Kenya: Samburu National Preserve Day 2

Once again I awoke well before my wake up call; I’m either still on Pacific Time or simply too excited to sleep…I think it’s a little of both.  After our amazing first day I am filled with anticipation thinking about what we might see this day.  I readied my gear and dressed by the light of my headlamp as it was too early for the camp generator to be on.  Coffee arrived a short time later and after enjoying a cup of Joe sitting on my porch listening to the sounds of wildlife waking to the new day we loaded up and headed out for our morning game drive.

It wasn’t long before we had our lenses trained on a Vervet Monkey sitting on a tree…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

Followed shortly by a troop of Olive Baboons that entertained us greatly with their all too human mannerisms…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

A youngster nurses while it’s mother digs for seeds…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

The youngsters hitch a ride when they get tired of chasing after mom…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

A pair of African Crown Cranes worked their way to within photographable distance and posed nicely in the tall, yellow grasses…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

No sooner had Patrick mentioned Pigmy Falcons than we came across a pair of them perched on an Acacia tree…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

In a split second the male copulated with the female and was gone.  Quick reflexes got me a couple of frames before the entire event was over…

Nikon D$, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

While we’re on the topic of pairs, a pair of Red-billed Hornbills perched long enough for a series of photos before they too flew off…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

One was even patient enough to let us get closer.  Hornbills are plentiful in Samburu but, they are a bit shy keeping a buffer that is just out of my preferred range of shooting so, I was overjoyed to get a clean close up of this guy…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

Lions are a bonus but, not something we sought out in Samburu as we knew we would have many opportunities for lions in the Masai Mara.  Still, we certainly didn’t pass up a brief opportunity to photograph a lioness when it fell right in our laps…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

Timing and quick reflexes are important to capturing what often times is a split second moment in time.  Having our gear situated in the vehicle is important to quick access.  Bruce had two Tenba long lens cases strapped to the rear seats with an AF-S 600mm f4 VR in one and an AF-S 200-400mm f4 VR in the other, with D4 and D800E bodies attached.  I had a D4 mounted to an AF-S 500mm f4 VR (with a TC-14E II attached a good part of the time) in a Kinesis long lens case that I strapped to the seat and a second D4 with an AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II and a TC-20E III available on the other seat with a pillow case thrown over it to keep the dust down.  My D800 with an AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR was nearby for closeups, environmental shots and landscapes.

*Note: My D800 failed about 2/3 of the way into the trip.  The shutter simply stopped working.  I am not claiming that there is an issue with D800’s, simply sharing my experience with you.  I have no idea what caused the failure.  I sent it to Nikon upon my return from Kenya and will let you know the outcome.

Grevy Zebra are unique to Samburu and we kept an eye out for subjects.  We had one pose long enough to get an ID shot to show it’s markings compared to the Burchel’s Zebra that we will see in the Masai Mara…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

While, on the other hand Gerenuk were plentiful (not my experience on my last visit)…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

and we had many opportunities to make images of them sparring…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

But, best of all, we were able to photograph them exhibiting their unique behavior of standing on their hind legs and stretching up into the higher bushes to find tasty leaves…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR

 

We searched a rocky area to find Agama lizards and found them sunbathing on the rocks…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

I’m beginning to realize that I can’t post all the photos that I would like to so, I’ll begin to select a few key images from each day to highlight our photo adventure of a lifetime.  Each afternoon a strange phenomena occurred that would become the standard for the rest of our safari afternoons and that is, stormy weather!  Yes, even though we were in Kenya during the dry season, the afternoons acted like the short rain season that is still over a month away.  Every afternoon the skies clouded up…

Nikon D800, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

 

And the rains would come!  But we didn’t let that cut short our game drive.  We still had great photo opportunities and the D4’s handled both the low light and the wet weather just fine.  A pair of Eastern (Pale) Chanting Goshawk were hunting in the rain and remained perched long enough for us to make some images…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

before swooping away in search of prey…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

The cooler temperatures brought on by the rains had a positive photographic benefit of African Hares coming out earlier.  We watched a pair of Hares “boxing”…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

Another successful day comes to an end, our memories filled with amazing encounters of the wildlife kind.  Patrick succeeded in exceeding any expectations I had and it’s just the second day of three in Samburu!  Stay tuned.