Bill’s Topside PODs from 2022-2023

Mostly from Africa

but a few from home

March 2022 - December 2023

We haven't gotten out diving very recently but I wanted to play photographer. Here is a nice little California Poppy from our local hillside shot in one of my favorite styles ie, high key. Got to use two Inon strobes in the setup.

Across the street there are not only some poppies (the one I sent last week) and some other bigger flowers but here is a tiny little guy (UTB) shot in high key.

We buy most of our vegetables at the local farmers market. Much of it is labeled organic so it often comes with bugs attached (either it is organic or they use really crappy pesticides). Here is a nice little worm (UTB Unknown To Bill) that was happily munching away. I set up the focus stacking and had a go. Sadly about halfway through the 85 shots, he began to ooze out a bright green goo (a technical term) that went everywhere. Based on photos on the U.Georgia site this is likely a beet armyworm larva (still UTB).

Practicing for Africa, we went to the LA zoo. Here is a nice young giraffe chewing on something that to me doesn't look too appealing.

We leave for Africa in like 20 minutes. Here is a last photo for a while (whew). A nice little Flamingo close up from our LA Zoo photo practice session.

Here is a nice little Red and Yellow Barbet from our recent Africa adventure. He is sitting on a termite mound having lunch. These guys are omnivores and besides termites eat a lot of fruit.

Here is a nice Von der Decken's Hornbill from our recent African Adventure.

For reasons that are not clear to me, everyone (the guides, the staff, most photographers) hate Baboons. How can you hate such a nice little guy going for a ride in the late afternoon sunshine.

Leopards are amazingly cool. Here is a grab shot of one walking away but looking back.

One of the reasons to go to the part of the Serengeti that we visited was to see big cats sitting on rocks. This part of the Serengeti (Camp Sayari) is famous for its rocks and boulders. We were lucky to see this magnificent lion lounging (nor for long). This was shot at ISO 10,000 at 6:30 PM. Denoised with LR enhance, not too bad considering.

Topi are fast, cool looking antelopes from East Africa. We saw tons. This guy is looking pretty skeptical about having his picture taken. Of course Ernst Haeckel drew them, but I like photos better.

Rhinos are pretty rare in the Serengeti, particularly moms with babies. Here is a mom and baby (our guide said it was only the second time he had seen a mom and baby). They are critically endangered, but the population is growing now.

Here is a nice not so little Nile Croc sitting on the bank of the Mara River. There are signs next to the river saying no swimming/stay in your car, we paid attention. This guy was 13-14 foot long. There were so many dead wildebeests floating in the river from upstream crossings that these guys were full.

Here is a nice little Southern Ground Hornbill (well little compared to an ostrich) from our Africa Adventure. This guy was in the Serengeti (Tanzania) running around looking for food. What to they eat, you ask? They have dexterous bills that enable them to dig for food. Generally  Southern Ground Hornbill will eat anything they can overpower, however, their diet usually consists of invertebrates, reptiles, rodents and amphibians. The bill also helps to prepare slimy food like snails and frogs by rubbing them on the ground.  Makes me wish I had a bill. 

Here is a nice big Goliath Heron from the Serengeti. Big bird, who moves very slowly, so is often the victim of kleptoparasitism (usually from a fish eagle) where the heron catches the fish but the eagle gets to eat the fish.

Here is a nice little snake eagle from Tanzania in the Serengeti. These guys are indiscriminate eaters of snakes, harmless or deadly and are more or less immune to the poison since they have very thick and tough leg skin. They make good fathers because in this species, the male often arrives with a snake hanging from his mouth with only the tail extending from his throat, the female then pulls it out of his bill and throat, thereafter she tears the prey into appropriately sized bites for the single eaglet. Like to see that.

Here is a small piece of the herd of Wildebeests that were thinking of crossing the Mara. A single photo can't do it justice. We were guessing at 20K critters.

A baby hippo and mom. A few minutes later he was sound asleep.

Here is a nice little amur falcon (I think) from the Serengeti in Tanzania. These guys have the longest overwater flight of any raptor, more than 4000 km (2400+ miles for those metrically challenged folk) from India over the Arabian sea to Africa. This guy doesn't look tired but he does look like he is figuring out if I could fit inside him.

Here is the first cheetah we saw on our African Adventure. Hiding in the long grass looking for an impala.

Here is a big big hippo telling all of the other males in the river that he is the boss. Hippo teeth are traded internationally but there are some issues. 75% of the hippo teeth that are traded legally come from Tanzania. Hong Kong is the place that almost all animal parts end up before being exported somewhere else. There are international agreed quotas but Hong Kong reported 4000 kg more Hippo teeth imported than Tanzania declared exported. This difference can account for something like 2% of hippos in Africa and challenges the persistence of the population.

One of the reasons to go to the part of the Serengeti where we were was to see big cats sitting on rocks (not many rocks in the Masai Mara). Here is a nice leopard who was sitting on the rock til we got close and then he ran away.

Here is a nice pair of Bateleurs, a type of eagle from the Serengeti. These guys are magnificent fliers often doing 360 degree rolls. They eat hares, and hyrax of which there were tons. This pair was terribly annoying in that I really wanted a shot with both of them facing directly at me. Lots and lots of shots with one or the other but not both. This is as close as I got.

Baby elephants are awesome. Here is a little guy having lunch.

Here is a nice African Vulture (white back I think) sunning himself to dry off. During the wildebeest crossings, vultures are never hungry but they don’t like to be wet. This guy was in the river on top of a dead wildebeest, feasting. After a while he flew to the bank, sat in the grass and stretched his wings out to warm up and get dry.

Here is a nice male lion, always looking at you to calculate if you would fit inside him.

Here is a nice (not so little) male ostrich looking for a mate. Most of the year the bare skin of the male is just gray, but during mating season his neck and legs turn bright pink, presumably under the influence of some sex hormones. It has been postulated (Bonato and colleagues, Animal Behavior, 2009) that there is an immuno-modulated component of the color since male coloration is energy intensive and ostriches with the healthiest immune systems seem to have the pinkest necks. This allows the female to choose to mate with the healthiest male.

A nice little lion cub enjoying the sun after a big meal.

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