Goliath Heron

I was so excited when I had the chance to watch a goliath heron two evenings in a row; I wasn’t so impressed with the light and weather conditions I had to photograph them.  Hopefully one day I will see one of them again in more favourable conditions; until then, here are a few of the photos I captured 🙂

Have a great evening!

Goliath Heron-3

Feathers ruffled in the wind.
Feathers ruffled in the wind.
A goliath heron in the tall grasses along Lake Sibaya.
A goliath heron in the tall grasses along Lake Sibaya.

Fish Eagles

On my first trip to South Africa, I completely blanked on the name of this bird while watching a pair perched in a tree along the river, and asked my guide the brilliant question “What is their primary prey?”  Fish.  Oh dear… I felt quite silly. I learned a bit more about the fish eagles this past trip (thank you to Graeme, Rebecca and Vincent for all the valuable information throughout my stay!)  You can tell the difference between the males and females by the white front feathers.  The males have a shirt, and the girls have a skirt.  I had serious trouble distinguishing between the two at times though – those fish eagle girls sometimes have VERY short skirts!  I’ll give my best guess as to the sexes in the pictures below.  I’ve got a 50/50 shot of being right. Have a great evening!

Maybe not the nicest perch, but it certainly was a popular one.  During my two weeks at Zimanga, I saw herons, kingfishers, fish eagles and an assortment of other birds on this dam structure. 1/320 sec, f5.6, ISO 640
Maybe not the nicest perch, but it certainly was a popular one. During my two weeks at Zimanga, I saw herons, kingfishers, fish eagles and an assortment of other birds on this dam structure.  By looks I think this is a male, but I think this may be the eagle that I was told was indeed a female with a very short skirt.
1/320 sec, f5.6, ISO 640
A male fish eagle gave us a fly by while we were out doing our monitoring activities.  The more I look at this picture, the more it looks like I (badly) photoshopped the bird into the background.  I can assure you I didn't! 1/800 sec, f5.6 ISO 800
A male fish eagle gave us a fly by while we were out doing our monitoring activities. The more I look at this picture, the more it looks like I (badly) photoshopped the bird into the background. I can assure you I didn’t!
1/800 sec, f5.6 ISO 800
A female fish eagle along the shores of Jozini Dam.  I saw several fish eagles during my morning boat trip, but unfortunately for my photography, most were too far away to get a reasonable picture on a somewhat bumpy boat ride. 1/1250 sec, f5.6, ISO 320
A female fish eagle along the shores of Jozini Dam. I saw several fish eagles during my morning boat trip, but unfortunately for my photography, most were too far away to get a reasonable picture on a somewhat bumpy boat ride.
1/1250 sec, f5.6, ISO 320
I'm not even going to hazard a guess on the shirt vs skirt for this photo! 1/1600 sec, f6.3, ISO 400
I’m not even going to hazard a guess on the shirt vs skirt for this photo!
1/1600 sec, f6.3, ISO 400

Jameson’s Firefinch

I saw this beautiful firefinch couple at the Zimanga bird hide during our morning session.  They are similar in size to the blue waxbills, and like them have such soft, gentle looking faces.  As with (almost) all birds, the male has much more vibrant colouring than the female.  And check out the tiny white dots running along the sides of their chests; such a delicate detail.

The female Jameson's fire finch (the male wasn't far away) 1/2500 sec, f9.0 ISO 1600
The female Jameson’s fire finch (the male wasn’t far away)
1/2500 sec, f9.0 ISO 1600
Time for drink. 1/1250 sec, f8.0, ISO 1250
Time for drink.
1/1250 sec, f8.0, ISO 1250
A stern look from the male firefinch. 1/1250 sec, f8.0, ISO 1250
A stern look from the male firefinch.
1/1250 sec, f8.0, ISO 1250
The look on their faces! "OMG he's huge!" 1/1250 sec, f8.0, ISO 1250
The look on their faces! “OMG he’s huge!”
1/1250 sec, f8.0, ISO 1250

Blue Waxbill

I spent a lot of time watching these little birds on my last trip to South Africa, both around the yard at the volunteer house, and while at the bird hides.  There was something about the way they gathered in small groups, their flight style and their happy looking faces that reminded me of the oregon dark eyed juncos we have here at home; it certainly wasn’t based on appearance, as other than size and beak shape, they physically have nothing in common.

Someone got up on the wrong side of the nest! 1/400 sec, f5.6, ISO 2800
Someone got up on the wrong side of the nest!
1/400 sec, f5.6, ISO 2800
A beautiful couple. 1/400 sec, f5.6, ISO 2500
A beautiful couple.
1/400 sec, f5.6, ISO 2500
Water, water everywhere. 1/400 sec, f5.6, ISO 2500
Water, water everywhere.
1/400 sec, f5.6, ISO 2500
A very vigorous splash bath! 1/400sec, f5.6, ISO 2500
A very vigorous splash bath!
1/400sec, f5.6, ISO 2500
Why fly when you can bounce around?  I guess it saves on energy. 1/400 sec, f5.6, ISO 2500
Why fly when you can bounce around? I guess it saves on energy.
1/400 sec, f5.6, ISO 2500

Rhinos

Here are a few more photos of rhinos that I had flagged for posting.

Have a great evening!

This rhino came quite close to our vehicle while we were stopped taking notes.  I took the photo through the grab bars of the truck. 1/400 sec, f5.6, ISO 1000
This rhino came quite close to our vehicle while we were stopped taking notes. I took the photo through the grab bars of the truck.
1/400 sec, f5.6, ISO 1000
Five oxpeckers perch on the back of the largest of this trio of rhinos.
Five oxpeckers perch on the back of the largest of this trio of rhinos.
A young rhino listens intently in our direction. 1/400 sec, f5.6 ISO 640
A young rhino listens intently in our direction.
1/400 sec, f5.6 ISO 640

Black Rhino

I was lucky enough to see a black rhino cow and calf – moving along a hill opposite to where our vehicle was parked.  This photo was taken at full zoom (300mm) and I haven’t cropped it.  If I had to guess I would say they were somewhere between 400-500 metres away; and from what I have heard about the black rhino temperament, that is a pretty comfortable distance! (In case you are wondering, the calf is the indistinct lump slightly behind mom).

Unfortunately with the distance there is no way to post a comparison (using my photos) to show the difference between the black and white rhino.  Still, a really cool experience.

Have a great evening!

A black rhino cow and calf wander along a hillside. 1/320 sec, f9.0, ISO 500
A black rhino cow and calf wander along a hillside.
1/320 sec, f9.0, ISO 500

Rhino Tracking

I had the privilege of experiencing tracking white rhino on foot.  The original hope had been that it would provide us with some great photo opportunities, but the rhino were spending the day in fairly thick bush grazing.  In order to remain downwind of them, we ended up in some thick bush as well.

While the photography aspect didn’t pan out as the organizers had hoped, it was a truly special adventure which I enjoyed immensely.

A de-horned rhino grazing in dense brush. 1/250 sec, f5.6, ISO 500
A de-horned rhino grazing in dense brush.
1/250 sec, f5.6, ISO 500

Oxpeckers

There have been an awful lot of things going on that have severely limited the free time I have had recently, which is why there hasn’t been a post from me in ages.  Thankfully a lot of the items on my must get done list are now finished, and I can get back to working on my photography.  With the lovely weather we have been having, it seems a shame that I’ve been stuck indoors, but there will be lots of time (and hopefully lots of good weather) for photos in the coming days and weeks.

I wanted something that would be fairly efficient to work on, so I decided to go through the photos I took of oxpeckers at the bird hide.  I had posted one photo previously https://wordpress.com/post/51960952/1129/ but had a few others that I thought were worth posting.

Wishing everyone an excellent day!

20150316_Oxpeckers

20150316_Oxpeckers-2

I was glad an oxpecker returned late in the morning once the light was better; it makes a difference for showing off the subtle colour changes in their feathers. 1/1000 sec, f6.3, ISO 1250
I was glad an oxpecker returned later in the morning once the light was better; it makes a difference for showing off the subtle colour changes in their feathers.
1/1000 sec, f6.3, ISO 1250

Crested barbet

This crested barbet stopped by the watering hole while I was at the Mkombe bird hide at Zimanga Game Reserve.  For reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, it reminds me of the cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn from the Looney Tunes cartoons I watched when I was a kid.

Have great evening everyone!

Striking the most intimidating poster possible! 1/1600 sec, f7.1 ISO 1250
Striking the most intimidating pose possible!
1/1600 sec, f7.1 ISO 1250
Calling to a friend, or calling out a foe?
Calling to a friend, or calling out a foe?
Getting ready for what was a very ungraceful leap over to the other side of the water.
Getting ready for what was a very ungraceful leap over to the other side of the water.
Checking out the seed on offer.
Checking out the seed on offer.