What is BushCam Adventures?

BushCam Adventures attempts to share some of the amazing images, stories and insights that I've collected during my camera-trapping adventures.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A Comical Bird?

We're fortunate in Africa to have both the largest land mammal and largest bird in relative abundance. However, while the African Elephant is always a joy to watch the Ostrich is ...well....just an ostrich. There is no question that the elephant is a worthy inclusion in an African 'Big 5' (mammal) list but I'd argue that the ostrich is nowhere near charismatic enough to make a birding 'Big 5' list. Give me a Secretary Bird, Martial Eagle, Pels Fishing Owl, Kori Bustard or Marabou Stork any day.

Perhaps if I got to study ostriches I'd feel differently. Perhaps I'd also feel differently if I hadn't been chased by one as a youngster - much to the amusement of my friends. My reason for doing the 'bat out of hell' impersonation with the ostrich behind me was:
- they can grow over 8ft tall
- can weigh up to 300 lbs
- can run at speeds of up to 40mph
- have a booming call that, some say, sounds like a lion
- and have powerful legs with razor sharp claws that can slice you open with one well-directed kick!
(this last point being the one that comes to mind when faced with an angry bird)

Experts say that in the event of a determined ostrich attack there are a few survival strategies (running away is not usually on that list). One of them is to 'play dead'. Perhaps this explains the images, below, that I obtained when I set up a camera at a 'salt-lick' recently.

And now for my first trick.........playing dead.

Next....the headless chicken routine

So could the ostrich be the comic of the avian world? With their brains reputedly smaller than the size of their eyeball I somehow doubt it. I guess they're just being......well.......ostriches.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Who said Vultures were dirty?

I don't recall ever being called a bunny-hugger but that isn't a label that would worry me particularly. But a vulture-hugger....mmmm...I don't think so! I've seen way too many vultures with their bald heads covered in blood and whatever else they find in the body cavities of dead animals. So I was delighted to see these images on a camera-trap that  we'd set up at a small water-hole for a few days. 

The early-morning shift was quiet but the water-hole soon became a popular spot for White-Backed (Gyps africanus), Cape (Gyps coprotheres) and Lappet-Faced (Aegypius tracheliotos) vultures. Birds that had probably recently squabbled over bits of carrion suddenly became bathing-buddies.

So am I now a vulture-hugger? Probably not.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Precious tracks

Late last year I was involved in a fascinating project where we attempted to link images of black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) to their footprints using camera traps. Linking these rhinos with their tracks doesn't sound like a particularly difficult task given the size of these animals (and their tracks) but it can be. This is mostly because the black rhino is a browser and spends almost all it's time in thick vegetation. So when you come across one suddenly there is almost always running involved - either them or you. They are pretty foul tempered and so following one with a tape and camera is not an option for anyone who cares to see his family again!

I have debated for some time whether to actually post the images that follow due to the horrific amount of  rhino poaching currently taking place. I have no interest in helping the poaching syndicates locate these precious animals. So for that reason I can't tell you the location of the project but I'd still like to show you the images.

So why is a project like this useful? Its simply that wildlife reserve managers don't see their rhinos very often but regularly come across their tracks. So if you know who the tracks belong to then you can get some insight into the movement of these beasts and can confirm that they haven't fallen prey to the poachers.

So we set up a number of cameras at water-holes that showed evidence of recent rhino activity. But it's not just rhinos that visit water-holes and we recorded over 30,000 images in just over a week. These were some of my favorites:

Black-Headed Heron

Young Impala ram

Ostrich with his chicks

Red Hartebest

But did we get what we were really after? You bet we did.....loads of great images that should forever help the management of this reserve monitor their precious rhinos.