Over the last couple of months I’ve been keeping busy filming the landscapes, weather and wildlife of my local area of the North Norfolk coast. The film below is the result, the first part of a four part series documenting the year on the coast.
It’s included a few surprises for me such as finding a badger sett with a rare erythritic (white) badger, seeing gulls ice-skate (actually it’s more slipping over than skating) and filming a tear roll down the face of a canada goose. Not to mention a male hare flexing his little hare-maker in preparation for spring (you need a sharp eye to spot that in the film!)
Using three wildlife camera traps (also known as Trailcams) at various spots along the coast I have found a thriving nocturnal community of rabbits, foxes, roe deer, mice, muntjac and of course the amazing badgers – the plan was just to use the cameras to work out good places to try to film some of these animals with the ‘proper’ camera in the summer with the lighter evenings but some of the footage has been so interesting I’ve included it in this film.
It’s been great to get out with the cameras over this long, miserable winter although I haven’t ventured too far from home, I look forward to the lockdown easing and being able to travel further along the coast road and visit the beautiful beaches of Wells & Holkham again soon.
So here’s the film, Spring is virtually here and I can’t wait!
With everywhere in lockdown until Spring and holiday properties sat empty, now would be a great time to have your holiday let promotional images refreshed.
For the duration of February 2021 I am offering a 25% discount on my holiday property photography (and video) prices.
The BBC recently ran a story predicting a boom in ‘staycations’ this year as many people will still be unwilling to travel abroad. Holiday let bookings will see a marked increase as people flood to North Norfolk for an amazing break at the coast and if your property isn’t looking it’s best on all of your marketing material then you may not be first choice.
If your website features out of date/blurry/dull/iphone images it isn’t going to encourage people to book. High quality, sharp, bright, professional images, send a message – a message that you care about quality, that the property is going to be clean, well maintained and inspires confidence in potential clients. It’s proven that properties that have professional photos are booked quicker and command a higher price than just throwing up some pics shot on an iphone.
Interiors – Over the last 15 years I have developed a system for photographing interiors to ensure they look bright, spacious & welcoming. Whether it’s a country mansion or a cosy shepherd’s hut, the key is to capture the atmosphere and ensure that interested clients can imagine themselves spending time there. I generally aim to shoot rooms from at least two different angles and (using a combination of the very best wide-angle lenses, long exposures and a hint of balanced bounce-flash) maintain natural colours to show off the spaces.
Details – Often a wide shot isn’t enough to fully capture the character of a property so I make sure I spend a little time capturing the details which make each place unique. I often crop these detail shots to a square format as I feel it works well but also means they can be used on Instagram where the little details can really make your property stand out.
Exteriors – It’s important to show the outside spaces, whether that’s just a backyard with a bbq or an expanse of gardens with amazing views across the coast and a hot tub thrown in for good measure. At this time of year many outdoor spaces aren’t looking their best so in this offer I am including a guaranteed revisit price of £50 if you would like me to head back in late Spring/Summer to get some more shots of the exteriors when the trees are in leaf and flowers are out.
Aerial Images – As a holder of UK CAA Operational Authorisation I am able to offer aerial photos of the property included in the cost. Many Norfolk properties are situated in amazing locations so whether it’s surrounded by farmland or close to the coast, a few drone shots can show your potential clients the exact location and proximity to amenities/beaches, etc.
Files – Since most holiday properties use a keysafe I am happy to let myself into a property and work alone to get the shots required. Images are then processed within 48 hours and supplied as fully finished, high-resolution images files via a Dropbox link. I can also supply a folder of web-sized images ready for use on your website or social media without any need to resize.
Online gallery – I include an online preview gallery hosted on my website to allow you to quickly & easily see all of the files. My online property gallery is here – Norfolk Property Photography.
No usage restrictions – All images supplied are yours to use as you wish, I don’t have any licensing restrictions (although if images are submitted for online/print publication I would ask they they are credited to christaylorphoto.co.uk).
Travel fee – the only potential extra cost on top of the shoot fee is a travel fee for properties more than 15 miles from Sheringham. The charge is 50p per mile for the round trip.
My usual hourly rate is £250+vat per hour but with the February discount the hourly rate is just £187.50+vat
I usually allow approximately 1.5hrs for a 2/3 bedroom property, larger properties can take between 2 hours to 4hrs. For really large places I have a half day rate, usually £750+vat but with this offer the half day rate is £562.50+vat
Considering the increase in booking numbers and potential increased property booking fees many of my previous clients have said they have found it to be a very worthwhile investment in their business which has boosted bookings, increased turnover and hugely elevated their website/social media profile.
With video becoming a hugely important media these days, both for client engagement and Google ranking points, many clients are also requesting short films of their holiday properties. This can include drone footage and along with captions and music really capture’s the imagination.
The time needed to shoot video footage is usually about the same again that it takes to photograph a property so double time would need to be allowed. The shoot fee includes supply of the raw video footage as clips. If a fully finished, short film, ready for website embedding or social media is required there is an additional edit fee of £75+vat p/h. As an estimate, a two minute long film usually take approx 3hrs to get to the first edit stage.
Examples of my video work can be seen on my Vimeo channel here.
I’ve been lucky enough to photograph for many of North Norfolk’s finest holiday properties including Barn Drift at Cley, Salt at Sheringham, Beachside, Sheringham, The Pigs, Edgefield, Byford’s, Holt, Blakeney House, and many, many more.
To book your holiday property shoot please get in touch either by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 01263 821589 / 07941009745
• Norfolk property photographers • Holiday let photography Norfolk • Holiday home photographers • North Norfolk holiday homes • Best property photographers Norfolk •
New Year’s resolutions are all well and good but how many actually last longer than a week, let alone have the ability to change your life?!
About three years ago I discovered ‘Morning Pages’ after it was mentioned in one of Tim Ferris’s brilliant books (can’t remember which one it was now) and it’s made such a huge difference to my life I thought I would share it with anyone that cared to read about it here.
THE BIG IDEA
The idea is that each morning you sit down with a notebook (and a coffee) and just write three pages (longhand) of whatever is in your head. It can be anything, from something that is bugging you, something you would like to achieve or an idea you have had, plans for the day, aspirations, etc – it is a stream of consciousness poured out onto the page.
Literally anything, just sit and write.
Sounds crazy but trust me it is absolutely amazing!
I have come up with many of the ideas for so many of my personal photography & filming projects this way, it has helped me work out what to do in situations where someone or something is causing me issues and it’s an amazing way to start each day, almost feels meditative and leaves me feeling very calm and productive.
In the words of the creator of the concept, Julia Cameron: ‘Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.’
Julia Cameron first wrote about Morning Pages in her seminal book – ‘The Artist’s Way‘ and while the book is aimed at those in the creative industry, Morning pages can, and does, work for anyone.
I’ve read loads of self-help/creativity/business books but nothing comes close to the changes that doing Morning Pages (MP) can make to your life. It shuts out the noise, lets you have coherent thoughts and work them through as you write them out on the page. The idea of doing MP first thing in the morning is that it allows you to focus before you wake up too much and start overcrowding your thoughts with all the stuff you need to get done (and it minimises disturbances from phones, etc). It is also said to prevent ‘the ego’ from getting involved.
As Julia Cameron says – Morning Pages isn’t for anyone else’s eyes, in fact once I have written them I have never gone back to re-read what I wrote although I do now add a section at the bottom of each page titled ‘Action Points’ where I list things that I need to do to ensure the ideas I have had that morning can become a reality. Sometimes the action points can be as simple as ‘Create a project planning document’ or ‘Phone my brothers today for a chat’ but other times I have come away from one morning’s writing with 14 different action points to take in order to get a project rolling. It’s like having a brainstorming session with yourself.
One thing Morning Pages has made me realise is that most of the answers to questions I have or problems I am going through are already in my head, I just need to give it the space to think out loud (in writing) and I can come up with the solutions over my morning coffee. The simplicity and power of this process has to be experienced to be believed.
HOW TO DO MORNING PAGES
I have the same routine every morning – wake up, head downstairs, put the kettle on, open the curtains, feed the cats, make a coffee and then sit down at the breakfast bar with my Moleskine notebook and a smooth-writing pen and just write.
I think it’s important to have a notebook that you will enjoy writing in so having tried various brands I always come back to Moleskine. They come in a range of coloured covers, the paper is pleasant to write on (cheaper notebooks can have scratchy, cheap paper), a built in bookmark, elastic to keep them closed, a slim pocket at the back and some stickers to label them. I find the A5 sized, ruled notebooks best. I get mine on Amazon here.
My favourite pens for the last few years have been the Uniball Signo Gel Grip pens (0.7mm tip), I buy them by the box-load from Amazon in blue and black here.
One other useful accessory is an elastic loop to keep the pen with the notebook, the best value option I have found is the pack of 5 on Amazon again here.
…and then I just take in the silence and write. Sometimes it’s a struggle to know what to write so I just write about what I’m planning that day, the weather, etc and after a bit of a ramble I find my flow and I’m off – developing ideas, working through problems, writing about hopes and dreams and how I can work towards achieving them. It may take a couple of attempts at doing morning pages to get into the way it works but once you find what works for you there’s no stopping! After finishing my morning pages I definitely have a sense of calmness, order, purpose, determination and creativity, I feel centred, grounded and ready to take on the day.
I’m told doing Morning Pages can also work wonders with calming anxiety too. If something is bothering you – pour it out onto the paper, I find once it’s out of my head I can move past it. It’s like therapy without needing a therapist!
DON’T HAVE TIME?
Well make time! Get up 45 minutes earlier, and don’t rush your Morning Pages, the key is to taking your time, let the words come to the page, you can’t force it. Once you get into the pages and begin to understand their (your) power you will find these could be the most important and productive 45 minutes of your day, every day.
This guy, Chris Winfield has also written a blog about the amazing power of Morning Pages and how to do them, well worth a read as he’s put it better than I could and it’s all very clearly laid out.
Please let me know if you do give Morning Pages a go and the differences it makes for you. I have found it to be so instrumental in driving my life forward on every single level that I just didn’t want to keep it a secret. Everyone should know and do Morning Pages, collectively the world would be a better, more positive, more productive, happier place!
I recently had the privilege of making a film for well-known local artist Sam Thomas (check out his amazing paintings here) and mentioned to him about Morning Pages. Sam totally ran with the idea and says “It’s quick & simple but gives you a key focus. The fact that you do it each and every day means your focus is tuned in to how you are feeling. I am so onboard with Morning Pages and find it useful”
Enjoy the journey, you’ll never look back!
I’ve recently just completed a short film which documents my 2020 here on the North Norfolk coast. While the pandemic does get a brief mention this isn’t about that at all, it’s about the ever changing seasons, the landscape and the wildlife that make North Norfolk so special to me.
From snorkelling on the Norfolk chalk reef to fishing for mackerel, catching brown shrimp, collecting samphire, sailing in the saltmarsh creeks with the Coastal Exploration Company and filming the Force 11 storm. This film showcases my favourite places on the North Norfolk coast including Blakeney Point, Cromer, Sheringham, Wells-Next-The-Sea, Morston, Cley and much more.
With a narration to explain the various events and scenes I hope you will find this an entertaining snapshot of what makes North Norfolk such a unique place.
It’s been an eventful week round here with very destructive 70mph winds causing a fair bit of destruction all along the North Norfolk coast. Hundreds of trees were blown down, Blakeney Point saw previously unseen numbers of (unoccupied) moored boats being capsized and/or sunk and we had some seriously large waves battering the beaches. Luckily it was during neap tides so there was minimal flooding, if this had hit during a flood tide then we could have seen serious tidal storm surges which could have been much worse.
Before the storms hit we had a call-out on the lifeboat at 2am on Thursday morning to a yacht which had intentionally run aground off Salthouse. With 4 persons on board they had lost engine power and with the storm imminent and a moderate swell the skipper made the wise choice to run the yacht aground rather than trying to battle on. By running the boat up the shore the skipper got his crew off the boat onto the beach before leaving himself. Along with the coastguard shore teams we managed to locate them and they were taken in at a local pub and managed to get warm, dry & fed. The skipper’s swift actions that night saved the lives of all on board.
The next morning the swell had dropped and we had a small window before the huge storms were due to hit to see if we could still rescue the yacht. I collected the skipper and one of his crew from the pub and we drove back to Salthouse to check the state of the yacht and see if we could find someone with machinery able to pull the 12 ton vessel far enough up the beach to get her clear of the forecast 12ft swell and Force 11 northerly which was due to hit that night.
Sadly when we arrived the boat was already being battered by 3-4ft waves which, while not very big, were rocking the boat violently making it very dangerous to get near so there was no way we could have safely got a rope attached. We could also see that some of the hull planks had already come loose and the boat had taken on quite a lot of water. With the tide coming in all we could do was try to salvage some of the bits that were being washed back into the beach while the rest was floating off in a slick of wood & plastic on the flood tide towards Sheringham. I’ve since spoken to local fishermen who were off that morning and saw the deck roof & all sorts of other debris come floating past them while they were hauling their pots.
We arrived at 10am (above top left) and by 10:55am (above, bottom right) the boat was in pieces, it was heartbreaking to see, I really felt for the skipper who had spent the last 3 months renovating her for his father as a lockdown project.
Later that afternoon I headed back to see if I could salvage any other bits for the crew and all that remained were the engine (below) and the mast in a horrendous tangle of rigging. I managed to recover a couple of brass portholes, some tackle from the rigging and the first mate’s Macbook, battered & full of saltwater but at least he had it back in his possession now.
On Friday I decided to head out with a camera to film the extreme weather, with the rain lashing down and sea spray filling the air I took the precaution of putting the camera in the underwater housing so at least I didn’t need to worry about damage to the equipment.
Below are some shots and the short film I made capturing the weather at Sheringham and Cromer. A lot of people watching the film have said I was mad to go out in it & some suggested I was reckless but at no point did I put myself in direct danger. The wind was Northerly so while on the coastal path the wind was blowing inland and not over the edge of the cliffs (although the next day the swirling winds did actually result in that). At Cromer I ventured onto the pier, again this was wet & wild but it wasn’t dangerous, the pier is very secure and at no time did I lean over the edge or go anywhere that the waves could have taken me into the water.
I’m not a huge fan of being on camera myself but sometimes I think it helps with the narrative of a film and can add some interest between the storytelling shots so with a Gopro mounted on top of the underwater housing I also did some pieces to camera to explain the situation. It was the strongest wind I can ever remember trying to walk in and blew the glasses right off my face twice. Enjoy the crazy weather from your warm, dry home!
• Storm • north norfolk • extreme weather • sheringham • cromer • big waves
I received some great news a few weeks ago when I was informed that my image of the Sheringham Primary School children with the huge rainbow had been selected for the final 100 images for the National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Hold Still’ project – https://www.npg.org.uk/hold-still/
Selected by a board which included HRH The Duchess of Cambridge from over 31,000 entries it is a huge honour to have the shot recognised but of course all I did was turn up & take the photo. The credit for this goes to the children and staff at Sheringham Primary who thought of the idea and carried it out beautifully.
The project has had some amazing publicity this week with the shot being shown in every BBC News broadcast nationally and on BBC Breakfast TV, plus appearing in many national papers & online versions and even Vogue magazine! Links to a few below….
Earlier in the year (post-lockdown) I made this short film for ID Systems featuring Bliss owner, Lisa, explaining why they chose ID Systems for their amazing huge sliding glass doors & windows which overlook the Blakeney & Morston saltmarsh out towards Blakeney Point.
Through a combination of aerial footage and interior/exterior filming I put together this showcase which not only shows the extremely high quality of the workmanship that goes into ID Systems products but also the wonderful home that Lisa & Daniel have created here on the North Norfolk coast.
Much like Voewood, in an earlier post, this home has a wonderful feeling to it, from the view-led design to the interior styling and layout, it’s another property that I am honoured to have spent time in and been able to capture in my role as a property photographer and filmmaker. (I also made the film on the Bliss homepage for Lisa & Daniel, in case you are like me & can’t get enough of this stunning property!)
I’ve been photographing for the Byfords group for many years now and always know that, whatever the project, it will be visually stunning. The level of detail considered in all of their developments is always first class and the design & thought that goes into the interiors leaves their customers wowed every time.
The latest project at the now legendary ‘The Pigs‘ at Edgefield, Norfolk is the rooftop suite, aptly named ‘Sty in the sky’. The suite covers two floors (well three if you include the jacuzzi which is kind of between two floors!) and includes bedroom & en suite, a day room with sauna, steam room & shower and then the terrace with the jacuzzi.
It really is a luxury experience in the heart of the North Norfolk countryside and one which I was really pleased to photograph since we also got to be some of the very first people to stay in it! I also made a short video showing the facilities, if you are looking for somewhere really special to stay in North Norfolk you won’t go wrong here…
For more examples of my property photography in Norfolk please see my property gallery here. I photograph for many local Estate Agents and for holiday let owners and local hotels & B&Bs with many owners saying they see big boosts in bookings once they get my images on their websites. I have a simple pricing structure which includes supply of the high resolution image files. Aerial photography is included if required and I make sure I get a good range of shots showing the interiors, exteriors & detail shots of any features. I always aim to supply the finished files within 24hrs of the shoot although for first time clients I produce the online preview gallery and then supply the high res files on settlement of the invoice.
It’s been far too long since I last blogged so I’m going to try to catch up over the next week or so. Starting with some shots at one of my favourite buildings – Voewood near Holt.
A large proportion of my commissions these days are property photography and it’s a part of my work as a photographer in Norfolk that I really enjoy. I’ve developed a solid system for shooting properties over the last 15 years of being a professional photographer which allows me to capture high quality property photographs efficiently and effectively.
I try to work with ambient light as much as I can, sometimes using a flash unit to lift the shadows a little but ideally I will shoot with room lights turned off which can mean very long exposures but captures the natural ambience of a room which is essential.
Voewood is a stunning arts & crafts house hidden in beautiful grounds and hired out for weddings, events & retreats. I LOVE spending time there and have been lucky enough to film & photograph there many times in the last few months as I’m working on a collaborative film project with film director, Steve Banks, and the owner of Voewood, Simon Finch.
Below are some still images I have taken which I hope capture some of the atmosphere of this amazing building. I also made a short film for Simon (with my partner Leanne (Samphire Films)) to showcase Voewood and filmed an interview with Simon telling the story of the building and how he came to be there….
Somewhere like Voewood definitely deserves aerial photography not just for the beautiful grounds but also to show it’s location, surrounded by woodland & fields and only a short trip away from the coast. Aerial photography is useful for many types of property photography – for estate agent photography it can be used to give a plan view of the property showing the boundaries but also for the reasons above – to show location & proximity to towns or the coast.
Exactly one month ago to the hour, as I write this, we were sat in Johannesburg Airport waiting for our transfer flight to Kasane, Botswana. Although it seems like a lifetime ago as I sit here now with the central heating on, looking out at 50mph winds and rain hammering against the window.
We had our itinerary planned out and an idea of what we were going to see but other than that we didn’t know what was ahead of us or what animal encounters we would have. That, for me, is the excitement of a safari trip – it’s unpredictable, always packed with surprises and an element of luck & a little danger thrown in!
The four of us, Mark, Steve, Andy & myself, are all members of the Sheringham RNLI Lifeboat Crew, and in the middle of 2019 had decided to book this trip through Tawana Self-Drive, a safari company based in Botswana. Mark had previously used Tawana in 2019 for a trip to the same area so we had the advantage of Mark’s experience and we knew that the company provided an excellent service. Vincent at Tawana had planned us a detailed itinerary, maps for the daily drives and organised our campsite bookings + park entrance fees, all we had to do was turn up and not get eaten!
I was excited to have the chance to document the trip through video (with some photos thrown in) and produced this 25 minute film of our adventures…
Visiting in the ‘rainy season’ aka Green Season meant that the trees were in leaf with lush grasslands and plenty of water & food around for the animals. As a result it is breeding season for many of the species which meant lots of baby animals & colourful plumage on the birds. We saw very little rain apart from a couple of nights when it poured but other than that we had mostly sunny days and temperatures around the mid thirties. Many people tend to avoid safari in Botswana at this time of year, possibly because it’s not in the school holidays but also as they believe that rainy season means rain every day. I have also read that people mainly go in the dry season as it means the animals tend to congregate around the waterholes so are easier to spot but with this many animals around I don’t think that’s an issue. Besides I would much rather see the animals when they are happy & well-fed and with the lush greenery as a backdrop rather than lots of dead, brown grass!
As you can see in the shot below our trucks were certainly built for the job, 4×4 Toyota Land Cruisers with two roof-top tents on each vehicle. The rear storage spaces contained a fridge, cool box, tables, chairs, cooking utensils, gas stove, spade, axe and much more. We were fully self-contained, just add food, water, fuel and plenty of beer & wine (plus Amarula – the South Africa cream liqueur as a nightcap)!
With plenty of USB charging ports inside the vehicles (we brought some extras) and two powered sockets in the rear (South Africa plug type) it was no problem to keep all of my cameras, torches & laptop charged. We also brought two walkie talkies which proved invaluable for chatting between the trucks when we spotted something interesting.
I was struck by the beauty and variation of the habitats in Botswana, (dense scrub, open grassland, rocky outcrops, ancient mopani forest, huge marshes, and of course the Okavango Delta) add to that the thriving populations of animals & birdlife and you have the recipe for a hugely memorable safari trip.
We started off in the Chobe National Park and camped for the first couple of nights right by the Chobe river at Ihaha, the first of many of our truly wild campsites, we were visited by a family of mongoose, heard lions calling each night as we fell asleep and had giraffe feeding in the bushes right behind us one evening. Absolute magic!
Chobe National Park is famed for having the largest surviving elephant population in the world, currently thought to be at around 120,000, always a huge pleasure to watch as they feed, drink, bathe & interact with each other. Sometimes interacting with us – mostly very placid & calm, occasionally they decide they want to remind us who is boss so will pull a mock charge (as the baby in the film shows) or just hold their ground, flapping their ears and shaking a nearby bush to demonstrate their power. So long as we showed respect, gave them time to move on (or on the odd occasion slowly backed away) they would carry on their feeding and allow us to pass without incident.
The hippos on the other hand are a different kettle of fish as we learned one morning at Moremi when we found one still feeding on the grass just outside our campsite. As our lead truck (Mark & Steve) pulled alongside, the hippo decided he didn’t want us around so charged them at full speed, jaws wide open. Luckily Mark accelerated off just in time to see the huge beast sprinting after him in the wing mirror. We sat about 20m behind watching in awe, I’ll never forget the sight of the hippo’s large behind wobbling with fury as it ran after them, eventually giving up when he realised he wasn’t going to catch them. Sadly it all happened so fast I didn’t manage to turn a camera on to film it, I couldn’t take my eyes off what was happening, it was a good shot of adrenaline to start the day (especially for Mark & Steve!)
Each day was punctuated with the taking down & putting up of the tents, while we did get fairly efficient at it after a few days, it was a sweaty, dusty job so we always saved the showers for after the tents have been put up or down.
Once we had all the tents up each evening the next job was to get the fire lit, with the mopani wood we bought at the roadside stalls, then we got the chairs & tables up, cracked open a cold beer & got to work on dinner. Our evening meals ranged from steak cooked over the braai (most nights!) to chicken, Kielbasa sausages (known as ‘Russians’ in South Africa) and a hotpot one night. The key was to keep it fairly simple and provide something filling since this was generally the only meal we had on many days.
As you’ll notice below we are all sitting with our backs to the vehicles – since none of the campsites have fences, the animals (including the large predators), can wander into camp at any time if they wish so it pays to be vigilant, we would make a pretty easy meal for a lion, being devoid of any claws, antlers or decent teeth to bite back with!
We stayed at some amazing places during our trip, our favourite campsites were Ihaha in Chobe, Mbudi at Khwai and Xanakaxa in Moremi, with Tshaa campsite at Mababe having real potential but being deserted & overgrown (although that may have been due to us being there in the off-season, it wouldn’t take too much work to get the site back up to scratch, being in such a stunning location it could easily have been our favourite site if operational at the time of our visit).
We all found the dung beetles fascinating, busily rolling their balls of elephant dung around, not sure where they were taking them but they didn’t hang about. Often they would choose to roll them down the smooth ruts of the sand roads which required a sharp eye and quick steering to avoid squashing the poor animals in their prime!
Water buck (below) are my favourite antelope, their beautiful shaggy coats & faces remind me of a Jim Henson creation. We saw so many different species on our trip – lion, wild/painted dog, black-backed jackal, spotted/laughing hyena, banded mongoose, slender mongoose, dwarf mongoose, genet, baboon, vervet monkey, tree squirrel, honey badger, giraffe, zebra, elephant, hippo, warthog, buffalo, wildebeest, tsessebe, dik dik, impala, water buck, lechwe, kudu, sitatunga, bush buck, crocodile, leopard tortoise and a huge array of birds. Sadly no leopard (although we must have scanned hundreds of trees looking for that telltale silhouette or the hanging tail) and not a single snake, while it would have been nice to see one we were all quite glad not to have bumped into a black mamba!
This yellow-billed hornbill was great fun to photograph, very tame and with those great colours & eyelashes I had to get a close-up portrait…
While staying at the brilliantly named Xakanaxa (promounced ‘kakanaka’) we took a boat trip on the Okavango, a huge inland delta which eventually feeds in to the Chobe & Zambezi rivers and feeds the Victoria Falls. We had two lucky sightings of the rare Sitatunga antelope, a marsh-dweller specialised for their aquatic lifestyle and no stranger to swimming through the water with just the tip of their snout showing…
When driving the sand roads we were always checking for animal footprints, Mark was great at spotting and tracking the prints, following a set of lion print one morning, taking us right to a pride of lion with eight cubs. Below is a hyena print, discernible from lion print by the size, shape and fact that the claws are showing in the impression. Cats generally have their claws retracted when walking apart from the cheetah – the only cat with non-retractable claws.
We found this young adult male lion in some bushes right by the road while driving between third & fourth bridge at Moremi. He was panting & still very out of breath from just killing a red lechwe antelope. We sat with him for around 15 minutes, he seemed on-edge, obviously wary of having his kill stolen by another lion or hyena. It was intense sitting just 6ft from him with our windows wide open knowing that he could easily get to us with just one jump if he decided he didn’t want us around any more. Amazing to be able to make out the reflection of me sitting at the window of the truck in his pupils!
The birdlife at all of the parks we visited were incredible, below is a hoopoe, yellow-billed storks, red-billed hornbill and fish eagle. We also saw great white pelican, great egret, grey heron, goliath heron, ostrich, saddle-billed stork, marabou stork, hamerkop, spoonbill, sacred ibis, spur-winged goose, knob-billed duck, jacana, blacksmith plover, crowned lapwing, spotted thick-knee, southern black korhaan, kori bustard, swainson’s spurfowl, guineafowl, cape vulture, black kite, hawk eagle, marshall eagle, steppe buzzard, black shouldered kite, osprey, grey go-away bird, little bee-eater, carmine bee-eater, lilac-breasted roller, pied kingfisher, woodland kingfisher, malachite kingfisher, southern ground hornbill, yellow billed-hornbill, common fiscal, red-billed oxpecker, quelea, sunbird, weaver bird and many more that we couldn’t easily identify!
On our penultimate evening we took a riverboat safari on the Chobe river from Kasane, it was a wonderful last safari experience in Botswana with huge numbers of elephant, hippo, crocodile, buffalo and many birds. The sunset was incredible and I was thrilled to get some shots of hippo fighting in the river with the sunset behind.
As I had been mainly concentrating on getting video footage rather than still photographs for much of the trip I didn’t get as many stills as I would have liked but it’s impossible to do justice to both at the same time. These photos hopefully capture the stunning array of wildlife but to really get a flavour of the trip I recommend getting a cup of tea & watching the video.
On our last day we took a day trip over the border into Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls, ‘the smoke that thunders’, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Prior to coming out here we had seen press reports stating that the falls were drying up. As we stepped out of the vehicle on arrival at the falls we instantly knew that wasn’t the case with the roar of water indicating a good flow. It was a truly impressive sight, I was glad I took a raincover for my camera as we all got thoroughly drenched by the spray.
Botswana was an amazing experience, and my third safari trip in twelve months, I feel very lucky to have been able to visit such beautiful places and photographing/filming such wonderful wildlife. I really recommend anyone have at least one safari holiday in their life, I wasn’t sure it would appeal to me but how wring I was, I am now well and truly hooked! As people told me before my first African trip: “It gets under your skin”, it certainly does, I’ll be back!
In fact I’ll be back in Africa again this year since myself & Leanne are leading a safari photography trip to the Maasai Mara, Kenya in June. The trip is being organised through London safari travel experts Far & Wild Travel, more info on the trip is available on their site here. It promises to be an amazing trip, while aimed at helping people improve their photography (and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to get the best possible shots on a trip of a lifetime?!), it will be a great chance to experience the thrill of a safari in this world-famous ecosystem. Spaces are limited so book now to learn all of my tips & tricks for getting the very best out of your digital camera.