Following on from my recent Animals of the Kruger National Park blogpost, I thought I would post some photographs of the wonderful South African bird species that can easily be seen and photographed as you travel through the Kruger National Park.
The Kruger Park is truly a special place for bird watching and bird photography because with its 500+ identified bird species, it is home to more than half of the bird species that are found in South Africa
I did not go into the park with any clear photographic projects in mind and just wanted to photograph whatever I came across. I was very happy to come away with some decent photos of some of the more common species as they are so often overlooked when it comes to bird photography. One of the first birds I saw was the iconic Africa Fish Eagle which was sitting out in the open with an uncluttered background.
I have long wanted for a good front-lit photo of the Black Crake because the red legs and yellow beak really contrast with the black plumage. This one had a young one in tow and was scuttling around catching insects and feeding its noisy young.
The tawny eagles were sitting overlooking a waterhole and watching some noisy baboons who were playing at the water’s edge. I positioned the car as best as I could in relation to the direction of the sun and hoped that they would take off towards me. Sadly the wind didn’t play ball and was blowing across the front of me from left to right, I knew from experience that they would take off into the wind and the chance to get the flight photo I had envisaged was gone. Plan B was to get a photo just as one of them took off and this is what I got.
I must admit to being obsessed with being at eye level with my wildlife subjects as this gives a wonderful feeling of intimacy in the photo. There are occasion when you have to throw that rule out of the window and the Egyptian Goose landing was one such occasion. I had positioned myself on the Olifants bridge to shoot some sunrise photographs, when I noticed the wonderful golden reflection of the rising sun on the river below. I was hand-holding the Canon 1Dx, 500mm combination and waiting for birds to fly across the golden area. Several obliged and I selected the one above as I love the wing drag that the goose does prior to landing, something that I have photographed on a few occasions with this particular bird.
It is not easy to get photographs of young vultures on the nest and when I saw this nest along the Olifants River, I wondered whether the adult (which was visible) was incubating eggs or sitting on young. I decided to wait and luckily after about 30mins, the little bird poked its head up. Patience is still one of the best wildlife photographic skills you can develop.