"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Pigs were Here!

This is that pretty pullout by Summit Lake, about Mile 45 of the Seward Highway, which is a desgnated federal Scenic Byway.    The dandelions are in bloom and out in the lake, two trumpeter swans are gobbling down underwater goodies.   You can see one of them as a white dot in the center of the photo.

I clean up this pullout every spring and then check and tidy it two or three times a week until snowfall.

Today, I discovered someone dumped three bags of household garbage.   Lots of ice cream containers, chip bags, paper plates, dryer sheets, and lint from a dryer or vacuum.  I figure the trash came from someone's home or from an RV large enough to have a washer/dryer.

And a cat.   The third bag was used cat litter.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The 2020 African Journals

Chapter Twenty
A Great Day for Birding

 NOTE:   The photos will look best if you open them by clicking on one.   A film strip will appear at the bottom and you can scroll through them by opening each one.   I suggest you read the story then go back and click on the first photo.

It’s pitch dark when tea and biscuits are delivered to my tent at Entim Camp in the Maasai Mara.   That is a nice wakeup call.

I’m waving the house-provided flashlight out the front tent flap shortly thereafter, all dressed and ready for the morning safari drive.   A night guard armed with a long knife appears to escort me to the common area.  Entim is not a fenced camp and thus the caution as there are often animals in the camp.

Today, the Infirm Photographers Group abides by the Rules to Shoot By and moves to a different vehicle.   We also rotate seats, but it will prove to be the last time.  Mary moves to the front, I move to the middle-without-a-left-seat, and the Third One moves to the rear. 

When I sit, I notice three pillows on the floor for me to kneel on.   After I am situated with my camera gear ready, I see that there are only two pillows.   Third One has taken the third to cushion her side against the vehicle sidewall.

These Rules to Shoot By are not a bunch of things that David Lloyd arbitrarily wrote.   They are intended to make his safaris run smoothly after many years of trial and testing.  There are, of course, some problems because there are no one-size-fits-all situations.

We leave camp in the early morning dimness and soon we are in the company of elephants.  

The hot air balloons launch in the distance at first light.   The air is cooler and heavier then; the balloons cannot fly in the heat of the day.

Trunks are for scratching ears

It is difficult to not put the camera down and just enjoy their company, especially when a young one appears who feels the need to keep in physical contact with mom at all moments.

Look at all the photographers behaving and shooting out the left.

I am finding the middle row to be ideal for me.   True, I have to kneel, but I have a throw pillow for that purpose.   The problem arises when I need to get back in my seat.  My injured knee does not like that maneuver and it takes me a clumsy few moments to accomplish it.

After sprawling on the floor a couple times, I ask our guide to make sure I’m seated before he moves the vehicle.

Today turns out to be a great day for birding:

Red-billed oxpecker on a Cape buffalo.

An ostrich has only two toes and only one has a nail.   But that nail can easily gut an opponent because the bird can kick forward.   It can also run up to 38 mph.

Ah, the gray crowned cranes.

And this, consensus says, is a Montagu's harrier hawk.


A hamerkop looking for frogs in a puddle.

 And there I go, breaking the rule by shooting out the right side instead of the left.   But!   It's a bird!

A tawny eagle, in fact.


 This is a widowbird.    What variety is in question.

Perhaps a fan-tailed widowbird.

This striking bird is a black-chested snake eagle.

Well, it's an eagle or an African Harrier-hawk.   I'll get back to you on this one.

Lappet-faced vulture

Lappet-faced vultures

Lappet-faced vultures.   The bald head of these vultures keeps feathers from being coated with blood and other fluids.

The always beautiful lilac-breasted roller, the national bird of Kenya.

 Oh, we saw a few animals, too.

Grant's gazelle

A topi.   Look at the hair design in the ears.

Thompson's gazelle in the foreground with topis in the rear.

Thompson's gazelle, or Tommies for short.

And, we had breakfast under the warm sun of the Maasai Mara.

Preparing the selections.

Enjoying the day.

The guides wait until we have served ourselves before eating.

Then, it's back to camp for our mid-day break.

This one is still a mystery.   It is a very large starling and there are several possibilities.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The 2020 Africa Journals

 NOTE:   The photos will look best if you open them by clicking on one.   A film strip will appear at the bottom and you can scroll through them.   I suggest you read the story then go back and click on the first photo.

Chapter Nineteen
Rules are Made to be Broken

We are barely out of the copse of trees in which Entim Camp is located when David’s Rules to Shoot By are tested and blown all to pieces.

A couple explanations:

1.    The layout of the Land Rover for photographers provides three rows of two seats each, with each photographer having an entire row to himself/herself.  The front row, which is where the access door is, has two seats with a narrow aisle in between.   The second row has one seat on the right side and no seat on the left, which is the side David says we should shoot from.  This empty area is meant for a photographer to kneel on the steel flooring plates, using throw cushions for comfort.   The third row has two seats with a DC-powered cooler box in between, making access to the right seat very difficult.

2.     As it turns out, all three of us women have mobility issues.   I jokingly call us the Infirm Photographers Group.   Mary has a long-standing condition that affects her mobility.    I have a piece of a broken bone in my right knee that prevented walking in January and I was very concerned the condition would flare up again.  I came quite close to canceling this trip because of that. The Third Person has had three operations on her knees and was afraid her knee(s) would lock up if she knelt.

In Botswana, Marg and Mary graciously and generously allowed me to baby my knee by insisting that I ride in the seat next to the driver, which in a tiered-seating vehicle meant the the least amount of climbing.

On this day at Entim, I remember that I sat in the first row of seats and that Mary sat in the rear.   That left the middle, with the missing left seat, for the Third Person.   I saw some throw pillows on the floor and took one so I could kneel on it with my injured knee, the idea being that the lower to the ground you can shoot, the better.

Shortly after exiting the trees, the Third Person in the second row says that this will not work for her because of her knees.  

When the subject of pillows comes up in the following discussion, I surrender the one pillow I have, realizing it was for the middle seat person’s use.   Finally, Delores changes seats with the Third Person and our safari gets underway.   More about how we break this rule later.

Almost our first sighting is of some denizens of the Maasai Mara who really appreciate the heavy rains.   This is the Mud Hole Day Spa for Cape Buffalo:



Buffalo, elephants, and rhinos wallow in mud for several reasons.   It cools them, protects them from biting insects, and also acts as a sunscreen.

It’s also good for their complexions, don’t you think? 

 Some birds appreciate the mud hole, too.

Spurwinged Lapwing

Hamerkop has caught a frog

The guides find some sleeping lions.

David, Marg, and Laura.

I want all you shooters to notice that Marg is practicing trigger safety. 

So much for a nap.

Having disturbed sleeping lions, we go in search of more critters to photograph.

Southern Ground-hornbill

Juvenile Southern Ground-hornbill.   Darned grass.

It’s getting dark and we’re heading back to camp when we spot topi on the horizon in what amounts to today’s sunset.   Not colorful at all, but the topi are on the horizon, so…

Then!   Drama!
It’s almost too dark for photos, so I’ve lightened the following photos quite a bit.

The  Cape Buffalo, fresh from the Mud Hole Day Spa, are chasing three lions out of the area.    I spin to my right and start shooting.   And BANG!  goes another of David’s Rules to Shoot By. 

See the light brown along the right edge of the photo?   That's part of the safari vehicle.   That means I'm breaking another Rules to Shoot By and shooting out the right.


By the time the driver changes positions so we can shoot from the left side of the vehicle, I missed the parting of the three lions.

 One disappears into a bush and watches from his lair.   Two run towards the vehicles, perhaps hoping the buffalo will give off the chase. 


Ah, not so fast these you wily lions.   The buffalo continue the chase.

And don't ya come back no more, no more, no more.

When at last the buffalo stop running, a thoroughly chastised lion walks away to locate his missing brothers.


And we return to camp.