ARCHIVE KENYA 60 – NAKURU SUNRISE, WITH MARABOU AND CORMORANTS

 

 


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Marabou Storks and cormorants silhouetted in the sunrise at Lake Nakuru, Kenya; Jan 1978.

Lake Nakuru is a soda lake located over a  mile above sea level in the floor of Kenya’s rift valley.  It is most famous for the vast flocks of flamingos – flocks that can be over a million strong – that periodically reside on the alkaline waters.

Here are two other resident members of the lake’s teeming birdlife.  The Marabou is a huge stork – five feet from beak to tail – and a very successful scavenger of anything at all eatable,  and also an opportunistic killer of anything small and defenceless.  It frequently attends kills of large mammals alongside vultures, and has a similarly unfeathered head for retrieving entrails etc from deep inside carcasses.

The cormorants are the same bird that we have here in Britain: they exist on a diet of fish which they catch underwater.  Despite the fact that they are predominantly waterbirds, their feathers are not waterproofed like those of ducks so that they must be dried out after underwater sorties – and the bird top right is doing just that – standing in the warming sun, with wings out to dry.  (The bird bottom right appears to have a beak protruding from the back of its head, but this is in fact the beak of another individual, swimming on the water behind it.)

This shot might very well have been presented in monochrome, but the gold of the sunrise is not to be abandoned!

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: 400mm telephoto on Olympus OM SLR, mounted on a tripod; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE 534 – MALLARD DUCKS (MONO)

 

 


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Mallard ducks on the edge of Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 6 Apr 2015.

A pair of these common and often very tame ducks, at Herons Green. 

On the left, the male stands immobile on one leg.   On the right, his mate’s busy preening sends great numbers of ripples out into the shallows.

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window – highly recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 200mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Low Key 2 preset.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 51 – DAWN MISTS AT LAKE NAKURU (MONO)

 

 


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Dawn mists rising from Lake Nakuru in central Kenya; Jan 1978. 

The large birds with huge bills in the foreground are White Pelicans.  In the lake behind them are the remains of trees that, flooded by the lake, have been killed by the high concentration of sodium bicarbonate in its waters.  Cormorants  perch on these dead trunks, and there is also a nest of sticks.  Around the bottom of these trees, three flamingos are feeding, heads down in the water.  More pelicans are further out on the lake, fading into the haze.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: Vivitar 400mm telephoto on Olympus SLR, mounted on a tripod.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 50 – RINGING MIGRANT BIRDS AT NGULIA LODGE

 

 

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A german ornithologist extracts birds from mist nets at Ngulia Lodge, Tsavo West National Park, Kenya; November 1979.  In the autumn, millions of small birds migrate from Europe and Russia southwards into Africa to escape the harsh northern winter.  They fly at night for protection, and navigate by the moon and stars.  A stream of these nocturnal migrants passes over Tsavo and, on moonless nights in the autumn, they become disorientated when caught in the fog and low cloud that often occurs in this area in the rainy season.

Ngulia Lodge is built high up on a ridge, and it has game viewing lights which are left on all night.  The migrants are attracted by the lights’ glow in the mist, and many tens of thousands of birds can descend on the lodge from out of the murky night skies.  For those interested in the natural world, a fall of migrants at Ngulia can be an incredible spectacle, the birds are literally all over the lodge.  And it is truly amazing, and moving too, to think of these millions of small birds, like the one pictured above, flying down across Africa in the darkness – only to fly back up to Europe and Russia in the following spring to breed.

The birds fail to see the very fine mist nets and fly into them, becoming entangled in the fine mesh. They are manually extracted from the nets and ringed (i.e. they have a small, engraved metal ring wrapped around one of their legs). Birds ringed at Ngulia have been found in many areas of eastern Europe and Russia, east to Siberia. The mist net’s fine mesh can be seen against the ringer’s red shirt; the bags around his waist contain birds already extracted from the nets and awaiting ringing.

Technique: Olympus OM-2; TTL-metered flash; Agfa CT18 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE 527 – SWANS, GRAZING (MONO)

 

 


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Swans grazing on pastureland; Westhay Moor, south of Wedmore; 2 April 2015.

Some see swans purely as waterbirds, and on or beside water is where they’re usually encountered, reaching down into the water’s depths with their long necks to feed on aquatic vegetation.  But they are often seen out on the fields of the Somerset Levels, quite at home grazing on short grass.

These are Mute Swans, the UK’s common and often tame, resident bird.  But in the winter they may be joined here by a few Bewick’s and Whooper Swans that have come south to avoid the Arctic’s bitter freeze.

And the pylon?  Well, 15 miles or so west of here, and in stark contrast to the Levels’ rural reaches, there is the Hinkley Point atomic power station, which sends lines of such gaunt metal towers snaking out across the surrounding countryside.  The two reactors there are ageing now, but a third is proposed and construction is underway.

And  – hot question! – am I in favour of nuclear power and especially, in this instance, so close to my favourite haunts?  Well, the jury’s out on nuclear, I guess, my only certainty being that we need to get power from somewhere – news stories talk of our electricity supplies being only just sufficient to cover winter demands.  

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window – highly recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 2,000 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dramatic preset.

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ARCHIVE 519 – THE LOVE OF JACKDAWS FOR CHIMNEYS

 

 


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A bright moon on an icy morning,  just at sunrise, and a pair of Jackdaws are on the top of a chimney in the village Stanton Drew, not far south of Bristol.

Jackdaws are our smallest crow, they pair for life, and they are often around our houses – and especially our chimneys – in which (amongst other places) they nest.  They are sociable, garrulous and often quite accepting of man, and I have a lot of affection for them – but then, I have a lot of affection for wildlife generally.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Stanton Drew, near Bristol; 6 Nov 2017.

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ARCHIVE 517 – HERRING GULL (MONO)

 

 


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Herring Gull: winter plumaged adult at St Ives, Cornwall; 27 Sept 2012.

This individual is sitting on a wall, but I want to show nothing but the bird and its overcast backdrop and so have cropped the wall out.  Mono simplifies the picture, and gives the impression of  a tough and rugged individual used to enduring the dull, overcast, wintery conditions.

These birds have pure white heads in summer, but this one has the streaked head and neck that appears later in the year.

I like the detail in the feathering at lower left, especially the single feather sticking up from the rest.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – highly recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2, starting from the Antique Plate 1 preset.

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ARCHIVE 511 – JUST OVER OUR BACK FENCE, IN JANUARY

 

 


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Wood Pigeon, just beyond our back fence; 30 Jan 2010.

The snowy Ash trees make an abstract, with slightly stronger and darker vertical elements either side of the bird, which is nervously looking back at me over its shoulder.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 1600 ISO.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 30 – MIST NETTING BIRDS IN KAKAMEGA FOREST

 

 


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On the right, the former Curator of Ornithology at The National Museums of Kenya, G R Cunningham-van Someren –  known to one and all as ‘Chum’ ; Feb 1978.

He is examining a small bird netted in Kakamega Forest, in the far west of Kenya, while another birder speaks the details into a portable tape recorder.   The vague, blurry mesh of the very fine “mist” net used to catch the bird can be seen in the background.

Kenya is one of the richest bird countries in Africa because, due to a chance placing of colonial boundaries, it is situated where several of the great faunal/floral regions within sub-Saharan Africa meet.  Each of these great regions has its own distinctive birds, mammals, plants etc.  When I wrote A Bird Atlas of Kenya (publ. 1989) 1,065 bird species had been recorded in Kenya, a country only the size of Texas; more have been found in the ensuing years.

Kakamega Forest is the easternmost outpost of one of these regions , the great central African rain forests, and it holds many birds not found elsewhere in Kenya – and hence it was a very exciting destination for birders newly arrived in the country, and the more so if accompanied by this expert ornithologist.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE 502 – SWAN, PREENING (MONO)

 

 


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Mute Swan at Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, not far south of Bristol; 6 Apr 2015.

The bird is preening, busily rearranging its feathers in a flurry of activity that is sending concentric ripples out across the surrounding water.

Click onto to the image to see a larger version in a separate window – highly recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; -0.3EV; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Low Key 2 preset.

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