An Elephant Dust-up

I love this little five-photo series of two young-ish elephants having a little dust-up over a watering hole. (For those unfamiliar with the term “dust-up” it means a quarrel or argument.) I like using it here for obvious reasons. The dust they kick up helps capture the motion between the photos, as the elephant on the right chases the other one away.

Elephant Dust-Up 1Elephant Dust-Up 2

Look at those ears! All flared out in indignation. My watering hole! Mine!! All mine!!!Elephant Dust-Up 3Elephant Dust-Up 4Elephant Dust-Up 5

These photos were taken at Mfuwe Lodge in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.

 

Answer to the “mystery bird” photo in my last blog: that was an African Jicana, common to southern Africa.

 

Mystery Safari Photo

Do you know what this is?  To state the obvious, yes, it’s a bird. (I have to include that comment for certain friends of mine who would immediately respond with that answer to the question. Yes, you. You know who are.)

Mystery_Bird

 

But what kind of bird? Hmmmmm……

This photo was taken in Botswana, specifically in a marshy area of the Okavango Delta.

Time for…The Birds!

Well, just one bird tonight, but I think you’ll agree that this little gal (or guy) is spectacular enough to have a blog posting all to itself.

I give you the lilac-breasted roller, one of the more common birds you’ll encounter in southern Africa. (The roller family of birds are so-named because of the acrobatic rolls they perform while flying.) lilac_bird

Isn’t she gorgeous? They’re easy to spot because of their bright plumage and because they like to perch up high in trees like this. I have many photos of these birds from most every location we visited, but this is one of my favorites (even though – if you zoom in – you’ll see the bird is not in perfect focus). There’s a couple of reasons: 1) the soft gray cloudy sky gives it a solid background for contrast and 2) because of the different textures of the two tree branches in front combined with the way they’re blurred because they are not my focal point. I do violate the rule of thirds for photography by having the bird in the center of the photo, but the branches and their textures are in the left third, drawing your eyes that way, so maybe we’ll just think of those photography rules as being more like guidelines anyway.

From big cats to…little cats!

I’ve shown you a lovely lady leopard and some very satiated lionesses.

So how could I not post some adorable lion cubs?

lioncub2

I’m jumping ahead a little bit – to near the end of the safari when we were staying at Mfuwe Lodge in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia – but I just couldn’t wait to share these wonderful photos that were taken by Marilyn, one of the other ladies in the tour group. (If my memory is correct, it was Marilyn who gained a tent-mate after Wendy’s tent blew away.)

lioncub1

Look at that face! How could you blame me for leaping ahead with the safari photos?  I’ll have more photos of the cubs later. I promise.

 

From “Gambler’s House” – The First Family of Chaco

A fascinating and important article about Chaco was published last week in Nature Communications, an open-access offshoot of the venerable journal Nature (already a good sign). Since it’s open-access, the full text of the article is available free online here. The researchers behind the article, based mainly at Penn State and Harvard but also including […]

via The First Family of Chaco — Gambler’s House

Lion around

Yes, that title is a terrible pun. But I love puns, so there.

These lovely ladies are obviously very relaxed, and their bellies full, enjoying an afternoon snooze. Our safari jeeps were only parked a few feet away but they paid us little to no attention.

jeepbetweencats

What’s interesting about these scenes, however, is what’s downwind from the lionesses. It’s hard to tell from this picture of our jeeps, but the lions are just to the left out of frame and just to the right out of frame is a large bush. Inside that bush, gnawing on the remains of whatever that rib cage belonged to, is a leopard.  (Yum! Does that come with honey-flavored barbecue sauce?)

According to our guides, Mike and Josh, and our tour leader Andre, the leopard was fully aware that the lionesses were only a couple yards away because the wind was blowing in her direction. But should the wind change, they cautioned, alerting the lionesses to the presence of another predator so close by…well…those sleeping lions wouldn’t have been sleeping any more.

We patiently waited, circling slowly and quietly in our vehicles, but the lionesses snoozed away and the leopard kept chewing. No fighting. No territorial disputes. Just dinner and a long nap. This wonderful close up shot was taken by our leader Andre.

leopardcloseup

 

A leopard doesn’t change its spots…

…and we certainly wouldn’t want them to, would we? Because they are beautiful! This gal certainly is.leopard_drinking1 We encountered her on our last afternoon in the Okavango Delta, drinking from the river. She paused only briefly to check us out (look at that pink tongue!),leopard_tongue2

before sitting down to contemplate her dinner options, or where that handsome male leopard might be, or maybe even the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything [which we all know is 42].

We (our safari jeeps and a couple others) proceeded to follow her for almost a half hour as she leisurely strolled through the bush, apparently with no particular destination in mind or even any concern about us. You can see her pass between jeeps here, stopping only momentarily to look at us and continue on her way. I imagine this happens to this gorgeous gal a lot. (The guides who work the Okavango Delta are very good and know the animals, their habits, and their habitats. They might not be able to find every animal you wish to see, some are too rare or too shy, but they know where the big cats are hanging out!)

She decided she’d had enough of us shortly after this, walking a bit further away (I love this one picture – on the left – because I captured her in the act of lifting her foot and you can see her foot pad). She sat behind a tree for a few minutes and then disappeared into the bush.

It was a wonderful way to say goodbye to the Delta.