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Chasing Ghosts – 10 images of Africa’s most elusive big cat

Well, it's Saturday - I mean Caturday - so what better reason is there to share this experience with you? Our trip to the African continent was filled with stories and tall tales on a majestic scale, addictive adventures that only this ancient land can provide. But for fear of endless digression, I will concentrate on this single experience. We left our luxurious lodge at first light, casually rolling out onto the sandy roads that criss-crossed Samburu Game Reserve. Dik-diks darted across the road, an Eastern Chanting Goshawk and a Tawny Eagle tickled our photographic glands in the gentle morning...

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Familiar (yet unfamiliar) Territory

Only this year I've started using a new camera body - the updated version to my trusted Canon 7D - and with a new body comes fresh avenues to explore. AF points, great. High-speed shooting, fantastic. But there was something I had been meaning to check out for some months now but just never got the time. This week, I decided to dabble. The 7D Mark II model is supposed to be better - albeit marginally - in terms of handling noise at high ISO levels. With my previous body, I was accustomed to having ISO 800 as my limit, anything quicker than that and my images would more than likely end up being...

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Getting High

Trinidad is home to the extreme northernmost outcrop of the mighty Andes mountain chain, after the dragon flicks its tail in Colombia and Venezuela, one can see the mountains leave the latter, dip into the ocean and re-emerge as the scattered islands of the Bocas which lead up to the northwest end of the Northern Range - which in turn extends across the island. If you have problems visualizing this, take a boat "down the islands" and see for yourself - it's guaranteed to amaze and put things into perspective a bit. From a birding perspective, these hills on Trinidad are a complete treasure...

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Mother’s Love (If You Hate Cute Pictures Look Away Now)

It's been said that the love of a mother is undying. We judge, praise, scorn and vilify various types of mothers based on our own perception of what motherhood should be. Sure enough, some of the images within this post are bound to conjure familiar feelings - especially with the primates - but what really is motherhood? Is what we feel unique to us? Given that everything in nature can be scaled both up and down infinitely, let's look at the general process involved in bringing the next generation into the world - albeit in a grossly simplified manner. There is typically a stage of tender love,...

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Celebrating Commonality

A slightly different version of this article was published in the Tobago Newsday a few days ago. This is the original piece. You can view the equivalent of a radio edit here.   As birders, we’re often jaded when it comes to birds we’ve grown accustomed to. As human beings, this occurs as well, except not with birds but with other facets of our lives. So much so that a saying has been coined to counteract this very phenomenon: “one man’s trash is another’s treasure” Why then has it become such second nature to take things for granted? Have we evolved into a wholly superficial...

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A False Desert

This morning at quarter to three, my alarm sounded, jolting me awake and galvanizing my cat into action to prevent me from leaving the bed. After eventually winning that battle with the large, soft, warm and fluffy creature, we made ourselves ready for our first birding mission within T&T since returning from Kenya. It had been some months since we were out birding, and we were suitably excited. Fast forward a few hours later, and before the clock hit six o clock, we were traversing the rugged eastern coastline of Trinidad, heading into the village of Kernaham, hoping to score a couple special...

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Why Am I Failing All ID Questions?

Within the past few days I've been struck with the realization that I'm *gasp* getting some identifications wrong, some of which are supposed to be routine for me, after a decade of birding in T&T, after having compiled and written extensive material on the birds that can be found within these two islands (including offshore islets) - and I believe I've figured out what went wrong. As you may be aware, I've recently returned from a completely epic journey across much of Kenya. I'm still processing the images from that trip, consequently I haven't been out in the bush here since our return....

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Care for a Soda…Lake?

We had eyes on Lake Nakuru long before we physically presented ourselves there, eyeing it from the journey into the (gorgeous) town of Nakuru, as well as from our lofty overnight perch at the Alps hotel. We knew we'd likely get our first glimpses of thousands of flamingos there - not to mention countless other avian species - as well as chances for more big game, even Leopards! But seasoned in the act of wildlife viewing, we knew better than to anticipate what we'd see beforehand. African sunsets are legendary, and sunrises weren't too bad either. Being at a reasonably high elevation, we enjoyed...

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Hot Sun, Cool Breeze

I originally intended to do one of these every few days, keeping everyone up to date with a pseudo-realistic walk-through of our safari, but days turned into weeks, and I sit here desperately trying not to let weeks slip into months. We all know how it can get, life that is. Truth is, it's not that I haven't been getting the time to write, but I've been using that time to pore over fresh images, each time I'm finished with a batch I simply import another, and I must admit that I've been reliving our adventure privately over the past few weeks, sometimes sitting open-mouthed, staring at the computer...

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Pedal to the Metal, Chronicles of Day 1 on Safari

We deliberately arrived in Nairobi a couple days before the scheduled commencement of the safari itself, as there was the mutual understanding that once the birding begins, it begins. All energies replenished during the easy days, everyone was eager for the 6am start at Nairobi National Park. Located in Nairobi itself, the park is over a hundred square kilometres of welcoming African bush comfortably close to the sprawling city. I made somewhere around 110 images (as in keepers, not how many times I clicked the shutter, that's in the thousands) over the course of our twelve-hour extravaganza...

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