I haven't been back to India since 2019 - primarily due to Covid-19, but this year I was delighted to head back for a dedicated photography tour to Nagarhole National Park with Wildlife Worldwide. This is one of India's hidden gems and despite not being as well known as some of India's more illustrious parks, it offers some truly world-class wildlife encounters and for those that are patient enough, some excellent wildlife photography opportunities.
Our group was spoiled with some memorable tiger sightings, several different leopards, gaur, deer and Asian elephant. It was a fabulous week in a beautiful part of the world, which for the time being is still relatively quiet. I hope you enjoy the photos.
The best thing in Nagarhole is that you can be really lucky and enjoy your own, private sightings of the predators. Moments such as these are something to cherish and we had exclusive sightings of both dhole (Asiatic wild dog) and tiger.
If you ever want to visit India, wanting to escape the crowds, I can't recommend Nagarhole National Park enough. Visit the Wildlife Worldwide website to find out more.
Back in March I was heading overseas once again, leading another photography tour to Iceland for Wildlife Worldwide. We were going to spend 5 days in the remote Horntstrandir Nature Reserve, in Iceland's remote north-west, focussing on the area's population of blue morph Arctic foxes.
First, we had a night in Reykjavik, before flying up to the town of Ísafjörður the following morning. The only catch might be if our flight was delayed due to the weather.
As we arrived in Ísafjörður, we were met by our host and local guide for the next 5 days. We had a bit of time before our boat across to Kviar Lodge, and so the group were able to grab a cake and a coffee. It wasn't long before we were climbing aboard the vessel that would take us across the fjord and we were then on our way. Upon our arrival at Kviar, we had a strong wind whipping up snow, but we were soon ashore and started to haul our luggage and supplies up to the house.
With foxes already showing, it was time to head out with our cameras and embrace the blizzard conditions for some challenging, but incredibly rewarding photography.
Over the next few days we enjoyed some truly exceptional photography opportunities with several different foxes. We were able to build up an impressive portfolio of images with some incredibly varied weather. It was the perfect few days to be out in this area of wilderness, just alone with the foxes and eider ducks.
Just as the first day at Kviar Lodge, there was a strong wind blowing on the last day, picking up snow and creating a very atmospheric scene. Once again it was perfect for photography and an amazing way to end the trip.
With another magical week in Iceland behind us, it was time to head home and reflect on what a beautiful and captivating part of the world this is. I hope these images inspire you to visit this wonderful part of the world - you'll fall in love with the foxes if you do.
I absolutely love being in the Antipodes as the wildlife here is not only unique, but it is utterly captivating, and so it was a delight to head back and spend another couple of weeks searching for and photographing some icons.
Just as we did in the previous trip, we started on the mainland of Australia, photographing wildlife in the state of Victoria, before flying across the Bass Strait to Tasmania. Around the city of Geelong, we enjoyed photographing a wealth of wildlife including corellas, emu, eastern grey kangaroo, grey-headed flying fox and koala too.
After a fantastic few days photographing the wild delights of the mainland, including some Australian oddities, we hopped on a plane from Melbourne down to the city of Launceston in Tasmania. From here we headed to the Tasmania arboretum for some great platypus sightings and photography.
We then headed up into the hills and spent the next five days just immersing ourselves in the wild world of Tasmania's rugged mountains. Here photographic highlights included tiger snake, wombat, wallabies and several endemic birds.
We headed back down from Tasmania's Highlands back down towards the coast and stopped once again at the Tasmanian Arboretum. We thought our previous visit was remarkable for the platypus encounters we enjoyed, but this time it was exceptional. The absolute highlight was a pair of platypus fighting after an attempt at mating.
Over the next few days we continued by exploring the north-east of Tasmania, enjoying more wonderful photography opportunities including Forrester's kangaroos.
After a great period photographing in the northern reaches of Tasmania, it was time to head south towards Hobart. We spent an evening in Hobart, primarily as a rest stop, before heading over to Bruny Island the following day. Here, we would be staying close to the Inala property and our hope was to photograph some of the region's iconic birdlife including the forty-spotted pardalote.
As you can see, we had a magical couple of weeks photographing some of Australia's most sought-after species. It was great to be back in the bush and seeing some of my favourite Aussie wildlife.
It was a real pleasure to head back to Japan once again and lead another trip for Wildlife Worldwide alongside good friend and fellow photographer Sean Weekly. We took a group of excited photographers, among the first tourists to visit since Covid, on an adventure heading up to the island of Hokkaido for a week of world-class photography.
Our first port of call was Lake Kussharo and whooper swans which can be found along the hot spring-fed shoreline. With only a short visit before the light faded away, our opportunities were limited. There would be another chance tomorrow.
First thing the following morning we headed down to Otowa Bridge before dawn to hopefully capture the magic of the sunrise of the Setsuri River. What we witnessed was utterly breathtaking. It's so unusual for wildlife, weather and light to all come together perfectly - this really was one of those incredibly rare occasions.
As you can see, the scene that lay before us was exceptional and the photography was relatively straight forward. We just had to wait for the mist to clear sporadically and for the cranes (and deer) to move into place. After such a fabulous start to the day, our next couple of stops seemed to be a bonus, rather than the main act. The bright sunlight made it more challenging for photography, but as the day progressed a light layer of cloud started to form once again.
After an action-packed first full day on the island of Hokkaido, we headed back to Lake Kussharo for another session with the whooper swans.
Having enjoyed an excellent couple of days in land, it was time to head to the coastal town of Rausu up in the north-east where we hoped to photograph Steller's sea and white-tailed eagles. We could not have expected what other delight was in store for us.
Our first afternoon heading out on the water delivered some excellent encounters with the eagles. Unfortunately no ice was in the channel, but instead we were offered the unique chance to enjoy a pod of over 30 orca. Seeing these whales in summer is a regular occurrence, but in winter it only happens once in a blue moon.
The next day, unfortunately was a non-starter as we had a blizzard blow in and we were unable to get out on the water at all. We did have another day though to try our luck again. We purposefully schedule and extra day here for such eventualities.
After the storm cleared, we were indeed able to head back out on the boat and spend another session making the most of the eagle action.
Our final target in Hokkaido, having so far been unlucky with potential sightings, was the Blakiston's fish owl. This time the group struck gold and we enjoyed excellent views of the world's largest species of owl.
With a wonderful week spent enjoying the delights of Hokkaido, it was time to head back down to Tokyo (on the main island of Honshu). Here we were able to spend an evening exploring the city before we headed into the mountains and the city of Nagano. Nagano is famous for its winter sports, but we were here for a local species which are beyond celebrities. Our target species here was the Japanese macaque, or the snow monkeys as they are more affectionately known. The spend much of their time around a series of hot pools, escaping the bitterly cold weather of these rugged mountains.
As you can see, we had an exceptional couple of weeks in Japan photographing the country's magical wildlife. In 2024 both of the Wildlife Worldwide trips will be led by Sean, but I can assure you that if you book you'll be in great hands.
Those of you that have been following my blog for a while will understand just what Zambia means to me. Many years ago I was privileged enough to work in South Luangwa National Park and it stole a piece of my heart.
With that in mind, it was an absolute delight to venture back to one of my favourite haunts and lead another dedicated photography tour for Wildlife Worldwide on their South Luangwa Photo Safari. The trip was incredibly successful and we were able to capture some truly remarkable moments. Rather than rabbit on too much, I will just jump straight to the images. Starting with some birds ...
As you can see, South Luangwa is an exceptional destination to photograph birds. However, the birdlife wasn't the primary focus for most of our group. The majority of people that join me on safari here are after the park's iconic mammals such as leopard, lion, elephant and African wild dog. There is of course a wide array of species that call the park home, including plenty of herbivores.
And now for the species you really wanted to see ...
We were treated to some incredible encounters with African wild dogs throughout the safari. The afternoons were particularly fruitful as the dogs were choosing to rest on the sandy banks along the Luangwa River. As well as intimate portraits, we were able to capture some wonderful environmental scenes.
For many, the main reason for coming to South Luangwa National Park is for leopard. For many years now, the park has gained a reputation as one of the best places in Africa to see leopard and we have were fortunate to have numerous encounters with a couple of different individuals. However, it was one evening where we heard baboon alarm calls that we were treated to a truly exceptional encounter.
As you can see, we positioned the vehicle in such a way to maximise the photography opportunities for the clients, all the while ensuring that the leopard wasn't disturbed by our presence. Working closely with my guide, and good friend Bwalya, we ascertained that she was likely to visit the drying lagoon for a drink and parked just along the pathway she was most likely to take. Our plan came to fruition and she walked within only a couple of metres from the vehicle, looking past us before continuing down towards the water.
It isn't often that everything comes together perfectly, but when it does you are left with a sense of pure joy. It was an encounter that will live long in the memory and I can't wait to head back to Zambia again later this year leading for Wildlife Worldwide.
Where do I begin? Well, firstly I must say that I have been utterly useless in keeping the blog up to date. An awful lot has happened in the past 4-5 months, including moving house to the Scottish Highlands, leadings tours left right and centre and of course, photographing the world's magnificent wildlife.
Anyway, enough about that, it is finally time to finish off sharing my imagery from Colombia. Enjoy!
To start with, I am sharing a few images of the charming Chami and chestnut-naped antpittas. These charming little birds have been habituated above the historic town of Jardin in the western Andes of Colombia. Both birds were the perfect posers and we were able to enjoy some fabulous photography.
After spending around an hour in the cloud forest photographing these magnificent birds, we descended down to the road which gave us another incredibly special species, the yellow-eared parrot. Here it sat atop of the most magical perch, the only downside was the rogue tendril beneath this beautiful bird.
We then continued further along the road, spending the morning in the surrounds of a local garden. This lovely garden, perched on a hill-top with spectacular views of the cloud forest above and farmland below, was a haven for countless species. The highlight was undoubtedly having fantastic views of the golden-headed quetzal.
As well as exploring above the town of Jardin, we were able to visit the Andean cock-of-the-rock lek situated on the river that runs along the town's edge. It is possible to find up to 20 different males showing off as they try to attract a mate. Making an awful racket, they do their best to show off their magnificent plumage. This really is a spectacle and the photography opportunities are exceptional too.
With time nearly running out on this bird photography extravaganza, we had one last day out in the field trying to find yet another endemic species. This time, we were in Parque Nacional Natural Sumapaz and our target bird was the green-bearded helmetcrest. The weather had taken a turn for the worst at this high-altitude paramo habitat, and so we searched for this diminutive species of hummingbird in the freezing rain and strong winds. We really struggled to find any adults in their finest plumage, but were instead spoiled with exceptional views of a pair of fledglings. This was arguably even more special than seeing an adult as these youngsters are rarely seen.
I hope you have been enjoying this series from the trip I led to Colombia for Wildlife Worldwide? For the third instalment I am taking you higher in the Central Andes in search of some real specialities. We left Manizales and started our climb ever higher up to Nevado del Ruiz - a towering volcano home to a variety on habitats and countless species.
Our first stop was the charming hillside property of Hacienda el Bosque. This working cattle farm has committed to protecting its high altitude forest and is actively planting corridors to help wildlife flourish on the property. It is little wonder that the property is a haven for numerous rarely seen species including the flammulated tree-hunter, grey-breasted mountain toucan and hooded mountain tanager. First up though was the equatorial antpitta at a feeding station before we went in search of the spectacular array of hummingbirds.
What an incredible start to our day at the hacienda. In my opinion it only got better as the real stars made their appearance a little later on ...
It was time for the grey-breasted mountain toucans and hooded mountain tanagers to put on quite the performance.
As I am sure you can see, the photography was exceptional thanks to our magnificent subjects. I was blown away by the photography opportunities and the birds were just stunning.
From here, we headed further up the mountain in search of higher altitude species including an endemic hummingbird - the buffy helmetcrest. In fact we were also treated to incredible views of tawny antpitta, lacrimose and scarlet-bellied mountain tanagers and rainbow-bearded thornbill. We were incredibly spoilt, but it is important to highlight the amount of time that has to be put in to get the images you are after.
I hope you have enjoyed looking through these images and discovering the wonderful birdlife that calls Colombia home. I really can't recommend visiting the Central Andes enough - it is a birder's and photographer's paradise.
Find out more about the trip on the Wildlife Worldwide website and book your place under the expect guidance of Ben Sutcliffe.
I know. It has been a while since I last posted about the wonderful bird photography tour I led to Colombia for Wildlife Worldwide. I left you after photographing the absolutely beautiful toucan barbets of the western Andes.
Today I am going to whisk you further north towards the city of Manizales and share with you a kaleidoscope of new colours and forms. Of course, with this being a bird photography tour, if you aren't a fancier of our avian friends, I suggest you wait for my upcoming blog on Zambia's South Luangwa National Park.
So to start you off easy, here are a couple of images taken from the Tinamou private reserve. The first was the diminutive golden-collared manakin. This tiny bird was incredibly challenging to photograph and my entire group had to work extremely hard to capture a 'record' shot - it was definitely about trying to capture it in its thick rainforest home. The second bird from here is the striking bar-crested antshrike.
After a couple of days exploring the trails and gardens of Tinamou, we headed across Manizales to the protected area of Rio Blanco Reserve. This cloudforest habitats has been set aside as a water catchment area for city below and in turn provides a refuge for numerous sought-after bird species. It is particularly well known for several species of antpitta - the most photogenic of these was undoubtedly the chestnut-crowned antpitta which was a perfect poser. The whole group were treated to some exceptional photography opportunities from only yards away.
After a morning with the antpittas we spent a prolonged period around the garden feeders, which attracted numerous hummingbirds such as buff-tailed coronet (the most common visitor) and the star bird which was the long-tailed sylph, alongside a number of other passerines.
As we descended down the mountain back towards the city of Manizales, we came across our first roadside hawk of the tour - it posed perfectly as everyone snapped away - providing some wonderful photography opportunities. Further down the steep road, we stopped at a small reservoir's dam and immediately saw the handsome white-capped dipper. Like the roadside hawk, it posed beautifully for a brief moment on the dam wall.
As we neared the bottom of the steep-sided mountain and crossed the river, our guide Juan spotted a torrent duck. These birds are notoriously hard to approach and tricky to photograph, but we were in luck as the bird was preoccupied with chasing a pair of white-capped dippers. The male duck was just the perfect subject as it came back and forth, stopping atop of numerous rocks with the lush forest-clad banks behind.
As I am sure you are starting to appreciate, Colombia is a birder's dream and as a wildlife photographer I think it is equally a rewarding. My group all took such a wide gamut of images, capturing numerous species in flight, feeding and just in their habitat. What more can you ask for?
I will try and bring you the next instalment within the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, you can read my tour report from the trip and find out more information on the Wildlife Worldwide website.
It seems like things are slowly returning to normal for those who work in the wildlife travel industry. With things continuing to look up, I was delighted to be at the helm for Wildlife Worldwide's Colombia Bird Photography tour.
We flew direct from London to Bogota and then on to the city of Cali across the central Andes in the Cauca Valley. It is important to note that Colombia is home to more birds than other country on Earth and the photography opportunities my group were treated to, were quite simply exceptional.
I am going to share some of my images from the trip, spread across a few different instalments. I feel this is the only way to do this amazing country and the spectacular birdlife justice.
On our first day, we spent a few days around the lodge's grounds and were blown away by the number of hummingbirds, tanagers, woodpeckers and even toucanets. The next day we moved across the mountain, high above the city of Cali where we hoped to photograph the elusive scaled antpitta and the massively sought-after multi-coloured tanager (see below).
For our third day of bird photography in the Western Andes we headed to a known spot for toucan barbet. Here we were treated to some more incredible photography and the whole group just lapped it up.
These stunning birds were all photographed over a period of three days in Colombia's Western Andes. I was using my Canon 1DX II with my Canon 500mm f4 L IS II USM lens.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment and be sure to find out more information about the tour on the Wildlife Worldwide website.
N.B. I will not be leading the 2023 departure for this tour as I am away in Brazil, leading for Wildlife Worldwide.
This year I had the privilege of leading three photography tours in Finland's remote eastern forests, right on the border with Russia for Wildlife Worldwide. Across the three trips we had some incredible sightings and exceptional photography, but as always, each had its own highlights.
In this blog I am going to share some of my favourite moments from across the three tours. The magic of this remote landscape, is that you never really know what will show up and when. On one particular tour we had an awful lot of close encounters with a young grey wolf, another we had multiple wolverines and on the third we had the opportunity to photograph a great grey owl nest.
Here is just a taster of what we saw ...
As you can see, no matter what the weather, there are always excellent opportunities to capture some stunning imagery. The grey wolf above hung around for a couple of hours one evening and the rain just added to the moment.
For me, the wolves are definitely the biggest draw. It is the only reliable location I know of where it is possible to capture stunning imagery of this elusive species. However, the area is fantastic for wolverines and brown bears, meaning there is never a dull moment. It is even more exciting when the different species show up at the same time.
It is important to say (as I always do), that food is put out to entice the predators in front of the purpose-built hides. Furthermore, the food put out is typically salmon scraps or meat that is not fit for human consumption.
There is the chance to join me in 2023 and photograph these incredible predators for yourself. You can find out more on the Wildlife Worldwide website and book your place on this wildlife photography extravaganza.
Back in March I led the inaugural tours for Wildlife Worldwide to Hornstrandir Nature reserve in the remote north-west of Iceland. Staying at the delightful Kviar Lodge, our sole focus here was the blue morph Arctic fox on our Arctic Fox Photography tour. Coming face-to-face with an Arctic fox has long been on my wishlist, particularly after seeing them in the wilds of Svalbard many years ago.
The lodge is situated on an uninhabited peninsular, over 40 km from the nearest settlement and only accessible by boat. Our voyage from Ísafjörður was not the smoothest, but on arrival a fox was running along the high snow bank above to greet us. It doesn’t really get any better for a wildlife photographer.
I led back-to-back trips in this spectacular landscape and enjoyed some of the very best photography opportunities I have enjoyed for many years. My clients were spoiled with all sorts of weather conditions and countless moments to capture some breathtaking imagery.
Here is just a taster of what we enjoyed …
As you can see, the first day was pretty wild with incredibly strong winds and a few snow storms. Although the photography was challenging, it was also particularly rewarding.
The weather was very changeable, as you would expect in Iceland during March, but that enabled us to photograph the different foxes in a host of different conditions. The photography was exceptional. I was able to use my phone to capture some wonderful images, that's how obliging they were ...
We were also treated to a marvellous display of Aurora borealis and all my first group were able to capture some stunning imagery.
But of course the primary focus was the Arctic foxes. Here is a selection of images from the second of the two departures - we really were incredibly lucky with the weather and the cooperative wildlife.
I hope the photos above have whetted your appetite - if you would like to join me in Iceland to photograph these charming foxes, there is still space remaining in March 2023. You can register your interest here.
Sorry I have been quiet again for the first quarter of the year. It has been a crazy few months and I am only just getting the time to sit back and think about the past 5-6 months. Back in November I was in a state of shock as I was actually able to enjoy leading my first African photo safari in nearly 2 years.
Wildlife Worldwide were finally able to run our unique South Luangwa Photo Safari and it was a pleasure to be at the helm for two separate trips. Our first trip was based at one of my regular haunts – Flatdogs Camp – where I had the pleasure of my good friend and guide Bwalya looking after us. We had an exceptional week with Bwalya, although the leopard didn’t quite play ball, and were treated to some excellent encounters with the African wild dogs and countless lions.
The second week was based at the delightful Mfuwe Lodge and we had some exquisite sightings of leopard and the wild dogs once more. The rains had started to fall intermittently, but it really didn’t disturb our game drives and huge thanks must go to our excellent guides .
One of the great things about South Luangwa is that you never really know what to expect and from one week to the next, you will likely see something completely different. Here is just a taster of what we saw …
If you would like to join me in Zambia's South Luangwa with Wildlife Worldwide, there are still some spaces available. I will be joined by fellow photographer Sean Weekly, and I will be back for more in 2023.
This year, with travel options limited, I was asked once again by Wildife Worldwide to lead dedicated deer photography workshops in the heart of the New Forest. With permission from Forestry England, I led a number of workshops alongside Ben Sutcliffe.
We had some crazy weather, but some great deer encounters with the red deer during the rut. Unlike the deer parks of London, these deer are completely wild and it takes patience to slowly make an approach. The key thing is to ensure that you don't sneak up on them and that they know where you are, while also being aware of the wind direction.
Anyway, here are just a few shots from my time in the forest.
After some incredible misty action, we were treated to incredible evening action too. It is fabulous to witness this behaviour and enjoy the most remarkable lighting - combine that with a mist and you can't really get it any better.
It was an absolute honour to lead a number of workshops and I was delighted for the clients who got some brilliant images.
We hope to run some more workshops in 2022, but it will depend on my availability. Please get in touch if you want to find out more.
Well what can I say about the past 18 months - quite simply it has been pretty tough. I have been unable to lead any overseas trips since the start of the pandemic and only led a limited number of UK-based workshops. However, back in September, I headed off to the stunning hills and forests of Slovenia - one of my favourite corners of Europe.
The Dinaric Alps are a wildlife photographer's paradise, home to over 800 European brown bears and a myriad of other species. I spent 7-days in the wonderful hides which I use when leading my tours to Slovenia, building up a great little portfolio of images. In the time I was there, I photographed over 10 different bears, including a number of mothers and their cubs.
I can't wait to get back out in the field and leading tours once more. over the next 12 months.
As you can see from these images, the surroundings for my sightings were exceptional and I was blessed with exceptional weather.
You can join me in Slovenia next year for the opportunity to photograph the Dinaric Alps' population of brown bear.
My second week in Zambia was the first with my Wildlife Worldwide guests and our expert local guide was Jonathan (one of the excellent guiding team at Flatdogs Camp). We had an unbelievable week with numerous leopard sightings, but it was the lions who really stole the show. I had a fantastic group and we were lucky enough to enjoy an all-day game drive with over 30 lions seen, a leopard, countless elephant and some fantastic birds too.
Rather than waffle on, I will just share some of the highlights. Enjoy!
There are still a few places available in 2021 if you would like to join me in South Luangwa, you can find out more here.
Back in September I went on a trip for Wildlife Worldwide to Romania’s Danube Delta (for the first time). I had heard great things about Europe’s largest river delta and knew whatever happened, I would experience somewhere completely different to anywhere I had been before.
I stayed at the purpose-built property known as Ultimate Frontiera. Specially designed for wildlife photographers , the purpose-built hides are spread across the estate and provide the opportunities to photography a myriad of different species. On my first morning in the hides I was hoping to photograph the pygmy cormorant, an elusive and rarely seen species. I did get a couple of shots of pygmy cormorant, but it was a common kingfisher that proved to be a real delight, posing perfectly in front of the hide only a few metres away. I have tried photographing kingfishers in the UK and never had any luck, whether it be from purpose-built hides or sitting patiently on a river bank. So, finally, to be rewarded with shots like this was a real treat.
It wasn’t just kingfishers that proved to be particularly cooperative, we were treated to some great views of little owl, a wide variety of small woodland passerines, squacco heron and great white pelicans. We were even luckier in the fact we got to see a solitary Dalmatian pelican, of which there are fewer than 2,000 left in the world.
It also proved to be a particularly reliable place to photography golden jackal, which are moving further west into Europe each year.
It was a great place for anyone with a passion for bird photography, and I can only imagine that during the spring it is full of life. I highly recommend you join Wildlife Worldwide in May to get your very own Romanian bird photography fix.
I hope you like the pictures – and don’t forget to head off to Romania and see it for yourself!
2019 marks the third year in a row that I have led dedicated photography tours to Skomer Island in Wales for Wildlife Worldwide, focusing on the charismatic Atlantic puffin. This rocky outcrop in the Irish Sea is home to nearly 30,000 puffins and a staggering 750,000 Manx shearwaters.
The weather on my two visits so far this year was pretty varied with sunshine, heavy rain and very strong winds all playing a roll. Sadly, during the evenings (when the puffins are most active) the weather was usually pretty dire – lots of rain, strong winds and sea spray.
Of course, I still managed to capture a few other shots which are worthy of a little attention. So sit back, relax and get your annual puffin-fix below …
I did have the privilege to enjoy one spectacular sunrise though and managed to capture some stunning shots of the birds as they returned to their nests. I also managed to get a few shots of razorbills, oystercatcers and guillemots.
At the end of the dry season, the heat in Mana Pools National Park just seems to build up and up. A natural crescendo, until eventually the rains come and bring a little relief. In early November though, the rains had still not arrived and day time temperatures were regularly hitting 44 degrees Celsius.
Driving through the park on this particular morning, it felt like you were in the firing line of an industrial hairdryer, a stifling, warm breeze filling the air and making it feel a little uncomfortable. We were back in search of the wild dogs once more. Having spent the previous afternoon on the river, it seemed like we had to catch up with the dogs and find out what they were up to.
However, no matter how hard we tried, we were unable to find the dogs on this particular morning. Instead we found a very sociable, and approachable, flock of long-tailed starlings. When a group of wildlife photographers are together, any slightly different subject just means you have something new to focus on. Later on we managed to find the small pride of lions, two adult females and a young male and spent a bit of time watching and photographing them before heading back to camp for lunch.
The majority of the group decided to go out on the river once more this afternoon, all but one, who wanted to head out after the dogs once more. In order to keep the group size manageable for the canoe safari, I headed out with the one client and our guide Daryl. Well there is no other way to describe the afternoon with the dogs, other than that it was pretty magical. It was only going to be a shorter game drive/walk as we had arranged a BBQ on the banks of the Zambezi up stream of our camp.
We found the dogs resting in the same drying river gulley we had left them a few days earlier. As there was only three of us, we slowly made our way towards the pack, taking our time and keeping the noise to a minimum. The whole pack were so incredibly relaxed and we were able to get extremely close. This encounter was right up there with my very best anywhere in the world, probably only coming second to coming face-to-face with the gorillas.
I am not really going to say much more, other than that it was a real privilege. The following pictures and footage can do all the talking for me.
If you would like to join me in October 2019, we still have a few spaces remaining. You can find out more and book your place by visiting the Wildlife Worldwide website.
t was the half-way point on Wildlife Worldwide’s inaugural Mana Pools: Wild Dogs & Elephants Photography tour, but today would prove to be a little different. As with any day in Mana Pools National Park, we arose bright and early, ready to search for the painted wolves once more.
This morning it took as a while to find the dogs, they had moved deep into the scrub, away from the alluvial plains of the Zambezi and we found them resting near a dry pan. The habitat here reminded me of some the southern areas of South Luangwa, it was very different from the open forest of the valley floor. The pack were busy doing what they do best after a night’s rest, playing. The young adults and the pups were running around at full pelt, leaping over fallen trees, just enjoying themselves. It is always an honour when wild animals allow you to approach to on foot and we were spoiled on this particular morning.
About an hour after we had climbed out of the vehicles, the alpha pair decided it was time to move on in a determined manner. This usually only means one thing, they are looking for breakfast. The speed at which the dogs can move is incredible. African wild dogs are athletes of the highest pedigree and in order to keep up with them, we had to jump in the vehicles once more.
They were heading back down onto the flood plain and when we caught up with them they were half heartedly chasing a warthog. Then, in a bizarre moment, a small herd of impala approached the dogs and a more determined hunt began. This time, when we had caught up with the pack, they had brought down a pregnant impala. The following images highlight what happened next …
The pack seemingly target pregnant female impala at the end of the dry season and on this particular morning they pulled down an individual with an unborn youngster. Of course, sights like this are hard to see, but it is nature and to witness this behaviour is actually an honour. You can see two of the pups above playing with the foetus.
Once the dogs had finished with the kill, the hyenas quickly moved in ...
After watching the hyenas fight over the impala remains, we followed the wild dogs down to long pool. We left them to it and decided to spend a little time photographing a pod of hippos.
The afternoon was a different proposition altogether. My group had gone out looking for the painted wolves on every single drive, so we decided that this afternoon we would head out on a canoe safari down the mighty Zambezi.
If you haven't ever been on a canoe safari ... well you must! Here is a little taster for you. The proximity you can have with the elephants when on a canoe is truly remarkable. The video footage below was taken on my phone ...
Be sure to join me later this year in Mana Pools for incredible encounters with African wild dogs and elephants. Please visit the Wildlife Worldwide website for more information.
If you ask me where I feel most at home, there is only one answer and that’s ‘Africa’. So, why Africa I hear you ask? Well, quite simply, it is home to some of the world’s finest wildlife, wonderful people and stunning landscapes.
Well recently I went to Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, while leading for Wildlife Worldwide, and I can honestly say that my life has changed forever. That is the second time I have said that after a trip to Africa in the last year and I stick by it. Mana Pools has become synonymous with the African wild dog (or painted wolf) as per the BBC’s fantastic Dynasties series. In fact, I spent 8 days in the park following the star of the show Blacktip and her pack.
It is possible to go on walking safaris in Mana Pools, which is just like many other parks (particularly in Zambia), but here the wildlife can be very approachable and the wild dogs are especially habituated to people on foot. On top of that there are few elephants that are particularly special and allow a wonderfully close approach.
Anyway, I won’t rattle on too much more. Here are the highlights from the first couple of days …
The first encounter with the dogs was definitely one of the most frantic. Just as I approached the dogs with my group, the whole pack got up and started to try their luck hunting a herd of impala. All hell broke loose and we somehow ended up right in the middle of it. At one point we were surrounded by around 10 dogs as they tried to panic the impala into a mistake.
The next morning we found the dogs in almost the same spot as where we left them, and they allowed even closer approaches. When you struggle to fit your subject in the frame it is always a good day ...
After a fantastic morning in Mana Pools the evening proved to be even better. We found the pack fairly close to where we left them, they were enjoying an afternoon siesta. Not long after we arrived, the dogs started to wake and start their bond renewal routine. African wild dogs are one of the world's most social species and the level of their communication skills are far beyond our understanding. We watched the whole pack greet one another and play in wondrous orange light.
Mana Pools is one of those places that gets under your skin and I hope that this overview of my time there inspires you to go for yourself. Join me in 2019 and discover the next chapter of Tait's & Blacktip's Dynasty - Mana Pools: Wild Dogs & Elephants Photography.