A blog about what I love….photography and bicycles!

natural history

The Tugela Valley and its Ansellias.

A while back I posted a blog on the Leopard Orchid (Ansellia africana), an indigenous epiphytic orchid found in our area.  Nine months ago we found a large colony of about fifty huge plants averaging a meter in diameter. The site was a valley of a tributary of the Tugela River, approximately 40km inland.  I have wanted to get back to photo the plants when in flower. Last week we went through and visited the plants in the late afternoon.  Here are a few images

Close up of A africana flowers.  These are typical of the Southern types with smaller yellow faintly marked flowers  
Another close up of the flowers 

 
A medium sized plant in flower

 
Six plants high up in the tree, further up the valley we found some huge plants.

 

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Another orchid post

This is a wonderful time of the year with Spring here in the Southern half of the planet and so a few more orchids…..

The first, an epiphyte from Northern India, Coelogyne flaccida. This plant has beautiful cascading flowers in early Spring and is great in baskets.  
The next is a Cymbidium species. I have to say that I am not a fan of growing Cymbidium hybrids and prefer the species as they have their own shape and aroma.  This is a beauty, Cymbidium eburneum

  
And finally a Dendrobium hybrid, D Sakura, a very easy growing and flowering plant.

  


A weekend in the wild!

This last weekend was very special as we went to one of the beautiful private game reserves in the province, Phinda.

Phinda Private Game Reserve is situated just north of the town of Hluhluwe in Northern KZN. It is typical bushveldt and this year extremely dry after the devastating drought.  Anyway, it was extremely rewarding as fat as sightings go and over the next few days I shall post a number of images of the animals that the were able to spend time with.

The reserve is home to the big 5 and we were able to spend time with all of them. Here, as starter, are a few images of elephant and cheetah.

A young tired cow after a long day… 

 She was a member of a larger herd, here are a few of them… 

 and then we have our old friends, the Giraffes 

 and then those lovely cats, the cheetah, some youngsters drinking

And a portrait of one of these beautiful animals 

   


Some unique and beautiful flowers…..now the orchids

Last week I posted a blog on some recently opened Stapeliads. These are interesting succulent plants from Africa, Arabian Peninsula and India. Now it is time to post a few recently opened orchids.  No more words just photographs.

The first is Zygopetalum James Strauss, a rather interesting little plant with lovely flowers. 

the next is Miltonidium Bartley Schwartz, a rather leggy flower spike but smells lovely. 

 and then we have one of my favourites, one of the slipper orchids Paphiopedilum leeanum, a cross between P insigne and P spicerianum. Really lovely compact little plant and interesting flower 

  


This weekends macro work

There is no theme for this weeks blog as I simply had a go at a few opportunistic subjects.

I have been working on photographing the life history of a butterfly called Charaxes varanes (if you follow this blog you will see the imagine in the next six weeks). I have always been fascinated by the head shields of the Charaxinae butterflies and they make fantastic subjects for portraits.  A few years ago I bred a number of local Charaxes butterflies and got the entire life history on camera. Ch varanes is a common insect and I have bred it a number of times however never had the chance to catch the hole thing on film.  The third and fourth instar head shields are spectacular. Here is the third instar portrait. 


The second image that I worked on this weekend is that of a Stapeliad, S graduliflora. I blogged on these plants recently and discussed the fact that they attract flies to fertilize them (their foul smell attracts the flies, large flowers can be smelt from quite a distance, the smaller are inoffensive). This plant has never flowered for me. I received it from a friend who travelled to Springbok in the North Western Cape. This is a stack of 10 images stacked to obtain a greater DOF (using Zerene Stacker, Canon 100 f 2.8) 

  


A flurry of frogs!!

I have never quite known what a collection of frogs are called…a croak, a pond, a flurry? Who knows, anyway I recently came accross a beautiful young Natal Tree Frog (Leptopelis natalensis) and it allowed me to photograph it. Here are a load of uncaptioned photographs, enjoy..(all taken with the Canon, 100mm f2.8 macro and 430EX Speedlight)

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And now for non macro work!!

This last weekend I was fortunate enough to spend three days at the Nambiti Private Game Reserve near Ladysmith. I shall not say any more and rather share images of some of the beautiful animals that we saw. This will take a few posts so here are the first couple of photographs. More are to follow over the next few days.

The first photograph is a pair of white rhino, beautiful muddy giants in the Sunset
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The next is the first of one very handsome male lion introduced from Kalahari stock.
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And another of the same young man.
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And here, a young Kudu cow, could not resist photgraphing this!
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And finally a young bull elephant dismantleing a tree!
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I have loads more photographs and will post them over the next few days.