Legon Gardens with a Real Camera

Monday, March 7 was a national holiday in Ghana, celebrating fifty-nine years of independence from Britain.  Since the Area Office was closed for the day, Michelle and I took a nice morning hike in the University of Ghana botanical gardens just a few miles north of our apartment at daybreak to catch a few nature shots with the new camera we ordered and had our SLC auditing contact bring over last month when he came for a visit.  Since Reid works in the camera division at Amazon, he has a lot of very good experience evaluating various cameras, I used him to help me pick a camera to use for various sightseeing and wildlife shots.  I wanted something lightweight, moderately priced that would accommodate a novice but leave room to expand my skills.  He recommended a sweet little Nikon Coolpix 610 compact digital with a 60X optical zoom.  The reviews described it as best in class for what I was after so I ordered it, had it shipped to my SLC contact last month and he carried across the pond.

I am still getting the hang of it, but it has been a bunch of fun getting better close-up shots of several birds and the lizards that interact at Legon Gardens than I could even dream of the last time I visited there last fall (Forgotten Gardens) trying to capture wildlife shots armed with just an iPhone.

I borrowed a copy of Birds of Ghana from a friend and am looking to get my own copy (no easy feat in Ghana, it turns out) so I can do better identification on the species we encounter.  I will likely need to have Sandra or Christie bring over a copy when they visit us here in May, along with the binoculars I ordered and had delivered to Sandra’s house a couple of weeks back.  The end game is that we are tentatively planning on taking a safari to South Africa in about a year when we finish our mission, so it’s good to get in some practice with the local flora and fauna. Particularly with fauna that don’t eat you while you are trying to get them into focus.

Herewith, a few early attempts:

Senegal Coucal - Copy
Senegal Coucal at daybreak.  Beautiful, husky red, white and blueish black member of the cuckoo family with a 20-inch wingspan.  They are clumsy fliers found along Ghana’s coast. This one sat ruffling and preening his feathers for a couple of minutes.  Just wish I had better lighting.
Termite Mound
Seven foot tall termite mound in the garden, decorated with a bright fuchsia spout of bougainvillea.  Nature does some amazing things over here.
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret, of the heron family.  Legon Garden has a colony of several hundred nesting in a few trees on a small island of pond in the park
Preening Egret
Cattle Egret preening.  These birds have a wingspan over three feet long.  Not the best lighting, but it was fascinating to watch this guy’s aerobic moves as he meticulously groomed his feathers.
Lizard
Monitor Lizard living in the park, who love to make frequent swimming trips over to the island where the egrets nest to feed on eggs and the young birds.  The lizards, a variant of a Komodo Dragon, can get up to three to four feet long in the park, though this one is just over two feet long.
Bypass
Two ships passing in the night. I need a tripod to stabilize when shooting with the zoom maxed out, but I loved this shot of the lizard scooting past the adult egret, busy prowling for fallen hatch-lings.  No such luck today.
African Grey Hornbill
African Grey Hornbill.  We see a lot of hornbills in Africa (no big surprise).  The Grey is about 18 inches long but is one of the smaller varieties of hornbills. The female nests in tree holes, sealing up the opening except for a small slit, through which her mate feeds her through incubation and until the young are partially grown.
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One thought on “Legon Gardens with a Real Camera

  1. Wow, those are some shots. Based on what you said, I checked out a few reviews of that camera and found that it is highly recommended and about as good as it gets in the price range. The only downside is that it can take unscheduled candid shots of the owner and then upload them to the internet. That South African safari sounds like a real adventure, not perhaps quite like going on a “surfin’ safari” with the Beach Boys, but wondrous in its own way. Keep this up and National Geographic will hound you for material. [And aren’t there any expatriate-owned bookstores in the area? They often carry items that might be tough to find elsewhere.]

    Liked by 1 person

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