African Safari (Kenya) Pt. 22

From the arid plains of Samburu to the humidity of Lake Nakuru and finally the high savanna of Masai Mara, Kenya is as diverse as it is beautiful. Although my camera was focused on wildlife, the landscape was, at times, breathtaking and surprisingly sparsely populated. Being that this is normally the dry season, the large herds had continued along their habitual migration patterns. Having experienced portrait season, I have already placed my deposit to return with famous photographer John Gerlach for the September 2014 Great Migration (largest on the Earth) when millions of animals will cross these grasslands.

Masai Mara grasslands

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Although a small number of Wildebeest, a member of the antelope family, reside full time in Masai Mara, over a million will pass through during Migration.

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An estimated 1.2 million Zebras will also join the caravan.

Zebra in Masai Mara

Zebras on the plains of Masai Mara

Zebra portrait

Large herds of Cape Buffalo, accompanied by their choir of Oxpeckers, will also compete for grazing rights during Migration.

Cape buffalo with Oxpeckers

Oxpeckers with Cape Buffalo

Of course, the Hyena and its fellow predators of the Mara will be in hot pursuit of the young, the old and the infirmed.

Hyena on the hunt

Another member of the antelope family on the Masai Mara plains is the distinctively colored Topi. With bluish-black almost iridescent markings, this large animal can run at 50 miles and hour once it gets up to cruising speed though normally a good jog will suffice.

Topi in Masai Mara

Those ears make very efficient blinders from the brilliant rays of the sun.

Masai Mara Topi

One evening, while returning to camp, we encountered 30 to 40 Topi in what appeared to be a round robin beat down for dominance of the herd. With breeding rights at stake, winners would immediately take on the next opponent. There were vicious collisions like you would see with Bighorn Sheep. The whole event gave me a headache just watching !

Topi fighting for breeding rights

With all the photogenic mammals the Mara offers, one could forget to notice the birds. But that is not possible as this population simply screams “Look at me !!”  Whether it is the color of the Lila-breasted Roller

Lilac-breasted Roller

or the Malachite Kingfisher, it is impossible to ignore their beauty.

malachite kingfisher

From the stately appearance of the Black-headed Heron,

Crane

to the flowing lines of the Pin-tailed Whydah, Mother Nature’s architecture is stunning.

Pin-tailed Whydah

How clever I am to have photographed this Grey-backed Fiscal enjoying its lunch. Well … I would have been if it hadn’t been just dumb luck discovered in the editing process. Many times action is so fast and furious you really are not sure what you captured until reviewing the downloads. You only pray the images you envisioned  are on your screen.

Grey -backed Fiscal

Photography allows one to paint images that can tell so many different stories. Now, everyone knows what a Giraffe looks like but did you ever think of the thickness of its neck juxtaposed above those twig-like legs or the geometry of its motion. How about the impressionistic design and pallet of its body paint or the concept of soaring to new heights to view the world from a different perspective. Provoking thought, regardless of the direction, is what I am attempting to achieve.

Masai Mara Giraffe

So after 3 weeks of bouncing across Kenya, it is finally time to head home. Our guides will make the long trek back to Nairobi with our luggage while we take a much appreciated 1 hour flight to the International airport, that is, after they clear the wildlife from this dirt airstrip in the middle of nowhere. I am tired and I am actually content to be leaving but only because I already know I will be returning for the best wildlife show on the Earth, the Great Migration of 2014. So … even though I only made it through a few hundred of my 25,000 Kenya photos, I am pretty sure you have seen enough for the time bring and we need to move on. Thanks for sharing my adventure.

Kenya departure

Click here to return to Africa Safari (Kenya) Pt. 21

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