President’s Column – August 2018
Congratulations to Pukekohe Franklin Camera club, winner of the Trenna Packer Competition Salver for 2018. I understand this is the first time a North Island club has won this competition since its inception in 1972. Worthy 2nd and 3rd places went to Christchurch Photographic Society and Rangiora Photographic Society respectively. There were 20 entries this year with all sets shown, and winners announced, at our NPS club night on 16th July. This year’s judge, Elizabeth Passuello, could not attend the evening and the presentation was handled admirably by our Trenna Packer co-ordinator, Carolyn Elcock. Through Carolyn, Elizabeth commented on the high standard of all entries.
Congratulations to our Glenda Rees who picked up an honours award for her image of a Rifleman. There were also several other honours certificates awarded and you can see all the results in this newsletter or go to the NPS website to see the whole 20 sets entered. Well, we didn’t go away empty handed, but we didn’t get to stand on the podium either this year. So, from now on keep thinking Trenna Packer when out taking natural history shots and we’ll have a better chance of winning back the Trenna Packer Salver next year.
About a month ago Ann & I realised a long time dream (for the second time) and travelled to Botswana. We visited the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park and what an adventure we had. Botswana is dominated by the sands of the Kalahari Desert but in the north east corner of the country the semi-arid landscape is transformed in to a verdant oasis by the waters of the Okavango River which fan out to create an immense inland delta. Chobe National Park, on the other hand, is much dryer and supports a different and very diverse array of wildlife. It is the dry season now with cloudless skies, grass as high as an elephant’s eye and the sunrises and sunsets are just an explosion of colour.
We stayed in two permanent camps in the Okavango and a mobile tented camp in the Savute area of Chobe. The Okavango camps are both on private concessions and with a maximum of 20 guests each we weren’t inundated with other tourists when out on game drives. The company running these establishments is well renowned for what they put back into wildlife and land conservation, as well as huge support for local communities. So that’s a kind of ‘feel good’ thing. Talking with the people working in these camps was a delight. Always smiling, they all love what they are doing and are proud to show off their land and its wonders to those who visit.
The guides and trackers were exceptional. Putting us face to face with almost every type of animal in the area. Nothing dangerous but we did have a couple of close encounters with elephants. The diversity between open savannah and wetlands made for a changing landscape every day. One day out on game drives in open safari vehicles amongst lion, elephant, zebra, leopard & cheetah to name a few. The next, boating on waterways amongst hippo, crocs and an array of birdlife that just has to be seen to be believed.
There are 595 known bird species in Botswana. We probably saw about 20% of this total and managed to photograph maybe 20% of that. The long lens certainly had a real workout! There is nothing quite like seeing a Lilac-breasted Roller with its wings of iridescent blue flashing in the sunlight as it twists and turns and glides across the grassland seeking insects and lizards.
Access to these areas is by small aircraft and the view across the Delta from these low flying craft is just magnificent. Seeing elephants, giraffes and other animals drinking at waterholes from this level adds an entirely different perspective.
We reluctantly left Botswana to finish off with a couple of days at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe before facing the long haul home.