Tag Archives: Birds

Judgement

Judgement can be unjust.


VULTURE COMING IN TO LAND – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


VULTURES FEEDING – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

It’s a steamy summer evening near the Kruger National Park. Anticipation spikes the sunset as we pull up to the ‘vulture restaurant’ at Moholoholo (“The Very Great One”) rehabilitation centre. A simple patch of sand to us, the spot is significant to the birds. Dozens of them. The moment the carcass thuds to earth, they swoop in from their circling. A bombardment of quietly beating feathers flares dust into the air, muffling soft tearing and crunching sounds. Not a single squawk is uttered.

Each species knows precisely what to do. Larger-beaked prey ‘openers’ jostle beside their cousins who pick the bones clean. The ten minute melee is marked by precision feeding, highlighted with huge hops and tugs of war, as well as the intermittent scampering of a warthog. He’s having dinner too, snatching morsels from the heaving heap.

As swiftly as it began, the meal is over; barely a scrap to mark the spot. A flurry of large bodies lifts off and flies away. No wonder Nature is not strewn with waste. Among the less endearing of her feathered set, vultures sometimes receive a bad rap. Perhaps not the prettiest, they each have a part to play. As we all do.

Quotes to consider:

“Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves” – Euripides

“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” – Ian Percy

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Gustav Jung

“The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.” – Georgia Harkness

“. . . It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” – Paulo Coelho

“Although I cannot lay an egg, I am a very good judge of omelettes” – George Bernard Shaw

Here are a few more pics taken by Dave:


VULTURES & MARABOU STORKS – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


WARTHOG WITH VULTURES – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


WHITEBACKED VULTURE – Moholoholo, Hoedpsruit, South Africa


WHITEBACKED VULTURE – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

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Peter Sarstedt Sings for Conservation in South Africa

Isn’t it stunning to come across a celebrity with a big heart? No wonder the words ‘Where do you go to, my lovely’, sung from that heart, touched so many. The Number 1 hit single of Feb 1969, which topped the British charts for 6 weeks, and reached # 1 in 14 more countries, is as familiar today – over 40 years later! This composition earned Peter Sarstedt the coveted Ivor Novello Award for Best Song 1969/1970. No surprise really that it’s also the theme song for a recent movie by Wes Anderson, ‘The Darjeeling Limited‘.

Some offerings of the soul are simply timeless, like this musician’s attitude to conservation. His ‘Green Alphabet’ song explores urgent environmental issues. Another, ‘Hemmingway’, expresses passion for Africa, while deploring the ease with which nature’s beauty can be lost. Peter Sarstedt’s signature works are born of an era when folk singing raised awareness and protested injustice, captivating the world and initiating change.

Not for the first time, his reach is extending here to South Africa, where he’ll be singing this month. His ‘green music’ does more than entertain. It promotes sustainable improvement of our planet. He will be performing ‘Save the Rhino’ to assist with the plight of these threatened creatures. In conjunction with Sappi Ltd., dedicated environmental supporter, his visit will benefit additional causes, such as The Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre, Birdlife SA and The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, among a number of others.

To give you an idea of these Gardens, here’s a pic of their spectacular waterfall:


WATERFALL – Botanical Gardens, Roodekrans, Johannesburg

And two of the majestic residents that nest near the top:


BLACK EAGLE ON NEST – Botanical Gardens, Roodekrans, Johannesburg


BLACK EAGLE IN FLIGHT – Botanical Gardens, Roodekrans, Johannesburg

The Gardens will be celebrating 10 years of Sappi Sunday Picnic Concerts on 12 September. With Peter’s help, since he’ll be appearing as a guest artist on the Mathys Roets programme. He will also host ‘singer songwriter‘ workshops for aspiring musicians, in line with his and Sappi’s upliftment of this art in South Africa.

Andre Oberholzer, Group Head Corporate Affairs at Sappi Ltd, says that they ‘invited Peter back to South Africa to add a new dimension to our long-standing support for the arts, community development and conservation.’ How fabulous for this country!

Shows are scheduled for Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Cape Town and Franschhoek. For details, go to: 702 Talk Radio.

To wrap up, here’s a video of Peter Sarstedt’s ‘Lovely’ song:

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Apple iPhone is birdsong to my ears

This blogging world is super cool. What a great way to discover new things and interact with awesome people around the world. Last week, we were horrified to learn about the fatbooth iPhone app, which appallingly adds weight to an ordinary mug shot. This was thanks to an excellent post by Agrigirl: It’s Only Funny Until Someone Gets Hurt. Take a look – honestly, seeing is believing! Tammy mentioned more apps, inspiring me to investigate and, quite frankly, take my iPhone more seriously 🙂

My number one app, though, is Sasol eBirds. Dave, being my personal techno-wiz, loaded it for me (if it weren’t for him, I’d have an ancient Nokia). So, if I’m feeling like a bush fix in the middle of Jo’burg, I simply tap in, close my eyes and listen to a few calls. Within a virtual moment, I’m lounging in the luxury of the African wild. Of course, when literally there, we have the bonus of identifying birds and reading all about them.

Or even engaging in conversation, such as recently at Welgevonden. A Mocking Cliff-chat (impressive bird knowledge courtesy of our friends who are accomplished birders) took a shine to the lodge bar. Whipping out the iPhones, we returned its warbling (“loud, melodious mixture of mimicked bird song”). It’s so delightful that I’m going to share it with you – via my iPhone, Sasol eBirds app, and Wordpress’ brilliant Post by Voice feature 🙂

But first, here’s a picture:


MOCKING CLIFF-CHAT – Welgevonden Game Reserve, Waterberg, South Africa

As well as two photo’s of birds that have my all-time favourite calls. These are the Woodland Kingfisher, abundant in the Waterberg during summer:


WOODLAND KINGFISHER – Welgevonden Game Reserve, Waterberg, South Africa

. . . and the African Fish Eagle. It occurs here in South Africa, but is a more common resident of the Okavango Delta in Botswana:


FISH EAGLE TAKING OFF – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Now, for the audio of all three . . . ENJOY!

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Spreading the word for endangered species…

Big thanks to Jenny at www.andnow.co.za for spreading the word about the EWT Saddle-billed Stork survey in the Kruger National Park, as well as for featuring some of Dave’s images! Have a look at her informative article, which gives great background to these beautiful, endangered birds: Saddle-billed Stork. While you’re there, she’s included an excellent post on another of our sub-continent’s struggling species: the African Wild Dog.

Here are two wild dog pics of Dave’s, taken at the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve here in South Africa, in case you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting them 🙂

MUDDY WILD DOG - Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, South Africa

WILD DOG ANTICS - Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, South Africa

Jenny discovered my post, Saddle-billed Stork Survey, after browsing this blog courtesy of the www.sa-venues.com interview with Dave, so thanks again to them for featuring that!
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African Penguin Day

Here’s an important reminder of a previous post: if you’re lucky enough to be in Cape Town THIS WEEKEND (25 – 27 September 2009), take a trip to Simon’s Town for the Penguin Festival.

For the first time ever, penguin-lovers will celebrate the 26th September as African Penguin Day!! This is an initiative of SANCCOB international, aimed at raising awareness of this “much loved and ‘vulnerable to extinction’ species”. The opening highlight of the festival will be a beach release of some African Penguins that have been rehabilitated by SANCCOB, which will take place at 10am on the 26th – be sure not to miss it!

The beautiful Boulders Beach Lodge website: www.bouldersbeachlodge.com has more information about this special event. As they explain: “ALL proceeds raised over the weekend go to support SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds)”, so please take a look. Here’s a pic of one of the Boulders Beach residents, in case you haven’t met them yet:

On this note, sincere gratitude and congratulations to everyone involved in the salvage operation of the Se Li bulk carrier, which ran aground at Table View beach earlier this month. As reported on News24 on Sunday, “the threat of “significant” (oil) spillage…has passed”, despite difficult weather conditions. In case you missed the Carte Blanche article on this, which clearly outlines the extent of the threat, here’s a link to it: Shipwreck.
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Saddle-billed Stork Survey

So how’s this for a bit more synchronicity: just a few days after posting the sequence of images of the Fish Eagle attempting to steal a fish from two Saddle-billed Storks (In Celebration of Birds!), we received an email from the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) – about these very birds.

Here’s their request:

“Join the Endangered Wildlife Trust and SANParks in a photographic survey of Saddle-billed Storks in the Kruger National Park. The survey started on 1 September 2009 and will run for a full calendar year.

This survey forms part of a research project that will be conducted over the next three years on the population status of Saddle-billed Storks, one of Kruger’s rarities, and one of the “Big Six” birds. “Census operations on any species within the boundaries of the Kruger National Park are important to help us get an idea of that species’ status within the context of biodiversity management,” says Marcelle van Hoven, the project’s coordinator. “The last Saddle-billed Stork survey conducted in 1993 suggested that there were less than 60 of these birds left in the Park.”

Saddle-billed Storks (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) are distinctly identifiable by their large size (they stand about 150 cm tall), sharply contrasting black and white plumage and yellow lappet (saddle-like structure) on the bill. The males have a dark eye with two small yellow wattles at the base of the bill, while females have a yellow eye. These birds can also be individually recognised by the details of the front edge of the black band across the red bill. Side-on photographs of all the birds, from both the left and right angles, will be used in identification during the survey.”

Here are two images taken by Dave at the Okavango Delta, which clearly illustrate the difference between the male and female birds:

MALE SADDLE-BILLED STORK - Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana
MALE SADDLE-BILLED STORK – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana

FEMALE SADDLE-BILLED STORK - Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana
FEMALE SADDLE-BILLED STORK – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana

They go on to say the following:

“Saddle-billed Storks are classified as Endangered in South Africa. They breed slowly and are dependant on extensive wetland habitats, which are under increasing pressure from humans. The flow regimes of rivers passing through the Kruger National Park are expected to change in response to catchment developments outside the Park, and this, together with the removal of artificial water impoundments within the Park, may have a negative impact on this species. In South Africa, Saddle-billed Storks are largely confined to the north-eastern tropical lowland with the majority of the population residing along the riverine habitat in the Kruger National Park. They normally occur in pairs, are strongly territorial and remain in the same area for years.

Visitors who spot a Saddle-billed Stork are asked to take a clear photograph of both sides of the bird’s face and bill and to record information about the sighting including the date, time, location, name of nearby water source, bird’s gender, juveniles present and any other notes that might be relevant. A Saddle-billed Stork census weekend is also planned in the Kruger National Park for later this year, where photographers with the powerful lenses can contribute to this project.

Please keep a special eye out for Saddle-bills and send all sighting details and photographs to storks@ewt.org.za.

This project is sponsored by Tinga Private Game Lodge and Custom African Tours & Safaris.”

Please pass this on to anyone you feel may have the fortune to contribute 🙂
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