African puff adders (Bitis arietans).
Bitis arietans is a venomous viper species found in savannah and grasslands. It is responsible for causing the most snakebite fatalities in Africa owing to various factors, such as its wide distribution and frequent occurrence in highly populated regions.
The venom has cytotoxic effects and is one of the most toxic of any viper. The venom yield is typically between 100–350 mg, with a maximum of 750 mg. About 100 mg is believed to be enough to kill a healthy adult, with death occurring after 25 hours.
An ugly snake to be avoided in the bush as he will not move away like most snakes, but will strike with deadly force and cause a very sore painful bite.
When I was an learner Land Surveyor, involved in a job at Victoria Falls in Rhodesia I came across one of the biggest Puffies I’d ever seen. Thinking it dead, I poked it with a survey rod and it struck immediately, not being the conservationist I am now, I killed it. That evening we all met at the Peters Motel for drinks, it had the biggest pub in the area (at least 20m long, 60 foot), I took my now dead snake with me, the pub was full of tourists and locals and on entering tossed it on the pub counter. 30 seconds later the pub was empty, the two barmen had exited via the dirty glass opening (smashing 100s of glasses) and I stood laughing my head off…. some how the Manager/Owner was not amused and banned me for life… I took Linda there many years later… he remembered me, but after explaining I’d settle down and was no longer “bush happy” he forgave me… I’m still sure he loaded my bill that day… here’s some photos of one I found the other day… he refused to go into the strike pose which is very strikingly (no pun intended) beautiful….probably too cold…
Long-tailed Widowbird (Euplectes progne)
Now here’s a bird… the male that is… that dresses up for mating.
The Long-tailed Widowbird is a medium-sized bird and one of the most common in the territories it inhabits. Adult breeding males are almost entirely black with orange and white shoulders (epaulets), long, wide tails, and a bluish white bill. Females are rather inconspicuous, their feathers streaked tawny and black with pale patches on the chest, breast and back, narrow tail feathers, and horn-colour bills.
When flying, male Long-tailed Widowbirds are readily visible due to their extremely long tails. Between six and eight of their twelve tail feathers are approximately half a meter long. The tail during flight display is expanded vertically into a deep, long keel below the male as he flies with slow wing beats 0.5 to 2 meters above his territory.
Outside of the breeding season male Long-tailed Widowbirds are large, streaky, but relatively unspectacular birds. Come late October though and this is a species is the bird equivalent of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. It transforms into a spectacularly well-endowed sexual show-off with a most unlikely bundle of tail plumes…
Males defend territories in the grasslands the species inhabits. Females have a long nesting period and survey these territories and the males that inhabit them, prior to mate selection. Females spend a great deal of time comparing males, (I wonder if length has anything to do with their selection… I mean tail length naturally) then they weave nests, shaped in large dome structures with a lining of seed heads, in the high grass within the males territory.
The male when he is not breeding…
Then the metamorphous starts to take place……
And now I’m dressed for sex.. my tail will continue to grow about another 4 inches.. then watch me strut my stuff.
I quite like the black and white effect of the Zebra when depicted in a B & W photo… I saw a photo taken so many years ago by my Mother in Rhodesia and this gave me the encouragement to play a bit. Some of the photos I also enhanced a tad using Photscape a free photoshop type program..
The Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath),
also known as the Giant Heron, is a very large wading bird of the heron family. It is found in sub-Saharan Africa, with smaller numbers in Southwest and South Asia.
This is the world’s largest heron. The height is 120–152 cm (47–60 in), the wingspan is 185–230 cm (73–91 in) and the weight is 4–5 kg (8.8–11 lbs.).Among standard measurements, the tarsus measures from 21.2 to 25.5 cm (8.3 to 10.0 in) and the wing chord averages around 60.7 cm (23.9 in) in length. The culmen measures from 18 to 20 cm (7.1 to 7.9 in), while the bill from the gape measures around 24 cm (9.4 in).
Goliath Herons are solitary foragers and are highly territorial towards other Goliaths entering their feeding territories.
This particular bird I found at Lake Panic in the Kruger National Park, and as I entered the hide it struck and caught a fairly large Carp. As you can see I had little time to take the photograph, and in front of me was a fairly large Lady with a big camera and lens, her arms were just as big and I was not going to argue with her.. but here’s the result…
It left the water and went into the taller grass where it either swallowed it whole or left it for later…
A half hour later it re-emerged and drank water and took a bath, before returning to its original fishing spot.. must have been hungry…
The Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
is a bird in the Rallidae family with an almost worldwide distribution.
The Moorhen is a distinctive species, with dark plumage apart from the white under tail, yellow legs and a red facial shield.
This is a common breeding bird in marsh environments and well-vegetated lakes. Populations in areas where the waters freeze, such as southern Canada, the northern USA and eastern Europe, will migrate to more temperate climes. This species will consume a wide variety of vegetable material and small aquatic creatures. They forage beside or in the water, sometimes upending in the water to feed. It is often secretive, but can become tame in some areas. Despite loss of habitat in parts of its range, the Common Moorhen remains plentiful and widespread. They fight over territories and also hop around Lily pads.
These photos were taken at Rietvlei Dam….