A visit to the vulture restaurant at Giant’s Castle is always an awesome experience with the most amazing photographic opportunities, provided you adhere to basic rules. Story and pictures by Peter McKellar
During my last visit to the hide I had snow and some rain for two days. Other photographers would have packed up and retreated to the comfort of their chalets, but the low clouds provided stunning light. It was very cold in the hide, but a good supply of hot coffee kept me going as I was up there at six in the morning.
Make sure your car is parked away from the hide and that you are settled in the hide at the crack of dawn. Take enough water and food or snacks along, because it is going to be a long but exiting day. Remember there are no toilet facilities nearby. Once you are settled in and your cameras checked, the wait begins. As the sun rises you will get visitors like the beautiful Cape robin, red-winged starling, the ever-present crows, jackal buzzard and if you are really lucky, the Verreaux’s eagle.
The Cape vultures are late starters and wait for the sun to warm them up, especially on cold winter mornings. After you have honed your photographic skills on the other birds, the big guns will be arriving by about ten o’clock, but please don’t set your watch to this.
Now the fun really starts. If you are lucky, you might get some stunning interaction between the vultures and the silver-backed jackals.
Lessons I have learned while visiting the hide
- Come prepared, batteries charged, have enough memory cards and know your equipment.
- When the action starts, there is no time to fiddle around with cameras.
- Sit back and enjoy, life is great.
Nikon D4, 400mm primary lens, 1,7 times convertor