To kick things off for Google+’s African Tuesday here’s My African Favourite – elephants. No matter the excitement we experience when seeing kills, unusual activity, or new species of mammal or bird, we still end up with a longing to see elephants just doing their thing, keeping close, clearly communicating and exploring the world. There are several species which exist in their own taxonomic order themselves – effectively their own branch of evolution, and elephants for me (since we don’t have living dinosaurs) are the most emblematic icon of the natural diversity we have on this planet, and their tender interactions point to their longevity both as a species and as families. In this image, a group of triumphant African elephant wander away, trunks swinging, sated from the watering hole in Kruger National Park. Elephant appear and disappear with astonishing speed – they are huge, but the gentle trees that patter the landscape are usually bigger and swallow these creatures silently. Unusually, I think elephants can be picturesque subjects from both behind and front, due to the oversize nature of their appendages (and those massive air conditioning ears!) Africa is so diverse, but when you look at the habitat maps
This is a technical post about what to do when (before!) equipment fails and how to work around difficulties in non-urban locations. Earlier this year we travelled to Kruger National Park with a small group and spent a fantastic two weeks exploring the southern part of the park. We’d been before and have plenty of experience in Africa and isolated locations. The first few days went well technically and thankfully this was the period we saw most wildlife. As the trip went on though, our equipment started to misbehave. In this post I’ll take each occurrence, detail what happened and what I’d do differently in the future. Hard drive glitching or failure – having an alternate approach We usually back up our CF cards to a pair of Freecom Tough Drives before clearing them ready for the next day’s shoot, and use a laptop to do the copy. On this trip, something odd started happening: extreme lockups for 30 seconds or so whether nothing was possible, then a return for 10 or 20 seconds, and back into a lockup. The computer was basically unusable (not helpful for Marie trying to prepare some work materials on holiday) and this was the
Meet a Montezuma Oropendola, they are, quite simply, one of the most impressive and incredible birds that I have had the pleasure of spending time with. Not only are they a joy to look at, they are also incredible to watch. The thing is, you hear them before you tend to spot them. Despite them being quite big birds, it’s not their bulk which attracts your attention in the treetop canopy, it’s their many display sounds which range from the crackling of sheet lightning to the most bizarre gurgling, all of which is designed to attract females. We were fortunate enough to be in Costa Rica during their breeding season and we spent many a happy hour in our treetop cabin watching their elaborate courtship rituals which involve the male swinging forward on the branch to display his beautiful yellow tail feathers whilst gurgling as loud as he can. Heck – even I was attracted – this is seriously attractive stuff! However, I was not the intended audience, and if the display is not up to scratch, females will choose to mate with a superior performer. The stakes are high! Costa Rica is a truly amazing country, and if you get the chance to visit I urge you to do so. Photos from our trip are available in
As the sun sets, an empty river boat returns to dock on the narrow spit of land that is Tortuguero, Costa Rica, closely followed by a barely visible silhouetted bird in flight. Tortuguero National Park is located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, and covers an area of 77,032 acres (31,174 ha). Tortuguero is bordered on the north by the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge (with habitats and climate similar to Tortuguero), to the south by the mouth of the Parismina River and the Cariari National Wetlands, the town of Tortuguero at the mouth of the Tortuguero River, and the Dr. Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge, which is a biological station to carry out turtle tagging program run by the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (Now known was the Sea Turtle Conservancy). The park has worked with the neighboring village of Tortugueroto help its inhabitants understand that preserving their natural resources is the key to encourage eco-tourism. It’s a stunning place to visit – as a tourist you can watch the sea turtles lay eggs in the evening, take a dawn boat ride to spot Boa Constrictors lazing on tree branches, sloths hanging from branches and monkeys bounding through treetops, then in the afternoon you can take a kayak out by yourself to explore the narrow waterways of this incredible place.
A spider monkey splays its body across a fern-like tree, making it difficult to work out which limb is which. Geoffroy’s spider monkey is considered endangered by the IUCN, as it’s primarily distributed amongst the narrow tracts of rainforest in Central America and is susceptible to habitat loss through deforestation. This is seen from the riverways around Tortuguero, Costa Rica. Additional images from our trip to Costa Rica can be viewed in the Taraji Blue online photo gallery. If you like our images and informative blogs then why not help us spread the word about Taraji Blue. We’d really appreciate any thoughts, comments, shares and likes. You can follow us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/tarajiblue , on twitter at https://twitter.com/TarajiBlue and connecti with Alistair and myself on Google+.