Photos from Clearwell Meend

Clearwell Meend is my very local patch… it is 250 yards from my house. Here are a selection of photos I took this afternoon.

Speckled Wood
Sphagnum Moss
Common Spotted Orchids
Common Spotted orchid close up
Fungus. The Blusher ?
Bee Orchid
Seed head of Goatsbeard

 

Close up of Goatsbeard
Rabbit
Rabbit eating

That’s it.

 

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Springbok.

We are now on the last leg of our Southern African tour and tonight we are staying in a small town called Springbok which is in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.  We drove up from Cape Town this morning, which is about a 5 hour trip but we stopped for lunch and several photo opportunities, so t was a bit longer.

You pass through some incredible scenery including the Namaqua desert.

On the way I was constantly on the lookout for wild life and birds, however despite the remoteness and lack of human habitation there was not much on show.

About twenty miles before our destination of Springbok  I did spot some wild life in the distance,  Guess what I saw…..

 

Yes you are right it was Springbok.

 

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This was in Kruger a few days ago, we had not seen a huge variety of game but there were lots of Elephants about. Our final encounter was on the main tarmacked road leading out towards what is known as Crocodile bridge.

There was a large group  of Elephants crossing the road, impossible to say how many because they quickly merge into the bush but whilst we were there about 10 or so crossed the road. Quite a few cars gathered and people took photos and eventually when the opportunity arose moved on through and continued their journey. 

After a while I was at the front and next to the Elephants. At this moment a very small baby tried to cross the road, it was with a young female, probably not its mother. It had chosen to cross quite close to where we were parked, then being quite close to my car it began to panic a bit.  So a large ish male that had just crossed the road came back to protect it and between him and the young female they calmed it down..

My car, (well Felix’s car, but I was driving) was only a few yards from the male. At one point he turned to face me and ears flapped and his foot was starting to stamp the ground. We closed the windows, for all the good that would have done and I looked to see if I could back up….. No the car behind me was tucked up close to get a good view and the one behind him and so on.   So we sat and hoped and eventually they shepherded the baby to the side and disappeared into the bush.

Photos taken with a 100-400mm lens at 100mm, f13 and 1/500th second. I was too close to get the group without loosing some of its back and feet, ie the photo has not been cropped.

Hippos…. another close encounter

Photo taken from a boat on the Choke river in Botswana.

There were about 8 of them but you are never sure as they can stay under water for some time…. The most with their snouts above water at any one time was eight.  We were about 15 meters away and the boat was not so small, so I think we were relatively safe…. unlike the  Elephant close experience that we had in Kruger.

Gennet Cat…..a close encounter.

Nelspruit in South Africa, there is a hotel called ‘Utopia’ which is not a bad name for it. The hotel is on a high area on the edge of Nelspruit and backs onto a steep slope of fairly dense bush/woodland. The owners put food out every night for the wildlife, bananas and other fruit on a sort of bird table for bush babies, a mix of vegetable peelings for porcupines and small bits of meat for genet cats.

 

The first time we stayed the gardener put out all the food and as it got dark all the three species turned up.  When we returned after our trip up to Zambia and Botswana, the gardener was not on duty, and the cook lady did not want to go down into the bush area to put the food out because of the wild animals. So I volunteered and as I was putting the pieces of meat on the rock a Genet cat turned up and approached the rock… It was about three feet away from me!  I gently spoke to it but not in Afrikaans so it could not understand me… It watched me putting the rest of the  meat out and only backed off when I moved away to return to the hotel area.   However as soon as I had moved off a few yards it was back and enjoying the meat.

Due to it being almost dark and the use of a 100 to 400mm zoom lens this was shot using maximum ISO (12800) and low shutter speed of 1/10th second and hand held but propped against a wooden rail….so not bad considering.

Cinderford Waxwings

After several recent reports of Waxwings in the Cinderford area and being as it was a wet and grey day I decided to go hunting the Waxwings in my truck. I headed for Lidl carpark where about 20 had been seen a couple of days ago.   Not sure what the attraction of this car park was as it only has a couple of trees and they did not like a species that has berries which would attract the Waxwings.

So I had a slow drive round all the near by roads searching for suitable fruit bearing trees. Gradually I extended my search but without success, eventually landing up at the very top of Cinderford……. St Whites. This is a new estate and I thought it would be the sort of place where there might be ornamental trees that might have berries. Near the lower end of the estate I saw a bird in a holly tree that looked like a Waxwing. I parked up and got my camera ready, it was raining quite hard, and I got out and crept round the back of a couple of houses to where I had seen it. There it was click click click and then it moved off deeper into the bushes.  A lady appeared at a window and asked what I was doing,  I explained about Waxbills and she said she had seen it earlier in the day.

I decided to have a look round the other side of her house where there was a play area and more trees..  I did not see any Waxbills but what I saw was a huge Fallow deer stag… just stood there looking.cinderford3

I took some photos and moved a bit closer, it slowly stepped over a fence and went behind some bushes.cinderford4

I carefully walked down to where the fence was and there was the stag the other side of the fence, about 5 feet away from me. I slowly moved my camera up to my eye and took some more photos, but the bush was in the way a bit, so I slowly moved to one side.cinderford5

Now I was face to face with the stag and about  5 feet away I took some more shots, it was looking straight at me so I quietly said hello and talked to it..  What else do you do?  It moved its ears as I spoke to get a better understanding of what I was saying, which was just nondescript calming stuff and we interacted in this way for several minutes and then it calmly walked off.cinderford1

Later when I looked at my photos I discovered that my Waxwing was in fact a Hawfinch.cinderford2