I took a trip to central Poland after Christmas to an area north of Kutno called Dębowo in central Poland. Home for five nights was a well-appointed hunting lodge, which is situated just ten minutes from the eagle hides.
It was a very productive trip with white-tailed eagle coming and going to the area all the daylight hours giving great opportunities to some real action pictures. I had four days in the hides taking pictures and observing this great birds behaviour. The first thing I noticed was the variation in colouring of the birds the adults where regulation colours with that wonderful neck mantle. The sub adults varied greatly from very dark to very light with white streaking.
The incoming eagle has the advantage purely because of momentum and will push the sitting eagle out of the way and claim his prize.
I think this was the highlight of the trip into the Kruger National Park, very elusive and difficult to see when in view as they blend superbly into the bushveld. This individual surprisingly walked across the road in front of us and spent a little time at the edge of the bushveld, not long, just a few minutes before it disappeared into the bush but giving us the opportunity to get some images.
Only 2% of visitors to the park are lucky enough to see a leopard so we were very pleased to see this one. They are mainly nocturnal so to see one during the day is a bit special. This was my first time to the Kruger, I look forward to going back soon.
I held a workshop last week on the Isle of Mull to photograph these brilliant little mammals. The workshop was for five days. I hold these workshops three time a year and we usually do very well with finding and photographing the otter.
I have included a few images in a a gallery below I hope you like looking at them. I get great pleasure in looking for and photographing the otters, there are no hides involved and we are actively stalking the animals during the workshop. The otters are amazing as they go about their daily business. They just carry on in the worst of weather fishing and then just curl up on a rock and sleep.
Burchell’s Coucal Centropus superciliosus or White Crowned Coucal
The Burchell’s Coucal is also commonly referred to as “The Rainbird” and has a well developed reputation in southern African for being able to predict impending rain. This association with rain probably arises because coucals often call during periods of high humidity; before, during and after rain. And the call is magnificent! A liquid, bubbling cascade of notes that the South African poet Douglas Livingstone referred to as “the rainbird’s liquid note”.
The Burchell’s coucal is endemic to the southern African region, and is a member of the cuckoo family being limited to the east and south of the region – the regions with higher rainfall – and generally preferring areas with dense vegetation, such as thickets and reed beds. Although often heard, they are less often seen as they mostly remain hidden in the thick vegetation. They are generally found in pairs.
Burchell’s coucals are relatively large birds, with a length of approximately eight inches. Males and females are alike in plumage colouration, and the females are slightly larger than the males. They have black heads and tails; back and wings are rufous-brown and underparts are white. Eyes are red; bills, legs and feet are black.
They are voracious when feeding, hunting small mammals such as mice and rats, reptiles such as lizards and chameleons, small birds such as doves and sparrows, a variety of insects and amphibians such frogs and toads. Unusually for a bird, when hunting they may look for mice in a cat-lke manner and some times they will eat fruit.
The brown snake eagle feeds mainly on snakes, being able to kill venomous snakes such as cobras. They have natural protection against bites, with thick-skinned legs. Besides snakes, the brown snake eagle feeds on lizards and small mammals.
The brown snake eagle prefers the nests made by other birds. They usually take deserted and partially destroyed nests, which they prefer to repair. If they need to build a new one, they choose a tree or a high rock, far from the habitat of predators and from human settlements.
Their plumage is entirely brown, but some of them could have some white feathers. The juvenile eagles stay around the nest for 60–100 days. The juvenile brown snake eagle is completely independent a few weeks after fledging.
I have seen black – winged stils Himantopus himantopus here in the UK a few times and when they do appear they usually create a lot of interest becasue of their rarity value.
I photographed them during my visit to the Kruger National Park in South frica. The population in Africa is large and they can be seen in many areas where there is water, they are also known locally as Pied Stilts.
I found a good place to photograph them in the Kruger National Park at Lake Panic Hide near Skukuza. They are a very elegent bird and they stride around the shallow water looking for food. They nest in wetland and feed on insects which they pick from the surface of the water or forage for in shallow mud. Black-winged Stilt: eats various aquatic invertebrates plus small fish, fish eggs, and tadpoles. They are an active forager, picking food from sand or water and they can feed in deeper water than other waders. They have very good night vision which allows them to feed on moonless nights.
This is a set of images from my trip to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. This is a species which seems to be less admired than other species in the park. The thing with the black backed jackal is that it is a great survivor in a very harsh environment. They aren’t particularly aggressive unless cornered. They are scavengers and can strike very quickly and can even steel food literally from under a lions nose as it feeds, they are that quick.
Over the next week or so I will be posting more images from my trip to the Kruger, please come back soon to see more of my images
I am finally getting around to processing my images from South Africa back in April, a combination of illness and being busy on other projects had held me up, but I am gettimg through them now.
The hyena is an animal that has always fascinated me with its skulking ways and aggresive lifestyle. We came across a few of them on our travels in the Kruger and took the opportunity to get some images as we came across them.
I quite like the young hyena he was walking on his own, I think he had been moved on by his parents to fend for himself.
It’s a difficult time to photograph the brown hares at this time of year because of the depth of undergrowth and crops in the fields. But there are little pockets of ground where they do show themselves, and which makes for a differant image to the normal mown grass or cut crops. It’s possible to get them sitting in flowers at the field edge. Ideally they would be in natural grassland or wildflower meadow but we don’t have much of that here in the Scottish Borders.
Find a spot where the farm machinery enters the field, this is the most worn part of the field which makes it more likely to be colonised by invasive plant species such as thistle, pinapple weed and oxeye daisy.
It takes patience to sit and wait until the hare turns up so a good flask of coffee and something to eat would be the order of the day. With patience the hares will come very close and good intimate pictures are possible.
Brown hares can be quite ellusive and photographing them isn’t always easy but with lots of observation studying their movements and habits and with carefull planning it is possible to get close to them and get some very good images.
This is the first of my three golden eagle workshops in northern Sweden. The Octiber workshop is designed to get images of her magnificent eagles in the autumn colours of the Swedish Countryside. An adeed bonus is we have a reflection poolewhich brings the eages in to within eight metres of the camera.
When the eagle come this close its a breath-taking moment and great caution is needee when using the camera, shooting to fast will scare the eagle away so single shooting is the order of the day.
There other birds that come down to the reflection pool are bulfishnch, jay, magpie, raven, grey headed woodpecker.
If the weather is right there is even a chance of photographing the aruora boliaris
If you are interested in my Golden Eagle Wokshops check out this link