While I love this blog, I now pretty much only write on my other two blogs: BirdingBlogs.com and 10,000 Birds - I would love to see you there!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Wildlife up close - primates

Primates are - to European tastes at least - very very exotic creatures. South Africa has three large primates, the Vervet Monkey, the Samango Monkey, and the Chacma Baboon. This post doesnt really fit with the rules of the "Wildlife up close" digiscoping series, but I will put it in there because it is somehow related.

Young Vervet Monkey



Samango Monkeys




Young Chacma Baboon drinking at sunset
Adult male Chacma Baboon

If you have not seen any of the "Wildlife up close" digiscoping series, then here is a bit of an intro (from the first Cape Buffalo post):
So one of the great things about digiscoping is that one has a huge focal length to play with, so one can really get up close and personal with some pretty impressive creatures. In my time in Southern Africa, I was able to get a whole pile of close-up macro-style images of a variety of wildlife.
What I would like to do is to create a collection of the best "Wildlife up close" images but I would like you to help me out. Each post will feature a different species of African wildlife and I would like to vote for your favorite (or against your least favorite).

Please vote for your favorite, and at the end of the series, I will randomly choose a winner from each post in the series and send them the original full-sized image they chose.

Happy voting and good luck!

Dale Forbes

Friday, 25 September 2009

Wildlife up close - zebra

there is so much about the burchell's zebra that just says "Africa".


So, getting back to the "Wildlife up close" digiscoping series, I have a few shots of some zebras taken near Satara camp in Kruger National Park. Winter time is the dry season in the park, and the majority of the zebras and wildebeest (gnus) move up to the Satara area because of its "sweet veld". It is not that the grass is in any way sweeter than in "sourveld", it is just that sourveld areas have a higher average rainfall (usually more than about 600mm per year). This relatively higher rainfall tends to leach the nutrients out of the soils, so although the vegetation grows really well in these areas in the wet, growing season (summer), the nutritional value of the grasses in these areas is in winter very low.
In sweetveld, the lower average annual rainfall (usually less than 450mm)
So what this means for mobile grazers like zebra and wildebeest is that it is best to be in the sweetveld when there is a food crunch, and best to be in the productive sourveld in the growing season.

Here is a happy-snappy tourist shot of some zebras:
(this photo does not count for voting)


If you have not seen any of the "Wildlife up close" digiscoping series, then here is a bit of an intro (from the first Cape Buffalo post):
So one of the great things about digiscoping is that one has a huge focal length to play with, so one can really get up close and personal with some pretty impressive creatures. In my time in Southern Africa, I was able to get a whole pile of close-up macro-style images of a variety of wildlife.
What I would like to do is to create a collection of the best "Wildlife up close" images but I would like you to help me out. Each post will feature a different species of African wildlife and I would like to vote for your favorite (or against your least favorite).

Please vote for your favorite, and at the end of the series, I will randomly choose a winner from each post in the series and send them the original full-sized image they chose.

Happy voting and good luck!

Dale Forbes

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Digiscoping, roadrunners and great big Kazakhstani canyons

I passed by Sharon the BirdChick's blog yesterday to find a video she made about digiscoping.

Check out the roadrunner in action!




So American. So Sharon. I love it.

here is another video with Sharon in - we were at the Charyn Canyon in southern Kazakhstan - it is one of the most spectacular natural things I have ever seen. Well up there with the Victoria Falls, Guatemalan volcanoes, alpine peaks, and columns of rock rising out of the ocean's depths.



the wind in Charyn Canyon was howling - at least 5 billion miles per hour.
But it was fine, because we knew that it was "dangerous for life"

happy birding,
Dale Forbes

Monday, 21 September 2009

I am a lousy photographer

It is true. or maybe better said, I am a lazy post-photography.

I loooooove taking photographs and digiscoping is IMHO the greatest thing ever. even since long before slice bread.

but then I take thousands of photos and post-process about one every few months. so I end up posting a whole pile of photos on my blog which have just been taken, resized ('cos I have a lousy internet connection at home) and posted. with a little bit of my garbled drivel to go with it ;-)

and then I got into video stuff. and even worse - videography. now this means that I can have tons of fun in the field filling external hard drives by the dozen (oh, much to my [lovely] wife's disgust, may I add), but it also means that I actually have to do a whole pile of post-editing before anything becomes remotes watchable.

And I am a lazy post-photographer. We've discussed this.

Anyhow, here is one video that made it through the cracks. It is of some Pied Avocets and Black-winged Stilts filmed in Delta del Po, near Venice in Italy.


check out the hot pink legs (as pinoyangelfish put it)

happy videoscoping!
Dale

Friday, 18 September 2009

Digiscoping Rhinos

Before I get back to the "Digiscoping wildlife up close" series, I thought I would share a couple more white rhino photos. I just really wanted to share them.





All taken with a Swarovski STM80HD scope, a 25-50x wide eyepiece, the Swarovski UCA digiscoping adapter, and a Canon EOS 1000D DSLR camera.


Happy digiscoping,
Dale

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Digiscoping Robins



I am going to break the "Wildlife up close" digiscoping series for a short interlude about Robins.

Robins are the greatest birds on earth. ever. you may have heard me say this before about other bird species, but this time I really mean it.

Southern Africa has a real wealth of robin species. well, at least we call them robins, but they are more like the chats and redstarts of the Palearctic. and what the north americans call robins, I'd call a thrush. but that is all just splitting feathers.

Just on this last trip to South Africa, I saw these robins:
White-starred Robin (Krantzkloof NR, KZN)
Brown Scrub-Robin (St Lucia, KZN)
White-browed Scrub Robin (Isimangaliso Wetland Park, KZN)
Kalahari Scrub Robin (near Bloemfontein, FS)
Karoo Scrub-Robin (near Bloemfontein, FS)
Chorister Robin-Chat (Magoebaskloof, LP)
Red-capped Robin-Chat (Berg-en-Dal, KNP & KZN)
Cape Robin-Chat (pretty much everywhere)
White-browed Robin-Chat (Lower Sabie, KNP)
White-throated Robin-Chat (W Swaziland)

and an Orange Ground Thrush (Swartbos, LP) - not a robin but kinda robin-like and a very very cool bird!

That is 10 robin species!


Cape Robin-Chat



White-browed Robin-Chat (aka Heuglin's Robin)



Red-capped Robin-Chat (aka Natal Robin)



Bearded Scrub-Robin




Kalahari Robin-Chat


Happy birding
Dale Forbes

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Wildlife up close - lion

the lion

need I say more.
it is one of those creatures completely bound up in our imagination - with images of power, and grace, and fear...

1. the distinctive black behind the ears

2. normally hidden, the claws come out to control their prey (in this case a wildebeest)

3. eye reflecting the car we are hiding in, trying not to get eaten. it gives you an impression of just how far away we are and how big a pseudo-telephoto lens that digiscoping kit is

4. a scratch

5. lions sleep a good 23.5hrs a day. I dare say, many a safari visitor to Africa has only seen something like this - a single lazy paw up in the air, body hidden in the grass. lazy creatures.

6. yummy

Please vote for your favorite, and at the end of the series, I will randomly choose a winner from each post in the series and send them the original full-sized image they chose.

Happy voting and good luck!
Dale Forbes

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Wildlife up close - elephant

The african elephant Loxodonta africana is truly an impressive being - their power, their size, their majesty is indescribable.

And yet they are at the heart of a burning management and ecology question that says alot about how we see ourselves and our relationship with the earth. Have you read the blog post on elephants and their management in kruger national park?

This whole series of shots is of a young elephant that stuck right up against his mother's side. The light was so good that I could not help taking a whole pile of photos of him.

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Please vote for your favorite, and at the end of the series, I will randomly choose a winner from each post in the series and send them the original full-sized image they chose.

Happy voting and good luck!
Dale Forbes

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Wildlife up close - Rhino

So the second species in the "Wildlife up close" series is the White Rhino Ceratotherium simum - a species that just a few decades ago was reduced to just a few hundred individuals in ONE game park in northern KwaZulu-Natal: now called the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.

Now, thanks to concerted conservation efforts, the species is doing really well in South Africa. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is a game park that is very close to my heart and somewhere where I have spent a good deal of time on foot; in touch with the land.

The images I have chosen include two of the ears - something that really characterizes the species and sets it apart from the black rhino Diceros bicornis.



two photos of the same white rhino taken three weeks apart in the same area of Kruger National Park (Berg en Dal camp)

The hind quarters are also so characteristic of the species. but not that photographically wowing. and rather hard to get a decent shot of. this is my favorite of the bum shots.


this is not really a close up, but I have included it because it is still not a classic wildlife photo - no faces. no classic poses. just chopped off bodies and bums ;-)


Here is a photo of the same youngster in different light and in a classic pose.

you can't vote for this photo

Please vote for your favorite, and at the end of the series, I will randomly choose a winner from each post in the series and send them the original full-sized image they chose.

Happy voting and good luck!
Dale Forbes

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Wildlife up close - Cape Buffalo

Hello everyone,

So one of the great things about digiscoping is that one has a huge focal length to play with, so one can really get up close and personal with some pretty impressive creatures. In my time in Southern Africa, I was able to get a whole pile of close-up macro-style images of a variety of wildlife.

What I would like to do is to create a collection of the best "Wildlife up close" images but I would like you to help me out. Each post will feature a different species of African wildlife and I would like to vote for your favorite (or against your least favorite).

The first creature is the Cape Buffalo. It might look like a cow, but this beast has a real temper and a nasty streak. There is good reason why it is one of the five most dangerous animals to hunt in Africa (hence the term "the big five")





All photos digiscoped using a Swarovski Optik STM80HD scope, new 25-50x Wide eyepiece, a Swarovski Optik UCA digiscoping adapter, and a Canon EOS 1000D.

Now what I was trying to do with each animal in the series is to somehow only photograph a very small section of the animal, but yet still capture something of the essence of the animal. All images are full sized and uncropped - if you would suggest a particular cropping then go for it!

THIS PHOTO DOES NOT COUNT FOR THE VOTE
but I thought I would include it to give you a better idea of what they look like from farther away.


Please vote for your favorite, and at the end of the series, I will randomly choose a winner from each post in the series and send them the original full-sized image they chose.

Happy voting and good luck!
Dale Forbes

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Autumn snows and mountain biking

Autumn is well and truly on its way.

last week was sunny and warm with temperatures up to the high twenties (C). yesterday saw the rain clouds move through and chill everything off. despite this, I was determined to get my car-addled legs in to action, dusted the mountain bike off and headed up in to the mountains.

My view for most of the way up was broken by the handlebars of my bike. That is Grosser Solstein in the background (2541m/8337ft) - it was beautifully white capped in the morning.

Some crazy idea had got in to my head and instead of looking for an easy route to start on, I headed for my local mountain, just two minuted ride from my house. This is a "black" route. Steep. And seemingly never ending. Not sure why I bothered wearing fancy cycling pants 'cos they hardly got a whiff of my saddle - I ended up pushing my bike for the better part of 3 hours all the way up to Neue Magdeburger Hütte, flanking one of my favorite mountains in the whole wide world (Großer Solstein).

Boy did I enjoy lazing in the sun up at the hut. And a great big plate full of food did me good too.

It was great to do some exercise again, and to hear some of my favorite local birds.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

My dream job at Swarovski Optik

After a couple of months spent in Africa, it was time to get back to the Alps (and how nice was it to sleep in my own bed again!).

But the big news is that I have just started a new job at Swarovski Optik!

And I am well pleased about (finally) getting a real job and not just that, but doing something I really love to do - think and talk about really cool optical equipment.

Guess I'll end up doing some digiscoping in some really interesting places too!