During our recent road trip to the Cape we chanced upon some lovely plants and birds. The images below were taken in Cape Town, Betty’S Bay and Knysna. Enjoy….
The first three images, Black Oystercatcher, Betty’s Bay
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)
I have recently been breeding a number of butterflies and been able to either get macro images of the larvae or of the adult. This first photograph is of Charaxes candiope, the Green Veined Charaxes, third instar larva. The head shield is approximately 5mm accross. This was shot with the MPE 65 @ 2x
These next two photographs are head shots of Junonia oenone, the Blue Pansy. I bred a number of these recently and was able to take a number of photographs of the head of the butterfly as this one was drying its wings. These two were taken with the MPE 65 3x
This final photograh is a robber fly, not the classic full frontal that I wanted but still OK. This was also taken with the MP65 at 2x
I have, for a long while, been asked to photograph more Scarabs. The problem has been finding specimens to photograph. After much searching I found these. This post is extremely short. I just want feedback on the very simple “draft” photos of these four insects. Please ignore the imperfections.
Goliathus albosignathus, the Goliath Scarab. One of the largest Scarab beetles on earth and found from Limpopo up into Central Africa.
Eudicella smithi, Smiths Scarab. Another interesting insect from Burundi, Central Africa.
Ranzania burtolinii, Burtolini’s Scarab, male from Tanzania, East Africa
Ranzania burtolinii, Burtolini’s Scarab, female, from Tanzania, East Africa.
There has been silence from my side as we all dashed off for Christmas at my parents home in the Hogsback in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. As usual with my visit to Hogsback the trip would involve time on the bicycle and as much butterflying as possible. The main focus butterfly wise was to find a number of endemics, some of which had neve been photographed. These included Penningtons Opal (Chrysoritis penningtoni), Dicksons Copper (Aloeides dicksoni) and the Gaika Sylph (Metisella syrinx). Added to the list was as many photographs of the Amakosa rocksitter (Durbania amakosa amakosa) as possible to compare with our local insect as well as the one that I discussed in my last post, from the Bushmans Neck area.
The drive to Hogsback was long and hard. As we approached we were greated by a massive thunder storm that was followed by a day of soft rain and cabin fever (me on holiday needing exercise, Tracey wanting to get out and three little girls). It was good though as it gave us time to spend time with my folks, sister Leonie from Cape Town, other sister Nikki and her husband Rod and their little ones over from Kansas. On day two we sis see sunshine for a few hours and I dashed out to a local wetland to look for Satyrids.
On arrival I found a few specimens of Serradinga clarki, they are very difficult to photograph as they flit around all over the place rarely landing and when they do it is in a clump of grass making taking a photograph very difficult. After a few unsuccessful attempts I decided to wonder up a rocky ridge and to my supprise saw a skipper flitting around the rocks. After a few minutes of following it around I was able to get a few photographs. There were a number of the little beauties flying around enguaging in aerial battles.
I was a little confused with the ID of the skippers however Ernest Pringle and Torben Larsen both agreed that they were Tsitana tsita.
Shortly after seeing the skippers I noted a small dark butterfly flit onto a rock. Immediately I knew that it would be a rocksitter and there it waqs, a small male, a bit ropey but I was chuffed to find that they were in the area and immadiately started looking for more. After an hour I had photographed approximately 10 males and a female. They are smaller than the Drakenberg and Natal subspecies and lack the orange dital markings on the other two. Compare the photographs below to those from Bushmans Neck (previous post)
Durbania amakoza amakoza male (The Amakoza Rocksitter)
Durbania amakoza amakoza female (The Natal Rocksitter)
The next two days were wet and one was Christmas so we spent a very over indulgent day at Coombe Dingle. The 27th December was to be a good day, or so all the weather web pages said, so we planned an assault on Gaikas Kop to try to get the rareties. We woke up early to a breezy, overcast and chilly day. I knew that the Chrysoritis colony that we were to visit was on the protected slopes so was fairly confident that we would be out of the wind and that we should be successful if the clouds broke. The climb is short and pretty hard but the flowers over December are wonderful. Various species of Watsonia (in particular W pillansii with the odd white form popping up in the patches or red) and the robust Kniphofia northyi were to be seen. It was very strange that the Proteas, once so abundant on top and on the slopes, were in a very bad way with huge patches having died. I climbed with Tracey (my wife), sisters Leonie and Nikki and brother in law, Rod and they were most shocked when, upon reaching the top I told them to walk half way down the other side to the colony. Gaikas Kop is an amazing place. It is flat on top and obviously collects a lot of water as whenever I have visited the sides of the hill seep water all over the place. On the way down to the colony I saw a small Lyceanid butterfly flitting around. It turned out to be Orachrysops nasutus nasutus, a fairly widespread cousin of the rare O niobe and O ariadne (I posted about this butterfly a few posts back). It was a female and I was able to get a few photos, one is attached.
Female Orachrysops nasutus nasutus, the Nosy Blue
We got to the Chrysoritis colony, it was shielded from the wind and the clouds did break up giving us windows of opportunity to look for the illusive little butterfly. I found them at the spot way back in 1993 and, since then, have visited on a number of occations either on my own or with Alan Heath and Harald Selb. Every time that I have visited I have seen them. Even my father, Bruce (not a butterfly person), has been up there on his own and collected a specimen for DNA analysis at the Museum of Comparative Zoology (Harvard). The 27th was different. I did not see a single specimen. Sad but that it how things go and I will have to return to photograph them. I did however find a lovely fresh female Serradinga clarki whose wings were still floppy. I got some great photos of her before we left.
Serradinga clarki (Clarks Widow) female
The walk down is through Thamnocallamis bamboo, a bamboo endemic to the higher slopes of the Southern Drakensberg and the Amatolas. This bamboo is the foodplant of Metisella syrinx (the Gaika or Bamboo Sylph). As soon as we got into the bamboo we saw the butterfly. It is a beast to get close to and photograph as the hillside is steep and strewn with boulders and the higher bits of the bamboo very difficult to access. After unsuccessfully chasing a few I finally got one to play the game and sit for a short period, shot enough to get two shots but to short to get an upperside. One of the two is attached.
Metisella syrinx (The Banboo or Gaika Sylph)
A few weeks ago I sent an email out to my friends inviting them to join me on a dash up Bushmans Neck to photograph Chrysoritis orientalis. A lot of interest and very little commitment was shown as the hill is very steep. Eventually two of us went. My old mate Clive Curtis, a professional hunter who can walk for a week before he starts panting and myself. I collected Clive at 05h30 from his house and we headed to Bushmans Neck. After a very misty drive we signed in at the Ezemvelo Gate and started the walk.
The path to the colony goes straight up the main ridge above the hotel, it is very steep and in some places precipitous on either side. On the way up we came across a small colony of Aloeides oreas. One particulary fresh male allowed us time to photograph him.
Clive has started a stock video company (linked to his hunting video business http://www.safari-vision.com/) and was able to get a lot of footage of this little chap. From here (about half was up) we dashed to the top. It took spot on an hour from the car park to the colony. I have visited the colony on a number of occations. Some on my own, once with Clive (where we had to sprint off the hill to avoid the huge lightning storm that appeared from Lesotho) and also once with Alan Heath where I found the larvae and Alan was able to breed the insect. Needless to say we walked the colony flat. We saw one very ropey female and nothing else. I suggest that we were far to late for the brood and should head up there again in October and November next year. That said we found two colonies of rocksitters on top. The species amakosa of the genus Durbania has been split into a number of subspecies. I collected a number of specimens from this locality 16 years ago and showed them to Steve Woodhall. They were nothing like our local insect, Durbania amakosa natalensis. I thought they were closer to the nominate amakosa however the red/orange patterning on the wings was far more extensive. Since then we have bred them from three localities and I am fairly sure now that they deserve subspecific status. Anyway, here are two males found in the upper colonies.
Again Clive got loads of footage of these. We then set off down the hill to see what we could find in the Proteas. Not long after entering the Protea stand we cam accross a male Capys alpheas, a butterfly whose larvae feed on the flower heads of Proteas. In the Proteas we also found more rocksitters. Further down the hill we came across a number of skippers. Spialia skippers have always confused me and here we had two of the 10 odd species. Anyway, I got home and IDed them (with confirmation from Steve Woodhall and skipper guru Johan Greyling). We found two, Spialia mafa and S asteroidia. I got a number of photos and Clive some video footage.
And finally a few candid shots of Clive photograhing the Spialia int he photograph above and on the walk home.
We got to the bottom absolutely famished and Clive treated me to lunch preceded by a iced lolly, one of those lollies where the packet should read “defrost and add 5l of water”, it was sweet but exactly what we needed. The usual conversation on the way home was a little less enthusiastic than usual as we were both rather tired. It is a hard climb and my cycling legs struggled!!
Things have been pretty wild for the last few weeks getting the Agric Hall going anf people have been asking me whats happening for December. Well December is here and the first person who will be in for the period Dec/Jan is Steve Bailey. Steve is an award winning Eastern Cape based photographer. A brief bio follows as do a number of photographs but please visit Steve site www.stevebailey.co.za for more information.
This December we hope to see Allen Hallett return to the Kiln after a very successful exhibition in Gaborone.
An now a brief bio :
“Steve Bailey was born in Liverpool, England and moved to Southern Africa when he was 10.
He has always had a passion for Photography – eventually studying Graphics/Photography, obtaining a City and Guilds Diploma in Graphic Reproduction.
He spent 25 years in Zimbabwe before moving to Cape Town, South Africa. He is now resident in Bedford in the Eastern Cape”, and a few photographs…..
A few weeks ago University of Natal art student, Sharon Weaving, approached Fran to use the Kiln at the Karkloof Farmers Market as a venue for the examination of her work. So, for the next week the Kiln is hers and her examiners. Next Saturday we will be back in and her work will be on view along with ours.
So, before I post photographs a short blurb on Sharon….
“I have always been passionate about art and craft. Whether ceramics, beadwork or knitting I find that creating with my hands is exciting, fulfilling and therapeutic. My passion stems from my Mom’s love for all handcrafts and the enjoyment she derives from experiencing a new craft and passing on her knowledge. I am excited to hear about the activities of new craft movements currently on the go. These are worldwide initiatives motivated by like-minded artists / crafters, young and old, encouraging people to appreciate all that is handmade. I think this is wonderful as these movements promote the ‘funky’ aspects of craft, and how contemporary art and craft can be used in development, activism and therapy. I believe that art and craft are such an important part of life and should be promoted as such.
I was first introduced to ceramics by attending underglaze painting classes which later progressed to running a ‘ceramic-painting’ studio from home. My passion for ceramics continued and I decided to study a BA (Visual Art) at UKZN, followed by Honours and Masters majoring in Ceramics. I started hand-building with porcelain in my Honours year, demonstrating an exploration of texture and translucency in my work. My ideas progressed further with the piercing of the vessel surface to create shadows.
The casting of shadows continued into the body of work that I now present. I started making geometric structural forms which were dipped in paper porcelain and fired to 1200˚C. The fired structure assumed a soft, organic quality in its slumped state which I found appealing, and continued to play with this element of ‘chance outcome’. Whilst working with these forms I discovered that I wanted to achieve a greater organic quality of form and decided to make the frames myself to have more command over the final product.
Countless test pieces later I discovered the composition of material, process and clay body suitable to create my recent works. Each piece is individually crocheted, dipped into an ‘engobe’ and dried over a mould. Once dry, the pieces are fired to 1200˚C, burning away the crochet cotton , leaving a hollow, fragile, porcelain structure each of which casts its own unique delicate shadow. I am very excited to have been able to use an age-old craft such as crochet in an unconventional manner thus illustrating that there is a place for time-honoured crafts in contemporary ceramics and other art forms.“
Again it has been a mad week with exams, work and getting the new gallery ready for opening. That asside Fran and I are nearly there and ready to have the gallery open next Saturday (the 12th). We will be sharing a room with Senqu at the Agric Hall in Howick.
To date the people exhibiting will be : Author and photographer Steve Woodhall, well known nature photographer and author Roger de la Harpe, Aritsts Denise Beuck and Andre de la Rosa, photographers Toni le Roux, Fran Simmons and myself. We are hoping that sculpture Allen Hallett will confirm as will Peter Wickham, Doug and Deryck Morton and Cheryl Logan.
Tony Thomson, local Amber valley resident and artist, will man the gallery and paint during the week.
This gallery, like the one at the Farmers Market, has been established as a showpiece for local artists and photographers. You will not find a selection of Midlands material as diverse and unique as this anywhere else so stop off and have a coffee, say “Hi” to Tony and have a look. I am sure that you will like what is to be seen.
And now some photos of material that will be on display (apologies for those who follow my blog as a few of these will be repeats).
The first photograph is Toni le Roux’s. Toni entered this into the “Natural History” category of the N3TC competition this year and won the category!!
Next we have Steve Woodhall. Steve is the president of the Lepidopterists Society of Africa and author of a number if books on butterflies (all of which will be available at the Kiln)
The Kiln Gallery at the Karkloof Farmers Market and soon to be at the Howick Agricultural Hall as well.
I have not posted for a while, mainly because I have been away in the Northern Province and further working rather hard with Fran and Doug getting our new venture going. The new one is another Gallery. Doug and Fran started the Kiln at the Karkloof Farmers Market and two months into it we were approached by Laurence Hancock, a local farmer and business man, about establishing a permanent exhibition at the Howick Agricultural Hall. This was to be open 7 days a week which would help us enormously. Anyway, we have been getting printing done, sorting out painting and trying to employ people. Hence no posts.
Oh, and I forgot to add, if you have not been to the Kiln FB page then do, and like it and you will be kept up to date with all the goings-on. See http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Kiln-Gallery/192143797488771
The new gallery opens its doors on the 12th November so we hope to see everyone there!! Anyway, to close off a few pictures. Bye!!
This last weekend Steve Woodhall, Michael Purves and I decided to hike up Bulwer Mountain to attempt to find and photograph the Drakenberg Daisy Copper, Chrysoritis oreas. This insect was first discovered by South African butterfly legend Ken Pennington on the higher slops of the Drakensberg in Loteni area. A few people visited the spot and collected specimens however I do not know of anyone who knows where this type locality is. In the 1980’s Clive Quickleberge and my old friend Wolter Kaspers were on the Bulwer Mountain when Wolter presented Clive with a little copper that he had caught. It was the Drakensberg Daisy Copper and Bulwer mountain is the only known locality besides the type. I have visited the mountain a number of times. The butterfly holds particular significance for me as the day that I trekked back from my first hike up the mountain was the day that I met my wife, Tracey. In 1997 I visited the mountain with Alan and Jenny Heath, Tony Brinkman and Tracey. On this trip Alan identified the foodplant (Thesium sp), the ant and got to breed the butterfly for the first time.
Saturdays trip was to secure a series of digital photographs of the insect, live and in habitat. Steve had photographed the butterfly on film once before.
We left Howick a little late as Steve was caught in traffic but got to the town of Bulwer in good time. The drive up to the Paragliding launch spot was a lot rougher than I remember and the climb a lot steeper. Steve was fighting off the last of a chest cold so we took it slowly. After an hour we were up on the ridge below the colony. There we came across Penningtons Protea (Capys penningtoni) hilltopping. This is another rare butterfly endemic to this area. Like other members of the genus this insect breeds on the heads of protea flowers. In the case of Penningtons Protea the foodplant os the widespread Protea caffra. After unsuccessfully trying to photograph the Penningtons Protea we wondered over into the habitat of the little copper. After a hour of searching we had found nothing but a few ragged Penningtons protea and a very weather-beaten Mooi River Opal (Chrysoritis lycegenes). Eventually there was a yell from Steve, he had seen one. Typical of these insects that live on the top of a windy hills, they fly low and shelter in the grass. Steve had found a female, we followed her and she barrelled into a tuft of grass. I was able to get a photograph before she shot off not to be seen again. About half an hour later, after searching the area and finding nothing but a few Penningtons coppers (Aloeides penningtoni) Steve again saw a female. This lady was a lot more co-operative and we all got a number of upper and underside shots. While this was happening I noticed something dart onto an Osteospermum flower. It was a male and it gave me enough time to get a number of photographs. All in all we estimated that there were five specimens in the area. All very fresh meaning we must have hit the begin of the brood. Before leaving we were able to induce a female to lay a few eggs for Steve to take home to photograph and breed.
The hike back was tough but made easier by our success. It was good to again make the acquaintance of this beautiful and very rare insect.
We at the Kiln have wanted to open for 7 days a week for a while. Last weekend we were approached by a local businessman who offered us space in his property on a tourist route. We are talking to other exhibitors to join us and we have a number of exciting new people who may join us. That is all for this week as there is a lot of work to be done. So, cheerio and here are a few photos that we hope will be housed at the exhibition, if they are not there then they will be at the Karkloof Farmers Market.