Saturday, October 16, 2010

Harmonious Nature

Giraffes are a general "feature" in most game reserves in our country - but one isn't always "blessed" with viewing them at such close courters, other than that they are "posing" so harmoniously . . .

. . . even when this "couple" turned their heads, they did it in harmony.

Similarly in harmony with nature was this young kudu male.

When I became interested in "birding" I was convinced that identifying large raptors was an "easy" process - until I realised that especially eagles "go through" various stages of metamorphosis before "acquiring" their adult plumage . . .

. . . whilst without its mother by its side, I don't think I would have correctly identified the juvenile Bateleur (above).

Talking about birding - after I set the goal of photographing as many bird species as posible & on reaching the "magical" number of 400, it's not easy "finding" a bird I haven't as yet "recorded". So it was exciting to "discover" not 1 but eventually 3 birds I wasn't able to photograph before - apart from this Gurney's sugarbird (in the Drakensberg area) I could also add a Purple gallinule (at the St Lucia Estuary) & a Yellowrumped widow (in the Hermanus/Gansbay area) to my bird "file".

Turning to reptiles now - I have often photographed a Water leguaan (= a Monitor) although this one was "special" - I was actually sitting patiently behind a bush waiting for a Red duiker to emerge, when right in front of me I saw a movement. I was concentrating so much on the little antelope "hiding" that I had missed what was right there = this rather large reptile. How could I have missed it? It remained still, just checking "over a shoulder" if I represented a possible threat - which I must admit, I also contemplated - but in the end, taking "shots" of this animal won over any feelings of fear.

In contrast I haven't "met" many a Rock leguaan before - so finding this one crossing the road ahead of our open safari-vehicle was a "nice" surprise.

Last but not least - a "smaller version" = a colourful Rock agama. As I've mentioned before when "discussing" members of the lizard family: rock agamas (when "posing" in a certain way) remind me of (miniature) dragons.

[Will only be able to post more photos in about 3 weeks time, because until then, I'm going to guide a group of German-speaking tourists through our highly diverse country again]

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scenic Tour

Since I'm back home for a week with a new "batch" of photos, I'm posting some of those today - on this very "unusual" date = 10.10.10

Although most of our country still "appears to be in the grip of winter" nature-wise, the daily temperatures are mostly summer-like at this time of the year. A trip along the Panorama Route (Mpumalanga Province) is scenically beautiful all year round, and includes many waterfalls, like the Lone Creek Fall.

In the Kruger National Park, lumbering old elephant bulls, on their way to a nearby water-hole, always manages to amaze.

After travelling through Swaziland and on entering KwaZulu-Natal, the entertainment during lunch consisted of an "invasion" of dancing young Zulu warriors.

On to the Hluhluwe Game reserve, where visitors are often treated to magnificent game-viewing opportunities - like this peacefully grazing herd of buffalo as well as a White rhino.

A visit to this area of our country doesn't seem "complete" without taking a boat-trip along the St Lucia Estuary (lagoon), which was the first declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Africa. Here hundreds of hippos are at home, other than over a thousand Nile crocodiles amongst other land & water animals and a great variety of birds.

Not all tours of South Africa include excursions to the majestic Drakensberg (uKhahlamba) mountain range (also a UNESCO site), but the last tour included two days/nights in the Cathedral Peak area.

A short flight from Durban to Port Elizabeth means a "drastic" change in scenery = the ocean. In the Tsitsikamma National Park waves, crashing against rocks, create a magnificent "back-drop".

After crossing the Outeniqua mountain range, yet another fascinating facet of South Africa's scenic beauty can be "discovered" whilst driving through Meiringspoort . . .

. . . or along the steep Swartberg mountain pass, which resembles a long, winding snake - with photo-stops of "patchwork-like" valleys far below.

Although the Chapman's Peak drive (along the Cape Peninsula) is listed amongst the most scenic coastal drives in the world, I believe that the coastal road on the "other side" of False Bay, is equally magnificent - with the Hottentots-Holland Mountains "completing" the picture.