Join us for our first photography course!

One cannot rely just on luck to capture that special photograph! Good images of animals, birds or even bugs don’t just happen – they require knowledge and skill. Join us for a three-day introductory course to nature photography, presented by accomplished wildlife photographer Stephen Hammer of Cape Town.

Even in the age of digital photography, the basics still matter! Stephen will take you through the factors that affect your exposure – ISO, lens aperture and shutter speed – and then move on to learning your camera’s controls and practical application of these principles. Landmeterskop offers ample opportunities to try out your new-found knowledge, with birds, landscapes, fynbos and more.
Imagine learning great new stuff while relaxing and having fun on a peaceful farm! This weekend promises to be a rewarding experience!
Dates: 15h00 on Friday, 21 August to Sunday afternoon, 23 August.
Cost: R1 850 per person, includes accommodation, all meals and course material (bring your own drinks)
Accommodation: Shared in The Homestead.
To book, e-mail Valerie val@landmeterskop.co.za to book. Don’t delay – only the first 12 people can be accommodated!
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Night Sky over Landmeterskop by Stephen Hammer

I was really looking forward to being able to photograph the night sky and Milky Way as the farm is an ideal venue to do this. Unfortunately, the weatherman didn’t play the game and we arrived at the farm in heavy overcast conditions and this made for very challenging photography light. After much digging through the archives in my head, I eventually came up with a game plan to show you guys what I was seeing… shoot the stars through the clouds!! Now that is not a photograph you often get to see.

These pics were all taken in and around the yard around the Duck Pond Room.

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This series shows the start and prep for a photograph of the Milky Way over the cottages. First pic is to get my framing right, the second shows the start of the Milky Way, and the last pic is the Milky Way “waking up”. I always think of this as God sprinkling his blessings on the farmers’ fields. This “tower” of stars is truly impressive. After the last photograph I was well and truly frozen (my own fault as I did not bring the proper clothing) and went off and had my supper

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These photographs were taken just before sunrise on Sunday morning @ ± 06h15. I was busy getting ready to go out and look for the Bat Eared Foxes, when I glanced out the window and saw this beautiful “Dragon of Stars”. I knew I only had a few minutes to get these photographs before there was too much light and I would not be able to photograph this.

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All these photos were taken by Stephen Hammer, Cape Town based wildlife photographer, and are copyrighted. We are very excited that Steve has agreed to do a series of photography courses in future here on Landmeterskop. We shall post the details of these soon!

For more of Steve’s work, visit his website: http://stephenhammer.co.za

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) & the field mouse!

Cape Town-based wildlife photographer Stephen Hammer and his wife, Lee-Anne, spent the weekend on Landmeterskop trying to capture our family of Bat-eared Foxes on camera. This first sequence of views was taken on the way to look for the shy little foxes on Sunday morning. It was truly beautiful to see… and quite cold up on the hill. The cold air is beautifully clear and haze-free. Winter is the time to photograph landscapes and Landmeterskop has some very good potential for this.

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The little Bat-eared Foxes did not put in an appearance, although Steve and Lee-Anne searched for them late afternoons and early mornings! But, Steve was fortunate to get this magnificent sequence of a Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) eating a field mouse.

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Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Afrikaans: Blouvalk

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

Afrikaans: Blouvalk

The Black-shouldered Kite is a small, graceful raptor and the most voracious eater in the raptor family. It needs to consume up to 25% of its body mass every day – that is the equivalent of about two mice. This means each bird probably kills around 700 mouse-sized animals a year.

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa VII estimates there are about 100 000 Black-shouldered Kites in southern Africa, so if we assume each bird takes two mice a day, that adds up to about 70 million mice being consumed by this species alone every year. Think of how many mice there are out there that are not being eaten!

It prefers the grasslands probably because prey is easier to see than in the more densely-wooded lowveld.

Black-shouldered Kites are solitary hunters by day, yet often roost communally at night. They usually spend between 4 and 10 hours a day in flight, but also often hunt from a perch.

One of their characteristics is to hover (air-perch) in one place above the ground searching for prey. Black-shouldered Kites range widely. The longest range so far recorded was that of a bird ringed in the former Transvaal and recovered in northern Mozambique, 915km away. Another bird ringed at the same time was recovered in the opposite direction – in the Cape, 645km away.

Stephen’s website: http://stephenhammer.co.za

Steve also took beautiful photos of the night sky over Landmeterskop… and we shall post some of them soon! And we are very excited to announce that Steve has agreed to do a series of photography courses in future with us.

Blue Cranes chasing Cape Fox!

We are very excited to have Cape Town based wildlife photographer, Stephen Hammer and his wife, with us in a fortnight’s time. Stephen and his wife will go on night-time and early morning expeditions to see if they can take photos of our two families of Bat-eared foxes. Yes, we’ll tell you all about them once we have photos to show you! We have also seen the occasional Cape Fox on the farm.

The Cape fox (Vulpes chama), also called the cama fox or the silver-backed fox, is a small fox with black or silver gray fur with flanks and underside in light yellow. The tip of its tail is always black.

The Cape fox tends to be 45 to 61 cm (17.7–24 inches) long, not including its 30 to 40 cm (11.8-15.75 inch) tail. It is 28 to 33 cm (11–13 in) tall at the shoulder, and usually weighs from 3.6 to 5 kg (8–11 lbs).

As most foxes, they are nocturnal and most active just before dawn or after dusk. During the day, it typically shelters in burrows underground, holes, hollows, or dense thickets. It is an active digger that will excavate its own burrow, although it generally modifies an abandoned burrow of another species, such as the springhare, to its specific requirements. They are solitary creatures, and although they form mated pairs, the males and females are often found alone, as they tend to forage separately. They are not especially territorial but will mark their territories with a pungent scent. Although a normally silent fox, the Cape fox is known to communicate with soft calls, whines or chirps. However, it will utter a loud bark when alarmed. When in an aggressive mood, the Cape fox is known to growl and spit at its attacker. To show its excitement, the fox lifts its tail, the height of the tail often indicating the measure of excitement.

Cape foxes are omnivorous and will eat plants or animals. Although they prefer invertebrates and small mammals such as rodents, they are opportunists and known to hunt and eat reptiles, rabbits, spiders, birds, and young hares. They will also eat eggs, beetle larvae, and carrion, as well as most insects or fruits. Cape foxes have been reported to be able to kill lambs up to three months of age, although this is a rare occurrence.

Enjoy these amazing photos Stephen took of Blue Cranes and Cape Foxes near Caledon. These Blue Cranes did not like the family of Cape Foxes being in the same field as them. The birds actually chased the foxes all the way to their den and kept them there for a good while.

Stephen, in his own words, has “an almost child like fascination for all creatures, both great and small. I am constantly astounded and amazed at just how intricate, ingenious and smart Mother Nature is. If we are prepared open our eyes, Mother Nature will reveal her beauty and magnificence to anybody who has the patience and desire to see and learn.

I am always amazed at how few people out there realize just how much bird and wildlife there is here in Cape Town.

I believe that if we educate and make people aware of what we have here on our doorstep,  maybe they will take more care of the environment. The more people that are aware of nature, the more potential custodians of nature we will have. I would like my grandchildren to see what I’ve seen, not in a photograph, but alive, wild and free.

We are very fortunate to have the most unbelievable abundance of both fauna and flora right here on our doorstep. We are truly spoilt for choice in that we have wetlands, forests, arid semi-desert,  mountains, grasslands, coastal marshes and beaches, all within a 150km radius of the city center.

It is with a great sense of pride that I can show the rest of the world just how beautiful and magnificent the wildlife and landscapes of Cape Town and South Africa truly are…”

Stephen’s website: http://stephenhammer.co.za

To read more about the Blue Crane, South-Africa’s national bird: https://landmeterskop.com/2014/08/10/blue-cranes-our-national-bird-landmeterskop/

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