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Found 5 results

  1. I don't know if this is of any interest, but Jane, my rather wonderful wife, got me a day out as a "Falconer" at the Gauntlet Birds of Prey Centre near Knutsford as a Christmas prezzy and last Sunday a friend of mine ,Parky, and I went to see just how big a White Tailed Eagle looked rather close up.Falconry is of course a Field Sport, as we politly say in England but there is no doubt that without falconry techniques a lot of re-introduction schemes for raptors would not of got off the ground, and some species-such as the Mauritius Falcon, would not be hear now. Jane had arranged for the Eagle experience which was a day out etting close to various birds building up to holding a flying several Eagles. I say pretending to be a falconer.Off course falconry is a time consuming labour of love, bonding with a bird, finding out its personality and its ideal flying weight.We would be learning to hold the birds on the glove and flying some of them.It was all very exciting!
  2. Can anyone help with an ID on this raptor seen in Kaziranga National Park? My first thought was Changeable Hawk Eagle and that's what I have listed, but now I'm not so sure. The feathering just doesn't match any other images I've Googled, and the eye should be much brighter yellow, even given the dim light. Any other thoughts? This is just a briefly processed photo for ID purposes only
  3. Doing a search on this site I could find only two trip reports on the KTP so thought this would be a good place to start with a trip report. Nestled between Botswana and Namibia in the North Western corner of South Africa is what was formerly called the Kalahari Gemsbok Park which now makes up part of the larger KTP. The Kgalagadi is a harsh land, and Kagalagadi means the Great Thirstland. As would be expected it is arid. At the same time it has a remarkable beauty and a host of animals that survive in this wonderland. This journey will show you each camp, the accommodation, what you will pay for it, and what you can expect to see in the camp and surrounding area. We will start at the northern most camp, Grootkolk, and work our way south down the Nossob Riverbed, across the dunes, on to the Auob Riverbed and finish at the Southern entrance of the Park which is Twee Rivieren (meaning two rivers) In my opinion the KTP is arguably the best Park on the planet for big cats (you can get really close to these) and raptor sightings for the price you pay (relatively cheap compared to other Parks). Black Shouldered Kite with Beakfast Red Necked Falcon You will enjoy many of these sightings to yourself and there are also the little cats, African Wildcat and Caracal. Honey Badgers and Brown Hyenas. Aarwolfs and Aaardvarks. Suricates (meerkats) and some very special antelope. Rollers and bee-eaters, waxbills and shrikes Beautiful sunrises and sunsets and the red sands of the Kalahari. You do not need a guide to do the KTP. You can get a flight to Upington form Johannesburg or Cape Town and from Upington to Twee Rivieren is a comfortable 2.5 hour drive on a tarred road. Overses visitors will need to hore a car and price will depend on what you get. To get to Bitterpan and Gharagab Camps you will need a 4x4 woth low range as you will be driving the dunes to get to these. For the rest of the camps juts a vehicle with high clearance is rfecommended so that you visisbility is not restricted - the sand ridges at the side of the road ar high in places. Be warned, once you get that red sand between your toes, you will just want to return again and again. All this time effort, you might ask what is in it for me: 1. To share the magic of South African Parks with you. 2. To reach an international group of like minded people to show the challenges and threats we are faced with in conserving these areas so that we can discuss possible solutions. I will post in the Rhino Poaching Topic shortly.
  4. It often happens that one tends to ignore what one has in one's backyard. In Hindi, there is a saying, "Ghar ki murgi, daal barabar" -meaning that the value of a chicken, bred in house ( as far as eating it is concerned) is akin to that of a humble pulse (grain legume). Having spent a majority of my life in Gujarat, i had yet to see some of the sights and parks- an issue which i decided to address. Accordingly, i asked one of my friends if he would be interested in visiting Velavader National Park and on his confirmation, we decided to drive down to VNP on 7th January morning. On the 6th evening, while having dinner with some students and faculty of IIT, Gandhinagar; i mentioned about the trip and that we could take two students with us, an offer immediately accepted by Prashant and Vijay-both final year students and amateur photographers. On the 7th morning, after a hearty breakfast, and after loading as much equipment and lenses as we desired -without any anxiety of carry on baggage limits- we left for VNP. The route was as follows: There are two stay options at Velavader. One is a forest guest house just inside the park called Kaliyar Bhavan Forest Guest House and second is a private resort called The Blackbuck Lodge. There is really no comparison between the two - one a government run, low price, functional and limited food choice and the other a high price private resort. We decided to try the forest guest house. The rooms here cost Rs 1000/- (US$16) per night for a non A/c room with food extra. Food is also very cheap with the cost of 4 dinners, 4 breakfasts and 8 cups of tea/coffee coming to just Rs 992/- (US$15). As i said the food is vegetarian, local cuisine, limited choices - passable. Here is a picture of it: We reached the place at around noon, having stopped on the way to sample the local agriculture produce such as Guavas, green roasted channa (chickpeas) and Ber (Ziziphus mauritiana). It was just inside the park a short distance from the gates and we could see the savannah: We checked in and enquired about lunch. Sorry, we were not told that you needed lunch and hence none prepared. Oh well! We drove a short distance to the main road and had an excellent Dhaba (roadside stall) lunch. Upon our return, we met Mr. Waghela, a conservator of forests, (officer) who explained about the park, its history and the animals resident there. he then took us to a dormitory where some 40 odd school children were housed. these children had come for a two day trip to understand the park, its residents and the need to conserve the environment. We were quite impressed by the yeomen work the Forest office was doing to protect the environment. We took a picture of the students who posed with their Master (MK Patel) and Mr Waghela. i took the email ID of the School Master, but the mail is bouncing back . I hope one of the students will see this and down load it for the group) There is an interaction centre where the environment is explained by a series of painted pictures and data. Children would not be interested in too much of written material and some innovative methods must be found to capture their attention and imagination. We went out and i saw a couple of rose ringed parakeet. they were quite well camouflaged in the trees: There were some larks in the grass. One cannot immediately see them- they are so well camouflaged- its only when then are up as a group that you notice them: We went back to our rooms and it was time for our evening safari. After paying the permit charges and camera charges ( i unknowingly paid for three cameras mine and the two students - whereas amateur camera is free) we were assigned a young man, possibly in his early 20's as our guide. The only downfall here is that you need to drive in your own vehicle. This is a double problem since my SUV was closed from all sides and i had to drive it myself! The park is about 35 sq. kms divided into two parts. There are some natural water bodies as well as artificial ones created by the forest department. At least the water bodies made here were slightly better than those at Gir or Bhandhavgarh which were brick and cement structures, designed like a horse trough, and painted white! These were mud structures, bigger, much bigger but shaped square or rectangle. The best viewing season for the birds is just when the park opens after the monsoon break ie: 15th Oct - the water is still there on the ground and breeding is in full force. This year, the monsoon was pretty poor and secondly the winter was not harsh- in fact during the day time it was warm, not uncomfortable warm, but warm- and hence the birds were fewer. Just our luck! Still, black buck were there in plenty and nilgai too. attachment=36150:MR2_5530.jpg] I had wanted to get better shots of the painted storks and some one told us that they probably would be in the village pond. After we finished our evening safari, there was still some light and we dashed to the village nearby. Alas! there was a solitary stork standing in the water, and no sign of that big group. Kite flying season was on and we saw this girl intent on her kite flying. She was a picture of concentration: We had parked the car in front of the house of one Popatbhai who asked us if we would like to have tea. Life has taught me never to look a gift horse in the mouth and even before he had finished his question , i answered "yes". So we had some kadak-meeti chai (strong and sugary). The process involves boiling equal parts of water and milk along with tea leaves and sugar. The concoction is repeatedly brought to a boil, with the results that the tannins, nicotine and other chemicals get released. Popatbhai's young daughter was aspiring to be a model and i shot a few frames. Who knows? Once she becomes famous, i could stake claim to having launched her career: The shadows were getting longer and it was time to go back. The setting sun made a wonderful picture: A truck loaded with cotton, along with the pickers came around and i was enthralled by the good nature these simple folks exhibit. They live a simple life, made do with little and offer what little they have to strangers without a second thought. They are cheerful and enjoy all that life and nature brings them. We city folks need to learn from them. We had a typical Kathiyawadi dinner- Rotla, Mashed roasted Aubergines, khichidi and khadi and retired. We got up at 5 am the next morning and went for a walk. It was still very dark and only a sliver of the moon was visible- we walked on the road outside the park- weather was invigorating and cool. A cup of tea upon our return and we were ready for our morning safari at 7 am sharp. Driving and photography can be combined if you have empty seats where you can park your gear and use the passenger window as a rest to take photographs with the long lens. However, we were five of us in the car-stuffed to the gills and it was quite frustrating to take photos with the long lens. I could take some BIF photos : In the morning, we could sight a lot of the blackbucks and nilgais. We saw one nilgai racing after another with its tail up. Tail up signals intent to fight- the intruder had encroached upon this alpha's territory. to be continued...
  5. Birdlife International needs your help to implement their campaign to save vultures across Africa. Did you know that 7 of Africa's 11 vulture species are on the brink? 7 species are either classed as "Endangered" or "Critically Endangered" on IUCN's Red List of Species. While vultures in Southern Asia are now COMING BACK from almost total extinction, Africa's vultures are now in more danger from poisoning (direct and indirect), harvesting for traditional medicine, electrocution, habitat loss, decline in food availability, and disturbance at breeding sites. If you have the means, however small that may be, it would be very helpful if you could contribute to Birdlife International as they work with thousands stakeholders on the ground across Africa to save these vultures from extinction. Please visit: and to find out more. If you're on Facebook, please share posts from Birdlife's vulture page on your own personal page (and relevant bird, conservation, raptor pages you may be on) If you're on Twitter, please use the #lovevultures tag and share the links widely. I recently shared one titled: "Vultures: So hardcore they eat anthrax for breakfast" Just so you know, Birdlife International is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the world and has had many successes in bird and habitat conservation through their many local partners across the globe. They are well-respected, transparent, and results-driven. Thanks!

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