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Archive for South Africa / Wildlife

Hawaii wildlife

The natural world is amazing and varied, and there’s nothing like seeing parts of it first-hand, but I hope my photos will give you a small taste of that excitement! Every time I’m lucky enough to travel, it fills me with new inspiration and appreciation for nature.

June and sea turtle in Hawaii
Me with a green sea turtle – an overwhelming dream-come-true experience

I didn’t think I’d ever be able to top the thrill of seeing orangutans in their native environment of Borneo, but my sea turtle-spotting adventure in Hawaii last month may have just done it!

I took over 3000 photos on this trip and couldn’t force myself to narrow it down to just a dozen of the best. Instead, I’ve set up a few themed galleries in this post (scenery, turtles, lizards, misc wildlife) so you can enjoy any subjects that interest you without being bored by the rest šŸ™‚

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British Wildlife in Spring

There’ll always be a special place in my heart for UK wildlife, and Britain in springtime is especially lovely.Ā I’ve just got backĀ from visiting my parents, and I thought I’d share a few British wildlife photos with you – a change of pace from my usual African pics!

Ahh, a glade of bluebells – the quintessential sign of spring in British woodlands:

ukwildlife_bluebells

My all-time favourite British bird, a happy robin:

ukwildlife_robin

A wild bunny in a field (straight out of Watership Down):

ukwildlife_rabbit

A cheeky wood pigeon gobbling up pretty cherry blossoms:

ukwildlife_woodpigeon_cherryblossom

And, best of all – my first ever photo of a red squirrel! I just love their gorgeous colouring and tufted ears. (This is a wild squirrel, by the way – it was just eating nuts from a squirrelĀ feeder.)

ukwildlife_redsquirrel

Whenever I post photos of South African wildlife, I get comments saying “you’re so lucky; there’s no interesting wildlife where I live”. I’d like to dispute that – everywhere I’ve lived (various places in the UK, three cities in Canada, and of course here in Cape Town) I’ve enjoyed photographing my local wildlife. It may not always be as ‘exciting’ as zebras and flamingos, but, as I hope you can see from the above photos, that doesn’t make them any less interesting, or enjoyable to watch out for. Even in cities, there are parks and wilder areas, and venturing out into the local countryside is a great way to look for photo opportunities when you have time (and, as an added bonus, getting out into natureĀ is good for your physical and mental health too).

If you just take the time to look, I bet there are always some birds or animals you could try to spot and/or photograph fairly close to home…

I hope you’ve enjoyed my photos, and that this post will inspire you to keep your eyes open and enjoy the wildlife that lives on your doorstep šŸ™‚

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South Africa wildlife IX: Ceres and Sutherland

Just before Christmas, Dave spent a week working at one of the big telescopes at Sutherland, 400km from Cape Town. I decided to take a road trip to meet him out there and bring him home for Christmas. I thought you might like to see more of the South African landscape and wildlife, so I documented what I could for you to enjoy too!

The drive was lovely and I saw some amazing animals along the way – baboons, pelicans, blue cranes, lizards, and various birds of prey and brightly-coloured songbirds – but it’s not easy to take photos of moving targets while driving! By the time I’d stopped the car (when I could), the wildlife had run or flown away. In fact, the only animal I managed to photograph en route was a slow-moving baby tortoise… Ā But the scenery is pretty spectacular too, and I did get some nice wildlife pics once I reached the observatory.

Sutherland, Ceres and Cape Town

This doesn’t look like a massive road trip on the scale of the size of the whole country, but it goes through farmland, mountains, and semi-desert, and both the scenery and weather change completely as you go.

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Sea Turtle Conservation at the Two Oceans Aquarium

A couple of weeks ago, Dave and I had the privilege of going on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. We’ve been members of the aquarium since we moved to South Africa, as it’s not only one of the top tourist attractions in Cape Town, but also plays a valuable role in marine conservation, research and education.

me and Bob!

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South Africa wildlife VIII: Safari!

We’ve lived in South Africa for over 4 years, and still hadn’t been on a safari… Until last week, that is!

We planned to go to the Kruger National Park (one of the best places in the world to see wild African wildlife) this year, but my recovery after the knee surgery has taken a lot longer than expected, and I’m not up to being quite that adventurous just yet, so we’ve to start small(er) and work our way up to Kruger. There are smaller private game reserves that are much closer to home. We decided to visit the closest one, Aquila, for a day trip, as it’s just a 2 hour drive from Cape Town into the wilds of the Karoo.

Game reserves are nothing like ‘safari parks’ you may have visited elsewhere in the world, which are just open-plan zoos where you can drive your car through the animals’ enclosures. A game reserve is a wild area protected for conservation, where the animals (‘game’) can live wild and free in their natural environment, but safe from hunters and land development. There are no roads, only tracks, and the game drives are conducted by experienced rangers to keep everyone safe – these are true wild animals, and could be dangerous if not treated with respect.

African Elephants on safari
My favourite photo from the safari: these elephants walked right past our vehicle!

We headed out for our game drive in the 10,000 hectare reserve in an open-sided 4×4 safari vehicle driven by our ranger and guide. The Karoo is a stunning natural environment, and we saw zebra, hippopotamus, wildebeest, buffalo, white rhinoceros, lions, giraffe, springbok, eland, and of course elephants! It was an absolutely amazing experience and quite emotional for me (especially seeing wild rhinos and knowing how prevalent the poaching problem is and that these animals could be killed for their horns, despite everything that’s being done to try to stop the poachers).

Photo Gallery

I’m trying something new with my photos this time – I’ve installed a new photo gallery so you can see much larger versions of my photos. This page should load quickly with thumbnails of all the pictures (below) to give you a taste, so I can include more photos without slowing down the site. If you click any photo, the gallery will open and let you see them all super-sized – much larger than my previous photos (like the elephants above, which you can also see larger, as part of the gallery below).

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    June Gilbank

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