Impala following the leader

Photographed in Hluhluwe/Imfolozi,  South Africa,  I watched these impala for about 15 minutes as they gathered and milled about nervously by this stream.   They were intent on climbing up the river bank to higher ground but in order to do so would have to make their way through long grass and brush before getting to higher ground.   The vegetation would make excellent cover for a predator lying in wait to ambush!

"Follow the leader" Impala, Hluhluwe/Imfolozi, South Africa

Cape Glossy Starling, Hluhluwe, South Africa

Today’s picture,  a Cape Glossy Starling photographed in Hluhluwe Game Reserve, South Africa.   The image is very much as nature presented it,  the only post processing on this shot was a slight cropping and digital sharpening.   I took several images of this bird but like this one most,  the breeze just ruffled up his feathers a bit.

Cape Glossy Starling

Egyptian Goose and the late afternoon

Egyptian Goose, Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa Photographed in Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Park,  South Africa, this is one of a pair of Egyptian geese that I observed at a water hole late in the afternoon, very late in the afternoon actually (as I’ll discuss in a moment).    In the park there were several water holes where permanent hides had been erected.    I set up the camera and tripod and observed numerous animals come down to the water,  giraffe,  zebra,  elephant, kudu and several bird species.

I was staying outside the park and using a rental car to visit and get around the twin reserves of Hluhluwe and Imfolozi.  Being aware that the park(s) closed their gates at a given,  published,  time,  I knew that leaving the waterhole,  I had to give myself sufficient time to get out or risk being locked in overnight.   Sadly,  I underestimated,  by quite a margin,  how long it would take to drive out.   Darkness was falling and there are sensible speed limits in place.  Any any event,  driving quickly on the gravel roads is foolhardy as you must consider the possibility of wildlife wandering onto or across the road in the darkness.   Colliding with,  or startling,  an elephant can end badly for both the animal and the car and driver!

By the time I got to the park exit,  it was dark and the gates were shut and locked.   Now I had a dilemma!   The prospect of sleeping overnight in a car by the side of the road didn't appeal.

Next to the gate was a track which led a short distance to a cottage,  the gatekeeper/ranger's post?   I had little alternative,   I made my way along the path to the cottage,  nervously peering into the darkness and noting every mysterious noise.     On getting to the cottage,  I could see that there was a light on,  I knocked on the door,  no response.    Don't tell me!  Surely there has to be someone present.    I looked through a window and could see a kettle on the stove.   I knocked on the door again only louder.   This was enough to stir the ranger inside who came to the door and looked incredulously at his unexpected caller.    I explained my predicament and,  with considerable apprehension,  he unlocked the gates for me,  nervously muttering "lions"  as he did so.

Lesson learnt,  give yourself more time than you believe you need to exit a wildlife reserve!

The image was captured with the 500mm F4.0 telephoto lens on a Canon 20D which has a 1.6x crop factor and so the equivalent angle of view as an 800mm lens on a full frame body.   ~KD.

Cape Eagle Owl, Hluhluwe, South Africa

A Cape Eagle Owl (Bubo capensis) perches with its head effortlessly rotated through 180 degrees.

Cape Eagle Owl perched in tree, Hluhluwe, South Africa.

During my travels through South Africa, I visited Hluhluwe (pronounced; Shesh shlewee) Game Reserve in the Kwazulu-Natal region.   This game reserve and the adjoining Imfolozi Reserve are said to have the highest density of wildlife of any of the reserves in South Africa.

****   Updated 18.11.16.   When originally published,  I identified this bird as a "Great Spotted Owl".   With further research,  I now believe it's actually the Cape Eagle Owl as per the title.  If this is incorrect,  I'm happy to be corrected.   The original capture was with the 500mm F4.0 telephoto lens on a Canon 20D with it's 1.6x crop factor giving an equivalent angle of view as 800mm on a full frame camera.   The image was under-exposed in camera (not intentionally!) which needed to be corrected in post processing.  Also in processing,  a distracting twig was carefully cloned out and the file taken into Nik Software (now Google) Color Efex Pro where a "detail extractor" filter was selectively applied.   ****      ~KD