For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Videos: YouTube

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vacation Time -Day 1

The early morning sunrise found me well on my way to my destination. TWO WEEKS in the BUSH!! WOW!! I had been waiting a long time for this. The year to date has been extremely busy and hectic for me and I really needed the rest.
You have heard of The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe? Well here it is!! And you thought it was just a nursery rhyme? Just goes to show we should always believe in fairy tales as the do come true. :)

The last time I was in the area, this was a place were they still hand-made shoes and I was hoping to stop and get a pair as they are SO comfortable but now they use it as the entrance to Echo Cave which is a pity. Although I have bought new hiking shoes, they are not what I want and was really looking forward to seeing what these people had. Oh well .......
Although it is nearly the end of September and our rains should have started weeks ago, the rivers have very little water in them. This, the Olifants (Elephants) River is dry, both upstream ....
and down, there is nothing but sand.
All that is left is a small stream to the one side. At least it is still enough for the animals to have a drink and the crocodiles and hippos to bathe in.
Walking in the beds, there are many wonderful stones to be found.

This is a Red Leafed Rock fig and you can see where it gets its name from. This is not a miniture tree although this specimen is small, about 14-15 feet in height.
A better look at the root formation. They do not require soild to grow in and need very little water to thrive.
Going to stay in the bush for a few days, weeks, months, in order to do photography, there are a few things which are absolutely essential.

1. Hat – this is the top most important thing you should take. Forget your camera if you want to forget something but NOT a hat. Even in winter, the sun can get mighty warm, especially if you are not used to it.
2. This might sound stupid, but next in order of importance is a cotton, long sleeve shirt. You might get hot in it but it prevents you from getting sunburn and in the summer, helps keep mosquitoes from biting.
3. If you are prone to those nasty little things which bite, a good mosquito repellent comes in handy.
4. Wear comfortable walking shoes, preferably some which you have worn many times as this is not the time to get a blister.
5. Always have a bottle of water, even coffee or a beer will do. This comes in handy when you find a nice shady spot and want to take a break.
6. Depending on how long you are going to be out, take a couple of sandwiches along, but even on a short walk, an apple or orange adds to your moisture intake.
7. Now, if you are going to take pictures, please remember to pack in your camera plus some spare batteries and/or an extra memory card. Then don’t forget the binoculars.
8. The time of day you go for a walk is important, early in the morning or late afternoon being the best as then you miss the heat and your light is at its best. Also, early mornings are better to get good bug pictures as they have still not warmed up and are clinging to grass and weeds.

I have seen people going on walks which bog themselves down with all kinds of things including torches, night sticks, bandages, whistles, etc. At the end, their rug sacks are so heavy with things they MIGHT need, they do not enjoy the walk for what it is. By all means talk a walking stick if you feel you need it or anything else you might classify as essential, but remember, you have only two hands and when you want to take a picture, you need those hands to be free.

When doing photography, especially close-ups a few rules go a long way to getting a picture:

1. Wear old clothes so you are not afraid to get down and dirty if you have to.
2. Listen – many, many times, sound is what gives away the location of something, so stop and listen to your surroundings.
3. Look and observe – many times I pick up something just by a color which should not be there or the slight movement of something. For example, today I saw a piece of bark moving. Now as far as I know, bark should not move as it does not have legs so when I stopped and peered down, I discovered the most amazing little insect. Look for leaves which are freshly eaten as this is a good indication there is some kind of bug or beetle having a meal, sometimes under the leaf.
Be attuned to what the birds and animals around tell you. Birds will screech when they see something which is a threat to them such as lizards, raptors etc and an animal will scatter and take off at the faintest sight or sound of a predator.
4. Know where to find things. So often things like spiders are found on flowers as that is where the flying insects come to collect nectar. Lizards like to bask on rocks in the sun and butterflies are attracted to wild flowers or rotting fruit. It is at these places where you will also find things like mantis which prey on the above.
5. Above all, be patient. See where the insects favorite perches are and go and sit there without movement for a while and they will come back to them time and again. Almost all dragonflies have a spot he prefers.
6. Don’t move quickly or make a noise or let your shadow go over the insect. All of these frighten them off very quickly.

So now you know all my tricks and I can add only two more pieces of advice: Ladies, don’t try to go for a walk in high heel shoes and men, wearing socks on a walk at the end of summer is going to get them full of burrs and weeds, so leave them off. LOL!!

Oh and one more thing …… don’t get lost!! :)

And I almost forgot the most important of all ….. enjoy yourself!! I certainly will!!


Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Excellent post with some very good tips. I have never seen a rock fig, or I do not remember seeing one anyway! The Olifants River does look dry but very soon you should get your rains. Have a good trip and looking forward to seeing the results. Diane

Sandra said...

we have these same figs here, we call them strangler figs because they wrap around onther trees and strangle them. even your rocks are pretty. never seen any like them. of course we have sand and not many rocks here. your photos are wonderful as always

birdy said...

The pictures are great and interesting as usual, but the tips and tricks are the greatest, particularly for a photographer like me, who don't know much about photography essentials. Thanks for sharing.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You are welcome Diane. Rock Figs are very common and there are two types which are in abundance. Maybe you just never noticed them before. Going up to Kariba, I saw plenty.

It had been very windy here today so I am hoping that means it will be blowing up some rain clouds for us. Everything is so dusty and dry.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

These only grow on rocks Sandra and make wonderful bonsai if you can get them started.

I have been trying to get onto your blog all day but it will not open and will try again later.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Birdy. You are a WONDERFUL phographer so I would not think you need any tips and trick but if you ever need to find an easier way of doing things, let me know as I might have some ideas to share with you.

Craig Glenn said...

Beautiful photographs and what a great bush article! It's no wonder the Bug Lady is so difficult to find. I bet you would put those survival guys to shame on the discovery channel. You should do a reality show! That's it! Real live adventures of the Bug Lady!

yea, that's the ticket... reality show....


The Early Birder said...

Superb advice for wherever you are going. Enjoy tramping in the Bush Joan. FAB.

Becky and Gary said...

Lots of good advise here Joan. I very often forget to check out the trees, and then I'll miss a resting bird. Trying to get better about that.
I love those stones. I love fossils. Wondering if you came across any.

Rambling Woods said...

Sorry my blog has been a problem Joan...don't worry if you can't visit or comment....These are good suggestions for hikers and even for us backyarders to keep our eyes open...Michelle

Tammie Lee said...

looks and sounds like a wonderful time for you. thanks for all the advice. Something I always carry for getting down on my knees to take photos or to sit on for eating snacks... is a child's garden knee pad. It is so light and so handy! Sometimes I carry two, one for my knees and one for my elbows.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thats a great suggestion Craig. Maybe we can get rich and famous doing it. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Frank. I am loving being back in what I consider "home". :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Becky. I never find fossils but then again, I dont really look for any either and I should.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Michelle. I find these thigs are handy even in the city.

I think it is mostly my internet connection here which adds to it. It is very slow and if the pictures on the blogs are big or have a lot on them, it seems to freeze and will not open. I do try though.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

That is a great idea too Tammie. Those stones poke a person badly sometimes.

JM said...

The impala shot is wonderful, the tree living on the rock is simply amazing and I can't believe the boot house! Have never seen anything of the kind! :-)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Jose. The impala were at a small dam here where I am stay. No matter how many I see of them, I still like watching them. :)

Gaelyn said...

So glad you're getting into the bush, you certainly deserve a vacation. Did you go to Echo cave? I can't believe the dry Olifants River. Must be downstream of what we saw. Sure hope the rains come soon, but don't soak your vacation. Oh, well, maybe just a few days. Great rocks. The fig tree roots are so amazing as they grasp the rock. All very good advice. So look forward to more.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Gaelyn. After all that has happened to me this year, I really needed this. I just wonder if I will ever get over it as you know where my thoughts are every day. Yes, I know I am stupid!!

I dont mind if it rains when I am on vacation as I have seen what the drought does to the animals and the bush so I say Thank You for every drop we get.

Krista said...

What a great post! I felt like I was going along with you!!

"goin on a lion hunt
I'm not afraid!!!"


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Krista. You need not be afraid if you are with me. I send out a special message for the lions and things to leave my friends alone. :)

Firefly said...

I've just gotten back from a week in Gauteng and have to say its hot and dry. I wish I had the time on this trip though to go to Kruger as I would have much rather been there than in the city.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

I was wondering where you were Jonker. My wireless connecting there was also bad so I could not visit everyones blogs but will catch up in the next few days.

Hoedspruit was BOILING hot!! When one is not used to that heat, it can be unbearable.

It would be wonderful if you ever get the time to go to Kruger for a few days, you will love it there.