Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Namibia 2017 Part 9. Etosha N.P. again

Our second day at Etosha Village started at it's usual leisurely pace. Breakfast at the Village is very substantial and there's no need to eat until evening time although when it's hot you don't feel like eating much anyway. I engaged the man at the next table in conversation trying too find out what they might have seen and where if they'd been in the park the day before. As it happened, this was their first morning and they would be travelling through the park and out of the eastern gate where they were basing themselves. The Namibian Wildlife Resorts were in steep decline he assured me, no way was he staying there. Oh dear, we were due to stay in three of them and I'd already seen some really bad trip Advisor reports for the first one, Dolomite Camp. Oh well, too late now. My fear was that everything might go downhill from here with declining standards, and to make matters worse the weather wasn't too good again this morning.
There was a glimmer of hope though, later in the conversation he let it slip he'd never been to Etosha before!!!!
Anyway, breakfast finished and with me chomping on the bit to get going, off we went with Claire at the wheel. This time we took a left turn after the gate which takes you to Ombika waterhole, a mere 2 or 3 minute drive. 
We sat there for a while before watching a family of Jackal magically emerge from nowhere.
Black-backed Jackal
They hung around for ages, generally investigating what was in the long grass, having a dig here and there.
Black-backed Jackal
One of them was staring intently towards a certain spot and moments later a pair of Ostrich appeared.
The Ostrich were under no threat though, the Jackals all made off paying no further attention to them.
We sat there for a good 15 minutes watching the Ostrich get closer, a lone Springbok wandered through the flowers making it a very pretty picture.
There were a few different birds that were feeding down in the grasses.
Red-headed Finch     Sporopipes Squamifrons
Both the Red-faced Finch and the  Shaft-tailed Whydah were frustratingly too far away for a decent shot.
Shaft-tailed Whydah  Vidua Regia
At this point it might be worth mentioning that as well as reading other peoples trip reports I had , on advice from several people on Trip Advisor, bought the e-book "The Photographers Guide to Etosha N.P.", a £20 investment ! I had read it from cover to cover and printed maps showing the waterholes with appropriate notes on what the author and his wife had seen on their many visits in the past. The book has descriptions of the waterholes, the distance from the car parking area and even the direction of the sun and the best time to visit.
Wildlife isn't guaranteed viewing of course, the author even mentions someone complaining that he'd followed the book and that a specific animal wasn't there were he'd said it was. I'm not complaining in the least but I would say most of the information in the book is based on the dry season and as I was to discover, for me the information was fairly useless on species spotting but it had been very important in my decision on which lens to take, and that was a decision I didn't regret at all. When it comes to birds bigger is better and in general the waterholes are a long way from the car parking. 
Anyway, we moved on, this time taking the detour road from the waterhole. Within minutes we realised that we were surrounded by a dozen or more Coursers. Wow, I'd only ever seen a single one in the past and that was a different one too.
Temminck's Courser  Cursorius Temminckii
What a little stunner the Temmink's Courser is too.
Temminck's Courser  Cursorius Temminckii
Paying no attention to us whatsoever they carried on feeding as I got shooting !
I had distractions too , an African Pipit didn't warrant too much attention.
African Pipit   Anthus Cinnamomeus
Yesterday's lifer is today's also ran, well it is when the competition is so much prettier.
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater  Merops Hirundineus
I love Bee-eaters, they are great photographic subjects as they are so active. This one was looking for breakfast.
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater  Merops Hirundineus
and duly caught it too.
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater  Merops Hirundineus
My best ever Swallow-tailed Bee-eater shots!
By now the sun had come out as this greater Kestrel shot suggests.
Greater Kestrel   Falco Rupicoloides
Claire asked if I minded taking her back to the Village and as we were pretty close it didn't take long to drop her off. No problem nipping in and out of the park as long as you have proof of payment you can come and go as often as you want.
Returning on my own I decided to follow the previous days route heading to Gemsbokvlakte waterhole. This was by far the most visited waterhole during my visits to the park both by animals and vehicles!
Along the way though I was to get sightings of my first Tortoise, a Leopard Tortoise I believe.
Leopard Tortoise
This little fella was crossing the road and when I saw another car approaching I blocked the road to give him safe passage. The speed the few cars I had seen were driving I doubt they would notice the difference between a rock and a shell.
One good turn deserves a lucky break and I got one with my only Marico Flycatcher shot of the trip at the same place!
Marico Flycatcher    Bradornis Mariquensis
Further along, an improved shot of the Whydah
Shaft-tailed Whydah  Vidua Regia
well I thinks so.
Namaqua Dove Oena Capensis
This Namaqua, my favourite dove was too good a chance to miss too.
Generally speaking much of what I saw was the same as the previous day but as I was at the Gemsbokvlakte waterhole for a couple of hours this time, the photo opportunities were a bit better.
Common Zebra
Zebra came down to drink in numbers
Common Zebra
The Springbok were numerous and despite the heat still found time to have a go at each other.
I don't think it's too serious but those horns could inflict some nasty damage all the same.
A herd of Wildebeest complete with youngsters was a nice sight.
Blue Wildebeest
All the species got along famously! Nice to see that they all looked well fed too.
Common Zebra
As well as the Kittlitz Plover
Kittlitz's Plover  Charadrius Pecuarius
There were also some Red-capped Larks in the nearby grass.
Red-capped Lark  Calandrella Cinerea
My Photographers Guide book suggested for those who must photograph during the hottest and brightest hours of the day a polarising filter was a must. Costing a small fortune for a Canon drop in one this at last was a chance to try it out.
Not sure how beneficial it was to me, there again I probably didn't get the most out of it.
Anyway after a couple of hours the heat had finally got too much for me and I decided to move on to circulate some air around the car. My stay had been epic compared to most who seemed to stay for a minute or two and move on. Mind you, there wasn't that much traffic either.Looking at the exit list on leaving the park each evening there never seemed to be more than a dozen or so vehicles on it. Mind you I was not the last to leave and on this day it was no exception. Just enough time to pay a stop at Nebrownii again. I wanted to improve on my Blue Crane shots if I could.
I was concerned there was no sight of it when I arrived but before long it emerged from behind the man made concrete drinking pool.
Blue Crane     Anthropoides Paradiseus
If you visit, it's worth giving it 10 minutes, I think there might be a nest spoon there as I discovered there are not one but two Cranes.
Blue Crane     Anthropoides Paradiseus
With the Crane coming towards me I was in danger of it being too close, however, it wandered back out of view before emerging again, unless it was the mate of course.
Blue Crane     Anthropoides Paradiseus
There were 4 other birds on the waterhole too. A Wood Sandpiper, a Cape Teal and this pair of South African Shellduck who posed beautifully.
South African Shellduck    Tadorna Cana
This is one of those unusual birds were the female is as attractive as the male.
South African Shellduck    Tadorna Cana
By now the sun had gone behind the clouds and the light wasn't too good. Springbok were arriving for a drink but that didn't offer much different unless of course there happened to be Lion on the hunt. It was too far from the gate to stay until almost sunset and with the possibility that Claire was now sat in shade I thought I'd better go home. 
It had been an interesting day again. A few new sights but nothing really on the mammal side.
I only stopped to photograph some Giraffe along the main tarmac exit road.
It's an amazing tongue the Giraffe has, Tough enough to use to pull thorny branches yet sensitive enough to taste them.
Further down the road there were three cars parked. I knew they must be on to something but as it was approaching 6.30pm I thought better than to stop. It was pre dinner drinks time and it was only fair not to leave Claire waiting.
At the bar I later discovered a Lion on a kill had been spotted off the tar road. No doubt what I had seen the cars looking at. I wasn't too bothered , the views were very obscured.
Who knows what lay ahead tomorrow. Lion maybe?

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