The blessing of Spring babies

Spring is officially here, with buds appearing overnight on my fig tree, soft pink blossoms bursting open on the twiggy branches of the almond trees – only to be turned into instant confetti by the first winds – and a general sense of aliveness.

And this year the fiercely territorial resident Cape Robins have chosen to bless me with a tiny nest in the undergrowth under my study window.  I had a careful quick peek while the parents were out foraging, but all I could see was a little pile of dappled down, so I’m not sure how many little fledglings there are.

Feeding is a full time job though and keeps both parents busy from dawn to dusk. Robins are notoriously elusive and timid, so they first survey the surrounding area from tree height, then dive into the undergrowth with an assortment of snacks for the young. At times this part of the garden is like an airport with one parent leaving the nest as the other one arrives with more food.Who would think that hidden under those geraniums, surrounded by spiky ferns, is a perfect little cup-shaped nest?I can’t wait to see the babies learning to fly 🙂

 

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A Tale of a Whale’s Tail

Living in a small seaside town favoured by Southern Right whales – who arrive in False Bay each year to mate and calve – is an incredible privilege.

But this annual pilgrimage is also problematic for the species when these massive mammals become entangled in ropes belonging to octopus traps and crab pots attached to buoys in the shallow waters of the bay.

Well done to the local National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and South African Whale Detanglement Network (SAWDN) for managing to free this entangled southern right off Sunnycove this afternoon.

The quality of my photos isn’t great as it was quite far out and I was shooting with a humble kit zoom lens, but each picture illustrates this incredibly brave rescue.

I watched it trying desperately to free itself from the web of rope twisted around its’ tail and then the dramatic attempts to free it.  It was an incredibly dangerous situation – the whale was frantic and highly distressed, blowing and lashing its’ tail.  And lest we forget their size – it was at least three times the size of the NSRI boat.

I could hear it blowing as I ran down the hill, camera in hand, to Sunnycove Station. It was like an anguished bellow that filled the air and then it was all over – the whale was free. It submerged and swam out to sea and there was silence apart from the hum of the gridlocked traffic along the coastal road 🙂

Well done to all involved!

The Promise of Rain

We had some much-needed and long awaited rain this weekend.  It was nowhere near enough to make even the slightest impact on Cape Town’s horribly low dam levels, but it was very very welcome.

A few weeks back I headed out to Simonstown in the evening to photograph some fishing boats on the shoreline at sunset.

I was met with pastel skies and some whisps of moody cloud that hinted at rain …..

….. and a gorgeous Pittie called “Buddy” who was in and out of the surf even though the wind was whipping around and the water was icy.

Such simple pleasures are the real treasure 🙂

Water Bottle Wars

My back garden is like a war zone at the moment. The horrible drought that has taken a grip on Cape Town has forced more and more wild birds to leave their mountainside habitat and look for water in domestic gardens. Lately I’ve had species of sunbird I don’t normally get to see in my garden coming to feed and the squabbles and antics are fascinating to witness.

Dry and hot weather results in quite a few scraps among the different species.  Most of the time it’s like watching kids in a playground as they fight for a spot at the spout.

Although sometimes different species do  get along and it’s quite a civil affair.

There are more take offs and landings in my garden than at Heathrow at the moment 🙂

And then there are the domestic disputes. Or maybe it was a mating ritual. Either way I photographed their interaction for 10 minutes. In heat of 32 degrees C !!

As for the ubiquitous and gutsy Cape White Eyes, there’s often a tag team to take on the competition – although squabbles amongst themselves are equally common 🙂

Then there are the playground bullies who scare everyone else away.  Male weaver birds are notorious thugs.

And the shy guys.  Cape Bulbuls are regular visitors but are always on high alert while the other species are uber bold by comparison.

Autumn Sunrise

This is the reward for waking up early at this time of the year to photograph the sunrise across False Bay on a Sunday morning 🙂

Not a breath of wind near the yacht basin in Simonstown either, where the pastel hues of pink and blue and lilac reflected on the wet shoreline.  #blissfulSundays

Apes in the Snow

Most of my subject matter in Morocco was people and places, so it was a real treat to do a little wildlife photography while driving through the cedar and pine forests and barren, rocky landscapes of the Middle Atlas Mountains on the way to Midelt.

This area is populated by nomadic shepherds tending their flocks, while the cedar forests are home to Barbary apes, North Africa’s only monkey, who were totally unfazed by the thick layer of snow on the ground.  They are fairly habituated as far as tourists go, but seemed to be a lot more relaxed than the Chacma baboon troops on the Cape Peninsula where I live, where the interaction between man and baboon has become problematic*.

See some of my earlier posts about the Chacma baboons that share the place I call home by following the links below:

https://theearthbeneathmyfeet.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/the-da-gama-park-baboons/

https://theearthbeneathmyfeet.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/close-encounters-of-the-hairy-kind/

Sahara Sunrise

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I took over 1000 photos during a recent trip to Morocco, but if I had to chose only one favourite, it would be this shot taken at sunrise in the Sahara Desert.

For me photography isn’t only about skills and good cameras, but also about being in the right place at the right time.  This particular capture is the payoff for sleeping cold in a humble tent during the coldest Moroccan winter in a decade with the wind lashing the tent entrance throughout the night.  I had woken before most of the camp to photograph the sun coming up in the dunes when this small train of camels appeared out of nowhere and crossed my path.

This is what photography is all about 🙂