Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The End is Here.

Unfortunately it's time to kiss Uganda goodbye. When I consider how many posts I have done about the trip in the last seven weeks or so, everybody is probably sick of hearing about it anyway. I however, am proud of some of the photos I got, and I haved loved playing show and tell.
Diederek Cuckoos are one of the most common species of cuckoo in Africa. You hear them sing de de de  diederik constantly. They parasitize the nests of weavers.
Another drab flycatcher, the Spotted Flycatcher is a common winter visitor to Africa. It's so-called spots are on top of it's head and are often difficult to see. It also has vague streaks on it's breast.
Speaking of drab. The Grey Hornbill is the least colorful, or at least less strikingly marked than the other hornbills we saw. Nevertheless it is an impressive bird.
Of the many photos of elephants I took, I guess I like this photo the most. It's the elephant's eye that makes the photo.
We only saw a few Tawny-flanked Prinias in Uganda. They are so tiny and so cute. This is a sub-adult. It looks like some kind of warbler but when I saw an adult prinia feeding it, I knew it was no warbler. Prinias actually are a related group to the warblers.
A Yellow-backed Weaver. We saw at least 18 species of weaver on this trip.
A Little Bee-eater. We only saw them in northern Uganda.
A herd of female, and young Uganda Kob in evening light in Murchison.
A magnificent male kob keeps a vigilant watch over the females from a distance.
This is it. The mammal that I most wanted to see in Africa. I missed it in South Africa, and I missed it everywhere we went in Uganda until Murchison.
 On our first game drive into the park we pulled up behind a safari van that was stopped to the side of the road. They told us that they had just seen a lion but it had gone down into a swale and was out of sight.
We waited, no lion. The safari van left but we stayed. No lion. Finally we left too, no lion.
The next day we had our guide Taban with us. He pointed out a pair of Grey Kestrels in a far tree. We got out of the car to put the scope on them for a better view. I was just getting set to shoot a photo when Taban said,"there's a lion".
He was pointing in the opposite direction. Since I had not seen Grey Kestrels yet, I made myself get a photo, and take a long look at the kestrels before turning my attention toward the lion. He said that it was very far away and Gary and Tom had not found it yet. I have bad eyesight so I thought I had no chance of spotting it.
     I do have better binoculars than Tom or Gary and I got lucky and spotted a mature male lion sitting down a quarter mile away, looking at us. I could barely see it in the binocs and yet Taban saw it first with his naked eyes. Then I put the spotting scope on the lion so everyone could get a good look at it. It was too far for any photos.
Further along I got lucky again and saw a small cat running some distance from the road. The strong afternoon light was behind it so I only saw it's silhoutte. It was about 18 inches tall, stocky, with small ears and a long tail. It disappeared before anyone else saw it. We got out and found it's fresh tracks but could not find the cat in the dense brush. We decided that it was either a very young Leopard or a Golden cat.
The next day we were looking at doves when another guide called Taban on his cell phone and said he was looking at a lion. The place was less than half a mile away so we rushed over. There it was, the large male in the photo above, just casually resting in the shade.
A yawn, not a roar. Taban was well familiar with this lion and said that it had a mate nearby that did all the hunting for both of them.
All during our trip I kept wanting to take the time to photograph some typical rural scenes in Uganda. Things like the outrageously overloaded public transport, women carrying heavy loads on their heads, or simple village life. There were many opportunities to get some great photos and I passed them up.
Finally upon leaving Murchison at the end of our journey I knew I had to act. All I had time to do was take a few snapshots out the car window. The photo above shows an isolated village inside the national park. It is typical of most villages, no electricity or running water. People often have to walk miles carrying water back to the village every day.
This is the typical reception we got as we drove past villages. All the children would come running like they were greeting santa on Christmas morning. Unfortunately many of them would be shouting, "giveh me moneh", or something equivalent.
This is a good photo to end on. Left to right, Tom, our young guide Joel, and Gary. Joel was a bird guide in training that was at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe, where we stayed at the beginning and end of our journey.
We were very impressed at the expertise and enthusiasm of all our guides.

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