Month: March 2015

Galah Tendon Locking Mechanism Kalbarri Western Australia

Galah – Defying Gravity

“Every bird that flies has the thread of the infinite in its claws” – Victor Hugo, Les Misérables This galah I met on the banks of the Murchison River near Kalbarri seems to defy gravity. But it doesn’t. As any other creature or object it would fall to the earth – even while being a bird – without the ingenuous anatomy of its feet. As in most birds they’re gifted with the so-called tendon locking mechanism or TLM – a mechanism in which the toes automatically grasp a branch in pincer-like fashion when bending its knees and heel articulations, allowing it to stay up in a tree without wasting too much energy and ‘play the Galah’.

Carnaby's Black Cockatoo Calypthorhynchus latirostris Yanchep National Park Western Australia

Rain Birds – Carnaby’s Cockatoo

The short-billed black or Carnaby’s cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) is one of Western Australia’s most fascinating birds. In summertime they reside in coastal areas while feeding on the seeds of Banksia, Hakea, and eucalypts – and with ample water and roosting sites Yanchep National Park is a favourite hangout and excellent place to spot them. Last Sunday we weren’t short of luck with flocks of up to a hundred individuals socialising in the tall Tuart trees. Here we witnessed a noisy spectacle of feeding, crooning and preening – the meticulous grooming ritual in which pairs strengthen their bond. Preening is the earliest sign of the approaching breeding season when the female will lead her partner back to the place where she was born, deep in the arid inland of WA’s Wheatbelt region. The arrival of the first storms and winter rains will be the starting sign of this journey, and the early settlers therefore called them ‘rain birds’, referring to the change of weather and seasons when the cockatoos flew over. However, the future of the Carnaby’s cockatoo …

Seagull – Thirst

The last photo in the 5 Day Black-and-White Challenge is somewhat different. I found out that during the past few years I started to develop a certain style of photography – a style that increasingly showcases details, close-ups and portraits of animals and plants. I also discovered I find myself less confident when taking photos of landscapes or bigger subjects, resulting in my shots never really telling a story within that broader context – I guess this is exactly the reason I like to elaborately tell the stories behind my photos. But this photo is different as it does tell a story. That is because my wife Anita has taken it. Anita is a great photographer, and whenever I leave the camera alone in an unattended moment she’ll grab it and starts playing around. Her photos are totally different as she simply sees things that I don’t. Where I probably would have focused on this gull’s brightly coloured beak Anita focuses on the bird drinking from a leaking tap. It just illustrates how people look …

Nile Crocodile iSimangaliso Wetland Park KwaZulu Natal South Africa

Crocodile – Economy of Scales

South Africa’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park is one of our favourite destinations. This unique estuarine park consists of over 300,000 hectares of lakes, swamp forests, giant sand dunes and one of the most beautiful coastlines in Southern Africa. And of course there is an abundance of wildlife, an ever important asset for the local tourism industry with its headquarters based in the pleasant and laid back town of St. Lucia. In fact, (eco)tourism has become such an important economic driver that the park has seen major changes over the past 15 years with new sections created, the rehabilitation of former agricultural land and the reintroduction of thousands of animals including elephants, rhinos and lions – notably in the uMkhuze part of iSimangaliso. Not less spectacular are the hippos and crocodiles that live in the park’s waterways – with around 1,200 crocodiles iSimangaliso holds one of South Africa’s most important wild crocodiles populations. Apart from being important predators in a complex ecosystem crocodiles are also of vital importance for the local economy – boat cruises on the …