Many highlights this year but I think Uganda was probably the top destination and one I hope to visit again one day.
Uganda (Murchinson Falls)
In March this year I travelled to Uganda to fulfil one of my lifetime ultimate destinations, namely the Gorillas of Uganda. It was a spectacular trip and I came home with too many images which I would like to share with you.
Because of the number I decided to break the trip into the different areas I visited.
Uganda (Kibale Forest)
Kibale National Park is a national park in South Uganda. It is 766 km2 (296 sq mi) in size and is located between 1,100–1,600 meters (3,600–5,200 ft) in elevation.
We stayed three nights at Kibale Forest Camp which is situated in close proximity to the chimpanzees which were the primary species that I had targeted in this area of Uganda. Three nights gave us two full days of Chimpanzee trekking and what a great opportunity to spend time with these wonderful primates it turned out to be.
The chimpanzees were probably the highlight of this stupendous holiday.
Third stop in Uganda was Queen Elizabeth National Park in the West of Uganda.We visited two locations; the first being the Mweya region. This was a very dry and arid area and the wild life was quite sparse. We found lazy lions on the plain and quite a few antelope including good sighting of Ugandan Kob.
We took a boat tour on the Kazinga Channel between Lake Edward and Lake George and got quite close to Hippo and Fish Eagle.
Fourth stop in Uganda was the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park (Ishasha) in the West of Uganda. The Ushasha region is the home of the famous Tree Climbing Lions. After arriving late morning we had lunch and headed out to look for these sometimes illusive animals. Word was that they had not been seen for several days and after several hours we had seen very little other than a mongoose and a few bird species including a rather nice Wood Sandpiper.
Second day we headed out with an early start but still no Lions. The chimpanzees were probably the highlight of this stupendous holiday.
Back to camp and we heard word that they had been spotted so we quickly headed back out and I have to say that it was one of the best lion experiences. They did their usual lazing around but the tree added quite a lot to the experience and with quiet a few cubs in the group it was another very special experience.
Fifth stop in Uganda was Bwindi in the South of Uganda. We stayed at two locations; Buhoma and the less popular Nkuringo area of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Buhoma region has three groups of gorilla and Nkuringo one. There are many other groups but these are the ones which have been introduced to humans and therefore approachable.
We spent three days in total, although the actual time with gorillas is strictly limited to one hour to try and avoid infection from us. The first day was an relatively easy trek into the mountain and we reach the gorillas in less than one hour. The second day we had a much harder climb into the mountains and we were well over two hours before we reached the gorillas. On the third day we had an even longer climb and the terrain was both up and down and we even crossed rivers, taking our shoes off and paddling in the cool water. When we reached them it was think vegetation on a steep incline and the gorillas kept high in the trees.
All in all a wonderful experience and three different settings for my photography.
Uganda (Lake Mbura)
Final stop in Uganda was Lake Mbura which is mid point between Bwindi and Entebbe. The purpose of our stop over was to do a little relaxation prior to our flight home and we stayed at Mihingo Lodge which is a luxury lodge on the edge of Lake Mbura Nartional Park.
Although it was relaxation time we still found time to do a few game drives and really enjoyed the large Zebra herds and a fantastic time on the Nyaruyegura River where we saw a phenomenal number of pied and Malachite Kingfisher and got a particular good sighting of a rear White-backed Night Heron
A day trip in June to Grinton Moor near Reeth in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park turned out to be a interesting and productive day with lots of nesting birds there was lots to see and a short drive onto Grinton Moor lasted all day, well at least until the rain and wind came and the birds disappeared.
In June, David & Carol Taylor, John Betts & I had a trip to Iceland. It was my second trip to Iceland but this was my first trip for wildlife as last time I had gone in February looking for landscapes and the Northern Lights.
David & I had spent a lot of time planning the trip and we had research a number of areas that we wanted to visit but we didnt want to rush around so we eventually targeted just two main area which was Husavik and MyVatn in the north and Selfoss in the South with a short stop over at Skeftafell on the way south.
It was extremely successful and other than the Harlequin Duck we managed to have some great opportunities with many birds.
In July, David & Carol Taylor, John Betts, Ann Brooks and her partner, and I had a trip to Skomer, a small island off the coast of Pembrokeshire. Prior to visiting Skomer I had a day at the Barn Owl Centre in Gloucestershire and a couple of days at the Red Kite Feeding Station at Gigrin Farm, Rhayader. Once we all got together we headed out to Skomer on the early morning boat and was fortunate to have great weather, both on the crossing and during our three night stay. For me it was a bit late in the season and although there still were some puffins on the island most of the breeding pairs and young had gone back out to sea. Its a fantastic island with great opportunity to photograph the puffins in both morning and evening light. Thanks to all for great company and another fantastic trip together.
On the 25th September I travelled to Chilco, British Columbia, Canada as one of a group of six photographers to photograph Grizzly Bears on the Chilcotin River. Great trip where we were based on two boats going up and down the river looking for bears fishing. I have never seen so many bears in one location and I think on one day you could see 20 bears on different parts of the river bank from the boat where I was photographing. Fantastic lodge, which offers horse riding as well as bear viewing. In fact you can see bears from horse back.
David & Carol Taylor, John Betts & I had a trip to Dovrefjell National Park in Norway. David & Carol had visited the area a few years ago in the autumn time and were happy to revisit to try and capture more images of the Musk Ox.
I had previously seen Musk Ox in Northern Quebec and they had been difficult to photograph as they were very skittish, running away as soon as they saw you approaching. The Dovrefjell herds are more habituated with people and it was much easier. What was challenging was the distances we had to walk with an average daily walk in the region of 10 kilometres over terrain that was undulating to say the least and at times we had to cross the tundra vegetation which was rocky and boggy.
But once again another great trip with fantastic photographic opportunity.