Category: Planet Earth

Madikwe Magic

It is hard to describe our experience at the Madikwe Game Reserve up near Botswana – Rob and I have been on many other game-viewing trips, in the Kruger Park, the Pilanesberg, Marakele, the St Lucia Wetlands and more, but never anything like this. Two examples will suffice, at least for now. On one of the afternoons when we did not go on a game drive, we were entertained for hours at the waterhole right in front of our (unfenced) lodge at Mooifontein, by buffalo, giraffe, impala, kudu and – most thrilling of all – a standoff between a rhino […]

Burchell’s Coucal

Thanks once again to the very helpful and knowledgeable folk in the BirdLife South Africa Facebook Group, who within seconds of my posting let me know that this gorgeous bird is a Burchell’s Coucal. I can assure you, on my own, I’d never have figured it out.

Squacco Heron, Marievale

Once again, I had to call upon the distributed knowledge that resides in the heads of the many birders and photographers who are part of the SA Birdlife FaceBook page for help with identifying this Squacco Heron, spotted in the reeds beside the road at the Marievale Bird Sanctuary this Easter Friday. Hopefully, in time, I will improve my own knowledge and become less of a nuisance to others…. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5/5.6 G ED VR, processed in Lightroom and Colour Efex Pro.

Coot crossing

Why does a coot cross the road? To demonstrate its flair? Marievale, Nikon D500. Nikon 70-300mm. Processed in Lightroom and Colour Efex Pro

Spotted thick-knee, Marievale

We saw this Spotted thick-knee, otherwise known as a Dikkop, standing behind the car park at the Visitors Centre at Marievale around 10am on Easter Friday; it was still there, but lying down this time, when we left several hours later.

Sharp in tooth and sharp in claw – Marievale Otter

We were standing on the side of the road that bridges the vlei, looking up and looking out – not down – at the birdlife when someone standing nearby on the back of his bakkie called out, ‘have you seen the otter?’ We hadn’t, but we did, and here are pictures to prove it.

Amur Falcon Female

You knew at once, didn’t you, that this was a female Amur falcon? Of course you did. Well, I didn’t, and though I paged up and down and sideways through Roberts and the SASOL guide I couldn’t figure it out. Until, of course, I posted the image on the SA Birdlife Facebook Group page, with a cry for help, and with minutes had my answer, from some far more knowledgeable soul who took pity on my ignorance. It is, as above, a falcon, female, which I spotted on the fence just past the Visitor’s Centre, as we entered the Marievale […]

Red-knobbed coot, Marievale

Photographed at the Marievale Bird Sanctuary on Easter Friday. The nest was directly in front of the hide.

Grey-headed gull, Marievale

Evidently something of a rarity in these parts: a Grey-headed gull, photographed at Marievale on Easter Friday.

Skittering across the water – the (un)Common Moorhen

Marievale Bird Sanctuary is a small area of wetland, bounded by farms, distant dwellings, power pylons, a highway, about an hour’s drive east of Johannesburg, and – despite its size – home to an astonishing variety and number of birds, waterfowl in particular. The last (and only) time I had been there was about ten years ago, when my daughter Eve and I had ventured forth in the Landy, and spent a happy day in bird hides and in open country, watching and photographing the coots, cranes and other birdlife. On Easter Friday, Rob and I made a return visit. […]