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Three Foxes (A Camera Trap Post)

So here is a post based on what the blog is named after, a camera trap in Cornwall. I had a lot of chicken pieces left over from dinner and...

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Black and White Images

I recently downloaded the google NIK collection. It was released not long ago for free. It's very powerful and I have been playing around with it a bit. I liked how the black and white images came out so here are a few. 

Black Rhino
Plains Zebra
Lowland Gorilla

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Special Book Price for 72 Hours.

For all those of you who haven't yet picked up a copy of my book here's your chance. From today, Tuesday 24th April, A Zoologists Stumblings in Africa will be available on Kindle for just £0.99/$0.99! This offer is only valid for 72 hours until Thursday 28th April so be quick and grab a bargain.


I hope you enjoy the book.
Look below for a free preview.

(It starts in the middle for some reason so click back a few pages when you open to get the full preview.)

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Spring is Springing

Spring is just starting to, well, spring. It was a nice sunny day here in Cornwall yesterday so I went out to the woods with my camera and took a few early spring shots. The bluebells are just rising and leaves are slowly beginning to return to the trees. Most of the trees are still skeletons so I have made a plan. I will return in a few weeks to get the exact same shots, but with spring in full bloom. I will make a short video of the arrival of spring so look out for that in a few weeks. For now, enjoy some woodland scenes.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Edge of the Desert Trailer

Here is the trailer for my latest book, Edge of the Desert. Available now on amazon as paperback or kindle. Don't worry, some wildlife themed post will be coming soon.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Edge of the Desert

My latest book, an African novel, is now available to buy.

Click below to preview Edge of the Desert.

Available to buy in UK:
from amazon in paperback or on kindle

from amazon in paperback or on kindle

Also available on all other amazon stores

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Magnified Ross's Turaco Feathers

In my last few post's I showed some of my magnified feathers. Below is the fifth one. It's a Ross's Turaco feather. The magnification is X400, X25 and X1.




Saturday, 16 April 2016

Magnified Teal Feathers

In my last few post's I showed some of my magnified feathers. Below is the fourth one. It's a teal feather. The magnification is X400, X25 and X1.




Friday, 15 April 2016

Magnified Flamingo Feathers

In my last two post's I showed some of my magnified feathers. Below is the third one. It's a flamingo feather. The magnification is X400, X25 and X1.



Thursday, 14 April 2016

Magnified Congo Peacock Feathers

In my last post I showed the first of my magnified feathers. Below is the second one. It's a congo peacock feather. The magnification is X400, X25 and X1.



Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Magnified Black Bee-eater Feathers

The other day I saw a photo of a peacock feather under the microscope and it looked stunning. It got me wondering what some of the feathers I have collected look like. So I got my X400 USB microscope out and some of the more colourful feathers in my collection and took some photos. Below is the first  one. It's a black bee-eater. the magnification is X400, X25 and X1.




Sunday, 10 April 2016

Golden-Bellied Mangabey: Animal Fact Series Part 5

The Golden-Bellied Mangabey:

The Golden Bellied-Mangabey is a rare endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I saw these primates in 2013 while habituating bonobos for the Max Planck Institute. Very little is known about this species. So let's get some basic facts down.

Common Name: Golden-Bellied Mangabey
Other names: N/A
Latin name: Cercocebus chrysogaster 
Location: Democratic Republic of Congo
Habitat: Rainforest
Status: Data deficient
Population: unknown

So from the above information, or lack of it, you can see very little is known about this species. It has never been studied in the wild, only in captivity, and that is limited. In the wild few people, aside from those who live in the forest, have ever seen it. Very few westerners have seen this species. Of these few I am the only person known to have taken photos and even captured video footage. 

They are endemic to DRC and much like the bonobo they are only found south of the Congo River. What is know is they live in groups of between 15-100 individuals. Other than this not much is known. I will tell you of my observations.

I was following my group of bonobo one day and they headed into a swamp. To leave they climbed up a steep bank. As I followed I lost the group but when I reached the top I was surprised to see a different primate. The golden-bellied mangabey. There were about 50 individuals. What was surprising was they showed no fear to either me or the bonobos. That was surprising in two ways. First bonobos hunt monkey and other monkeys flee from them. Here these were as one group. I guess bonobo don't hunt golden-bellied mangabey? The fact they were not afraid of me shows something else. They are naive. This means they have no fear of humans. In fact some came for a closer look. I guess they have never been hunted in Lui-Kotale?

I stayed with the group for around half an hour before the bonobos moved off. I wrote a more detailed account in my book (available on amazon, click here). I will leave you with the footage I captured.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Round Island Petrel: Animal Fact Series Part 4

The Round Island Petrel:

The Round Island petrel is a small seabird that only breeds in Mauritius. I worked with these snakes in 2015 while the warden of Round Island for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF).  So let's get some basic facts down.

Common Name: Round Island Petrel
Other names: Trinidae, Kermadec & Herald petrels
Latin name: Pterodroma arminjoniana
Location: Round Island, Mauritius
Habitat: Indian ocean and Rocky Islands
Status: Vulnerable
Population: 1100-1500

So this species is not a species but it is. It's a bit confusing. Some places classify it as a species but others don't. It is actually a complex hybrid of three species of petrel.Being a mix of Trinidae, Kermadec & Herald petrels. As it is a complex mix you get different forms of the species. Pale, dark and intermediate. I loved the pale ones who were a pale slaty blue. The dark phase was dark brown and intermediate a mix of the two with a white chest.

Being made of three species the birds from Round Island move to different parts of the world. Geolocators, which I attached while the warden, help show where. Depending on the make up they go to different places. Some up to Arabia, others south America or Australia. Blood is taken when tags are attached to build a DNA match to location.

The bird is called the Round Island petrel as it only breeds on Round Island. There isn't really a breeding season, chicks are found year round. There are however peaks where little fuzzball chicks litter the island.They have few predators. The main one being the Round island boa who will eat the chicks. 

The birds all have their own personalities. Strangely I found the pale form to be very relaxed when caught but the dark form were vicious. They would struggle and bite away. After a day catching the birds I would be covered in bites and scratches. Having no predators as adults the birds are pretty relaxed and you can pick them up from the ground. However the birds are learning and a lot fly away as wardens approach. I often had to sneak up on the birds to catch them.

Friday, 1 April 2016

African Forest Elephant: Animal Fact Series Part 3

The African Forest Elephant:

Until recently the African elephant was classed as a single species but now has been split in two. I have worked along both species. I worked alongside the forest ones in Congo but more so in Gabon. So let's get some basic facts down.

Common Name: African Forest Elephant
Other names: Pygmy Elephant
Latin name: Loxodonta cyclotis
Location: Congo Basin, Africa
Habitat: Rainforest
Status: Vulnerable
Population: less than 100,000

So as I said the African elephant has been split two. The bush and the forest elephant. The differences are many. Straighter, yellowish tusks, longer legs, less wrinkled skin and smaller ears are all characteristics of the forest elephant. They also have 5 toes on the fore and 4 toes on the rear feet. One more than the bush. They are also more aggressive.

I found this out the hard way in Gabon. In Congo, I never had any issues and only heard them. In Gabon, I was chased by them. The best advice on wildlife charges is don't run but I was working with local pygmies. They fly through the forest so for them its best to run. Howvwer for westernedrs the forest is hard to run in so its not the best option except the elephant has had its fight reaction triggered so you run too. Let me tell you now it is one of the most terrifying things you can ever experience. 2.5 tonnes of angry elephant wanting to squash you. If you hear them trumpet you are a bit better off as its probably a mock charge. It's the silent one that are the worst. Surprisingly the elephants are like ghosts, they can appear out of nowhere. These were the most dangerous. One time I tripped and was saved by a gorilla. As I tripped the silverback we were following became confuse and charged too. This confused the elephant who stopped and ran away. I have never been more afraid in my life. The gorilla saw it was me and ignored me.

Another time we were walking along a spit of land in the forest surrounded by thick, muddy swamp. One of the trackers started running. There were three elephants coming along the land but had yet to see us. We couldn't run into the swamp as the gorilla were there. We had nowhere to go so climbed a tree. Luckily the elephants didn't try and shake us down. They walked up. Sniffed the air and ran off.

The elephants have an aggressive nature but if treated correct they can be quite docile. We had a female and two calves visit the camp to eat from the mango tree. they knew we were there so were not startled. As long as we kept a safe distance they were fine with us. They are incredibly intelligent and I'm sure they realised we meant them no harm. The video at the end here shows that family.

They are more solitary than the bush elephant often just one or two individuals. More often these are mother and calf. However, they do gather in large numbers at special places called a bai. These are large clearings made by the elephant. They gather to socialise but mainly to mine rare salts.

The elephant are important for maintaining the forest. Many seeds are spread by them. The digestive system is very poor and seeds often pass through. The elephants also clear old growth to make way for new. In short they are gardeners of the forest. Without them, the forests would break down. They keep the planets lungs breathing. We need them but they are being wiped out for ivory.