This Week At Angama #70

7 June 2019 | This Week at Angama |

Reading Time: 6 MINUTES

They’re baaaaack! Exhilarating and unexpected, this week the first wildebeest of the 2019 Migration Season crossed into Kenya over the Sand River, with reports of tens of thousands behind them

Following what may have been the latest arrival ever in 2018, we’re experiencing just the opposite this year as we’ve been graced with wildebeest perhaps earlier than ever before: the leaders officially galloped into the Mara on May 31st. Jeff was there to capture the action, and we expect the unanticipated rains we’ve had this week to continue pulling the wildebeest northwards. (Photograph by Jeffrey Thige)

Speaking of rains, a couple of massive late-afternoon storms created some exciting photographic opportunities this week. All too often, photographers dismiss rainy days as a lost cause, whereas I find them fantastic opportunities for different perspectives and dramatic scenes – I absolutely love photography in the rain.

MIGRATIONPhotograph by Jeffrey Thige

Slowing down the shutter to blur images of stampeding wildebeest helps create the chaotic “feel” of the migration in a single image, and is much more provocative than a simple freeze-frame of thundering wildebeest. Here, Jeff minimised the aperture, which resulted in the slow shutter speed needed to elicit such a feeling.  [f 32.0, 1/15, ISO 250]

BULL ELLIEPhotograph by Jeffrey Thige

Last week at Angama, Jeff stumbled across the biggest tusker he’d ever seen in the Mara. This week, Jeff topped that when he met Hugo, the biggest of our Mara tuckers, wearing a collar from the Mara Elephant Project so they can keep tabs on him. [f 5.6, 1/500, ISO 250]

SHEPHERD TREE MALEPhotograph by Jeffrey Thige

Jeff made the most of this epic sighting of the Shepherd Tree male, making fantastic use of the unique leading lines naturally created by the tree.  [f 5.6, 1/500, ISO 250]

RAIN DANCE 1[f 5.0, 1/500, ISO 400]

RAIN DANCE 2[f 5.0, 1/400, ISO 400]

Just as the rain started to fall, I came across these two boys having a tussle. Nothing too serious, just a light spar that looked more like they were dancing in the rain. I tried to keep the shutter speed high enough to stop their movement, but slow enough to still show streaks of rain (better seen in the second image). Photographs by Tyler Davis

BULL IN THE RAINPhotograph by Tyler Davis

This bull stood nearby and cheered on the sparring match between his buddies, frequently raising his trunk and shaking his head in their direction. I caught him for a profile shot in between his excitement, punctuated by the rain. [f 5.6, 1/1000, ISO 400]

THE ENFORCERPhotograph by Tyler Davis

Sometimes it’s worth sharing a photo simply for the humour of it. This dagga boy was scratching himself on the sign, but looked like he was taking his job of enforcing the rules very seriously (“Just try me!”). [f 5.0, 1/640, ISO 400]

HIPPO IN THE RAINPhotograph by Tyler Davis

This is a photo made more interesting by converting it to black and white and adjusting the contrast significantly, highlighting the heavy drops of rain falling around the hippo.  [f 5.6, 1/640, ISO 400]

UNHAPPY ZEBRA[f 5.6, 1/1250, ISO 800]

UNHAPPY ZEBRA B&W[f 5.6, 1/250, ISO 200]

Zebra are fun subjects in the rain – they always seem to emulate how I would feel if I weren’t comfortably sitting in a warm, dry vehicle. In these two photos, I used different shutter speeds (faster in the first, slower in the second) to try and capture the rain differently. Photographs by Tyler Davis

RAIN PANOPhotograph by Tyler Davis

A stitched image of rainstorms sweeping across the landscape. [f 5.6, 1/400, ISO 800]

RAINING IMPALAPhotograph by Tyler Davis

Raining cats and dogs? No – raining impala! This was the heaviest part of the storm – and still worth finding subjects and trying to get creative with photographs. Lots of drama to be found in the rain – don’t let a little drizzle keep you from getting out there.  [f 5.6, 1/1250, ISO 640]

HORIZON SILHOUETTESPhotograph by Tyler Davis

When the rain cleared, I noticed a backlit train of zebra, gazelle, and a lone wildebeest at the crest of a hill. Had it been later in the afternoon, the colors of the sky could have been epic; alas, light was a bit flat, so I converted to black and white to make it more dramatic. [f 5.0, 1/4000, ISO 800]

KAKENYAPhotograph by Tyler Davis

Some other drama this week occurred when a well-known female cheetah, affectionately called Kakenya, attempted a warthog hunt that ended poorly, with deep gashes in her chest from the warthog’s tusks. KWS vets attended to her (the green stain is antiseptic), and she was soon up and at it again. When I found her, she was headed directly towards a pride of lion hidden in tall grass – certain death if she was spotted. Here, one of the Mara Conservancy vehicles is keeping a close eye on her, actively shepherding her out of harm’s way until she’s recovered.  [f 5.6, 1/320, ISO 800]

RAMS ON A HILLPhotograph by Tyler Davis

Coming around a corner, I noticed these silhouetted impala rams on a hillside, and tried to get creative with capturing the image. [f 5.6, 1/640, ISO 800]

NICKY'S BIRDPhotograph by Tyler Davis

Time for some birds! The first is one we all affectionately refer to as “Nicky’s Bird,” as it is Nicky Fitzgerald’s favorite for its beautiful song – an inescapable reminder you are in the bush. This photo is also a great example of a common bird often overlooked as an “LBJ” (little brown job), but is actually quite beautiful if you take the time to appreciate it.  [f 5.6, 1/250, ISO 400]

COQUI FRANCOLINPhotograph by Tyler Davis

This second bird image is a male coqui francolin that was calling loudly after the rains. [f 5.6, 1/250, ISO 800]

VULTUREPhotograph by Jeffrey Thige

The third photograph is a wonderful capture by Jeff of a Rüppell’s griffon defending his perch atop a hippo carcass. [f5.3, 1/1250, ISO 320]

GREY KESTRELPhotograph by Tyler Davis

And finally, a striking grey kestrel seeking shelter in a balanites tree during the rain.  [f/5.6, 1/800, ISO 400]


Sacred Ibis landing

Speaking of birds, last year’s blog, authored by Adam Bannister, featured them heavily – seven species to be exact. My favourite of Adam’s avian shots is this one of a sacred ibis landing amidst its brethren to hunt for frogs and other morsels in a flooded field. This is a great example of how to make good use of AI Servo autofocus, which allows pin-sharp focus of moving subjects.

FILED UNDER: This Week at Angama

AUTHOR: Tyler Davis

Guide and birding fundi, Tyler was also one half of the regional director couple that lead the team at Angama Mara for the first five years. Being the birding extraordinaire that he is, he was known to let his attention wander during meetings. The trick to keep him focused was 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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