Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 13/07/2012

Who Might You Be*

Here my note fail me; I used my cell phone to record a lot of my thoughts whilst on the move – it has the same application that I use for offline note taking as my android tablet, but when photographing, the phone is mightier than the tablet.. or something like that anyway. Most of what you have read was written whilst on the move, which might explain the spelling mistakes, any grammatical errors, or the occasional full stop which seems to want to make an appearance all the time for some reason. When it comes to the notes I made for the reserve, there are only three words recorded from 08:30am to 11:30am when we stopped for lunch at the Ngutuni Lodge… and I was even repeating myself with these three words… hardly original. For your benefit I will quote them verbatim….


I didn’t even bother with any punctuation so caught up with the sights, sounds and smells in the park so I will now try and recall the mornings tour from memory (referring back to the photos in chronological order if I need my memory jogged (which is unlikely, it was a pretty memorable tour))

We only manage to drive five feet past the barrier to the park when we spot our first photo opportunity. The park is renowned for its bird life, in fact that’s the reason Eustace (remember, he’s our Agent in Mombasa (not in the James Bond/Man from U.N.C.L.E type way)) has recommended the park for us and as usual his recommendations have been A1, Top Notch, Spot On (etc). The first bird we see is a rather impressive one as well, the Red-Billed Hornbill (which I stupidly confuse with von der decken’s hornbill, but I tell you what… you trying to organize your camera equipment and your brain at the same time when you’ve had as little sleep as I’ve had over the past week… what are you waiting for.. that was a challenge!) A medium sized hornbill, VonDeckers (as I then start referring to it when my brain finally kicks in so I can ID it correctly) is a lovely bird, very photogenic and we snap away in a similar way to our first Hammerkop in Lake Nakuru last year (as if it were the only one). In a similar way, when we move another 5 feet towards the bird, suddenly Von’s Hornbill (I’m now on first name terms) seem to be everywhere, and we see at least three of them flitting from bush to bush. In their trail are a myriad of small birds following them from bush to bus, all of which are too far away to photograph.. and ID (I’d only get it wrong in all the excitement… first time anyway).

We move on, all around us more and more bird life abounds, all different, all hard to ID, and all too far to photograph but we’re like kids in candy shops… ooh look there… oh, over there… small LBJ at 11 o’clock (for those non-birders out there… yes, I’m talking to you Tim… an LBJ refers to a Little Brown Jobbie (you see, the computer industry doesn’t have exclusive rights over TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms)) and then to allow other to locate the bird using the dial of a clock in relation to your location helps to place where the bird has been spotted) – in the UK this term is used frequently as most birds seem to be small.. brown in colouration… and so indistinct as to be hard to identify – they are therefore grouped under one generic term.. the LBJ.

Unable to take any memorable shots we move on but stop within 300 yards with what we think has to be the highlight of the trip, an African Savanna Elephant (which we have seen numerous times on the Mara) but this time in Pink. The lone individual (nothing like double emphasis) has taken on the colour of its environment and is red, mimicking the colour of the soil, rather than pink but that doesn’t stop the comedic exploration of Pink Elephants as we snap away. The elephant is neither impressed with our photographic intrusion into its day… or our jokes and moves off and then so do we.

We pass an derelict building and then as we traverse what seems a major track a 4 by 4 speeds past us; even at such speeds we’re observed by the occupants of the vehicle.. these are the armed guards of the reserve – their weaponry a match for our long lenses.

No sooner is this sobering encounter over (I have the Welsh Rap artist GLC’s tune “Guns Don’t Kill People, Rapper Do” going through my head) then our senses are assaulted even more as we happen across a herd of around a dozen Red/Pink/Vermilion/Cinnabar Elephants. The close proximity, the beautiful lighting and the majestic nature of these creatures is breathtaking so we snap away, luckily the animals don’t mind so we continue to photograph them.

All this and we’ve only been in the park less than an hour.. so you’ll have to come back tomorrow if you want to hear… no I insist.. come back tomorrow… PLEASE!

* A quote from Count Duckula, based on the classic Abbot and Costello routine.. Who’s on First Base.


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