Monday 30 December 2013

Kite Launch

One of the most common raptors to be sighted all over Southern Africa is the Black-shouldered Kite. They are often seen sitting on telephone poles and fence lines in the countryside, or hovering over grasslands as they scan for prey. I have seen them very close to urban areas on a number of occasions too. This photo was taken in the Kalahari desert, though. I was sitting patiently, watching this perched kite through my viewfinder, and waiting for the moment when it would alight from its perch and fly off. I was happy that the bird decided to do so before I disintegrated in the searing heat, and that it flew in my direction. By using a fast shutter speed, I was able to freeze the moment nicely and capture a couple of tack sharp frames of the take-off.

Nikon D3s
Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II
1.4x teleconverter
f5.6  |  1/2500 SS  |  ISO-560
Exposure Bias: +0.3 

click on the photo to display properly

I hope you all have a wonderfully festive New Year's celebration! Be safe, and remember to clock in here shortly after New Year's Day as I will be revealing my "Best of 2013" blog post (which has become somewhat of a tradition on my blog) - you can view last year's selection HERE.

Morkel Erasmus

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Kruger: December 2009 (Part 9)

We booked into Punda Maria for our one-night sojourn and eventually made it out for a late afternoon drive around the kopje. These are some of the sights we enjoyed on this last afternoon drive...

An ugly bugger (Marabou Stork):

 A big boy: 

Pumbaa and his friend:

A tender Impala moment:

Inquisitive Zebras:

Our last dinner under the Kruger stars was nice but also sad. It's always sad to be leaving the bush and going back to the rat-race. The next morning I decided to do something bold - with the gates opening at 04h30 already, I decided to drive south as far as we can get before the gates close at 18h00, and only then take the 4 hour drive home. Talk about maximising your time in the field, haha.

These are the sightings we enjoyed on this long, but rewarding drive from Punda Maria to the Paul Kruger Gate close to Skukuza.

Open-Billed Stork:

Yellow-Billed Kite:

Same raptor being harrassed by a Fork-Tailed Drongo:

The ever-present Glossy Starling (a Kruger stalwart):

Impalas locked in a fierce contest:

Cute warthog piglets:

The high level of the Olifants river this particular year:


Compare the 2 scenes I posted above with the same river, from the same viewpoint, 5 months earlier (July 2009)!


We had a long way to go still - so we carried on southwards...


Stork and Elephant:

The lovely Carmine Bee-Eater:

The lovely Lilac-Breasted Roller:

We reached the Paul Kruger gate around 5pm (and got home by about 9pm!). I am looking forward to possibly fitting in another trip to the northern reaches of the Kruger National Park in the next few months. I hope you enjoyed these trip reports...I've got a few to catch up on so there are more coming!

Have a blessed Christmas time with your families and loved ones!!
God bless you all.

Morkel Erasmus

Thursday 19 December 2013

Kruger: December 2009 (Part 8)

The next morning we headed off (read the previous episode HERE) early northwards, as our next stop was at the Punda Maria rest camp for the night. The plan was to drive up to Pafuri and enjoy the scenery there, before heading to the camp as our book-in time was only later in the day.

This was the sunrise that greeted us over the Shingwedzi river that morning.

The family of Ground Hornbills was there to see us off...

Close to the Babalala Picnic Spot I had some good photographic moments with this European Roller.

We pushed northwards, and I always love driving past this clump of trees on this road.

A herd of Cape Buffalo was grazing in the thickets, but this guy gave me a quick silly pose before we drove off.

There's always a good chance to spot some Tsessebe antelope in the northern reaches of Kruger, and this time we found a herd crossing the road in front of us. They do look a lot like East Africa's "Topi" and are related to them (part of the Hartebeest genus).

On the road up to Pafuri we came across a Yellow-billed Kite hunting/hovering right above our vehicle and the road.

We found a lovely herd of Nyala on the appropriately named "Nyala Loop". They are such graceful antelopes.

It was still very gloomy when we turned into the Pafuri main loop...

This remains one of the most beautiful spots in Southern Africa in my estimation. Seeing some wildlife wander through here is an added bonus.

We spotted a Woodlands Kingfisher who was catching food to feed his mate.

The local residents of the Levuvhu River were presiding as well...a large pod of Hippopotamus and some nasty-looking Nice Crocodiles were spotted.

We made it all the way to Crook's Corner - where the countries of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique meet at the confluence of the Levuvhu and Limpopo rivers.

The spot derives its name from days gone by when the islands in the middle of the river were safe zones and no-man's land where wanted criminals could hide out from the law enforcement agencies of any of these 3 countries.

We slowly made our way towards Punda Maria to go and check into our chalet. We would only be spending one night there, and tomorrow would be our last day in the Park.

On the way to camp we came across a Hamerkop hunting in a shallow pool.

Stay tuned for the next and final episode which should be posted over the weekend!

Morkel Erasmus