The morning started with a glorious sunrise. Last night a thundering rainstorm drenched the burst and bonedry soil of Mashatu and it was as if the sun was inviting the leaves and grasses to come out and grow.
It was a bliss to go out and watch the land sucking in every drop of water.
The hyena we found just outside of camp, bathing in early morning sunlight, seemed pretty content and was probably dreaming of the impala baby-boom that was about to begin.
Ranger Elvis had warned us that taking photos of the Crimson Breasted Shrike was next to impossible as these birds give new meaning to the word hyperactivity besides the fact that they always immediately hide deep within the branches of the shrubs when seen. Of course, when I’m faced with a challenge, I will do my utmost to capture it anyway and already on this second day at Mashatu we got a good chance! There is still another reason why these birds are extremely hard to photograph as their feathers are indeed só red, there is a good chance of blowing out the color. But.. so far.. so good.
We stopped for coffee at the river bank and the numerous birds that fished for insects on the surface of the water made for a good practice range to catch them in flight. Of course the coffee got cold 🙂
The afternoon game drive led us to the highest hills in the area with beautiful views all around. Sometimes I wish I’d be any good at landscape photography because the African lands are breathtakingly beautiful! But I tried and set the aperture to f32 to catch as much detail as possible (the fact that at this point you don’t see a landscape shot says something about my success :-)) When we drove down the mountain a small herd of wildebeest saw us coming and broke into a galop as soon as we approached them. I quickly grabbed the camera and snapped away. But I had forgotten that the aperture was still on f32! Even the bright African sunlight is not enough with that aperture setting and I heard the shutter click with an alarmingly slow speed. Quickly adjusted the aperture and took some more shots. But to my big surprise, the one with the wrong settings (f32, 1/15sec) turned out very nice! The slow shutter speed totally motion blurred the background but there is still enough visible to recognize the galopping Wildebeest. I like it! (and much more than the ones taking with correct aperture!) Sometimes even mistakes can lead to pleasant surprises..
The sun faded into a most beautiful sunset. The Yellow Billed Hornill alongside the road chose the perfect perch to capture it in front of the setting sun.
One of the most perfect moments on any game drive is when, just at a moment when you’ve had about enough of being bumped around in a Landrover, the ranger stops at some beautiful spot for sundowners. On this day we stopped at a big open spot, lined by those giant Mashatu trees, where a group of Baboons was frolicking around. Lovely to watch them, especially with a nice cool glass of white wine in your hand! Glossy starlings were hopping around catching insects and soon enough I found myself (yet again) flat on my belly to catch them in the rapidly fading but beautiful warm evening light.
Another beautiful day had come to an end..