November 2012

Shadow Play

This dragonfly was playing at being a frightening fellow. He was on the blinds in our apartment in Phuket and I’m sure I heard him growl a couple of times. He agreed on a few shots in exchange for me opening the glass door behind to let him fly away to somewhere more shaded.

 

Crowned Lapwing

This Crowned Lapwing was seen at the Solio Game Reserve, a private 18000 acre reserve just north of Nyeri in central Kenya. Solio has been successful in breeding black rhino and over 120 black and white rhino live there. One appealing feature of the reserve is that you just pay your entrance fee and drive yourself around. It’s quiet and has none of the zebra stripe painted jeeps full of tourists vying for position to get the next shot. At Solio, you just take your time.

According to ‘Birds of East Africa’ by Stevenson and Fanshawe, ‘the crowned lapwing is a bird associated with dry country and grasslands, best identified by head, breast and wing markings. All resident species are known as plovers in Southern Africa. The Crowned Lapwing, (Vanellus coronatus) is 31cm, 12″, has a smart head pattern with a black cap and white crown ring standing out at long distance; the ring accentuates the flat head and steep forehead. It is alert and upright, with yellow eyes and bright red legs.’

Canon 1DMkII with Canon 300mmf2.8L IS lens and x2 extender; ISO400 f5.6 1/640

Black-capped Social-Weaver

The Social-Weavers (Genus Pseudonigrita) are a different genus from True Weavers (Genus Ploceus), but apart from their colouring – true weavers are mainly predominantly yellow, the social-weavers seem to exhibit similar behaviour. According to Stevenson & Fanshawe’s excellent book, Birds of East Africa, ‘…the Social-Weavers are small birds (4.5″ – 5″) which occur in large flocks, often feeding together on the ground. Their nests are tightly woven balls of grass which hang from the very ends of the the thinnest branches of large trees, often hundreds of pairs breeding together. The sexes are alike.
The Black-capped Social-Weaver (Pseudonigrita cabanisi) is a ‘small attractive weaver with a black cap and tail contrasting with a brown back and wings, a white bill with a greenish tinge, and red eyes. White below with black streaks on flanks and belly. Flocks inhabit drier country than the Grey-capped Social-Weaver from 200-1300m, including quite arid areas if large trees are present for breeding.

I spotted this fellow on a trip to Buffalo Springs Game Reserve, Samburu, Kenya. He was one of many busily constructing their nests in a tree that was overflowing with nests.

Canon EOS 1DMkII with Canon 300mm f2.8L IS lens, ISO 200 f4.5 1/2500

 

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth 2

Following on from the post of a couple of days ago, a second shot of one of these busy moths.

During June and July, the lavender bushes in our garden in Tuscany are alive with the buzzing and humming of bees, beetles, butterflies and moths, all delighting in the sweet nectar.
A common visitor is the hummingbird hawk moth, and this one, the Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth Heparis fuciformis is also a regular.
These moths are a challenge to photograph since they are constantly on the move, darting from one flower to the next savouring the nectar, spending only a fraction of a second at any one flower.
I caught this one in mid-flight as he approached a flower. His proboscis is coiled but extended a fraction of a second after this shot was taken to collect the nectar from the lavender.

Location: countryside south of Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy.

Canon 1DMkII with a Canon 300mm IS f2.8 lens, a Canon 1.4x extender and Canon 25mm tube.
ISO 250 f4 1/3200 handheld.

 

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth 1

During June and July, the lavender bushes in our garden in Tuscany are alive with the buzzing and humming of bees, beetles, butterflies and moths, all delighting in the sweet nectar.
A common visitor is the hummingbird hawk moth, and this one, the Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth Heparis fuciformis is also a regular.
These moths are a challenge to photograph since they are constantly on the move, darting from one flower to the next savouring the nectar, spending only a fraction of a second at any one flower.
I caught this one in mid-flight as he approached a flower. His proboscis is extended and already homing in on the target – it curls up like a spring once the nectar is taken.

Location: countryside south of Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy.

Canon 1DMkII with a Canon 300mm IS f2.8 lens, a Canon 1.4x extender and Canon 25mm tube.
ISO 250 f4 1/3200 handheld.