Thursday, 16 March 2017

Namibia 2017 Part 10. Etosha N.P. The heat is on.

This was my third day in Etosha and today it started out bright and sunny. Claire was happy to stay by the pool so that was that. I was off on my own again.
Once again I took the detour road just after entering the park in the hope of finding the Coursers again. No such luck ! No sign of the Bee-eater either so the African Pipit got a second chance
African Pipit   Anthus Cinnamomeus
One of the most common birds in Namibia seems to be the Cape Turtle Dove , and like other pigeons and doves I often forget to spend time with them. 
Cape Turtle Dove    Steptopelia Capicola
Not this time though, I thought this one was posing nicely.
Cape Turtle Dove    Steptopelia Capicola
One benefit of taking this back road was that I spotted my first Hartebeest
I'd been spotted too and the Hartebeest was immediately in retreat.
My attempts to capture a Crimson-breasted Shrike on camera were frustrated by the number of branches obscuring the subject but as I was near the junction of the tar road another car diverted off to see what I was looking at. With no interest in the bird whatsoever they proceeded to turn around and I too gave up to follow them on to the tar road heading to Okaukuejo Camp and the road junctions therein. Today I was going to head straight towards Okondeka waterhole in the hope of catching the reported resident pride of Lions.
I wasn't wasting any time as I wanted to get there before it got too hot so I was driving at between 50-60kph. That's the maximum speed limit within the park. The car in front disappeared in seconds and must have been doing twice the speed I was. This type of behaviour was not exceptional either. It beggars belief the speed at which some vehicles travel, particularly on the tar roads. The animals don't recognise the danger to themselves and it seems neither do the inconsiderate drivers.
Anyway, I made it to Okondeka without seeing too much on the way worth stopping for.
Not a Lion to be seen although there was a solitary Jackal that might have emerged from the wide drainage pipe.
Instead I spent a bit of time photographing the birds in a fairly distant tree.
Red-headed Finch
Red-headed Finch     Sporopipes Squamifrons
and Lesser Grey Shrike
Lesser Grey Shrike     Lanius Minor
I continued on westwards towards Adomax stopping by a huge Sociable Weaver nest.
Sociable Weaver   Philetairus Socius
The heat by now was blistering and there was little about on the parched grassland. I must have spent half an hour in the company of these delightful little birds who were busy house building.
Sociable Weaver   Philetairus Socius
It was easier to judge the correct camera exposure when the birds were in the shaded area.
Sociable Weaver   Philetairus Socius
because in the open it was so bright.
Sociable Weaver   Philetairus Socius
This Kohraan is typical of the problems of two contrasting colours. 
Expose for black
Northern Black Korhaan  Afratis Afraoides
or expose for whites.
Northern Black Korhaan  Afratis Afraoides
Hopefully somewhere in between there is an improved version in Photoshop later.
I started to feel I was wasting my time. It was too sunny!
South African Ground Squirrel
Still, the Ground Squirrels were posing nicely and with a bit of later correction I have restored some colour.
South African Ground Squirrel
An Ostrich caught my attention next as it was grooming itself near to the road.
Common Ostrich   Struthio Camelus
They are usually in no mood to pose but this one was an exception.
Common Ostrich   Struthio Camelus
I'd never really thought about it before but I noticed how much bare flesh is exposed and how long the quills are before the feathering begins. I guess in this heat it makes for a much better air conditioning system.
I eventually reached the main road westwards, the one I'd be following the next day en route to Dolomite Camp but for today this was far enough. Heading back towards Okaukuejo it appeared to get a bit greener. I came across a rather large herd of Springbok who seemed to be running a creche.
I was getting a little tired of photographing Springbok though ! There must be thousands in the park.
One thing is certain, there is an unlimited food supply for predators but they, it seemed, were in short supply.
Trying to capture action shots when you are driving yourself isn't easy either.
In fact it is very difficult indeed, especially through the passenger side window.
I decided to call it a day and return to base a little bit earlier than planned but stopped off in Okaukeujo out of curiosity to see what their famous waterhole was like. 
Four zebra were taking a drink. 
I'd be back there in three days time so I was hopeful that the waterhole might give me views of those elusive creatures such as Lions and Rhino. It looked as if there might be a possibility!
Returning to Etosha Village I decided to investigate their bird hide which I have to say was the only disappointment about the place. I guess it was bit early and it was still very hot so there weren't too many birds about. What was there I'd already seen but after following the slightly overgrown path for what seemed a long way, at least a 20 minute walk , I came to the hide which is as much a viewing platform as anything. Very substantial build too. I just felt it was in the wrong place! Well, for photography anyway.
That was it then, we had our last evening in the Village and wondered what lay ahead tomorrow.

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