Finally the heat ends and we have a normal cloudy dry-season day. It was a slow day with the small mammal team, as they set up traps at a new spot. But, thanks to Bernard, and a funny buffalo, I got a usable photo of a buffalo! It was a male eating the new green grass in a spot that was recently burned, so it is great for an editorial shot. I only had my 100mm macro with me but it was better then the 24mm that’s for sure. I only had my small mammal gear since I was also hauling around the big fish tank.
The buffalo was pretty brazen and did not mind us driving up to him.
The hot days continue. The small mammal team believes it has been working with 3 different species, a small mouse, larger mouse, and a shrew. The shrews have quite an odor so we always know when one of those is in a trap. There have been a lot of recaptures, so the rodents must not mind the clinical procedures, or they are just super hungry for the peanut butter, or just dumb! The line of traps was packed up today and they will be put in a new spot.
The heat is devastating.
Today Marcus and I are going out as early as we can to where the animals seem to be. There is a small patch of forest we can hide in all day and hope some large mammals walk by… The key times are early morning and late afternoon, so we will be from and to camp in the dark. It’s going to suck if we don’t see animals, but it’ll be great if we do.
We did end up seeing buffalo but they were too far away for a good photograph. It has been incredibly hot here the past few days. I am glad Marcus and I were in the shade the during the hot part of the day. We sat and waited, I saw a group of three buffalo cross between the forest in front of us, but at quite a distance. Then some pretty birds, the bee eaters were chatting all day which was nice. I found a weird eyed jumping spider, but had to use a telephoto lens since that was all I had.
Later when we moved on we saw a group of 10 buffalo, but again at a great distance. During the morning I saw a group of 20 grey parrots flying high up in the sky, they are one of my favorites due to all the talking and funny noises they make.
The small mammal team has arrived and the work is completely different then the others. They are catch and release and its more of a study of the virus carried by the small mammals in the area. I will take studio shots of the animals when it is an option, the stress of being handled a lot is hard on the little guys so the black background will only come in when the scientists think it is safe for the animal.
Chris and Peter are the two vets from the zoo and Rosalie and Wilfrid are Gabonese who will assist and i.d. the animals. So far it seems to be two species with a shrew thrown in if we are lucky. I am waiting for a larger fish tank for the studio work. I’m having fun taking photos of the teams work, I have never seen this kind of vet work before. Drawing blood and taking feces/urine samples from tiny critters is no easy task. Especially since they need to be safely knocked out first so they are not in pain.
I can be artistic with the large group and my 24mm, but that also means the tiny mice are hard to see… Not to mention all the work is done in the field under the shade so there is the blinding sun in the background, which I work around. The other side of the work is mostly macro with a single flash because I need to move around and not be in anyone’s way. I am noticing there is a lot of clutter, which I don’t like in photos and it is not easy to work with.
We found the large mammals! Hadrien found them about a week ago but I wasn’t with them, and today was the transect in the same area. There is a river that is in between the “road” and the ocean. The river, and the swamps that extend out of it, form a barrier that cars cannot go through, so low and behold, all the large mammals are hiding out there. It makes sense, it’s safe from humans, it’s much easier to fish. Hunting in this area would take more effort then its worth.
Not that we saw any animals, but we saw lots of signs of them. We could also tell that the buffalo sleep in the savanna in that area so they feel safe. There were some signs of elephants and red river hogs too. The plan is to head there early in the morning and wait all day. Morning and late afternoon are the key times. The animals are smart enough to get out of the sun during the hot part of the day.
I’ve been feeling great. I think it’s partly my breakfast of champions: sardines and eggs, and sleeping well since we have been turning off the generator at night, and the end of the project is in sight, and at the same time the work checklist is going great.
The large mammal team goes out early so I have been able to take advantage of nice light from the morning sun. Plus we have had a lot of blue sky days. I do have to fight my shadow 1/2 through the day as it wants to get in every photo. And the right side of my body is tanning more then my left due to the way we walk: always with the sun on the right, so I’ve got a passenger side tan.