For interesting information on flowers, trees and plants please click on this link: http://natureswow2.blogspot.com/

For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.
Videos: YouTube

Thursday, April 17, 2014

SA Diversity Tour (17-18/02/2014) Day 33-34

Pretoriuskop Camp
A brilliant dawn finds us on the road again and off to Pretoriuskop Camp this time. It is the oldest camp in the park and was established in 1926.
 The soft, misty morning light really made a wonderful picture on this small dam.
 Crossing the road is the smallest Leopard tortoise I have ever come across and he is not happy about me picking him up in order to put him in the bush where he will be safe from cars not looking where they drive.
A pride of lions are on the road but the young male of about 2 years old really caught my attention. Why, I don’t know!
He went to lay apart from the others and gave a huge yawn.....
then looked at me as if to say “Can’t a fellow even yawn in peace?”
He decided to move over and lay in some dung on the road. I know the Hyaena’s do this to disguise their smell but I had not seen lions doing this before. Maybe it had nothing to do with disguising his smell but was just rebelling against his mother telling him to keep clean. LOL!! He was just quite adorable though and I wanted to take him with me. 
The drive is dusty and long but while setting up camp, these Purple-crested Louries caught our attention an although we tried hard to get some decent shots of them, they kept on going into the thickness of the leaves on the trees with us frustrated at not being able to get good shots.
The next morning’s sunrise was just as dramatic – we do have beautiful ones here!

On our way to a nearby dam we saw this elephant dung with all the mushrooms growing in it. And people eat them?? LOL!!
Turning a corner, there was a mother Hyaena suckling two cubs of about 8 months old. This was a day where the light was just in the wrong place to get decent pictures as we had to shoot tight into it.
 She quickly got them out of the way as we approached.
A beautiful Gecko on a pole.
Nothing much happening at the dam except for a mother Waterbuck and her calf plus the usual hippo, water birds, etc.
Leaving the dam, we came across the same Hyaena and lo and behold, she had another set of smaller cubs with her and was suckling them!
I thought the first time I saw her she was rather swollen with milk for such large cubs but now I understood why. These pictures are awful as now they were on the wrong side of the car for me and I had to take them through the window.
Once again she quickly got them off the road into the bush. She stood up so quickly that both cubs toppled backwards, LOL!!
On a gravel road we came across this sign.....
I guess these are what they were talking about..... research like this is very necessary but do they have to spoil the natural landscape with a structure like this? Surely they can put id deeper in the bush were it is not seen by the public. As the years go by, it seems to me that the old way of trying to keep everything in the park natural is now a thing they don’t worry about any more. Next we will probably be seeing a McDonalds sign above the trees!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

SA Diversity Tour (15-16/02/2014) Day 31-32

Satara Camp, Kruger National Park
It was a couple of days of lions, lions and more lions!! How fantastic! A little affection goes a long way.
 First we came across two adult females with four cubs of about 2 years old which the adults were teaching to hunt.
When in that area, the S100 is a gravel road one has to take. To me this is the best road in the Park. We came across this elephant and stopped ahead of him as I could see he wanted to get across. Instead, he decided that he wanted to follow us. The more I moved ahead, the more he came behind us. No in any aggressive way though, just a slow amble down the road. J I took the picture in the side mirror of the car and you can see how close he was. Please NEVER allow elephants to come so close to you unless you know them as well as I do.
A little way down the road, these two majestic Kudu were standing like statues. Of all our buck species, this is my second favourite with the Sable antelope being top of the list even if one hardly ever sees them.
The RainbowSkink male is one of our most beautiful lizards when fully mature. It reaches a length of about 30cm (12”). This is a juvenile which is changing to adult colours and almost as lovely.
There were thousands of White Storks feeding in the grasslands.
Although I try, I cannot capture birds in flight as my camera is never set for faster speeds. I will keep on trying though. LOL!!
Next we came across a pair of lions, probably a mating pair and I could not believe our luck at seeing a second lot of these beautiful carnivores all in one day.
A very unusual millipede – usually they have stripes running around the body and this was diagonally. A real beauty too.
A breeding herd of elephants were in a small river bed digging for water. Please see video by clicking on this link. One baby of about 4 years old was trying to stand up from where he was and I had to capture the sequence.
An even smaller elephant of about 2 years old decided to go and dig his own hole for water and all you could see was this small butt sticking up. LOL!!
In birds, it is normally the male (left hand side picture) which is more beautiful and has a coloured eye. Saddlebilled Storks are different in that the female has a yellow eye and the male a brown one. The male also has two yellow wattles below his chin to distinguish him from the female.
I cannot help but stop when I find a Chameleon. They are just so cute! I have eventually got Gaelyn as far as to hold one like this baby. Many Chameleons get killed on the roads as people do not see them so I take them and out them in a bush and out of harms way.
The stunning Bateleur hunts for insects.
A Klipspring on a rock in the typical environment and stance you see them in. They are one of our smaller species of buck standing less than 1m (3’) in height.
On the way back to camp, another lot of lions!! My goodness what a day this has been for seeing these magnificent animals!! This time it is a female with four cubs of about 2 years old which she is also teaching to hunt. The rain is starting to fall and it is getting to the time we need to be heading back to camp so we cannot wait around and see if the female captures anything. I hate it when I see something interesting like this and cannot stay around longer.
I had so many excellent pictures to show for these couple of days at Satara that I made many collages in order to show many of them else the post would have been too long. Never a day goes by that visiting Kruger National Park disappoints me. There is always SO much to see and photograph. Many sighting are just a glimpse of something disappearing into the bush/grass and I have to be satisfied with just seeing the animal and not being able to take photographs.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SA Diversity Tour (12-14/02/2014) Day 28-30

Lower Sabie Camp
What a horrible mess!! Because of the loss of photographs and considering that we are not too far away, we decide to go back to Kruger National Park for a week in order for Gaelyn to replace the photographs of animals which she has lost. We broke camp early and headed for Nelspruit to buy a new computer. We are basically still in the beginning of the tour and she needs it to download her pictures on. A great expense unfortunately but a necessary one. We also cannot replace the pictures of the many wonderful sightings of leopard etc. we saw there and I had not taken many, but I could at least give her what I had as a start.
We started off at Lower Sabie, one of my favourite camps and checked in for two nights and on the first morning, headed down to Crocodile Bridge in order to take the sand road towards Berg en Dal. Vervet Monkeys were playing on the road sign which is a pyre of rocks and having a great time. They are fun to watch. (See video: http://youtu.be/HrU8vdvZRrM)
What absolutely good luck and a marvellous start to our week!! We came across a mating pair of lions right in the road with only one car there so managed to get some fantastic shots of the mating ritual as well as photographs. Gaelyn had not seen this before, so I was pleased she had the opportunity to witness it herself. Please do watch this video: http://youtu.be/eM-3MaFhyt8. The pair leave the rest of the pride for about 3 days and female always initiates the mating. During the process, he gently bites her on the back of her neck. One of the interesting observations I made during this was that after they have mated, which takes less than half a minute, the female would always roll onto her back afterwards. I wonder if this is part of the ritual or maybe helps with ovulation? I am going to find out and will update this post when I do.
One of Gaelyn’s favourite animals is the Hyaena and there were many youngsters around for her to enjoy watching. Only problem is, we had to stop at all of them. LOL!! (Not that I minded but please don’t tell her that. J )
Steenbok are one of our smallest antelope and stand at a shoulder height of about 2’. They are very agile and fast in running away as soon as you stop to look at them so it was surprising to get this one standing around allowing us to get wonderful photographs.
Whitefronted Bee-eaters most catch insects and butterflies flying past and need to be very quick to catch them.
 Twig Wilters belong to the same family as stinkbugs and put out an obnoxious smell when disturbed.
Julia Skimmers are not easy to photograph as they are very leery of one getting to close. I love watching them skim across the water and if one watches long enough, you will see that they always go and land on the same place. Get near to this and sit quietly and they will return to it after a while which is the time to get that picture. J
Finding this giraffe was so funny. His crazy hairstyle on his horns when compared to what it should be, provided us with a good chuckle. LOL!!
 First there was one on the sandbank, then two, then three. LOL!! Serrated Turtles come out to bask in the early morning sunshine.
One pond was covered in White Waterlilies and the Carpenter bees were having a ball collecting pollen. Waterlillies are edible and prepared in many ways.
Because there are so many, one tends to overlook the beautiful Impala. They are fantastic jumpers and can cover a distance of 30’ in one leap.
Majestic elephants are my favourites. Although males can weigh up to 5 tons, they are completely silent when walking.
Butterflies were everywhere and this Common Scarlet is just one of hundreds of species found in the Park.
Besides the mating lion, twice coming across the scarce and rarely seen Black Rhino was a real treat!! Unfortunately I do not have the right lens to get good distance shots and this one was a way off, so the shots I took of him are a bit fuzzy. J
This was one of the smallest Tortoise I have ever seen and so cute too.
I found this scorpion but cannot find out what it is called as I do not have my books with me. They look kind of scary.

What a great few days at Lower Sabie with excellent sightings as always. A pity our time was limited and we had to move on.