Lockdown Reflections 11 – Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Lockdown Reflections 11 – Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

The Water Palace, Jaipur

I have seen so little of the wonderful country that is India

A country so diverse, and full of contradiction and colur

I think the its the colours in India that stay with me as the most remarkable memories.

Join me as I reflect on the my small taste of India during the next few posts

Starting with Jaipur, the pink city, the capital Rajasthan

The colourful chalk drawings on the elephants in the streets

The ocre and pink tinged buildings that lend the city its name

And the amazing palaces, the Water Palace (top of page)

The amazing Wind Palace

The Maharaja (or City) Palace where the Maharaja still resides

I was most impressed though by the Yellow Fort.

Especially is you take the elephant ride to the main entry to the palace.

Then while winding through the rooms and alleyways of the Palace

There are special treats awaiting

Like snake charmers

With such a burst of colour

Of course a trip to Jaipur would not be complete without a Rajisthani feast – Vegetarian of course

A meal fit for the Maharaj!

Knowing your local place intimately – the bike trail

Knowing your local place intimately – the bike trail

View of Melbourne City from Seaholme

It is into the 4th month of lockdown in Melbourne, Australia.

Movement is very restricted but lucky for me the Bay is near at hand.

One of the activities, one of places that soothes me is an evening ride along the Williamstown to Altona.

I have learnt to watch the colours of the sky, and know the spots to get the best views intimately.

Might have been my years of sailing that makes me such an avid weather watcher.

Early sunset from Altona Coastal Park

I can tell as the sun slowly sets that there is going to be a beautiful show tonight.

The early stages of of the sunset reaches across the bay and lights up the CBD.

City view from Altona Coastal Park

There is the perfect moment when the sun reflects of the city’s glass towers making it glow before the cities artificial lights try to steal the show.

Its hard to believe from this angle that the metropolis is quiet and largely deserted as it sparkles in the sunset.

Its a short ride over a little ford to my favourite viewing point to see the birdlife on Koroit Creek

This night it is the swans gliding and feeding on the creek up near the ford, under the reddening sky

By the the time I reach the estuary end of the creek the fiery sunset is reflected in the still water

At the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary the last minutes of the suns day is an orange smudge across the sky

Gotta say in these difficult times, to be able to be in and rejoice the natural beauty nearby is a special tonic.

I check the lights on my cycle and head home.

Lockdown reflections 10 – The big cats of the Masai Mara, Kenya

Lockdown reflections 10 – The big cats of the Masai Mara, Kenya

Of the big cats of the Masai mara the Cheetah is the at the smaller end and hard to find

And we were lucky to find this one resting under a tree.

In contrast the lions, the Kings of the Jungle were out in the open and unafraid

Such photogenic beasts and totally unafraid in their domain

Even when courting

And mating

The Leopard is more illusive and its young are vulnerable

So the they are kept safely up a tree

But like all young, juvenile leopards don’t always stay put when told to

and decided to climb down our of the tree and take a walk

All of a sudden out of the bushes dashed the mother too fast for me and my camera.

She grabbed up the escaping cub and was gone back into the scrub

But all the action revealed

A second cub hiding in the tree.

On leaving the area we came upon a hyena clan out hunting

Hyena are major predators for leopard cubs and will camp out under a tree waiting for an opportunity to get a cub if the find a tree.

These hyena have tracing collars attached as part of a research project that is being undertaken into the social structures of these amazing animals.

In Ethiopia, in the city of Harrar, I learnt a new respect for the hyena.

This city has a special relationship with hyena that goes back centuries.

Which in more recent times has led to the hand feeding of the hyena and many many mill around

And if you are game

You may feed them yourself

I guess you are wondering if the hyena found the leopard cubs?

When we went back the next day – Both cubs were in the tree!

This brings to an end my reflections on journeys to Ethiopia and Kenya.

I has planned to travel to Morocco this year but Covid 19 put an end to that, but I look forward to visiting some more the diverse countries of the amazing African continent.

Lockdown Reflection 9 – The big beasts of the Masai Mara, Kenya

Lockdown Reflection 9 – The big beasts of the Masai Mara, Kenya

The Elephants are the biggest of the beasts of the Masai plains

You really appreciate how big when you get up close

This huge animal was slowly walking slowly sideways

Our driver creeping forward forward just as slowly

Keeping the elephant the back corner of the van

The driver said that the elephant was trying to get into a position to charge

I think it was just moving us away slowly from its family

The Masai Giraffe is the largest of all the giraffe types

These huge animals are quite a lot larger with darker and more pronounced markings that the Rothschild Giraffes at Lake Nakuru.

Unfortunately, like many of the great wild animals the Masai Giraffe in endangered.

My final big beast of the Masai Mara in the Hippopotamus

A huge beast who has the reputation as the deadliest large land mammal.

These huge beasts weigh around 2,250kg

But it is rare to see more that their head

Lockdown Reflection 8 – The herd animals of the Massai mara, Kenya

Lockdown Reflection 8 – The herd animals of the Massai mara, Kenya

Zebra and Topi

The grassy planes of the Massai Mara

The beautiful markings of the Zebra and the Topi

topi

This trip taken in late November with the grasslands flourishing from the rainy season,

Young animals parrt of the herds

Topi antelope and calf
Hartebeast with young

For the Wilderbeest Great Migration had moved south out of Kenya by this time of the year

There were some older or weaker beasts left in the masai mara

Wiiderbeest

Their fate most likely to a feast for the parts predators

Sneaking through the grasslands is a predator

Its is unlikely that the Jackal would take on the bigger herd animals more likely small er mammals and rodents. But what a sight prowling through the grasslands.

Its the big cats the herd animals really have to look out for.

But we will come to those in a further post

Because sometimes you miss much by looking for the star attraction!

Moonrise Sunset

Moonrise Sunset

There is a little place I go

A peaceful place that juts all so slightly, out into the bay

At the right time of the year

On the the night of a full moon

On a still cloudless night

When the water of the bay is smooth like the surface of a mirror

I can watch the moonrise

I can watch the sunset

Simultaneously

Look to the east and the moon makes its ascent

At first pale in the twilight

She creeps higher and higher slowly asserting her power over the night sky

Its her night

Once a month she fills the sky

As she rises its as if she is pushing the big red globe of the sun below the horizon

The sun as if in anger fills the sky with orange red

As if unwilling to leave the sky stage for the moons solo performance

Casting a pinkish reflected glow in the moons direction

But the suns end is inevitable

Soon the moon dominates the sky

less pale, more bright

casting her silver beam across the water.

The vapour pale of a jet

A rare sight in the Melbourne lockdown

Like a knife slash across the sunset sky.

Its a warm evening

Early spring

The first full moon of the spring equinox here in the southern hemisphere

I cycle around the peninsula

To catch the moon as she reaches her full glory

Spirit of Tasmania leaving port under a full moon

And there she is filling the sky with her soft silver light

Her glow sparkling on the water.

Lockdown reflections 7 – Birds in the Masai mara, Kenya

Lockdown reflections 7 – Birds in the Masai mara, Kenya

The Ostrich the largest bird in the world (followed by the Cassowary and Emu found in my home Australia)wanders the plains grassy planes of Africa including the Masai mara.

A flightless bird it sometimes crosses path with the Secretarybird

While a flighted bird it spends most of its time on the ground hunting. Unfortunately this unique bird is disappearing and is listed as vulnerable. The Secretarybird gets its name from the spikey head quills that are, I’m told, likened to the pencils that secretaries used to place behind their ear.

The Secretarybird has a featherless face and predators beak like a vulture.

The vultures featherless head and long featherless neck though is specially designed for this carrion eater.

But is was the colourful birds this I were one of the highlights of the Masai mara for me.

The brightly coloured Rollers.

And finally the most beautiful of all, the Crowned Crane.

Lockdown Reflections 6 – The Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya , the Masai

Lockdown Reflections 6 – The Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya , the Masai

The Masai Mara richly deserves its reputation as one of the great natural reserves in the world

Here one finds the living culture of the Masai people,

The amazing landscape of the the norther Serengeti Plane, and

Most notable the array of unique and amazing African wild life

The Masai are reputed to be warrior tribe but traditionally they have been primarily nomadic pastoralists roaming the grassy planes of what was once known as Masailand.

These days like many of the tribes in North East Africa the Masai way of life is in a battle to adapt to evolving life in Africa.

The nomadic life is more constrained due to population, land use and the desire to remain close to schools and education for the next generation.

Over the next few posts I will look at the amazing wild like of the Masaimara,

Lockdown Reflections 5 – Lake Nakuru – Kenya

Lockdown Reflections 5 – Lake Nakuru – Kenya

Looking down from Baboon Cliff you can see why it is famous for its flamingos as the thick line of pink runs along the shoreline.

Lake Nakura sits in the south west of Kenya and is one of the many Rift Valley Lakes such as the Ethiopian lakes in my previous post.

But it’s when you get down to the lake edge that you really appreciate the beauty and number of the flamingos at Lake Nakuru.

Though the Flamingos are the main attraction as a RAMSAR site the birdlife is extensive. With:

Eagles

Marabou Stork

African Pelicans

And sitting by the Rhino’s ear the Oxpecker

The Oxpecker is the Rhino’s best mate. The bright eyed warning siren for the sleeping short sighted rhino. The Oxpecker keeps an eye out for the rhino’s predators as it feeds on the parasites in the Rhino’s hard hide.

The muddy shores of the lake is also a welcome home fpt Water Buffalo

In the forests surrounding the lake the are baboons;

Rothschild giraffes;

Waterbuck;

and cute little Deseys.

Lake Nakura is about 160km WNW of Nairobi.

This visit was over 15 years ago and from what I have read the park has been enlarged. It certainly a place that stays in one’s mind.

Lockdown Reflections 4 – Rift Valley Lakes, Ethiopia

Lockdown Reflections 4 – Rift Valley Lakes, Ethiopia

Hippo in Lake Chamo

Lake Chamo

South of Addis Ababa, running down from Ethiopia’s central plateau is the Rift Valley

Near the city of Arba Minch is Lake Chamo the last of 8 lakes in the Rift Valley running south from Addis Ababa.

From points in Abar Minch you can look over Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya

Abar Minch is a great stepping off point to explore the tribal south of Ethiopia and the Bale mountains.

But a boat ride on Lake Chamo is a must before heading south.

To see the Nile Crocodile nursery

To see the African Pelicans. These birds migrate up into the Danube Delta in Romania for the European summer (see Danube Delta blog under Romania in the menu).

See the fishermen casting for Nile Perch just around the corner from the crocodile nursery

Till the sun starts to set on the beautiful lake.

Lake Awasa

Awassa and its lake are approximately 290 km south of Addis Ababa and a well serviced tourist destination.

At a bit over 1,700 meters above sea level Awasa retains the mild temperatures that are a feature of Ethiopia’s Central Plateau.

The colourful fishing boats and fish market is an attraction of Lake Awasa

As is the wild life in particular the Marabou Stalk, particularly in and around the fish market (see above)

But also:

Sea Eagles

King Fishers large and small,

Jacana and

Colobus monkeys on the lake shoreline.

The area around Awasa is very productive

With abundant fresh fruits

And lots of coffee being grown dried and sorted in the region.

Because Ethiopia is the home of coffee.

The Awasa Valley is also where Lucy the skeletal remains of a 3.2 million year old hominin were found.

The reconstructed skeleton of Lucy is on display in the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is an amazing country. One of a handful of countries never to be colonised by a European power. (Though there has been significant European presence and influence).

Unfortunately political tensions have again arisen which hopefully be resolved.

I leave my lockdown reflections of Ethiopia now.

Next reflections in Africa will be in Kenya and the amazing wildlife there.

For those wanting to find out more about Ethiopia I recommend the above book amazing research text and images.