Okay, okay...I will break the suspense...systematically Day 8: Satara
So, you guessed it, we quickly unloaded most of the baggage...took a bathroom break...stocked up on some cold drinks and snacks from the Satara shop...and headed north...to the tree!
It was about 13h30 when we got there, and we were the only car there.
I knew which spot I wanted. There was one spot where there was a break in the roadside shrubs and you could see the entire trunk of the tree. Anyone stopping at the sighting would be able to see the kill at the top of the tree, and by definition the leopard, once it was in the tree.
In photography, it's important to pre-envision what you want to achieve (which shots you would like to get), and prepare yourself in every way possible to get them. I knew I wanted to have images of the leopard scaling the tree en route to the kill. Every time I have seen this behaviour it was in cluttered vegetation which just makes for messy images. This was different...the background was nicely separated from the tree. The surroundings were open and "clean". I knew that IF
the leopard arrived and IF
it chose to get in the tree and IF
I get the settings right, that I would have the winning shots.
My hope for golden afternoon light was down the drain - it was still heavily overcast and drizzling on-and-off.
I had picked the one spot where I could execute my vision...and parked there...and I was not going to move from here...
We waited from 13h30 to 17h00. Nothing. I knew we had to leave by the latest 17h30 in order to make the 18h00 gate closing time at Satara. We were exactly 25km north of camp, and at 50km/h it woudl take us 30 minutes - no stopping.
Throughout the afternoon cars came and went...my SUV and the dead impala and the slight drizzle were the ONLY
constants at this sighting...
A highlight of the afternoon was somebody stopping me and asking what we are looking at. Seriously?? You can't see the dead impala in the tree as clear as daylight next to the road??
And then, after I showed it to them, someone else stopped next to them and they explained excitedly:
"There's a buck in the tree, but it's already dead!"SERIOUSLY? You mean, the impala didn't actually climb the tree, decided to have a nap, and had a stroke in its sleep??
At around 17h10, something happened. A few cars had stopped around us, by now...and it seemed that there was a stirring behind us! We couldn't see! All we could see was the open spot in the brush next to us. I decided to wait right there and not give up my spot. If it was the leopard...it would be hungry cause it was out all day...it would have to at least come close to the tree. I was watching my watch carefully - if the leopard was spiteful and waited until dark to scale the tree, the afternoon would be a waste!!
I could just barely make out something through the foliage...was it the leopard???
What do you think??
Now, I would be a terrible blogger if I didn't tell you upfront that I wrote an article about this sighting on my own blog in immense detail and vivid descriptions, even going into the gear choices and camera settings I was choosing to try and capture this difficult piece of action in the worst possible light...
So...if you want to see how we came from HERE
...then you will need to clickHERE
- just right-click so you can open it in a new window!
I promise you it will be worth it!