Thursday, August 28, 2008

Birds in Flight

I'd want to dedicate this "posting" to birds in flight. As I've confessed before, I'm crazy about photographing birds - and in flight, they often represent interesting "targets" to me.

I happily snapped away recording these interesting bird formations - without even knowing what birds they were. The location: the Chobe River in the Chobe National Park, Botswana. The objects of interest: Openbilled Storks - I managed to identify them eventually.

Now they are closer and I'm still fascinated by their flying patterns. Openbilled storks are known as uncommon, localised residents, appearing mostly single and only in such large flocks - as I witnessed - during the breeding season. They also tend to soar in flocks when on the move.

This is what these Openbilled storks look like once they settle down (right) - then the open gap between the mandibles is also visible (from which these birds derive their name). Mostly, southern African storks (in general) are found near water and bill-"clapping" is used as a greeting between pairs. In comparison to most storks, the Openbilled species is relatively small.

In my eyes, watching an African Fish eagle (left) soar high in the sky AND emitting its pleasantly ringing, far-carrying call, symbolises African nature - at its best! This eagle calls whilst perched on a branch or when circling in the air.

I had some "fun" (right) with the previous photo by using the caleidoscope-option (Nero Photo-snap).

A soaring Black eagle (left) with the characteristic white "flashes" at the base of the wing-tips clearly visible. I took this photo at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden (Roodekrans site), where a pair can be seen all year round. These Black eagles are one of only a few breeding pairs in an urban environment, but their future is in jeopardy - human/housing developments encroach on the eagles (previous) hunting territory.

Did you know that Black eagles (and some other eagles too) are known for the "Cain & Abel"-phenomenon? Of 2 eggs lain in a nest, Cain (the first hatched chick) commences to kill Abel, which constitutes Cain's first "meal".

Although most Bird Books display what eagles and vultures look like during flight, I haven't been able yet to identify this bird (right). I nonetheless admire the photo (taken by our son-in-law, Quinton, with a much more "powerful" camera than mine).

For something else - the Cape Gannet (left), a large seabird, found as a "colony" at Lambert's Bay (on the West Coast of SA). During a family-trip, we admired their characteristic plunge-diving apart from them "zooming" in like "dive-bombers".

Now that we've "landed" at the sea, here's a photo (right) of a Hartlaub's gull in flight. Gulls, in general, are known as scavenging sea and shore birds, which don't dive into the water but rather pluck refuse from the sea surface (or from land). The Hartlaub's gull is "at home" along the western coastal regions of our country.

I took this photo of (flying) White pelicans (left) during a boat "cruise" at Walfish Bay (Namibia). Other than thinking that this is a pretty good "shot", I'm always grateful for these photo-opportunities, which I have whilst guiding tourists through our country and also accompanying them whilst visiting our neighbouring countries.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Latest Photos

After sorting the photos taken during my last two back-to-back tours, I decided to "publish" some of the best ones today. The one I love most is this photo (right) of a cute young hippo appearing momentarily above water propped up on its mother's back.

Spotting klipspringer (left) in any of our game parks is quite a difficult process, because they are mostly well-camouflaged, apart from belonging to the smaller antelope species. It was therefore quite amazing to find three on the same spot and appearing "glued" to the spot. They had probably detected a threat (a carnivore?) and instinctively tried to ascertain if their life was in danger. We also tried to determine if that was the case, but were unsuccessful.

As we left the Kruger National Park by bus, we were "treated" to this magnificent sunset (right) and shortly afterwards, to the "alingment" of the sun amongst the branches of a tree (below).

It's always a pleasure to also "spot" a small creature like the chameleon (right) as happened in Stellenbosch amongst the plants in a garden of the house-museum-complex.

In-between two tours, I stayed with my sister, Lydia, in Cape Town. Since the weather was so great, she took me and our parents for a drive to Bloubergstrand, from where one has this magnificent view of Cape Town with Table Mountain flanked by Devil's Peak and Lion's Head.

After the cable-car "scare" in May (about which I "reported" on this blog-site soon afterwards), I am proud to announce I had the guts to "do it all again". I'm proud, because I never thought that after getting stuck in the cable-car on the way down, I'd ever go up Table mountain again. Well, I did, however scary I thought it was, and not only once, but twice (because I accompanied two different groups of tourists). Just as our dad told us when we learned to ride horses as children: "you fall off, you get right back on".

The last two photos today are of African penguins (formerly known as Jackass penguins) taken at Boulders Beach, where two pairs settled in 1982 on the mainland and since then have multiplied to 3 000!!

Since I often take visitors to this penguin colony, I was pleasantly surprised to see how active the penguins are at this time of the year. Apart from loudly "braying", they were in and out of the water - in contrast to past visits, when we mostly found them "just hanging around".

Saturday, August 2, 2008

On Tour again

I'm off on tour again with another group of German visitors to our country. Will be back again on 21 August.