Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Bird on fire!!

Bird on fire!
So large are ostriches that I often don't think of them as birds!....sounds daft I know but at over 2 m tall they are in a league of their own. This female just couldn't resist getting my heart racing as she and her companions headed past me and into the sunset......

Nando's sponsorship photo or what??

                                                           The Hwange Birder

Tuesday, 10 March 2015


This morning I was tracking lions as usual when I stopped to glass over a small natural pan near the road. There were a couple of Hammerkops, Black-winged stilts, Greenshanks and Wood sandpipers.
I got the old 400mm lens trained on the woodies as there was some posturing etc going on and then took a number of shots as two of them had a brief but violent fight.

One "Woodie" dunking another


Combat at the pan

And here comes a flying round-house kick!

For this sequence I had the camera set on manual with an ISO of 1600, 1/4000sec shutter to freeze the action and f11 to give me sufficient depth to keep the birds in focus.

                                                                   The Hwange Birder

Friday, 6 March 2015

Hwange update:

A flight of Caspian plovers shoot over nyamandhlovu pan and past a drinking kudu!
Hwange is in its wet season now and it really has not been a good one. We had almost non-stop rain in December and then apart from some really violent storms.....we have had almost nothing since.
I have not seen the termite alate events as I have come to expect, neither the numbers of predatoy raptors here to feed on them!

But there is still some water about and at certain pans you are still seeing good birds. Just yesterday I saw the Caspian Plovers (shown in the image above) as well as Black-winged Pratincole, Ruff, Wood sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and Egyptian goose at Nyamandhlovu pan.

We are expecting a hard dry season now as we can only really look forward to rain in about November. I will keep you posted

                                                                      The Hwange Birder

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Bird Photography - Back-light!!

Today, on the way to drop my boy at school, I passed a field and was stopped in my tracks by the beautiful scene in the second photo!.
Red-billed Quelea were flitting around in the most stunning light and I took a few decent shots.
The typical light a photographer looks for is with the sun behind you and the subject is nicely lit. This can be great light for wildlife photography, especially in the late afternoons or early mornings when the colour temperatures are a little warmer. The image below is one such image (also taken this morning). It is a Ruff and you can't fault it as a decent representative shot.

Ruff in perfect light!

 But......if you are looking for something more artistic and dramatic in your photography then I cannot over emphasize the beauty of "back-light". Back-light does what it says on the tin and when the light is coming straight at you and your camera. For subjects like birds wings, grass heads and the long hair of a lion's mane......this is what you want and it is dead simple to achieve.

for best results set your metering to "spot", meter off the brightest part of the frame like the grass below these birds and then use your exposure slider to go -1 or -2 stops in the under-exposure direction. A fast shutter speed for freezing action (in this case 1/2500sec)

Back-lit Red-billed Quelea. 
 If I had to sacrifice photographic situations.....this is the type I would keep.

Good luck and get back-lit!

                                                              The Hwange Birder

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


Not that I believe in such things.....but I remember as a child my mother went to a fortune teller. She came back and told us that my twin brother would be rich and look after the whole family (we still wait with baited breath every lottery night!) and that I would have a career where I would look for colour in everything! That struck me because I have always valued my eyes more than any other organ!! (keep it clean!)
Three-banded plover and a painted snipe

A rainbow bursting!

I marvel at the colours in the bird world an remember that it is the females that are responsible for it.....so a big cheer to all those others that are looking for colour in their daily lives, oh and to my twin...I await your call!

                                                                 The Hwange Birder

Friday, 6 February 2015

Rainbow after the storm!

A drongo and a juvenile African Golden Oriole add colour to a rainbow

Let's meet in a rainbow

Four African golden Oriole's and a drongo enjoy a rainbow

Yesterday we had a storm at home the like's of which we rarely see in a landlocked country!!
Trees were blown down and snapped and more than one person hid under a table during its arrival. We had 25mm of rain in about 20min and we thought the world had ended!

Then when all was said and done....not one but two rainbows appeared in the most beautiful sky and a family of African Golden orioles added their colour to an already amazing scene.

                                                                 The Hwange Birder

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Mob justice!

The act of mobbing a predator is a behavior that is common to many species and found in many families of animals. I regularly watch impala in the open walking slowly after a lioness or zebra following and then chasing wildogs. The theory says, "if you let a predator know it has been seen, it won't try hunt you!". There secondary purpose of this behavior (accompanied by a lot of alarm calls) is to notify others of your kind that a predator is around. As a birder you will be rewarded if you learn the alarm calls of the birds in your area and even mimic them to call-in birds.
Yesterday I heard the familiar alarm call of the African paradise fly-catcher in my garden and raced off to see what he had spotted. To my delight, in the perfect light, was a Lizard buzzard being dive-bombed by a pair of flycatchers.

The male Paradise fly-catcher mobbing the Lizard Buzzard

Then the female!