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This Week At Angama #14

11 May 2018 | This Week at Angama |

Reading Time: 5 MINUTES

From Double-toothed Barbets to Lesser Striped-Swallows, birds steal the limelight in This Week at Angama

We wrapped up our annual Guide Training this week by participating in eBird’s Global Big Day, so there are a few more bird photos than normal. Fortunately, it’s impossible to go out all day in the Mara and ignore all the other inevitable exceptional sightings even when exclusively focused on the feathered variety, so there a few others thrown in. Isolated afternoon thunderstorms persist, so we’re getting out while we can to photograph landscapes with dramatic weather before we transition to dry season photography. Hard to believe the wildebeest will be here in the next month or two!


I couldn’t wait until the Global Big Day blog comes out to share my excitement over this relatively nondescript earth-toned lump of a bird from a family colloquially known as the “goatsuckers,” so here it is: the Pennant-winged Nightjar. This was my first lifer at Angama in a while, and a species I’ve been on the lookout for quite some time. This is a female, but in breeding plumage the male boasts a single long streamer (the elongated second primary feather) from each wing. It is an exceptional bird, and now the hunt is on to find a breeding male. [f 5.6, 1/125, ISO 6400]


The grass is tall and only growing taller this time of year, until the migration descends upon the Mara in a few short weeks and flattens the savanna. In the meantime, catching wildlife through the swaying blades makes for a compelling photograph, not to mention a fun challenge. [f 5.6, 1/125, ISO 400]


This immature Dark Chanting-Goshawk was perched directly above the vehicle as we drove under a Balanites. Its eyes, sharp and focused, struck me, so I quickly snagged a portrait before it flew away. [f 5.6, 1/250, ISO 400]


The proximity and position of this lion, lazily flopped in a drainage line on the main road, offered a unique perspective of his visage. [f 5.6, 1/100, ISO 400]


Meet the handsome Lesser Striped-Swallow, quite the acrobatic aerialist. This pair lined up perfectly at close range, which allowed me to get a crisp image of the bird in the foreground, while also using a wide aperture to narrow the depth of field and make the rear bird blurred, but still recognizable. [f 5.6, 1/2500, ISO 400]


The Mara Triangle is blessed with fantastic herds of Cape Buffalo, sometimes numbering as many as 400. It is quite the challenge to capture the hugeness of these breeding herds, and to date I still haven’t succeeded. Here, I’ve tried to capture a part of the herd by focusing attention on the lone individual standing alert on the herd’s edge, with the remainder milling around in the background, out of focus. [f 5.6, 1/160, ISO 400]


Undoubtedly one of the highlights for my team during the Global Big Day, this Double-toothed Barbet (only my second in the Mara) was very obliging in some figs at the Maji ya Ndege campsite along the Mara River. [f 5.6, 1/320, ISO 400]


This was a fun find: one of Stratton’s Martial Eagles, known as the Musiara Female, with a fresh kill in her talons. She’s a little far off, but zooming in looks like she nailed a Slender Mongoose. You can also see the small transmitter on her back, which means Stratton can cross-reference this photo with the data provided by the transmitter and piece together a story of how the hunt unfolded. [f 5.6, 1/1600, ISO 400]


This little forest of mushrooms in some decomposed elephant dung caught my eye. On game drives, we’re often so focused on charismatic megafauna that we forget about entire microcosms of fascinating natural phenomena at our feet. [f 5.6, 1/1000, ISO 200]


One of my favorite birds, and arguably the world’s most striking stork, the Saddle-billed Stork is naturally photogenic, leaving little for a photographer to do except get the settings right and frame it well. Here are two images of the same bird but framed two ways: zoomed in to put more focus on the subject, and zoomed out to show the subject in its surroundings. [f 5.6, 1/2000, ISO 400] [f 5.0, 1/2500, ISO 400]


Caught an isolated storm passing along the Oloololo Escarpment and admired its layered look. [f 4.5, 1/3200, ISO 400]


This mother and calf pair, with the backdrop of the rest of their family herd at the base of the Escarpment, offered a lovely family snap. The little one seemingly swimming through the grass made me chuckle. [f 5.6, 1/1250, ISO 400]


We’ll see if we can make this a weekly feature of this blog: best photo of the week from a camera trap that our friend Stratton has lent us. This past week, I set it up on the main road into camp, at the junction down to the Sundowner Boma and Out of Africa kopje. The same day I set it up, the camera captured the Angama Pride filing past. A couple curious youngsters came and investigated the camera, eventually knocking it down – the next photos were nothing but grass.

AUTHOR: Tyler Davis

As on-property regional director, guide and birding fundi, Tyler is one half of the regional director couple that leads the team at Angama Mara. Being the birding extraordinaire that he is, he has been known to let his attention wander during meetings. The trick to keep him focused is to place him with no direct view of anything feathered. Tyler ensures that we are a grounded and well-rounded team. He also sometimes forgets to take his binoculars off at dinnertime.

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