Monday, August 27, 2012

Busy Birds

Summer is here in SA - yes, we don't really experience a "slow entry" into warm weather (= spring) so accordingly we either have hot or cold weather, especially "inland"; along the coastal regions the change in weather is less "drastic". With aloes, etc growing prolifically in our country & in bloom since winter, birds associated with nectar, like this Doublecollared sunbird, are easy to spot.

 The same bird - another male Doublecollared sunbird - in contrast, the female of this bird species is rather "drab" colour-wise. This bird is a common resident in SA along the entire southern coastal region as well as in the north-easterly side of the country.

Another member of the sunbird-family, this Scarletchested sunbird is found mainly in the northern regions of SA & coastal-wise only in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

In the "World of Birds", the commencement of summer (= breeding season) can be associated with a change in the appearance of certain male birds like e.g. the orange colour on the face & throat of this Cape weaver (non-breeding males look more like the females).

Another colourful bird, this Lilacbreasted roller, is also a common resident again at this time of the year in the northern parts of our country.

I think of the (large) Ground hornbill as "haughty", mostly because it looks as if this bird species walks in an a proud yet insolent kind of way!?

Another large bird we saw during the last tour through our country is this Bateleur (eagle) with its scarlet face & legs. We were lucky to come across this specimen sitting on a dry tree stump because more generally, they are seen circling in the air especially in the Kruger Park region.

Of all the birds featuring in today's posting, this (African) Fish eagle is probably the most common resident found almost throughout our country - where there is surface water (in any form) nearby. This birds ringing & far-carrying call probably is one of the most recognisable & typically African sounds!?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hippos Galore

During the first part of the last tour, which "stretched" over 2 weeks, it seemed that hippos (short for: hippopotamus) "dominated" - meaning we regularly sighted these enormous amphibians.

I guess the prevalent weather conditions (bright sunshine but it's still winter in SA) contributed to this "change" in the more customary behaviour of staying in water during the day & only emerging at dusk to graze on dry land during the night.

Hippos often doze in the sun during the day, because these animals' skin is protected by a glandular secretion (working like a "sun protection lotion/cream"), but to virtually come across another hippo colony lazing on a river-bank around every second corner in the Kruger National Park, is rather unusual.

Even more unusual was the appearance of this hippo amongst very dry vegetation & far away from the river!!??

But then we got a side-view of this hippo (although only slightly visible in this photo) & detected deep wounds on its right flank; this animal must have been a participant in a fight or was chased away (probably by an alpha bull); the hippo's face was also covered in ticks, a very unusual occurrence for an animal mostly "at home" in water.

As I've mentioned in other postings on this blog before, hippos are very aggressive & therefore dangerous animals - actually known to have killed more people in Africa than e.g. lions or crocodiles!! Therefore it's a wise "precaution" to steer well clear of hippos at all times. On closer inspection this particular hippo . . . 

. . . wasn't wounded (as the other hippo above) but it certainly "sported" deep scratchmarks, which most hippos living in a colony "display".

With huge canine & incisor teeth like these - no wonder hippos are notorious for wounding each other as well as people, who, indeed, they can cut in half!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Unusual Couples

Before I go on tour again, guiding more German-speaking visitors through our beautiful country, I thought of posting more "couple" photos, which follow the trend of what I've called "2-Some" photos before - 2 different antelope species, an impala & a springbok "kissing" surely rates as quite unusual?

Browsing side-by-side: a springbok & a steenbok

Seeing zebras & a (blue) wildebeest together is not so unusual, because they represent what is known as 'complimentary feeders' - they "follow" each other because zebras like to graze on long grass, whereas wildebeest prefer short grass.

Not in the least unusual to see these 2 together: a nyala mother-and-child combination

 These antelopes also "belong together" - a (hornless) female & male waterbuck

This is also a quite common "combination" - oxpeckers on the back of a kudu antelope - or for that matter, found on any wild animal.

Although unusual to see so many Blackcollared barbets in one place, they have something in common with the other bird species in the photo, Speckled mousebirds - they share a similar diet.

Last but not least - 3 antelope species together: Blue wildebeest, springbok & an impala.

[Hope that when I return in 2 weeks, I'll have a "camera-load" of new photos to share]