Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Back from the bush

I've just got back from a trip to South Africa for Bird Watching magazine - I hesitate to call it work, because it's really a privilege to get to see far-flung parts of the world and then write about them. It would have been hugely enjoyable anyway, given the wealth of birdlife we saw, but big bonuses were loads of mammals (including a very close range Leopard), and great travelling companions (of whom more in a later post). We were expertly guided, too, by Leon Marais of Lawsons Safaris, who patiently and unfailingly picked out target bird after target bird.

We flew into Jo'burg then straight back out to Nelspruit, and after a stop at the Blyde River Canyon headed into the Kruger National Park for three days. We then flew out from Nelspruit to Durban, drove up the KwaZulu-Natal coast for stops at Eshowe and St Lucia, before heading back to Jo'burg and home.

Over the next few weeks I'll post some of the highlights of the trip in a chronological fashion, but for now, here's a few of the star birds (all from the Kruger). They were all digibinned using a Nikon Coolpix S300 and Swarovski 8.5x42 ELs - it's all a bit hit or miss, but some came out pretty well.

At the top of this post is a White-crowned Lapwing - just look at those extraordinary spurs on its wings.

This is a Martial Eagle - we got about as close to it as I've ever been to any eagle.

And this is one of the hundreds of Carmine Bee-eaters we saw in the Kruger. Not that I got tired of them - I think Bee-eaters might be becoming my favourite bird family of all.

Southern Ground Hornbill is one of those birds that needs to be seen to be believed - we came across a little group feeding in a scrubby corner of the park.

And finally, a little group of Water Dikkops (or Thick-knees, as they're now properly called) - these were a familiar sight, but I always like seeing anything from the Stone-curlew family.

Anyway, more over the next few weeks...


Caroline Gill said...

Beautiful photography. What an expedition ... in the cause of 'work'! I imagine this will fire some poems.

Matt Merritt said...

Thanks very much, Caroline - I'll post links to some much better pics by the real photographers on the trip when they post them online.

I usually find it takes about a year or 18 months before things like this spark off poems. I think it must take that long to really sink in.