Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Namibia 2017 Part 16. Etosha N.P. Love is in the air (Warning : Adult content!)

It was another grey start to the day in Etosha NP but it still got off to a good start. Breakfast at Halali Camp was excellent! We didn't rush to leave , in fact we enjoyed a conversation with some other guests before wandering back to pack, hand in our keys, collect the mandatory deposit and once more head off. The big difference today of course was that we'd be leaving the National Park for the first time in nearly a week.
Once again Claire took to the wheel and we headed off in a general easterly direction as eventually we would be exiting via the Von Lindequist gate.
The one thing I had so far discovered ewas that no two days are the same in Etosha. Just when you think you have seen everything there is to be seen something different pops up and if it doesn't , as a photographer I'm always looking to improve what I already have taken.
The Fork-tailed Drongo was one of the species I wasn't t happy with so when an opportunity arose once again the cry went up
Fork-tailed Drongo  Dicrurus Adsimilis
Claire must have been getting a bit fed up but she didn't show it.
Lilac-breasted Roller    Coracias Caudatus
African Hoopoe   Upupa Africana
Yes, I'd seen them all before and she knew it.
The next stop turned out unexpectedly though!
A cute little Steenbok
Enjoying her breakfast and look here's her partner.
We weren't expecting that and neither was she I don't think. She was eating.
He was duly rejected.
Looking somewhat taken aback to find out they were being watched he stared at us defiantly.
And he wasn't taking no for an answer and his dutiful wife gave in.  He got his wicked way after all.
You don't see that everyday.
We drove on and found a herd of Black-faced Impala and they offered an interesting pose.
Black-faced Impala
Better cropped perhaps?
Black-faced Impala
Suddenly they were all very alert.
Black-faced Impala
Could this be the day we get to see a big cat? Something had them on edge. 
No, it was just a small group of Springbok that must have got their attention
They must have decided not to confront the Impala head on and moved over on to the road in front of us.
To be honest I had almost given up on seeing a big cat never mind witnessing a kill.
Down towards the Pan we spotted another bird of prey. I am easily confused with their ID's but I have this down as a Hobby, Eurasian one too. The are more common than African in this part of Namibia. 
Eurasian Hobby  Falco Subbuteo
Correct me if I'm wrong.
Onwards we went until we arrived at the edge of the pan and there you can drive out on a causeway for 100m or so, just to get a different view.
Etosha Pan
Well that's what the other car did. Perhaps they didn't notice that there were birds alongside them.
Chestnut-banded Plover Charadrius Pallidus
Chestnut-banded Plover was a lifer,
Little Stint   Calidris Minuta
Little Stint a trip first
The light was incredibly difficult as the white sand and grey sky combined to make a featureless background wherever there was just a little bit of water.
So if you think this shot is a pile of poo who am I to disagree?
Little Stint   Calidris Minuta
Moving on I was pleased we had made the effort to see the view point, the second car to arrive didn't even bother coming down the causeway.
No doubt they were Lion hunting, but there again so was I now. I have always had a bit of a scornful attitude towards those who don't take the time to look at other wildlife but I was starting to dismiss things I'd seen before. Was I being considerate to Claire or was I becoming a Lion chaser!
One thing did make me cry "Stop!" though. What a brilliant spot too.
Yellow-crowned Bishop  Euplectes Afer
In more ways than one. The bright Yellow was so difficult to get exposed correctly.
This tiny little bird was constantly on the move.
Yellow-crowned Bishop  Euplectes Afer
It is in a class all of it's own, it looks just like a huge Bumblebee as it flies.
First it's back feathers puff up

Yellow-crowned Bishop  Euplectes Afer
Then it takes off ( sorry about the quality, drove me mad trying to better it)
Yellow-crowned Bishop  Euplectes Afer
It's just not suitable for flight and it veers from side to side just like a bee.

Onwards we went as we checked out five waterholes that are between the Etosha lookout and Namutoni Camp. My Photographers Guide  highlight several as being excellent chance for Lions.
Instead we found a trio of Springbok at Kalkheuwel doing what Springbok always seem to be doing if they are not eating.
Fighting! And if you are an odd number, that doesn't mean you can't join in either!
We also came across a large herd of Giraffe wandering across a plain, there were 21 in total but I could only manage 7 in one shot!
I must admit watching these elegant creatures is a real pleasure . They are just so beautiful. We watched in awe as they crossed over the road just years away, well some did, some decided to hold the traffic up for a while!

It was still early afternoon and the with all the waterholes west now checked we turned left just before Namutoni to have a look at the edge of Fishers Pan. I had no intention of driving very far, just wanted a look at the waters edge.
Bingo some more new species!
Ruff   Philomachus Pugnax
Marsh Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa Stagnatilis
and a decent view of Wood Sandpiper at last.
Wood Sandpiper Triga Glareola
Yes I'd check out the whole of Fishers Pan on one of the remaining two days we had in the vicinity.
It was still a little bit early to check in to our hotel/lodge so we had a final look at Chudop waterhole.
There were two cars parked up! Unusual to see two both stopped!
As we pulled round the end of the parking area and drew up alongside one of them the driver indicated over to some trees.
I don't believe it moment. There are two Lions there.
We moved in to a good viewing position and after 9 days of hoping here at last I got to see my first ever proper view of a Lion in the wild.
How exciting, well OK, they were asleep.
Just like the only other Lion I saw in the wild but at least these weren't 800m away. They were actually quite close.
The sun had come out and I knew Claire would have loved to spend some time by the pool after days of rain.
"What should we do?" I asked.
"Too late now, it's 3.15pm, might as well stay and see if they wake up." she replied.
That was very generous but I know she was quite keen to see a better view too.
15 minutes passed by and suddenly movement!

You can see his head! Best view ever!
He rolled over on his back and fell asleep again. 
At least I'd seen his legs though. Wow, those paws are big.
15 minutes again then more excitement.
He's waking up!
He's getting up
Flippin 'eck!
We'd been there for 30 minutes but we were still not fully prepared for the sheer size of this beast. Massive.
Together they walked off and we were absolutely delighted we had decided to put some time in to see if we'd get a better view.
What a magnificent sight they made.
We fully expected that they would soon be away and gone but no.
Once again we were taken by surprise.
They were exhibitionists !
They had walked out in to the open to full view of what was now three cars, a tour vehicle and a bus!
Tour bus!
I wasn't the only one taking pictures then, it did feel a little bit dodgy as my shutter count had been rattling away, still everyone in the bus seemed as amazed as we were at what we'd witnessed.
Job done then.
It was actually a really moving scene. Here he was, the Lion King, huge and powerful showing tenderness you couldn't imagine.
He sat down for a moment
And when she was ready they got up together 
and walked back to their shady spot under the trees.
What a view, they were fairly close!
Siesta time again then?
Not a bit off it, if she though she was in for a rest, he had other ideas!
He took advantage once more!
This time she was definitely tired
and so was he!
This Impala must have realised
but we didn't. This was ridiculous, would we see a kill as well?
The Impala was showing some nerve, it turned around and came back a minute or so later too!!
The Lions were in the mood for love not war. Lucky Impala.
Rested the two of them got up and walked out in to the open again
Almost directly towards us.
Somehow when he dropped behind you now knew what was coming next.
Got to give the boy credit though.
Impressive stamina.
but I was just in awe of those teeth. Once they got a grip of you it was the end, that's for sure.
So big, so powerful, so tender.
An amazing sight to witness and one certainly worth the wait.
Enough was enough.
The Lions wandered back to their shady spot and this time we left as had everyone else by now.
It was 4.30. Time to check out of the park and head to our new hotel.

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