Sunday, 26 September 2010

Guidebooks: Birds of Southern Africa

The Sasol Birds of Southern Africa by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton, is described on its cover as "the region's most comprehensively illustrated guide" and it is hard to disagree with that. It is a well-bound book, protected from the damp and wet by having a laminated cover and is the ideal field guide for Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and South Africa. It has been through several editions and is published by Struik, Cape Town, SA.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Wildlife: European Tree Frog

The European Tree Frog Hyla arborea (aka Common Tree Frog) is fairly widespread and locally common on mainland Europe. It has however declined in the northern parts of its range. It is a smooth-skinned, long-legged, photogenic amphibian with disc-shaped toe-pads that it uses to cling to vertical surfaces. Females are larger than males, reaching a maximum of 6cm in length. They are found in trees, but despite the name, often live in reed-beds, too. In the spring they visit ponds and marshes to breed. Most are lime-green in colour, but this can change according to the environment they are in.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Wildlife: Andean Condor

If you want to see a real, wild Andean Condor Vultur gryphus then you will need to travel to South America, in particular to the high Andes in Peru, Chile and Argentina. They mainly eat carrion such as that of medium-sized mammals, and will soar for hours over great distances in search of it. These huge birds are the largest flying bird in South America with a wingspan of 10-12 feet.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Destinations: Krakow - Poland

The beautiful Polish city of Krakow is a favourite destination of tourists in search of culture and history, but it also has something to offer lovers of wildlife. The Las Wolski forest lies on the edge of the city and is a fine old forest and parkland with many typical central and eastern European birds, for example, 8 resident woodpeckers, 4 flycatchers, Hawfinch, Firecrest. It is easily reached by bus, taxi or car from the city centre. The woods are crossed by well-marked trails, too. The River Vistula which flows to the south of the forest and through the city can also be worth checking for birds.