Monday, 30 December 2013

Wildlife and Nature Pictures - South African Bird Migration (Part 1)

Natures Wonders of Bird Migration (Part 1)

At this time of the year humans around the world are in either their mid winter or mid summer period, dependent on which hemisphere you live in. One phenomenon which mother nature provides for some of her wildlife is the unquestionable urge and the ability to migrate (to journey between different areas at specific times of the year) from adverse unfavorable conditions (normally scarcity of food or favorable breeding/living conditions). Wildlife like natures animals, fish and even humans carryout this annual/seasonal act. This is however no better demonstrated than in the migration of birds. This migration as far as birds are concerned is generally started in the Autumn in either hemisphere before the winter conditions set in, in their location or area.

Here in South Africa its no different, most of the summer migrants have already arrived from various parts of the world. I will explain in a bit better detail in further posts but we basically have the following besides our resident birds, breeding and non breeding migrants, these are further broken down into two further categories as far as South Africa is concerned, Palaearctic African Migrants and Intra-African Migrants, and the common and uncommon 'Vagrants'.

Below you will see a 'Woodland Kingfisher' which is a Inter-African Migrant, which I shall talk about in my next post.
A wildlife picture of a Woodlands Kingfisher perched in a tree, one of natures Intra-African migrants
This 'Woodland Kingfisher' is a Summer Intra-African Migrant
to South Africa

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Tsessebe - Antelope of the Northern Kruger Park

Wildlife and Nature Pictures -Tsessebe

Continuing our recent trip to the Northern Kruger we came across a small group of Tsessebe (Damaliscus lunatus)  antelope. Primarily found in the South of sub Saharan Africa, Tsessebe used to be far ranging. A speedy antelope which can attain speeds of up to 80km/h.

Quite large and social antelopes with adult Tsessebe reaching up to 230cm in height and weighting in at about  140kg. Female Tsessebe antelope are usually found in groups of upto to 10-12 animals with their young, while males are ejected from the herd after a year or so and can form bachelor herds of up to about 30 animals.

Their bodies are chestnut brown. The fronts of their faces and their tail tufts are black; the forelimbs and thigh are greyish or bluish-black. Their hind limbs are brownish-yellow to yellow and their bellies are white.

Standing Tsessebe Antelope image
Tsessebe Antelope-Northern Kruger National Park

Monday, 23 December 2013

Saddle-Billed Storks, Africa's Big Birds

Wildlife and Nature Pictures - Saddle-billed Stork

Taken on a recent trip to the Kruger National Park, I came across this female (you can tell by the yellow eye iris, males iris's are black and have smallish yellow wattles)  Saddled Billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) fishing in a small stream. I sat there amazed as I watched this stork probably the world's tallest stork coming in at a staggering 150 cm (59 in), in height, a length of 142 cm (56 in) and a 2.4–2.7 m (7.9–8.9 ft) wingspan. They are silent except for bill-clattering at the nest. Like most storks, these fly with the neck outstretched, not retracted like a heron in flight.

This small stream produced 3 largish catfish for her while I was sat their watching her prod and prod away then boom! One more catfish. Truly a wander of nature in this wildlife special moment

#tonysparkes #krugernationalpark #saddlebilledstork #birds #birdphotography #pundamaria #southafrica

Picture of an African Bird - Saddle-Billed Stork with a catfish in its mouth
Saddle-Billed Stork - Punda Maria Area - Kruger National Park - South Africa

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Leopards - The Majesty of the African Big Cats

Wildlife and Nature Pictures-Leopards

I thought I would start off our blog with one of our images from our recent trip over late December to the Northern part of the Kruger National Park. We were staying at the 'Punda Maria' rest camp and on our second day in the park we had just completed a late afternoon drive on one of the nearby 'Loops' (25km) mainly looking for bird species that can mostly be found in that Northern region.

The weather had been blistering hot all that day (39C) but quite over cast and the light was not at its best, so we returned to camp about 6pm just before the gates closed. About 300m from the gate there it was laid right next to the road and very relaxed this magnificent leopard (Panthera pardus).

I only had seconds to take a few frames and before another car came along startling the leopard and it slunk off back into the bush. Wildlife photography is so often like that, a few precious seconds are all you have. You can't control where or when, the weather or pretty much anything else in the field.

Large male African Leopard,laying down on the grass in the Kruger National Park near Punda Maria, South Africa
Male Leopard (Panthera pardus) taken near Punda Maria Camp, South Africa