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Photography Workshops by Canon Northern Explorer of Light Christopher Dodds


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Zambian Dawn

Straw-coloured Fruit Bat ZAMBIAN DAWN (Eidolon helvum) Kasanka National Park, Zambia. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon 1DX, 500mm F4 L IS, Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 (with Deluxe Swing-arm upgrade) ISO 400 f/5 @ 1/2,000s Manual Mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.


I suppose I should call this post Zambian Dreams....

Seeing 7 million Straw Colored Fruit Bats return to their roost in Zambia was something I have wanted to do since I was about 8 or 9 years old after reading about it in one of the first National Geographic Magazines that I ever saw in the elementary school library. It was when I first imagined what it would be like to see the world as a nature photographer! Said to be the largest mamal migration on earth, this was the single most impressive natural history sight I have ever seen.

This is pretty much the image I have had in my head all those years; I always try to pre-visualize the images that I would most like to capture; sometimes they work, other times mother nature throws a curve-ball and they don't. I knew the money shot would be a wide shot with the treeline and the sunrise, but I didn't know I would use my 500mm lens to get it. It's always a good idea to bring a selection of equipment, even when you don't expect to use it.

Now back to the dreams; they can come true - wink.


About the Straw-coloured Fruit Bat

During November and December each year five to seven million straw-coloured fruit bats take up residence in one hectare of Kasanka National Park’s mushitu swamp forest.  Enticed by the abundance of such delicacies as musuku, mufinsa and the other wild fruits in the area, colonies of bats start arriving in late October. Straw-coloured fruit bats are identifiable by their pale, tawny fur and bright orange neck.  As with all fruit bats (alias flying foxes) they have dog-like facial features with small ears, large eyes and a long snout.  The wingspan of a straw-coloured fruit bat reaches 85-95cm making them the largest bat in Southern Africa. By day the bat colony roosts in the trees of the mushitu forest, packing themselves around branches and trunks which often break under the sheer weight of bats!  Daily life is not easy for the bats as many predators including raptors turn to a diet of bats for the two months that the colony is in residence. Fish eagles, martial eagles, vultures and numerous other raptors have been seen to take the bats in flight and from the roost.

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Reader Comments (3)

Chris, this was an amazing trip. I am so happy that I was part of the group of photographers that got to see you fulfill a dream of yours. You were a great team leader even though you were under the weather. I got to spend time with some very talented photographers that happen to be very nice people too. You helped to make this a trip of a lifetime for me and one that I will never forget. Thank you.

November 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Zimmerman

Hey John,

First off, many thanks to your wonderful family for sending you off on this adventure as your big birthday gift!

Thanks for your kind words, and for bringing your wonderful spirit along on the trip; it was amazing to have such wonderful friends/clients along .. truly made it the trip of a lifetime for me as well.

Very best and see you real soon!


November 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterChristopher Dodds

I love your picture! I would give just about anything to see that in person myself. It must have been truly amazing!!! I recently was downsized from my job and am trying to get something going in a blog. I love photography and my favorite thing to photograph is wildlife. I came across your blog here and decided to follow and comment. I look forward to seeing more of your work and reading your blog. I hope to be able to improve my photography and my blog! I am not here to spam, just here to enjoy and hopfully learn! Have a wonderful day! :)

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersgbrown

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