Saturday, October 30, 2010

Giant Protea

Giant Protea, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

These lovely inflorescences are the size of a large dinner plate - about 12 inches (20 cm) across. This one was photographed at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden using my Canon EF 100-400 f4.5/56L lens. I was after birds that morning, but some of the flowers were so spectacular that I had to do them as well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Collecting at Koeberg - 22 Sep 2010

There are two species of Hyobanche at Koeberg Nature reserve, and each time I'm in South Africa for a field season I try to get back to the reserve to do some work. Here is the first of two videos from this day's field work. It's a lovely site and it always involves an interesting ride along 4X4 tracks to reach the populations.

Here's part 2:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My first sunrise after returning home from South Africa

Every once-in-awhile conditions are perfect for a stunning sunrise photo. On the way back from the gym yesterday morning, Steve and I saw the fog hugging the ground before the sun was above the horizon. When we arrived home, Steve suggested that I go chase some light and I'm glad I made it in time to see this sunrise.

Here are a few more photos from this photo shoot.

Autumn sunrise - 3

Autumn Sunrise - 5

Autumn sunrise - 4

Thursday, October 14, 2010

African spoonbill

This is one of the coolest looking birds I've seen this trip. We were coming back from collecting Hyobanche robusta in Sedgefield when we saw this bird at the lagoon. I love the blue coloring on the bill.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Orange-breasted sunbird

I posted this on Flickr yesterday morning and it made it to the Explore page - that was quite a surprise. It was from an early morning walk at Kirstenbosch with Steve. I brought along my 100-400 mm lens to try to capture some bird photos. I am becoming more and more confident with this lens. I've captured some really cool bird images with it during this field season.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Sunset at Seapoint Lighthouse

I'm crazy busy right now with some field work, so I don't know how much video editing I'll achieve for the rest of the field season. Yesterday I went up to Citrusdal to go in the field with Wilhem Hanekom. He's the one who discovered one of my new species, which hasn't been up again since a big burn in 2004. However, he had found some more Hyobanche atropurpurea from a site I've worked before, so I did have a productive day in the field.

Here's a pic from last weekend. This is an image I had visualized after having visited the light house the first weekend of my field season, and so I'm very glad the opportunity came up to capture it. We had been doing a tour of the Cape Peninsula with Trent Bosch and his family - everyone loaded into Binky - the Laidler's land rover, and we hit seapoint just as the sun was setting. Dennis, Gigi and I had just gotten back from the karoo the previous evening, so it was quite a nice opportunity to become a tourist for the day.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Table Mountain Contour Path - Part 2

Our contour path walk included a lovely picnic to celebrate birthdays and my arrival to Cape Town. It was a wonderful way to spend my first evening in Cape Town. Thanks, Gigi and Dennis!

Table Mountain Contour Path - Part 1

17 September, 2010 - Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden:

One of my favorite activities in Cape Town is the evening walk with the Laidlers along the Table Mountain contour path at Kirstenbosch. A gathering of friends meets in the parking lot at the upper gate of the garden, and the walk pretty much leads straight up the mountain to the contour path. The walk up to the path is through a forest, and Dennis Laidler explains the history of the Kirstenbosch forest and we discuss a bit of biogeography and ecology for the Afro-montane forests of South Africa.

This walk took place the day after I arrived, which was about 10:30 the previous night. I was pretty jet lagged, but this is a great way to get a move on toward adjusting to the new time zone. The walk is a so much fun, traversing through the Afro-montane forests on the south side of Table Mountain.

Friday, October 01, 2010


Boulders Beach on the Cape Peninsula is famous for the penguin colony that lives there. These are African penguins, aka Jackass penguins. They have the latter name because they have a call that is very much like a donkey's braying. I think they're adorable, but Nick Laidler has a somewhat different view after working on cleaning them up after an oil spill. They do have a mean bite. . . .

Dude! What did you step in?????

Follow the leader

Which way do we go?

South Africa video blog - 2, part 3

Collecting the specimens is just part of the process. Each inflorescence has to be split and put into a plant press. I usually separate a few flowers for later dissection. It's much easier to do this now than after the specimen has dried.

Host root tissue needs to be collected and dried in silica gel for identification via DNA sequencing, and I dry individual flowers in silica gel for later DNA extraction and molecular studies.