Archive for the 'Nature Photography' Category

Of Pofadder and Puff Adders

Road to Pofadder


The Road to Pofadder, Northern Cape

Pofadder is a small town in the Northern Cape of South Africa, synonymous with remoteness to South Africans, like Timbuktu is to others further afield. Not being satisfied with that sort of remoteness, I decided to take this photo an hour or two out of Pofadder where it really gets quiet. This is the road from Kenhardt to Pofadder, which is about 200km of dirt driving with very little to see, unless like me you love the remoteness of the Northern Cape. It’s always pretty but especially like this, with rain recently fallen and more on the way. I didn’t see another car for that entire 200km of road: it was just me, my Land Cruiser, and Paul Oakenfold Live in Ibiza. What a wonderful afternoon of driving it was!

For non-South Africans, Pofadder is Afrikaans for a puff adder, which is a beautiful but lazy snake that likes to lie in footpaths and bite hikers that stand on them. You really don’t want to be bitten by one: you will likely experience feelings ranging from ‘really really sore’ to ‘dead’. The town is however apparently named after one Klaas Pofadder, a local Khoi-Khoi leader back in the day. The snakes aren’t in short supply around here either. However the town was named, I think it’s a name David Lynch would love.

Here’s what puffies look like, this one from another Northern Cape trip to the Biedouw Valley…


Puff Adder (Bitis arietans)


This is a baby, probably about 30cm long, and was very happy just lying in the sun, even with me shoving a camera in his face. Maybe not my wisest moment.

I say Turaco, you say … ?

Knysna Turaco


I started out feeling a bit sorry for this guy.

I felt he must be having a little identity crisis, because he’s been renamed. I’ve always known him as a Knysna Lourie, but at some point his name got changed to the Knysna Turaco. Now, if I mention the Lourie word, people look anxious, cough politely and sometimes mutter.

He’s well known for his elusiveness due to hiding high up in forest canopies, so he is always exciting to see, especially close up like this.

But then he started causing trouble. You see, I saw him in a bird sanctuary in Knysna a few years ago, and so I have always assumed he was a Knysna Turaco. Stands to reason that he’s close to home. I see him in Knysna, he must be from Knysna.

Then when I started writing this post, I had a look at the wikipedia article on him, and thought that he didn’t quite look right. His eyes and crest didn’t have quite the right kind of white stripes. It turns out after a bit of googling and chatting to real birding people that this little fellow is quite possibly a Guinea Turaco, from equatorial Africa, and so a very very long way from home.

Now I have even more reason to feel sorry for him. They changed his name and moved him far from home.¬†Perhaps he’s on a witness protection program?

Or he could just be a juvenile Knysna Turaco after all, which have less pronounced markings than the adults. Bugger this bird identification thing for a lark.

Some really cool trivia … the green pigment of the Turaco is a very unusual. Called turacoverdin, it is one of the few true green pigments found in birds, and is manufactured from the high quantities of copper in the Turaco’s diet of fruit and plant matter. It is thought that many months of this diet are required to accumulate enough copper to produce the pigment and make the plumage as bright as it is here.


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