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.

01 May 2015

Skywatch Friday - The day the sky came down to earth

My, my but the week has flown by quickly.

With two long weekends in a row and a short week in between, with only three working days, it been a manic time, trying to get through all my work.

Last weekend Suzie-K and I did a spontaneous trip to the Mountain Zebra National Park. What was just going to be a day visit turned into an overnight stay, when we secured a chalet as a result of a cancellation. Unless you book well in advance accommodation in the Park is not available over a long weekend.

But for that we would never have seen the sky come down to earth.............

This picture was taken three years ago looking in the same direction at the endless vista of rolling hills that disappeared when the sky came down.

Two mountain zebras having a drink in a pool, reflecting their images and the sky. These rare animals may at a first glance look like their cousins, the burchell's zebra, but they are quite different with denser stripes, a brown muzzle, a dewlap and slightly larger ears.

More pictures from around the world can be seen at the Skywatch site.

23 April 2015

Skywatch Friday - Kgalagadi Sunset and Bateleurs

The Kgalagadi has definitely become one of my favourite spots in South Africa, in spite of its harsh and inhospitable climate, but for me that is part of the attraction.

Add to that its rugged beauty and its variety of wildlife from antelope to predators and the unbelievable variety of bird-life from the little brown jobs to the magnificent raptors. It is no wonder the place is fully booked a year in advance. Once it gets into your soul you can't get it out.

This sunset scene was captured along the Nossob River, with the clouds starting to build up at the beginning of the rainy season.

I usually keep my posts to one picture, but today I have decided to also include some of the magnificent raptors I was waxing lyrical about. The Bateleurs do not subscribe to the old adage that the early bird catches the worm. They are late risers and prefer to wait for the sun to rise before they do. Bateleurs are scavengers and set off as soon as the air to warms up, so that they can catch the thermals and look for their prey, or should that be carrion.

For more super pictures from around the world visit the Skywatch site.

The Climax Collection - The Secret Life Of Windmills - Special Offer

In honour of world book day, for today and tomorrow only (up to midnight, SA time, 24-04-2015) if you order one copy of the Climax Collection: The secret life of Windmills online from our website (www.theclimaxcollection.co.za), you will get a second copy for free, ideal as a Mother's or Fathers Day gift.

The Climax Collection - The Secret Life Of Windmills is a unique book which combines elements of coffee table photography and colloquial South African humour, with playful innuendo around the fact that most windmills in SA are Climaxes. It even offers a gentle armchair tour around some of South Africa’s back roads, because most of the photos have captions showing where the windmills were found.

It’s a fun book with quality photos of a well-loved South African icon, and the irreverent captions give it an amusing and unexpected twist. All this makes it the perfect gift for anyone who loves windmills and humour and is especially ideal for the man who is hard to shop for. The compact format makes this book easy to post overseas to all those visitors who would like a reminder of our unique country and to ex-pats who look forward to anything that reminds them of home.

Not one of the pictures from the book, but one taken on a recent trip to the Northern Cape, which I have called the "Sociable Climax" because the Sociable Weavers have decided that this is a perfect place to build their nest.

Just for fun I have also added a picture of two Sociable Weavers, being sociable with a stripe field mouse at the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. This is an arid part of the country, where the windmills have a vital role in providing water to the animals in the park. The water these guys are drinking was poured into the bottle caps left lying about by careless picnickers - kind of shows how scarce water is for these creatures.

05 March 2015

Skywatch Friday - Clouds and dust

This was one of those moments when a sudden change in the weather occurred and created a picture perfect moment. The clouds started filling the sky and the gusts of wind that seemed to spring up spontaneously created mini dust storms in the road - nice for photography, but hectic out in the open.

For more Skywatch photos from around the world click here.

19 February 2015

Skywatch Friday - Fifty Shades of Blue

Travelling between the towns of Aberdeen and Klipplaat I stopped to photograph a row of sisal plants, when another photo opportunity presented itself, in the form of a troop of vervet monkeys that had been feeding on the pods. This guy kind of blended in with the sky.....well ever so slightly.

Many more super pictures from around the world can be viewed at the Skywatch page.

08 January 2015

Skywatch Friday - Mata Mata Sunset

This was one of those moments where I had to stop the car and enjoy the sunset even though there was a race against time to get back to camp, before the gates closed. With the dry air and dust the sunsets in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park are breathtaking.

Visit Skywatch for more great pictures from around the world.

01 January 2015

Happy New Year

May 2015 be the start of many good journey's for you. May your roads be without too many bumps and if there are may you sail over all obstacles without a care. Let 2015 be a fantastic year, look for adventure, take risks, have fun and make your dreams happen. When the road starts to get blurry, stop and smell the flowers. Spend time enjoying the sunsets and sunrises and look for the rainbows. Take pleasure in all that is around you and look forward to seeing what new experiences the next rise or turn in the road brings.