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Posts Tagged "wildlife"

10 Wildlife Experiences: Up close and personal

10 Wildlife Experiences: Up close and personal

Wildlife experiences I have had many wildlife experiences but the walking safari I took in Gonarezhou National Park is the one that remains most deeply etched in my memory for a close encounter with a leopard that I never even saw. My guide suddenly stopped and slipped his rifle off his shoulder. He pointed to the path along which we had been tracking elephants. There in the soft earth was the spoor of a leopard with a blade of dry grass gently rising up from where the big cat had trodden perhaps no more the 10-15 seconds previously. We never saw the leopard but sensed he could see us from no more than a few metres away. It is experiences like that that make wildlife encounters so memorable. On my travels around the globe I have had many close encounters with…

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Penguins: Where to see them

Penguins: Where to see them

Monday 25th April is World Penguin Day. It began when scientists at McMurdo Sound in Antarctica noticed that the Adellie penguins returned to their nesting grounds every year on the same day. Now it is used by the Global Penguin Society to raise awareness of the 18 species of penguins most of which are threatened or vulnerable. So where can the wildlife traveller go to see these adorable, waddling, flightless birds in their natural habitat? The Southern Hemisphere is the quick answer. Penguins are found almost exclusively south of the Equator. The Galápagos penguin is the exception which are found just north of the Equator which runs through the island group. However, it is not necessary to travel to Antarctica to see penguins. They are also found in the southern temperate regions. All the land masses bordering the Southern Ocean have…

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Kayaking the Hamble

Kayaking the Hamble

To catch the tides it meant an early start; well early for an autumnal Sunday morning. The Hamble is a tidal river and paddling with the tide makes it easier and also makes the upper reaches a little more accessible. Our destination for the day was a riverside pub some distance along the upper Hamble where at low tide it is little more than a large stream. The River Hamble is close to Southampton and flows into The Solent. A short distance from the mouth of the river is a large marina filled with boats. Here is the Jolly Sailor pub. It is here that the TV series Howard’s Way was filmed. Across from the Jolly Sailor is a public “hard” or launching ramp used by many kayakers. Being tidal the river is accessible to anyone. I have been kayaking in…

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Kayaking with Killers (3)

Kayaking with Killers (3)

This is the final Kayaking with Killers post in a series of three about kayaking with the resident orcas in Johnstone Strait off the coast of British Columbia. You can read the previous two posts Kayaking with Killers (1) and Kayaking with Killers (2) by clicking on the links. The activities on our first full day at Shaker Camp was determined by the weather and sea conditions. Setting out to circumnavigate the large island on which we were camping we had to turn back once we left the lee of the island. Sea and wind conditions made paddling extremely difficult so we contented ourselves with observing a colony of harbour seals basking on the seaweed covered rocks before returning to camp. As paddling was off the menu several of us hiked up Lookout Hill for a grand overview of the archipelago. From…

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Kayaking with killers (1)

Kayaking with killers (1)

“I think we had better all stay together just here,” said one of our guides calmly, “There’s a cougar coming down to the tents.” Cougars are rarely seen in the forests of British Columbia as they are basically shy creatures. They see but are not seen. We had just arrived at our first kayak camp in the Inside Passage off British Columbia. We had done nothing more than offload all the gear we had brought with us for six days kayaking round the islands. Finally our untrained eyes saw the cougar less than 15 metres away calmly peering over a log. For several long minutes it watched us watching it and then sauntered up the hill to the tent furthest from where we were and lay down just beside the door of the tent. It remain there for the next…

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Newfoundland snowmobile adventure

Newfoundland snowmobile adventure

In yesterday’s post, which you can read here, we crossed a stream and took a track up a mountain but did not see a single moose. That was after all the raison d’être for the trip. Our break finished we mounted up, started the engines and in single file headed along the trail down the mountain. We soon discovered that driving down the mountain was not as difficult as it appeared. A snowmobile soon stops when there is no power to the engine because the blades on its track act as very efficient brakes. The path traversed across the steep face of the mountain and doubled back on itself several times. Soon we were down by the lake and picking up speed along the trail. It was at this point that one of the group thought it might be fun…

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On a Snowmobile in Newfoundland

On a Snowmobile in Newfoundland

The one thing you do not do when running out of control is grip the handle bars harder in your terror. You control the speed the snowmobile with a thumb switch; the harder you push the faster you go. Somebody in the group always forgets this piece of advice; I just hoped it was not going to be me. We were off to track moose in Newfoundland’s backcountry. Alongside the orca, the humpback and the grizzly and polar bears the moose ranks as one of Canada’s big five. They are huge majestic animals treated with great respect by Canadians. Earlier in the day we had seen moose from a helicopter and wanted to see them on the ground. This meant a trip out into the wilderness and that meant either walking with aid of snowshoes, cross-country skiing or snowmobiling. Snowmobiling…

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Katherine Gorge in a canoe

Katherine Gorge in a canoe

Cold feet in 34°C temperatures The plan was to paddle a canoe up Katherine Gorge but I had spent too long in the Top End and visited too many wetlands, billabongs and rivers. I was beginning to get cold feet. Every major body of water I came across had signs warning of the danger of crocodiles, in particular the “saltie” or saltwater croc, whose reputation is fearsome. Territorians say: “When there are warning signs about croc danger, do not get in the water; when there are no warning signs, you still do not get in the water. If there are signs saying it is safe then, and only then, do you get in the water” There are swimming holes in both Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks where each dry season the crocs are relocated to make it safe for swimming….

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Outback birdlife

Outback birdlife

In the previous post on Northern Territory birdlife I did not mention one place where there is an abundance of outback birdlife because it deserves a post of its own. Territory Wildlife Park is just 45 minutes south of Darwin and is unique in having so many distinctly different habitats in such a small area. There are freshwater lagoons, billabongs and wetlands, monsoon forests with springs and woodlands all within walking distance of each other. With such diversity of habitats comes a huge diversity of birds. As the name Territory Wildlife Park implies the birds and animals are only what would be seen in the Northern Territory. Yes, some of the birds are captive but many are not. Some birds are free to come and go like those at Goose Lagoon. Others are in large enclosures and aviaries. Walking around…

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