February 26th, 2014

At the Duck Pond in Basel Zoo

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As I was saying in my previous post, I went to Basel zoo to do some photography. I spent most of the time at the duck pond, where captive and wild ducks fill the pond. Some absolutely gorgeous species are kept there: the Mandarin Duck, the Smew and the (American) Woodduck. The Smew with its beautiful black and white coloring and mask was strikingly referred to as the Zorro-Duck by some young visitors at the duck pond.

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The Woodduck has an amazing color range in its feathers.

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To get a larger version, click on the image. Click on the image again to close the enlarged view.

February 23rd, 2014

Spring is Knocking on the Door

I went out to do some photography in our local zoo. Temperatures were mild (almost spring-like) and most animals were in a spring mood. I was photographing near the duck pond, when suddenly this red squirrel ran into a low shrub, trying to avoid an attack from a stray cat. As a result, the squirrel remained seated in the shrub, waiting for the cat to disappear. I was glad to help :). Next, the only thing I had to do was find a spot to photograph through the branches to get a clean-ish shot. Below is the result.

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January 2nd, 2014

Surprise End of 2013

We went to the Netherlands over Christmas to visit friends and family. On 31 December I visited my cousin who is living in a forest region. She knew of my passion for birds and alerted me to the special guests she has in her garden: a family of a Long-Eared Owls, roosting right next door to the house in a conifer tree. In total a party of 4 owls come to roost in this tree every day, to leave for the hunt just before sunset. I had never seen these small owls before and it was very special to see them on New Year’s Eve. Fortunately I did travel with my photo-gear and was able to grab a few images of these special birds. To all visiting my blog, I wish you a happy and prosperous 2014.

Click on the image to view a larger version.

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December 11th, 2013

Colorful Beauty

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Common Kingfisher

Last weekend I went out to shoot at a bird-sanctuary near Zürich. Anette Mossbacher from BPN accompanied me.
Star of the afternoon was the Common Kingfisher. We sat in a hide, overlooking a part of the lake. Most of the lake was frozen and the kingfisher was mostly hovering around an open patch in the ice. Now and then the kingfisher crossed to the other part of the lake and twice she positioned herself on a reed-stem in gorgeous afternoon light. Even with the 600mm lens with a 2x converter it was still quite a distance.

October 13th, 2013

Save the Rhino Petition at Avaaz.org


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Save the Rhino

John Varty, filmmaker and owner of Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa, wrote an open letter to Cyril Ramaphosa, now Vice President of the ANC in South Africa. John basically wants these poachers, mainly form Mozambique, be treated as invaders.

The whole issue with Rhino horn is that the horn is made of keratin, the same material as our finger nails. If keratin has medicinal value (it hasn’t), biting your nails will have the same effect. Leave these animals alone !

Please join the efforts to stop this slaughter. As we speak, nearly 800 Rhino have been killed this year alone. Goto the link below and sign the petition. Avaaz has a good record of creating awareness on political levels with encouraging results.

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Rhino_Poaching_in_South_Africa_1

Below is the actual letter that John Varty sent to the South African government:

Dear Sir,

Having recently personally purchased for R18 million a buffalo bull, I know you are someone who cares about our wildlife and heritage.

My problem is this, in September 2011, I implored the President, Jacob Zuma to treat the invasion of Mozambicans who are killing our rhino as an invasion of our country.

I feel the President, like President Ian Khama of Botswana, should be at the forefront of this rhino crisis.

As from my attached letter, you will see that the war is intensifying into the private game reserves. In desperation, I have written a letter to the Minister of Defense, but I have had no response.

I find the ANC Government aloof and non-communicative with its citizens.

Can you urge the Minister of Defense to commit troops to crush this poaching once and for all.

Could you as Vice President of ANC, take this crisis into your own hands and play the role that President Ian Khama is playing. This involves appearing on TV, motivating and inspiring us who are trying to combat the poaching. We desperately need leadership!

The fire that you displayed when you were leading the unions against the big mining companies during apartheid, is needed now!

Please reply to jv@jvbigcats.co.za
Cell number: 083 6511 600

Tread Lightly on the Earth
John Varty
Co-owner of Londolozi Game Reserve
Founder of Tiger Canyons

This letter is copied to the following:
1) President of South Africa – Jacob Zuma – president@po.gov.za
2) Min Defence and Military Veterans – Ms Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula – siphiwe.dlamini@dod.mil.za
3) Min Justice and Constitutional Development – Mr Jeff Radebe – Mediaenquiries@justice.gov.za
4) Min Police – Nathi Mthethwa – zwelim@saps.org.za
5) Min Tourism – Marthinus van Schalkwyk – mbloem@tourism.gov.za
6) Min Water and Environmental Affairs – Edna Molewa amodise@environment.gov.za
7) Premier Mpumalanga – Mr David Dabede Mabuza premier@prem.mpu.gov.za
8) Premier Eastern Cape – Ms Noxolo Kiviet – nolwando.stofile@otp.ecprov.gov.za
9) Leader DA – Helen Zille leader@da.org.za
10) Cyril Ramaphosa – vice president ANC – sngubane@anc.org.za