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 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!

Friday, 9 January 2015

another one for my "Birds and Lions challenge"

A lioness watches a passing swallow
I know its been fairly slow but you try getting images with both lions and birds in the same frame!
That was a challenge I set for myself a while back and here is another.

So below is the complete series to date:

                                                                 The Hwange Birder

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The importance of Peanut-butter!

It is this time of year that I harp on about the importance of Termites to the Hwange ecosystem.
Indeed I feel it is impossible to overstate the importance of these little peanut-butter flavoured beasties!
Just yesterday I was tracking for lions and the sun was shining. We had had almost non-stop rain for weeks and now was the termite's chance to spread wings and look for mates. The air was once again filled with Alates and the predators that eat them!

some unusual predators is a Grey Hornbill taking one in the air.

There were doves and finches, sparrow weavers and white-crowned shrikes as well as kites and eagles, rollers and guineafowl.
A Yellow-billed Kite searches for termites

Hundreds of Bee-eaters cruising for peanut-butter filled termites!

This is the stuff of birder's dreams......
Get out there if you are in Southern Africa...better still, come to Hwange and see it for yourself!

                                                                       The Hwange Birder

Quirky birding!

You will notice that my page header has changed to a new Quirky version of the photographs I have posted over the year. This was put together by a really wonderful illustrator at whom I have had a long association with. Follow the link and see what they can do for you!