Thursday, April 09, 2015

All my previous Leopards were quite distant, so after the evening sighting I thought they should have been closer. Immediately blamed myself for being too greedy. Next morning they woke me up at 7.30. The Leopards are still here! I quickly put some clothes on, and jumped out from my tent. All scopes were in the middle of the camp, and pointed to the 3 Leopards resting on the hillside above the camp, some 6-800 meters away! They've spent the whole day there, resting, sleeping. We had 14 hours sighting! Had breakfast, lunch, tea with them in view! It was an increadible experience. Here's a video of them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tX6IqeuizZ0
This picture was waiting for me looking into the first scope leaving my tent. Mommy on the right.









The 2nd cub pops up its head. Cluds were coming and going, putting the Leopards in amazing light.













All lenses pointing at the 3 Leopards. The 2nd man from the left found them the previous evening. There's a Mexican couple in the background, so the team was quite international. 











Enjoying the warm morning sun.













They became active long after the sun set. There was not much light to take photos.














They slowly climbed up the hillside, mommy was leading them.







Big dream came true: sketching wild Snow leopards! 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Arriving back to camp around 4, we had some rest and tea. After a while we decided with Smanla to climb up to the viewpont over our camp. The others stayed. It was a 300 steps climb, but due to the thin air it completely exhausted me. I sat down to a rock. Only 1-2 minutes passed when I heard the long-expected words: 'Snow Leopard!' The guide of an Indian TV crew staying in the camp, found Snow Leopard from the bottom of the valley! Coincidentally this was the first case we didn't bring walky talky with us, so couldn't get proper directions to the exact location. We could only frantically wave to my friends down in the camp, but these signs couldn't be misunderstood. I ran down the hillside, and looked into the scopes pointing to the hilltop. First I saw only rocks. Then the Leopard turned its head towards me!
This is what I saw in the scope. I've noticed the right Leopard only on my photo:











The first Leopard I saw shows only its ear now. Our spotters can find them by this:












It turned out soon, that there are 3 Leopards in front of us. The local female with her full-grown, 3 years old cubs. They noticed the activity down in thevalley, and started watching us. They were some 1,5-2 kms away. 













 We could watch the 3 Leopards for 2 hours. During this the 2 cubs were chasing and playing with each other a lot. They enjoyed rolling in the snow. While walking slowly along the ridge, the mother sprayed several rocks with her scent. Here's a shaky video of the 2 cubs playing in the snow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmVMGr5ERb8















We had some Hungarian brandy to celebrate the success.













And the usual Snow Leopard cake! 

Monday, April 06, 2015

We travelled to Hemis National Park on 19th March and the Snow Leopard 'hunt' began. The trip, as my previous 2, has been organized by Exotic Travel tourist agency (http://www.exoticladakh.com/). This year was poor in sightings, previous encounters were on 25th Feb and 9th March. Several groups left with no success. This was not so promising for us.

Our camp from the viewpont where we were scanning for Leopards every morning and evening. 

















Swarovski Optik is supporting Snow Leopard conservation in the area for many years. They've sent a pair of binoculars with me this year too. Our spotters, Smanla and Dorjay were happy for the surprise!

















The eldest man from Rumbak village. He's 77 years old, and he greated me as a returning visitor from 2011.


















6th day, in Tarboung-valley. Hopelessness started to creep into out team.














Another hopeless team left this message in the valley: '8 days no leopards'.













Bharal skull. Killed by a Snow Leopard long time ago. 













Bharal or Blue Sheep, the main Snow Leopard target.












Woolly Hare.












On our 5th day, on 23rd March, local villagers found fresh Snow Leopard tracks in the Rumbak-valley. One single animal passed some 4-500 meters from our camp during the night. We've followed the tracks for long, but the cat seemed to be long way away by daytime, so we gave up. 














Fresh Snow Leopard scraping. They use this for marking their territory. 

















Fresh rock-scent markings (the dark patches on the rock). The Snow Leopards use this for marking their territories. They also scratch their bodies to these rocks. You can see some hairs on the upper right side of this rock.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

 I've spent the last 2 weeks in Ladakh with my 5 friends looking for Snow Leopards. We've doubled the number of Hungarians who have seen this magnificent cat in the wild.
We've arrived to Leh, the capital of Ladakh on 17th March. 2 days acclimatization included some birding and visiting Tiksey monastery.
 
 With my friends on the top of Thiksey Monastery













Thiksey Monastery













Ibisbill on Indus-river. We have seen 4 together.













White-winged Redstart. The most numerous passerine.














Hume's Short-toed Lark. A nice find amoung Shorelarks.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I've completed the Brown Sicklebill painting. It's done with oils on canvasboard. The size is 80 x 60 cm.


















Here is the work in progress:



Saturday, August 30, 2014

I've started my first painting in oils based on the spring study trip to Papua New Guinea. Brown Sicklebill was one of the 10 bird of paradise species that I could study really well. It occurs at higher elevations, and we spent 1 week in the suitable habitat. Each morning I walked the 1 hour trek to the ridge above our camp, where I could find these birds together with another BoP species, the Stephanie's Astrapia.
The usual views were like this, birds feeding in the canopy:
















Its distinctive call helped to locate the birds (can be heard from 1 km). It mostly resembles a machine gun, and there are stories from the 2nd World War, when the occupying Japanese army got shocked by these calls. They thought they were under fire. Check out my video for the call:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvrPEGUGbw8

We had rain every day at these higher elevations:













 The first layer of the painting (my elder son's drawing of this bird to the right):

















Developing the mossy branches (typical habitat of the bird):

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

 The scenery was breathtaking along the Kokoda Trail. I made several landscape paintings, I show some here. 
 Panorama somewhere around the middle of the track:







One of our last stop was at Ioribaiwa village. I made several sketches here:














Heavy rainfall over the mountain across the valley:















Scene from Ower's Corner at the end of the 95 km long trail. I remember I hade to make a choice here. Whether to drink my spared water or use it for painting.