Friday, October 12, 2012

Birds of a Feather

Waking up in Joburg & looking out of the window at the Palazzo hotel - there was this Rameron pigeon appearing to admire the early morning atmosphere just as I did :)

 Most wild animals in the various game reserves in South Africa have some very "useful" birds as companions - oxpeckers. These birds use their bills to comb animals for ticks & also bloodsucking flies, whereas the more common species is the Redbilled oxpecker . . .

. . . although the Yellowbilled oxpecker was "re-introduced" recently in e.g. the Kruger National Park, where I photograhed this uncommon, localised bird but only realised back home, after downloading my photos on my computer, that it was this rather rare species.

Generally woodpeckers are quite similar-looking & therefore difficult to identify right away - although I've come across & photographed the Goldentailed woodpecker more often than any of the other family members when in the Lowveld (e.g. Mpumalanga Province).

Also less common than other members of a specific family of birds is this Crowned hornbill, found only along the eastern borders of our country - I detected this specimen in the Hilltop Camp in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve (KwaZulu-Natal).

Amongst many colourful birds in this country the Chorister robin is nonetheless outstanding with its orange-yellow underparts & blackish-blue hood. However it isn't a very common "resident" either & the only times I've found one was at God's Window on the (northern-most) Drakensberg Mountain Range along the aptly named "Panorama Route".

Another pretty colourful & certainly interesting - if also uncommon - resident is this Saddlebilled stork, found mostly in the northern & eastern parts of our country in e.g. protected areas like the Kruger National Park.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Abundant Wildlife

In addition to the BIG 5 [SEE: previous blog-entry] other wild animals were also in abundance in the Kruger Park during the last tour - amongst them these (Chacma) baboons.

I snapped this photo of a Vervet monkey along the Panaroma Route (in the Mpumalanga Province) & whilst visiting Bourke's Luck Potholes (= Blyde River Canyon) - was this female monkey thirsty or just curious?

In contrast (or similar?) to the monkey above, I "tracked down" this Samango monkey at the Hilltop camp in the Hluhluwe National Park in KwaZulu-Natal.

Other than the different South African primates (above), various antelopes also made regular appearances - like these kudu & impala browsing (instead of grazing) side-by-side.

I think of photos like these as typically representative of the African bushveld - a beautiful landscape enhanced by gracious giraffe.

It's not every day that one finds 3 different species of wild animals feeding so close to each other in the wilderness that they all "fit into 1 frame" - 2 "long-necked" animals, a giraffe & an ostrich, together with a (Burchell's) zebra.

And now in complete contrast to the animals above, yet also a mammal & in addition to the previous blog-entry [SEE: below] - we spotted (Southern Right) whales during a day-visit (from Cape Town) to Hermanus - thus we encountered 6 of the BIG 7 during the last tour!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

BIG 5 Twice

Generally it's difficult to find/spot all of the BIG 5 during a visit to the Kruger National Park - so if you encounter them all in one day you are very lucky! Now if you see the BIG 5 twice in a row (some even more often than that) during a two-day visit, does that mean you're "double" lucky? This certainly was the case with the last group of German-speaking visitors, who I was priviliged to guide through our beautiful country.

Whereas the leopard above was stalking some impalas, the one in this photo had already caught its prey - which it had dragged up the tree for "safe-keeping".

Finding the road blocked by elephants surely counts as a highly exciting experience - a "traffic jam" no one minds encountering.

An (African) elephant with flattened ears - looking funny/comical?

Another member of the BIG 5 - a (White) rhino with a newborn calf.

Once before rhinos were an endangered species - which sadly is the case again because some nations believe that a rhino's horn has "magical properties", so rhinos are threatened all over again by ruthless poachers.

We encountered these lions as "lazy cats" - apparently they'd been feeding all day long on a buffalo they had killed.

The following day the same cats looked more alert/ready to hunt all over again?

Last (but not least) two old buffalo bulls - often referred to as "dagga boys" (dagga = mud - in the Zulu/Nguni languages) because they can't keep up with the pace of a herd "on the move" and instead stay close to rivers (= mud).

Anothe photo of buffalos "by way of a reminder" that we saw the BIG 5 twice in 2 days! What an experience!!