a lot of patience when it comes to wildlife photography. Animals/birds do not have a sence of time and one needs to wait patiently for the action. Another key factor is to know your animal and/or bird’s behaviour and try to anticipate its next move so that you can prepare yourself for the next shot. Once prepared, then comes the waiting game and one can only hope the plan comes together. On the other side, be prepared to shoot immediately after you have stopped. Sometimes the animal/bird does not want to play the waiting game and you need to react very quickly. Therefor, it is important for you to stop some distance away from a possible sighting, put up your cameras and then drive very slowly towards the sighting.

Next week I am off to the Kgalagadi once again. So, until the next trip report, be prepared, be patient and keep on shooting

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