Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Symbolic Visuals

Colourful Sunset over the Chobe River (Botswana)
= symbolic of the sun setting on the OLD YEAR

Golden Sunrise across Durban's bay (KwaZulu-Natal)
= symbolic of the sun rising on a NEW YEAR

Brilliant Sunray over a hilly landscape in Mpumalanga
(= "land of the rising sun") = a ray of hope!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Festive Time

For most of the time during this festive season I'm reading, writing or sorting my massive collection of photos. Nonetheless my ears are always "open" to sounds, especially bird calls - so when I hear something I can't "identify" right away I go (camera always in hand) to "investigate". When I detected that the "culprit" was a Speckled mousebird, I was quite surprised because these birds aren't usually very "vocal". As a result I snapped the following "series":

This was the "noisy" one ...

Which was joined by another one ...

... along came No 3 ...

... and yes, No 4 ...

... and last but not least, No 5.

Other than having fun being "visited" by these mousebirds, I was also "called" outside by another recent "arrival":

a young Diederik cuckoo - raised (just as I "reported" last year at more or less the same time) by a surrogate weaver mommy.

The "brood parasite" (= all cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of other birds) was still around, though; its plaintiff & far-carrying call is constantly audible (at varying intervals) during the days.

Another colourful visitor was this Cape glossy starling ...

... and then I "discovered" another Masked weaver building a new nest - another, because I have already "recorded", ad nauseam, how another Masked weaver "progressed" with the art of building its nest [SEE: previous blog-entries].

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Like Paintings

Wishing all my "followers" a happy festive season & New Year!!

Sometimes, either because of the "lighting" or for other reasons, my photos look more like paintings than "snapshots". Today I'd like to share some of these.

Terns flying - Tsitsikamma National Park

Lionesses - Kruger National Park

Elephant males - Kruger National Park

Springbok - Etosha National Park

Hippo - Kruger National Park

Drakensberg Region - KwaZulu-Natal

Early-morning mist - Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Friday, December 18, 2009

Weaver Saga

A last update on my weaver "saga" [SEE: entries on this blog = 29 Sep - 4 Oct 2009]:

This little "chap" (right = a Masked weaver) was the main character in the "drama".

He had hardly started building a nest right outside our bedroom ...

... when I found it "completed". The little chap was only adding the finishing touches whilst I noticed that his "complexion" was changing (= he was "maturing") = no longer displaying the white "spots" of youth on his underparts.

He was also revealing quite some "acrobatic" manoeuvres in the process of checking his "handy" work = his nest-building capability (which I "followed" with great interest &, of course, "camera in hand").

My last image of the little chap (before I went "to work" = guiding a group of tourists for almost 4 weeks through southern Africa) was of him sitting proudly on his nest & surveying what he had accomplished (other than trying to attract an interested female weaver to "move in").

The morale of my story (= the ending) - when I returned from touring I immediately looked outside to see if the nest was still there - I guess I already suspected the worst.

Correct! The nest was gone & I wasn't there to "record" its destruction!! Better luck next time? I hope so because I would like to see proof of what I called a "myth" [See: blog-entry 4 Oct = Weaver Controversy].

Monday, December 14, 2009

After birth

Those familiar with the "life cycle" in nature (& especially in the Kruger National Park area) know that towards the end of November (after the first "good" rain) many "babies" are born. To witness this occurrence has always been a silent wish - and I was privileged to experience some of it at close range & from an open safari vehicle recently (during the last tour I guided for this year). I asked the ranger to stop when I saw this female impala "licking" - guessing that it was a newborn although it was "hidden" from view behind a clump of grass.

When on shaky legs the tiny impala "emerged", I was "ecstatic" - I love impalas (have even "dedicated" my first "photo-story" to impalas - to be published in the UK in Jan 2010).

Watching the tiny newborn reaching for what it instinctively knows is vital sustenance was "magic" - yet also frustrating, because the little one didn't find the "source" right away. It also was endearing to watch how with a hind-leg, the mother tried to guide her offspring to the "make the right connection".

"What? Are you meaning I'm expected to 'hook on' to that?" the tiny impala appears to query, mystified.

"Now let me see - is this the way to go?"

"No, little one. Reach higher!" I mentally assist it to find the 'right spot'.

"At last! Now you've found it," I silently and with a sense of relief (which I think I shared with the impala mother!?), congratulate the baby impala.

"Now that you've had your fill," the female impala seems to say, "it's time we move on to a more secluded and safe spot amongst the bushes and rejoin our herd." That's also where the newborn impala will become part of a creche.

And that's when I see it - the afterbirth! (It's "sticking" to the female's backside & wasn't visible on the first photo - just click on photos to enlarge & to compare).

Once mother & child have disappeared, I silently wish them well - and we move on. It's a day "for" babies, though, and "just around the corner", we detect another impala female & its newborn ...

... and "just down the road" also a female giraffe & a very "greedy" young newborn.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Big 5

Other than the lions in Etosha [SEE: Previous entry = Lion Drama] we were also privileged to discover these 2 male lions (in the Kruger National Park) soon after a buffalo kill, which they had accomplished on their own instead of depending on female lions to do the hunting.

Whilst one of the 2 males was obviously exhausted, the other one (visibly more of an alpha-type) "tore away" at the insides of their prey.

"In line" with hoping to "track down" the Big 5, some of us were also lucky to glimpse a leopard amongst thick undergrowth.

We saw plenty of buffalo in the Chobe Game Reserve .....

..... and a Black rhino in the Etosha Game Reserve - because there are mainly Black rhinos in this game reserve (= browsers; in contrast to White rhinos, which are grazers = NOT much grass to graze on in Etosha!)

Did I just "say": black rhino?

Yes, indeed, this was a Black rhino even if its "colouring" appears more white than black - the result of wallowing in lime-rich mud (= a "favourite pastime" for all rhinos) to cool down as well as covering (and therefore "smothering") parasites clinging to their hides.

And last but not least (to "conclude" the Big 5) we saw elephants in Chobe .....

..... a lone elephant bull in Kruger .....

..... and in conclusion, (white) elephants in Etosha [SEE: white versus black explanation above].

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lion Drama

Today - finally the promised lion "story".

We knew there were lions in the vicinity. As we looked around, this lioness made an appearance. To be honest, I only realised that a youngster was also "in the picture" when I looked at the photos afterwards on my computer at home.

Next a magnificent male lion appeared accompanied by another female.

Lazily he lay down and his female companion followed suit.

There were 2 more lionesses with youngsters, who gazed "longingly" at a herd of zebra & wildebeest grazing at a distant.

One of the lionesses was obviously "delegated" to keep an eye on the large group of lion youngsters - somehow the "demeanour" of this female seems to express her dissatisfaction with this "job"!? I guess she would have preferred to go hunting instead??

She nonetheless appears to accept her "fate" because she lies down amongst the playful youngsters.

One of the other females is on "high alert".....

..... whilst the fourth female starts stalking the nearby prey, which appear blissfully unaware of the nearing predator??

Perhaps it wasn't a matter of blissful ignorance? We will never know because it was time to drive back to the camp before the gates to the Etosha Park closed that night. As we reluctantly left, our last impression was of the stalker gazing at the herd of wildebeest grazing calmly in the distance.

How did this story end??