HOME Blog This Week At Angama #160

This Week At Angama #160

After being away for a week, Adam returns to the Mara Triangle, delighted to be back in familiar territory, exploring the subtle changes and nuances which make this landscape so appealing
A large herd of buffalo make their way through the Mara Triangle

I was fortunate enough to spend last week down in the southern throws of the Serengeti, in the midst of the wildebeest calving season. What a treat to see, and a joy to explore another part of the massive Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. This landscape is truly one of the most special on earth.

Sunrise across the Maasai Mara f 5.0, 1/250, ISO 500, -1.67
Balanite trees dot the Mara Landscape f 7.1, 1/640, ISO 400, -0.67

Happy to be back, within hours of landing at Angama, I was behind the wheel and off into the park – I do love my job. I enjoy the familiarity of the trees, the roads, and keeping abreast with the local animals. It is as if we lead parallel lives at times. Unusually, for this time of the year, the rain continues to fall. The other night we had 80mm. Did you know that last year, up here on the escarpment, we received over 2000mm of rain? 30% more than the average year. No wonder I got stuck in the mud so much.

A herd of over 600 buffalo graze amongst the Inselbergs f 7.1, 1/320, ISO 400, -1.0
A typical Mara landscape f 5.6, 1/400, ISO 400, -0.67

There is no doubting the scenic beauty of the Mara Triangle - the thriving Red Oat Grass, backed up by the Oloololo Escarpment. In the south, the picturesque Inselbergs, dotted across the plains. Or the sweeping distant views of the Mara River as it gently meanders towards Lake Victoria.

A male impala oversees his harem of females f 4.0, 1/250, ISO 500, -0.67
Frantic and exhausted, herding his females is hard work f 9.0, 1/40, ISO 320, -0.67

I came across a male impala, running in all directions. He was frantic. By his side were a staggering 124 females. It is well known that impala rams ‘gather’ females into harems, but I have never come across one with such a big collection. He looked exhausted as he continuously kraaled the ladies into a seemingly impossible mass of bodies. On the outskirts, peering at him, whilst licking their lips, were over 20 other males – bidding their time before they challenged this current king for the throne. I couldn’t help but slow the shutter down in an attempt to capture how desperately he was running around.

Male giraffe ‘necking’
Using different camera settings to capture the action f 32.0, 1/13, ISO 125
The blurred effect emphasises the drama of the fight f 25.0, 1/15, ISO 125

Another battle of sorts was taking part down by the rivers edge. Two male giraffe were ‘necking’ for authority. A behaviour first researched in the 1960s, these ritualised actions of standing head-to-tail and swatting each other in turns with their heads and necks is understood to be a bonding mechanism whereby a hierarchy is created amongst the males. It makes for fascinating viewing.

Fungi sprouts from elephant dung f 10.0, 1/500, ISO 5000, -0.33
A jackal keeps an eye on a nearby family of guineafowl f 4.0, 1/1250, ISO 320, -0.33
A family of guineafowl search for food after the rains f 5.6, 1/1000, ISO 640, -0.33
A guineafowl mother keeps a watchful eye for danger f 4.0, 1/640, ISO 400, -0.33

The rain fuels so much life which is intrinsically connected; it just takes a little patience and an inquisitive eye to see the stories that are unfolding. A simple heap of elephant dung suddenly explodes with mushrooms. A family of guineafowl dig in the dung, scratching and pecking in search of creepy crawlies and seeds. Nearby, tucked away in the grasses, a pair of jackals watch with interest. Dare the guineafowl make one wrong move and the jackals will feast.

A lone hyena on morning patrol f 5.6, 1/1250, ISO 400
A female waterbuck on high alert f 3.2, 1/2500, ISO 400, -0.67

Sauntering down the road comes a hyena returning to her den after a busy night in the flooded grasslands. Her distinctive gait always has me in chuckles. A nearby young male waterbuck keeps a beady eye on her until she is well off into the distance.

A female elephant feeds on an acacia sapling f 3.5, 1/1000, ISO 320, -0.33
Montagu’s harrier in flight f 4.0, 1/4000, ISO 500

An elephant feeds, oblivious to the fuss of the hyena. She doesn’t care much for these scavengers. If she had a small baby with her she may be more concerned. Instead, she continues to pluck away at the delicious soft grasses and finds a young and tasty Acacia sapling. Looking skywards I see a Montagu’s Harrier in flight. I manage to fire off a few rapid shots, allowing me to inspect what she was carrying. A clump of grasses tangled up in her claws. Did she go for a kill in the grasses, only to come up without a feast?

A lovely sighting of an African swamphen f 5.6, 1/2000, ISO 200, -1.00 - Photography by Tyler Davis
A protective African painted snipe f 5.6, 1/2000, ISO 200, -1.00 - Photography by Tyler Davis

It is in these flooded grasslands that we are seeing some fantastic birds. From the seldom encountered African Swamphen, to this beautiful female African Painted Snipe. Her behaviour suggests she may have been trying to ward us off from a possible nest site.

A lioness uses a termite mound as a vantage point f 2.8, 1/4000, ISO 250, -0.33

A lioness wakes after a deep sleep. She stretches and yawns and starts to move through the grasses. She pops up onto a small termite mound for a better view across the plains, and stands with pride.

This Week A Year Ago

f/5.6, 1/160, ISO 400 | Photo: Tyler Davis

It is hard to believe that it was already This Week A Year Ago when Tyler and I went for a hot-air balloon flight and had this incredible siting. Whilst drifting silently above the banks of the Mara River we happened upon this leopard. It was seemed he was surprised as to what the balloon was and for a minute he literally gazed up at us inquisitively whilst we gazed down. A new perspective of a leopard, and a truly memorable balloon ride.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Angama Wildlife , Lions of the Mara , Maasai Mara , Mara Landscapes , Photographic Safari , This Week At Angama , Wildlife Photography

About: Adam Bannister

A South African-trained biologist, safari guide, author, filmmaker and photographer, Adam is, above all else, a gifted storyteller. After spending the past 10 years working in some of the world’s most beautiful wild places – the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa, Rajasthan in India, Brazil’s Pantanal, and the rainforests of Manu National Park in Peru – he is delighted to share his stories of one of the loveliest game reserves of them all, the Maasai Mara.

Browse all articles by Adam Bannister Meet the angama team

Keep Reading

This Week At Angama #116 24 April 2020 While the beautiful rain continued to turn the Triangle a vibrant shade of green, the Mara managed to serve up some incredible game viewing By Mwikali Ndambo
This Week At Angama #97 13 December 2019 It’s always exciting when the elusive leopard makes an appearance, but that was just the start of a week filled with satisfied predators with plenty to eat By Jeffrey Thige
This Week At Angama #104 31 January 2020 The Mara may be wet, but don’t let that dampen the mood. The grasslands are magnificent, the skies are gigantic, and the animals as plentiful as ever. By Adam Bannister
Protecting Fitz, His Herd and His Home 8 June 2021 The Angama Foundation funds the collaring and ongoing monitoring of a forest-dwelling and habitual crop raiding elephant, named Fitz. And he has been keeping the team from the Mara Elephant Project on their toes By Claire Bolles
Join the Conversation (2 comments)

Comments (2):

William Mack

31 January 2024

It's coming up on the one year anniversary of our family experiencing the wonderful immersion into the life of Angama. I knew about in advance because our son Bryan was fortunate to be with you in 2022. He sent me videos and said "dad you need to be here" Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine that the time at Angama would touch all my senses and leave me waiting each week for the next chapter in your beautifully put together Blog/Newsletter. I thank all the contributors and look forward to -til we meet again. THANK YOU !

    Charlotte Ross Stewart

    5 February 2024

    Hello William, how has it been a year since the four of you were with us? We're so delighted to hear you're still thinking of your stay with us and keeping up with the happenings of the Mara and Amboseli through our blogs. Please send all our Angama love to Carol, Bryan and Allison and we hope to see you all soon.

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