the pied kingfisher (en français: alcyon pie ou martin-pêcheur pie) has caught my attention for a long time but never had I good opportunities to see them as in our camp in the Ruaha. There are a few residents in camp and around so the challenge is too tempting.
The challenge being to catch a picture or 2 while it is diving in the water to catch a fish. A few problems arise: the scene is usually quite far so a massive lens is required. So stability is one challenge. Trying to keep the focus is another one. And the action is so quick! What is the action about? The bird hovers like a hummingbird over the water and suddenly dives like a missile to the target.
Below is my 1st successful attempt to catch the scene. The pictures are not perfect but I’ll persevere. Even though I was fully ready like a sniper, I still failed to get the bird before he hit the water, only the splash.
After a few seconds, here is my diver coming out of the Ruaha river.
Here is a close up of the beast, a male because of the double black band on the chest. Notice the unfortunate fish.
A C208 on take off in Ruaha park. At the end of the dry season, watch out for the dust!
The newest Mig 21’s in the country. Chinese made, design from the 50’s.
Our C208 with a view of mount Meru, Arusha.
When the high grass is not cut off as requested…
In the Ngorongoro highlands. The volcano Lengai in the distance.
Parallel airstrips in the remote bush? It looked like a joke but it was just misunderstanding between the local Maasai people and Flying Medical Service: when we said we wanted the draft airstrip a bit longer and wider, they started a new one!
One of our C206 being overtaken by one of our C208’s, like the one below.
For those who wonder about the “bokeh”, I was obviously not using a wide lens but a new massive lens I wanted to experiment before going back to the wildlife in Africa. I know, we can’t call this real street photography…shame on me.
My airplane waiting for me in the Ruaha nat’l park. I like those sunrise take offs for one reason: the ride from camp takes 40 min in the dark, there is hope to see other type of wildlife, the nocturnal ones like aardvark, honey badgers, pangolins (the graal those ones)…
Impalas on an airstrip.
Some of my side activities on display.
Muddy landings in Seronera. I luckily was the 1st one to land after a serious downpour, so I quickly jumped out of my plane to wait for and shoot these followers.
In Zanzibar, palm trees and an airliner…
My colleague on take off in Ruaha nat’l park. I’m standing one km away which explains the heat distortion on the aircraft.
Another day, another colleague, another aircraft.
My days with Flying Medical service. Some airstrips were special…
Yes, that’s the airstrip behind the tail. The ladies are sheltering from the rain.
Common sceneries are wreckages at many airstrips or airports. Here a HS 748 where one pilot was beaten to a pulp by the local people! Why? A mystery.
Various accidents are due to overloaded airplanes or airplanes shot down by missiles for instance. All pictures taken with great care and discretion…some pilots have had their cameras trashed, some have been arrested (briefly in my case)
The wrecks of a Boeing 707, a sad and undignified end, and a wreck of a venerable Mig 19 .
South Sudan is too busy shooting itself in each toe and many things are simply not done, like organising a proper civil aviation authority. Mind you, tax, fee and various theft schemes are well oiled and efficient.
It means that any businessman can bring any aircraft in the country and stick to the original registration, which has many perks it must be said, like no extra exams and other conversions and waste of time for crew.
The plane I flew was the only one registered in Tanzania for instance. So I just flew with my good ol' Tanzanian licence the next day or so after my arrival there. Many planes come from Eastern Europe, ex Russia, South Africa and Kenya, a couple from Canada or the USA, some from Europe.
UN operations are quite massive there, but not always cheap and economically wise apparently… Hercules C130.
A venerable Dakota DC3, retrofitted with modern turbine engines. The first model came out in 1935! What a perfect design!
A massive Mil 26. Remove the wings and ‘my’ Caravan below, a 14 seater, could fit in.
A more modest Mil 8, 22 seater, not that small but quite slow. I did overtake a few and couldn’t resist a few pictures.
A massive Ilyushin 76 operated for World Food Program. They rarely landed in the north of South Sudan. They just dropped food and supplies.
As said, pictures taken with discretion usually. Shot with my Leica M8. On the 2nd tour in this welcoming country, I left it in Tanzania and used my smartphone a lot more while pretending to be on a call, less threatening and more discrete. An old Nikon D200 usually stayed untouched in my bag except for aerial shootings.
The word “Welcome” was used ironically as foreign workers have being killed on regular basis! Uganda had sent its airplanes or coaches to rescue its nationals on previous targeted killing sprees…
According to a website I use a lot (www.oiseaux.net), there are 1146 present or migratory species of birds in Tanzania. Just a bit over 10000 in the world. It can keep you busy for a while to spot and identify all of them…
That rare beauty is an African scops-owl (petit-duc africain). A resident in our Ruaha River Camp in Ruaha nat’l park.
a fish eagle on the rise (pygargue à tête blanche).
A black-faced sandgrouse (ganga à face noire).
2 speckled-fronted weavers (sporopipe quadrillé, ces noms parfois…).
A lesser-striped swallow (hirondelle striée).
Pied kingfisher hovering and ready to dive on a fish in the Ruaha river.
Egyptian geese and goslings (oies égyptiennes et oisons). The first time I ever spotted such a family.