Dartford Warbler at Hook with Warsash

Spent a couple of hours this pleasant afternoon down at Hook. I was hoping to catch a few waders feeding on the rising tide, unfortunately I messed up the timings so when I arrived  at the harbour wall I was greeted by a few Wigeon and a single Brent on the sea. They were catching the low afternoon sun quite nice so worth a shot or two.

Wigeon 1, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Wigeon, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Dark-bellied Brent Geese 1a, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

The links and scrape were on the whole rather quiet, but I did notice a flicker of movement in the nearby Gorse as  I watched some Canada Geese. I literally got the camera up as one of two Dartford Warblers flitted up perched out in the open for a split second before dropping back into cover.

Dartford Warbler 1, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Dartford Warbler, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Dartford Warbler 1b, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Closer crop of above image

Like I said not too much else around save the usual scrape species; Shoveler, Pintail and Teal in decent numbers. A few Little Egrets and a flock of Canada Geese.

Little Egret 2, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Little Egret, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Canada Goose 1, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Canada Goose, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Canada Geese 1, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Canada Geese, Hook with Warsash, 4 Dec 2016

Steve C

Birding Wales – Garden Ringing Update

Today I started early and caught a couple of Redwings and a Dunnock. I was expecting to see the same species that I have been seeing for the last couple of weeks. Blue Tits are the most common followed by Goldfinches and Chaffinches. So I was very pleased to find my first Siskin, although this is a species I was expecting.

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Siskin, Bont, Wales, 26th Nov 2016

As I head to my garden I have to go up some stairs and around to where the feeders are. A little while later I came out to check the nets and a bird flew from the feeders and into the net, I was extremely surprised to find it was a Stonechat.

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Stonechat, Bont, Wales, 26th Nov 201

I thought the day had peaked until a little while later at the top of the net was what I initially thought was a wren. Then I spotted the curved bill and could see that it was in fact a Treecreeper, a bird I hadn’t expected as I have no real stands of trees near me.

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Treecreeper, Bont, Wales, 26th Nov 2016

After such a good morning I decided to close the nets early and went out for a long walk.
Mark C

 

Titchfield Haven, Lapwings and Oystercatchers

Spent the morning and early afternoon at Titchfield Haven with Rob Steele and his grandson Rory.  A nice Stonechat perched on the roadside fence as I waited for the reserve to open, was the first decent bird of the day. We had the best of the weather in the morning and whilst we had no what you would call outstanding sightings we did have good numbers of both Oystercatcher and Lapwing on the main scrape. Both flocks being flushed during the morning by first, a Buzzard and secondly an immature male Marsh Harrier. Wildfowl was represented by plenty of Teal and Shoveler. I spotted a couple of Pheasants squaring up to each other and was ready for a few action shots, but one of the birds wisely decided to back down and avoided the conflict, at least for today.

Stonechat 1, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Stonechat, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Pheasants 1, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Pheasants getting ready to rumble, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Oystercatchers 1, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Oystercatchers, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Lapwings 1, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Lapwings, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Lapwings 2, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Lapwings, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Lapwings 3, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Lapwings, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

 After a brew and a pasty at the café we worked out way up the eastern side of the reserve. The Suffern Hide looking over the River Meon gave us some great sightings. We had a Greenshank and Redshank feeding side by side and both were joined by a rather confiding Water Rail. We then watched a Kingfisher as it sat in the reed edge, diving a couple of times and coming up with fish. As the sky became darker and darker from the west, we also enjoyed views of Grey Heron, and seven different Little Grebes. Then the heavens opened and for the next half an hour it bucketed down. I took a few shots to capture the conditions which can be seen in the last two images.

Pochard 1a, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Pochard, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Tufted Duck, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Tufted Ducks, Titchfield Haven, 19 Nov 2016

Steve C

Oak Rustic New For Fareham Garden – second NFG of the week

Due to the time of year I concluded that the ‘Common Rustic agg’ that I caught in my Heath Trap on Wednesday night couldn’t possibly have been that species.  Therefore, I did some further research and realised that it was in fact an Oak Rustic, and my ID was later confirmed by Richard D.  Oak Rustic, both orange and white marked specimens, is a species I have encountered before with the Fareham Mothing Group primarily from a specific location in Gosport.  It was first recorded in the Channel Islands in 1991, the British Isles (Isle of Wight) in 1999 and Hampshire in 2005.  It is now a likely colonist in the county, previously being considered a rare immigrant, where its host plant Evergreen (Holm) Oak is present.  Although local sightings have increased in recent years it isn’t a species I expected to get in my own back garden.  Both online and book references state Common and Lesser Common Rustic as potential confusion species.

Oak Rustic, Fareham Garden – 16 Nov 16

Oak Rustic, Fareham Garden – 16 Nov 16

Good mothing,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Birding Wales – Brambling

October in Wales proved to very mild and dry, so this allowed me to continue ringing in the garden and attract a few new species. I knew that October would bring something new and the first was a Goldcrest on the 10th, quickly followed the same day by a male Blackcap. Early the next morning I decided  to try and tape lure Redwing. Redwing have a powerful and tuneful song it’s just a shame that we rarely hear it in the UK. It can be very successful in attracting them as they pass over but I only had one on the first day, since then I have had another 21, in fact my 500th garden bird was a Redwing on the 29th Oct.

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Redwing, Bont, Wales, 29th October 2017

The 29th Oct also brought my only Pied Wagtail, a juvenile male. Into November and a Song Thrush made an early appearance. On the 4th Nov, I had my first Long-tailed Tit followed closely by another 16 !. These brought up and passed the 600 bird mark.
The 7th brought a Starling and then I had a early winter break in Tenerife with my youngest son. The nets were back up this morning after yesterday’s nearby Tornado and at standeasy (about 10 o’clock to the non naval) I was delighted to see a male Brambling in the net.

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Brambling, Bont, Wales, 18th Nov 2017

A superb bird that brings me to a total of 639 in three months, It will be interesting to see what the next three months will bring.
Mark C.

December Moth at Portsdown Hill and Brick New For Garden

This week I added two more species of macro moth to my work list from the 40W Actinic Heath Trap I operate at MCSU on Portsdown Hill.  The first was December Moth (x2) on Monday night and a single Feathered Thorn the second on Tuesday.  Unfortunately Wednesday night drew a complete blank.

December Moth, MCSU, Portsdown Hill – 14 Nov 16

Feathered Thorn, MCSU, Portsdown Hill – 15 Nov 16

The Robinson Trap I run at home proved to be particularly productive on Monday night.  The highlight was a single Brick which was New For Garden.  Other species included Feathered Thorn, Red-green Carpet and Rusty-dot Pearl.

Brick, Fareham Garden – 14 Nov 16

What could only be a Common Rustic agg from the garden trap last night was an extremely late record for the species.  I’ve retained it to confirm the ID with members of the Fareham Mothing Group.

PS   Having done some more homework I suspect it must actually be the white marked form of Oak Rustic.  If it is it would be NFG.

Good mothing,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Snow Bunting at Southsea Castle

Yesterday afternoon I headed to Southsea Castle with Mrs T in the hope of connecting with the two Snow Buntings that had recently taken up residence there.  True to form we found both birds feeding on the ground within the grassy bandstand enclosure just west of the castle on our arrival.  Separated from the promenade by a low wall the birds were not at all phased by the large number of pedestrians walking passed in the glorious sunshine.  Even when the occasional inconsiderate individual walked, ran or cycled straight through the enclosure and flushed the Snow Buntings the birds very quickly settled back down just metres away.

Snow Bunting, Southsea Castle – 13 Nov 16

Snow Bunting (second bird), Southsea Castle – 13 Nov 16

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Short-eared Owl at Farlington Marshes

Today I connected with another species that I haven’t seen for a few years.  However, I arrived on the sea wall beside the Point Field of Farlington Marshes shortly after two (possibly three) Short-eared Owls had been on show.  Although I was informed that one individual had flown off eastward at least one was still present so I waited patiently for it to reappear.  After an hour a Short-eared Owl was spotted hunkered down with its back against a tall clump of grass where it was completely sheltered from the chilly breeze.  It was spotted by a newly arrived ‘birder’ and I suspect it had actually been on show the whole time but it was extremely well camouflaged.

Short-eared Owl, Farlington Marshes – 10 Nov 16

The bird remained stationary for a long time before it eventually took briefly to the air to land nearby in a more conspicuous position.  It remained there for several minutes before it jumped off the hump it was stood on and disappeared into the ground vegetation.  Although all too brief, the bird looked stunning as it flew in an arc showing off its upper wing pattern in the sunshine.

Short-eared Owl, Farlington Marshes – 10 Nov 16

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Great White Egret at Oxey Marsh and Jack Snipe at Normandy Marsh

Today I spent several hours at Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes.  Apart from a successful brief visit with Steve back in May to add Stilt Sandpiper to my Hampshire List it has been a very long time since I have spent a significant amount of time there.  The site has never failed to deliver and today was no exception in extremely calm if initially chilly conditions.  Target species were Spoonbill, Great White Egret and Spotted Redshank and I was fortunate enough to connect with two of the three.

Great White Egret, Oxey Marsh, Pennington – 8 Nov 16

However, the highlight was a single Jack Snipe on Normandy Lagoon.  It is a species that I have only seen once before at Titchfield Haven back in 2009 and it is now the latest addition to my ‘self found’ list.  The Jack Snipe showed particularly well feeding ‘sewing machine’ style on an exposed patch of mud on the first pool from Salterns Marsh.  After ten minutes something flushed many of the waders including the Jack Snipe that flew the short distance across the pool and disappeared into vegetation.

Jack Snipe (and pair of Wigeon), Salterns Marsh, Pennington – 8 Nov 16

Jack Snipe (and Ringed Plover), Salterns Marsh, Pennington – 8 Nov 16

Jack Snipe, Salterns Marsh, Pennington – 8 Nov 16

Jack Snipe, Salterns Marsh, Pennington – 8 Nov 16

The three Spotted Redshank I observed on the water body before Eight Acres Pond were joined by a fourth individual on my return.

Spotted Redshank, Salterns Marsh, Pennington – 8 Nov 16

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Birds on the Queen Victoria

Although the week long cruise was smack in the middle of the southbound migration, I did not see as many birds on the ship as I would have hoped. I think the principal reason for this was the disturbance factor. If I go onto the upper deck of a Royal Navy ship at dawn; I am generally the only person up and around for at least half an hour, (standfast if another Amigo is aboard).  This is not the case with a cruise liner; within a few minutes of the sun rising, there was nearly always numerous crew members undertaking cleaning duties. Add to that other early risers looking for sunrise shots and you see the problem. What I tended to do was get as high as possible as early as possible. This way at least I got to see a few areas before others have walked by.

The most common bird heard was Yellow Wagtail; these were mostly birds flying high over the ship and not easily seen. One bird on the 12th Sep did come down to land on a covered tennis court netting alighting quite near to what I am hoping is a Nightingale. The netting was quite high off the deck as you would expect for tennis, (even if it was the ship-board form of the game).  This was good as the birds were not disturbed, but bad as I could not see onto the top of the netting and I had to shoot from below. Still beggars can’t be choosers.

Yellow Wagtail 1, Adriatic Sea, 12 Sep 2016

Yellow Wagtail, Adriatic Sea, 12 Sep 2016

Yellow Wagtail 2a, Adriatic Sea, 12 Sep 2016

Yellow Wagtail, Adriatic Sea, 12 Sep 2016

Nightingale 1, Adriatic Sea, 12 Sep 2016

Nightingale, Adriatic Sea, 12 Sep 2016

Nightingale 2, Adriatic Sea, 12 Sep 2016

Nightingale, Adriatic Sea, 12 Sep 2016

Turtle Doves were around on several mornings, again mainly in flight. On the 14th Sep, I had two birds flying alongside the ship but the light was still low and letting me have a record shot.  The following day, I had a single Turtle Dove land on one of the cleaning gantries that are fastened to the ships side. Whilst the position did not allow for a great shot as I had to lean over the ship’s side, I did manage a half decent shot of the bird looking up at me. 

Turtle Dove 1, Mediterannean Sea, 15 Sep 2016

Turtle Dove, Mediterranean Sea, 15 Sep 2016

A single Black Kite was also seen early morning on the 14th around the same time as the two Turtle Doves in flight. Again a poor quality record shot was taken but not worth posting here.

The last bird on note on the ship was a Northern Wheatear on the 15th. This bird which I am reasonably happy with the id was perched on various lampposts around the swimming pool area.  Again as I was slowly working my way towards the bird, the crew started to put out the sun loungers for the day and the bird was soon on its way.

Northern Wheatear 1, Mediterannean Sea, 15 Sep 2016

Northern Wheatear, Mediterranean Sea, 15 Sep 2016

Steve C

 

Insects on Queen Victoria: part 3

This last entry on mini-beasts is aimed at my two fellow Amigos as it involves mainly moths. (their id answers are in brackets) Each early morning walk around the upper deck produced something of interest. I am happy with the identification of the Hummingbird Hawk Moth which can be seen below on my hand. I first spotted it inside the atrium and it was going berserk flying against the windows in its attempt for freedom. I managed to catch it before it did itself any damage and then took it out to the upper deck. The wife managing a snap before it duly departed.

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Hummingbird Hawk Moth, Adriatic Sea, 11 Sep 2016

 Angled Shades is one moth species I am pretty certain of, (the other being Silver Y). The one below being seen like the majority resting on one of the ships bulkheads as daylight intensified.

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Angled Shades, Adriatic Sea, 13 Sep 2016

 As I mentioned the other moths below I will leave to my fellow bloggers to give me the id.

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Moth sp, Adriatic Sea, 14 Sep 2016 (Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing – TT)

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Moth sp, Adriatic Sea, 14 Sep 2016 (Large Yellow Underwing -TT)

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Moth sp, Adriatic Sea, 14 Sep 2016

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Moth sp, Adriatic Sea, 13 Sep 2016 (Wainscot – MC)

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Moth sp, Adriatic Sea, 13 Sep 2016 (Scarce Footman -TT)

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Ok, so I do know this is a Silver Y

Two of the last three species are ones I am reasonably happy with, the last I will hopefully get an answer from someone……Please. The first being a Clouded Yellow Butterfly, possibly migrating north as it landed on the ship taking it back south. second to last is a Yellow-winged Darter. It was still rather dark when I snapped these so I am pretty sure I used flash. The Darter was on the ships deck and just about to get mopped by the early cleaning crew. I picked it up and placed it in a quiet corner.

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Clouded Yellow, Adriatic Sea, 14 Sep 2016

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Yellow-winged Darter, Mediterranean Sea, 15 Sep 2016

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???, Adriatic Sea, 14 Sep 2016 (Black Field Cricket – TT)

Steve C

Insects on the Queen Victoria: part 2

On the same morning as the Praying Mantis sighting, there were a great many other insects around the upper deck of the ship.

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A bit early for a dip ??

By far the greatest number by species with at least 50 individuals seen was Leptoglossus Occidentalis, also known as Western Conifer Seed Bug.  After browsing the web, I found that the insect which is native to North America was introduced to Europe, specifically Northern Italy in 1999. It has since spread into most of the remainder of Europe at quite a pace.  It is considered a serious pest in conifer nursery plantations.  Notwithstanding the above information, the insects I saw looked quite impressive with their bluish/brown colouring.

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Western Conifer Seed Bug, Adriatic Sea, 11 Sep 2016

The second species of this entry is a Shield Bug, Dolycoris baccarum. I only saw the one insect of this species sat on a bright orange recycling bin. Maybe it had been attracted by the bin’s colour?

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Shield Bug, Adriatic Sea, 11 Sep 2016

Next was a large Grasshopper species, I would estimate close to 3 inches long. The picture below gives a size reference as the black lines on the deck are wider than the width of my hand. After consulting with the Facebook group mentioned below, I will plump for Migratory Locust.  Locusta migratoria, again it was just the single insect which I found on the upper deck. I guess the fact that I found one onboard a ship in the Adriatic lends credibility to its identification. Again, according to the web, (what did we do before it?) this species has the largest world distribution of the Grasshopper/Locust family, spread throughout Eurasia across Arabia and the Indian Subcontinent down towards Australia and New Zealand, so again, not surprising to see this one out of the many on the ship.

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Migratory Locust, Adriatic Sea, 11 Sep 2016

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Migratory Locust, Adriatic Sea, 11 Sep 2016. A little closer crop.

The last image is a moth (I hope). I will leave the id of that one to my two mothing Amigos. Answers on a postcard chaps.

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Moth sp, Adriatic Sea, 11 Sep 2016

Many Thanks to the members of the Facebook group:  Insects of Britain and Northern Europe for their help in pinning down identifications. I’ll be back for more in due course.

Steve C

Praying Mantis on the Queen Victoria

My next series of entries are somewhat overdue; the reason for this was to let Tony to have a more continuous run on his South Africa material, which I believe lets the blog flow a little better.

During September Jo and I embarked the Cunard Liner Queen Victoria for a week’s cruise down the Adriatic and around the foot of Italy ending at Rome.  I did see a few birds on the cruise, which I will get onto later. However, it was the Insects which caught my eye to a greater degree, especially on my daily sunrise walk around the upper deck.

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Sunrise from the stern of Queen Victoria

On the morning of the 11th I was on such a walk when I spotted a Praying Mantis on the sliding cover of the ship’s atrium. I initially snapped off a few images in case it disappeared but as the light was not great just after sunrise.

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Praying Mantis, Adriatic Sea, 11 Sep 2016

I popped back a little later to take some more. Needless to say the insect had hardly moved.  I have to admit to being a tad ignorant with regards to the spelling for this insect until I looked it up on the web. I always assumed it was Preying as opposed to Praying but the Latin name: Mantis Religiosus gives you the right idea.  Much later in the day some of the deck hands were painting in the same area where I had snapped it earlier. I am just hoping the Mantis had moved by then!

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Praying Mantis, Adriatic Sea, 11 Sep 2016

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Praying Mantis, Adriatic Sea, 11 Sep 2016

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Praying Mantis, Adriatic Sea, 11 Sep 2016

All the images on this entry and the insect entries to come were taken on the iphone. Quite pleased with the overall results, although I appreciate the quality is not what could be achieved with a SR.

Steve C

Spectacular Rustgill mushroom at Titchfield Haven

Dense fog prevented any meaningful birding along the Meon Shore at Hill Head by the ‘Three Amigos’ this morning, although eleven Sanderling were visible on the foreshore as the already high tide continued to flood.  However, a record of ‘Spectacular Rustgill’ Gymnopilus junonius on the Titchfield Haven Visitor Centre’s recent sightings board caught my attention and Amy R was on hand to show me where it was located.  The rather large and impressive fungus was growing on the top of a low tree stump.  Fungi is another field I’m keen to learn more about in due course.

Spectacular Rustgill fungus at Titchfield Haven – 27 Oct 16

Spectacular Rustgill fungus at Titchfield Haven – 27 Oct 16

Good wildlife watching,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

African Lion and White Rhino at Private Game Reserve, South Africa

As well as the single Hamerkop the day safari at a Private Game Reserve on our last full day in South Africa provided us with the opportunity to see ‘The Big Five’.  Although I’d have preferred the opportunity to see truly wild animals the vast majority were far from captive.  Most were free to roam a vast area of karoo habitat, and even the confined seven strong pride of African Lions had an entire section of hillside to roam.  The majority of species were provided with a degree of additional food to augment their diet and all the animals observed, most in the vicinity of the feeding stations, appeared to be in very good condition.  The African Lions (2 male and 5 female one heavily pregnant) showed particularly well after dropping down the hillside, as we were driven through their enclosure, to settle beside the fence line.

African Lion, Private Game Reserve, South Africa – 17 Aug 16

Other larger mammals seen included Burchell’s Zebra, Hippopotamus, Springbok, Oryx, Blue Wildebeest, Giraffe, Black Wildebeest and a single Water Buffalo.

Burchell’s Zebra, Private Game Reserve, South Africa – 17 Aug 16

Springbok Gazelle, Private Game Reserve, South Africa – 17 Aug 16

Oryx, Private Game Reserve, South Africa – 17 Aug 16

Black Wildebeest, Private Game Reserve, South Africa – 17 Aug 16

At the lagoon I spent the majority of the time photographing a group of four White Rhinoceros that included one of two (possibly three) young.  Also present were a couple of immature African Elephant both of which we had seen earlier from the visitor centre as they followed a couple of hundred yards behind a slow moving truck that had a person chucking food out of the window.  No doubt a daily ploy to ensure the paying clients in the Game Reserve’s accommodation awoke to see elephant nearby from their bedroom windows.

African Elephant and White Rhinoceros, Private Game Reserve, South Africa – 17 Aug 16

White Rhinoceros, Private Game Reserve, South Africa – 17 Aug 16

White Rhinoceros, Private Game Reserve, South Africa – 17 Aug 16

White Rhinoceros, Private Game Reserve, South Africa – 17 Aug 16

Despite being far from a natural truly wild ecosystem the Game Reserve contained a wildlife sanctuary that during our visit housed two Cheetah and a single elusive Leopard, and apparently participates in wider conservation projects.  The extremely enjoyable day certainly confirmed my desire to experience a full on African safari holiday within the next few years.

Good wildlife watching,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)