21 October 2015

Enjoy the little guys

As a regular national parks visitor it never ceases to amaze me how so many visitors get fixated on seeing the big five to the exclusion of all else. There are so many beautiful and interesting birds, animals and reptiles to see that it seems a shame to limit your options.

 Striped field mice and a Kalahari Tree Skink cohabiting quite amicably. Lijersdraai, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Ground agama. According to the bushmen if the agama climb a bush and look north it will rain within 24 hours. In this case they were absolutely right - that night we had a good old fashioned thunder storm.

I've seen many foreign tourists haring around Addo looking for the lions, in the hopes of finding them conveniently posing for alongside the road. It doesn't work that way. Generally they leave disappointed. Sue and I adopt the approach of enjoying everything we see.

This little Bar-throated Apalis is extremely difficult to photograph, as they usually frequent thick scrub and never seem to stop and take a break. If you don't take time out to look for them you might just miss a special sighting.

I can sit and watch the little guys for hours. Let's face it, you get more action from a few active striped field mice than you could ever hope to get from a pride of sleeping lions. Don't get me wrong, coming across lions in the wild still gives me a thrill, but there is a limit to how long I can sit and watch them sleep. When they are on move or hunting they are awesome - but they probably sleep for about 20 hours a day.

This shot was taken at Lijersdraai, in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, a short while after leaving a lion sighting at Kwang. This was really a special moment, watching the interaction between the Striped Field Mice and the Sociable Weavers.

On one trip to Addo Sue and I came to a quick stop when we spied some Karoo rats on the side of the road. We sat there for quite a long time watching then and enjoying their antics. A few cars drew up alongside us and the eager occupants wanted to know what we were looking at. "Rats," came the short reply and their interest waned like a popped balloon.

A striped field mouse taking a big chance out in the open. Marie se Draai, Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park.

When going into the bush look for the little guys, they might be small, but they are interesting and can give you plenty of viewing pleasure. And if you prefer lions, scroll down the page and meet the ladies from Kwang.

15 October 2015

Romance in the Kgalagadi - ground squirrel style

When I first came across ground squirrels in the wild they very quickly became my favourite rodent. Suzi and I can sit for hours watching their antics and and before we know it we've clicked away many gigs of space on our SD cards.

I managed to capture this little interlude at Nossob in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, when this fellow had designs on one of the "ladies", who very clearly was not interested.

There is nothing subtle about this male ground squirrel in hot pursuit of this female at Nossob.

Gotcha..........or so he thinks, as he eagerly continues his pursuit......

.........it's now time for some action.......... or so he thinks............

"Not to day old fellow," the one in the background seems to say, as she disappears into the burrow.

22 September 2015

World Rhino Day 2015 - Persevering to preserve our rhinos

Let us celebrate and enjoy these magnificent animals and preserve them for the future generations. The thrill I experience when coming across rhinos in the bush is something I will never lose or get tired of and it will be a sad day if future generations are only able to view rhinos in maximum security zoos. 

We need more than mere words to tackle the onslaught of organised crime that seems to be intent on wiping out these animals - stronger action is needed. Justice needs to be swift and harsher penalties must be implemented.

This is not just a problem for the countries that are fighting an ongoing war against poachers, but is a world wide problem. The sooner all nations realise this and get serious about wiping out the scourge of poaching the better. I am no trying to minimise the work that is being done, as there have been some awesome initiatives. What I am suggesting is that there needs to be a greater level cooperation between countries in the fight to preserve our rhinos. 

I would also like to pay tribute to all the tireless warriors who have persevered in the fight to preserve our rhinos, no matter what role they have played. 

20 September 2015

Spring flowers

It is spring and the country side is a blaze of colour, but one aspect about living in the Eastern Cape is that no matter what month it is you will always find flowers.

A trip to the van Staden's Wild Flower Reserve this weekend provided a delightful feast for the senses.

King protea opening up

The Pincushion protea (Leucospermum cuneiforme) is putting on a magnificent display.

Strelitzia regina also known as the crane flower or bird of paradise.

21 August 2015

The ladies from Kwang

When you see lions on the move it is invariably a great thrill, but mostly when you come across them they are taking time out. It's almost like watching the grass grow. They stretch out and sleep and generally take it easy and you can sit and watch them for hours and nothing happens other than changing positions and getting more comfortable.

But even so, if you choose your moment you can get some gems, because they are after all still cats.

Like domestic cats they do have a need to press up against another living being.

01 June 2015

Taking a break - or just lion about

These two lionesses, at Kwang in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park are doing what lions are so adept at doing....taking a break. It does not matter where you find them, or how big or small they are, a cat will remain a cat. They know how to make themselves comfortable and ignore the world around them.

Most people who see the lions in the wild go completely moggy and entrench themselves alongside these felines for the day. As magnificent as they are I find that there is a limit to how long I can sit and watch lions sleep. These two were part of a much larger pride that we came across early in the morning and after watching them for a while left. When we returned in the late afternoon, they were still taking it easy.

28 May 2015

Skywatch Friday - back in the air

I'm a sucker for an airshow. If it's on I'm there and nothing will keep me away, because I get such a thrill watching these machines doing their thing in the sky.

These shots were taken at the 2014 airshow in Port Elizabeth.

The big mango and the Silver Falcons (SA Air Force aerobatics team) going through their paces

When it comes to versatility and thrills, you just can't beat the Pitts Specials

 .......especially when they do the "mirror"...............................

..........or how about doing an inside loop?

For more great photos from around the world, visit the team of photographers at Skywatch.

27 May 2015

The quick and the dead

Dead trees standing starkly in a field of lush green grass.

This was one of those unhappy moments in the life of a photographer when I realised that I had accidentally moved the settings dial and over exposed the photo. The result was not what I expected, but after playing around with the contrast and luminescence settings I ended up quite liking the result.  I do so love the digital era.