A highly venomous, but non-aggressive vine snake (Thelotornis capensis) hiding in between colourful Bougainvillea flowers. By mimicking twigs, this secretive vine snake can be hard to spot while it waits motionless in bushes to spot prey. The eyes with keyhole-shaped pupils offer binocular vision, enabling this snake to spot a motionless chameleon. Shimoni, Kenya (2016).
A devil firefish (Pterois miles) eager to flaunt its well-developed fin rays in the Wasini Channel, Kenya (2016). This conspicuous lionfish uses its pectoral fins to corral small fish, while the highly venomous spines deter potential predators. This species and the visually identical Pterois volitans (one additional dorsal and anal ray) have been introduced from the Indo-Pacific to the Caribbean due to the aquarium pet trade, where they now have become invasive.
One of the most widely-distributed chameleon species, Chamaeleo dilepis, resting on a thin vine near the village of Shimoni, Kenya (2016). At night, these arboreal lizards tend to sleep on the most outer and spindly branches to reduce the risk of predation: an approaching snake, for example, would cause noticeable vibrations and alarm the woozy chameleon in time to make an escape.
Two plains zebras (Equus quagga) standing cheek by jowl, sharing a superb view on the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
The Milky Way soaring above a lone mangrove tree at the southern Kenyan coast (2016). This tranquil mangrove area offered an overwhelming distinct and lucid view on the night sky, with Mars and Saturn clearly visible to the right of our opal-coloured Galaxy.
Portrait of a lioness (Panthera leo) on the plains of Tsavo East, Kenya (2016).
A chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) awakening at dawn. Through its left eye, which is embedded in a single, scaly, cone-shaped eyelid, the lizard was tracking meticulously the movements of my hand on the camera, while its right eye could (in theory) be busy scanning for prey. This independent movement and processing of visual information allows the chameleon to cover 360 degrees of monocular vision. Once a prey is spotted, both eyes will focus and the binocular vision is used to accurately pinpoint the distance of this approaching meal.
A nudibranch with communal shrimp. Wasini Channel, Kenya (2016).
Lake Nakuru, Kenya (2016). Devoid of flamingos due to the high water level.
Hiding in a narrow and densely vegetated creek of the Ramisi delta, a young Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) glances cautiously over the water’s surface. Kenya (2016).
Two nonchalant lionesses (Panthera leo) on the plains of Tsavo East, Kenya (2016).
A common wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) watching a neat line of conspecifics pass by towards a small creek in preparation of a small crossing. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya (2016).
A female and male Maasai giraffe (Giraffa tippelskirchi) towering above the dense vegetation of Tsavo West, Kenya (2016). Males have balding horns (ossicones) from sparring other males, while the females retain their black tufts.
A red and muddy skin illuminated by the warm afternoon light makes this African bush elephant (Loxodonta Africana) contrast starkly with the looming dark clouds that have gathered above the plains. Tsavo East, Kenya (2016).
A pod of spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) passing by an outer reef of Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park, Kenya (2016).
Close-up of a sea star (Pentaceraster sp.) at the bottom of the Wasini Channel, Kenya (2016).
A thorny seahorse (Hippocampus histrix) wandering above the sandy bottom of Wasini Channel, Kenya (2016).
Portrait of a giant frogfish (Antennarius commerson). This stocky, or even misshapen, fish mimics in colour, shape and behaviour its surroundings (often sponges) and draws prey closer with a rod-shaped dorsal fin, including bait-shaped lure. Seen during a night dive in the Wasini Channel, Kenya (2016).
A young African rock python (Python sebae) resting on a thick vine. Shimoni, Kenya (2016).
A colourful grasshopper near Amboseli National Park, Kenya (2016).
A hued Mwanza flat-headed agama (Agama mwanzae) basking in the sun is closely monitored by an even more colourful displaying male. Despite the midday heat at the plains of Maasai Mara National Reserve, these agamas were eager to dwell on the most sunlit stones and show off their striking colours. Kenya (2016).
A magnificent specimen of the African rock python (Python sebae). The young snake was found basking along the shoreline of the Wasini Channel, Kenya (2015). I have heard stories about rock pythons exceeding 9 meters in length, so this individual of less than 2 meters was considered small. It can, however, be said with certainty that this non-venomous snake is the largest species of the African continent. Alas, it has a bad reputation for constricting goats and usually does not survive an encounter with local residents.
A pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) on the lookout for fish on an artisanal fish trap. Seen at the Kenyan coast, in Shimoni (2015).
Floating majestically above a drop-off: a green turtle (Chelonia mydas) in Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park, Kenya (2015). There are numerous (though subtle) differences between the green turtle and its close relative the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata). The specimen in this photo has one claw while hawksbills have two, for example.
At sunset, a local fisherman prepares to leave the mainland behind and head towards open sea. In front, you can see an artisanal trap in which fish get stuck when the tide recedes. Shimoni, Kenya (2015).
A heron looking for snacks during low tide in Shimoni, Kenya (2015).
This white-headed dwarf gecko (Lygodactylus picturatus) shared the trunk of its tree with at least two other species of geckos. Interestingly, the colouration of this gecko is obvious and flamboyant, while the other two were barely distinguishable from tree bark. Seen in Shimoni, Kenya (2015).
A reef buzzing with life in Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park, Kenya (2015). In the left corner lures a laced moray (Gymnothorax favagineus) surrounded by a shoal of orangelined cardinalfish (Taeniamia fucata) and others.
The impact of relatively small waves is exacerbated by bouncing into and out of erodes caves at the rocky coastline of Shimoni, Kenya (2015).
Encounter with a curious gold-spotted sweetlips (Plectorhinchus flavomaculatus) in Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park, Kenya (2015). The species reaches a maximum size of only 60 centimetres, but due to the magnification underwater and close encounter it seemed much larger.
Seahorses are mystical creatures that are always a reward to find and observe. This spiny seahorse (presumably Hippocampus histrix) was found at a mixed soft coral and sponge field in front of Wasini Island, Kenya (2015). Most seahorses I have encountered do not make good photo models as they shyly turn their face away from the camera. This specimen was photographed seconds before doing just that.
Coral reefs are good breeding grounds for fish, though these small orange-lined-cardinals (Taeniamia fucata) and yellow sweepers (Parapriacanthus ransonneti) have reached their adult size. In Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park, Kenya (2015).
A skunk anemonefish (Amphiprion akallopsisos) at the Wasini Channel in Kenya (2015). A similar common name is used for a similar looking anemonefish (Aphiprion sandaracinos) occurring in the Indo-Pacific region, which is a good example why scientific names are useful. Commonly found on the magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica).
A playful Mediterranean moray (Muraena helena) at a shallow lagoon near Valletta, Malta (2015). These fish usually stay hidden in crevices during the day, only to come out at night to hunt. It is therefore always a fascinating sight to see one swimming at broad daylight.
The mauve stinger (Pelagia noctiluca) at Cala Ferrera, Mallorca (2012). The scientific name, which could be translated as ‘night-light of the sea’, refers to its ability to emit light. Its common name, however, points out the well-known bright colour and painful sting. The near transparent tentacles of this individual are still short but can grow over 3 meters in length, making photographing of this species generally more challenging, or painful.
Portrait of a bearded scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis barbata) resting on the edge of a reef at Bunaken, Indonesia (2011). Trusting on its camouflage and venomous, pelvic, anal and (raised) dorsal spines, this fish can be hard to spot but is easy to approach.
The remarkably shaped and named ‘fried egg jellyfish’ (Cotylorhiza tuberculata) in open water near Cala Ferrera, Mallorca (2012). Despite its uncanny appearance, this species does no harm to humans.
A moor frog (Rana arvalis) bathing in spawn (2014). During mating season in early spring, the males of this species turn bright blue for a few days. In high densities, such as in this small lake in the Veluwe, the Netherlands, the blue creatures and their ‘blobbing’ sounds are a true attraction. For the remaining of the year, both males and females are brown and resemble the common frog (Rana temporaria) in appearance.
A grass snake (Natrix natrix) gliding through the river Rhine near Rhenen, the Netherlands (2015).
As a non-venomous and good-tempered snake, Natrix natrix poses absolutely no threat to humans. When severely disturbed, the grass snake will excrete a smelly fluid, feign death, hiss or strike before they would bite. First of all, however, it will simply try to flee. This curious individual near Rhenen, the Netherlands (2015), did none of this and, deviating from common behaviour, approached the camera for a closer inspection.
Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on heathland near Apeldoorn, the Netherlands (2015).
Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) on heathland near Ede (2015). Like many other mammals, these deer are most active during twilight. In more quite areas, they are regularly seen during day time as well. During early spring, these two were spotted at dawn and were still nibbling the vegetation at noon on the same day.
A fen in the vicinity of Apeldoorn, the Netherlands (2015). It lured me with the sounds of moor frogs, but these turned out to be strategically positioned around a distant island. Small water bodies like these, though artificial, create a pleasant change to the surrounding dry heathlands.
A tree frog (Hyla arborea) in the Dutch dunes near Wassenaar (2014). These frogs are the only amphibians in the Netherlands that will seek heights by climbing herbs, shrubs or trees indeed.
Silhouettes of the Pyrenees (2015).
Sunset near Pic du Canigou in the French Pyrenees (2015).
A line of vegetation discontinued by a cliff at the Südpfalz, Germany (2014). The area is popular among climbers, and the sparse vegetation surviving on the vertical walls can both help and hamper these rock climbers.
Sunrise at the Veluwe, the Netherlands (2015). Moor grass that has not yet received sunlight is still covered in frost, while sunlit areas nearby are warming up rapidly.
After having played with a (dead) mouse for some time, the fox (Vulpes vulpes) must have realized he was being observed and started scanning the surroundings. In Renkum, the Netherlands (2014).
Common cranes (Grus grus) circulating above the Dwingelderveld (2015). This area is one of the few nature reserves in the Netherlands large and quiet enough to host these majestic, but shy, birds.
A viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara) bathing in the sun. These lizards often place themselves on wood logs to acquire the sun’s warmth more efficiently, although this also increases their visibility. Seen at Drents-Friese Wold, the Netherlands (2015).
Common viper (Vipera berus) at Drents-Friese Wold (2015). Only venomous snake of the Netherlands, though timid and rarely bites. Usually basks just under the protection of heather or small shrubs, resulting in photographs dominated by twigs rather than snake. This female allowed me to approach her closely, omitting the aforementioned problem.
A female sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) peeking through bilberry. Whether a lizard will flee or stay put depends on many (unknown) factors, but your approach, the ambient temperature and character of the individual seem to be important. This calm female allowed me to photograph her for more than half an hour at the end of the day near Wageningen, the Netherlands (2015).
A ‘mating ball’ of common toads (Bufo bufo) at Wageningen, the Netherlands (2014). The larger female is subject of competition by a group of 3 smaller males. At times, the males’ fanaticism becomes fatal to the female. This female was, at the time, still alive.
An immature natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita) in the dunes of Katwijk, the Netherlands (2015). The presence of this pioneer species is a good indication that an area is recently created or highly dynamic (e.g. construction sites, excavations, river beds or dunes).
A Mediterranean moray (Muraena helena) near Valletta, Malta (2015).
Surprisingly colourful underwater scene in the Oosterschelde, the Netherlands (2014). Seen from ashore, the grey and murky water of the North Sea obscures the vivid underwater world. Once submerged, the brightly coloured sponges and weeds make an appearance not inferior to tropical reefs.
Common brittle stars (Ophiothrix fragilis) on a sponge. Seen at the Oosterschelde, the Netherlands (2013). The remarkable variation in colour makes these stars a pleasure to look at. Though portrayed here are just two brittle stars, they tend to form congregates on the sea floor consisting of hundreds to thousands of individuals per square metre.
A spotband butterflyfish (Chaetodon punctatofasciatus) feeding on coral polyps in Bunaken, Indonesia (2011).
A common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) striking a pose for the camera. Cuttlefish, also known as ‘chameleons of the sea’ can rapidly change colour and have two tentacles to shoot for prey. Many cuttlefish including this individual come to the shallow Dutch waters to mate for the first and last time. Seen at the Oosterschelde (2015).
A female natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita) laying a string of eggs. The injured animal was bobbing on a shallow dune lake near The Hague, the Netherlands (2015).
A Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) during sunset at the rocky coast of Mallorca, Spain (2012).
A chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) in Vorarlberg, Austria (2014).
An alpine marmot (Marmota marmota) in Vorarlberg, Austria (2014).
A grass snake (Natrix natrix) near Wageningen, the Netherlands (2015). At his particular lake, snakes are known to climb trees to sunbathe, a behaviour I have not yet witnessed in other populations.
A fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) near the Semois River at Bouillon, Belgium (2014). The bright yellow spots indicate glands which can spray neurotoxins. Sadly, a fungus (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans) has wiped out Dutch fire salamander populations and continues to pose a threat to other species and countries. The fungus is thought to be introduced to Europe via trade of pet species from East Asia.
A climbing flying dragon (Draco sp.) in North-Sulawesi, Indonesia (2011). Their modified ribs and skin have formed folding wings. With these appendages extended, the lizards have been known to glide for 60 metres, starting at a height of 10.
A female sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) basking beautifully camouflaged in a heather shrub near Wageningen, the Netherlands (2015).
Round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) with prey in the Meinweg, the Netherlands (2013).
A Yaeyama blenny (Ecsenius yaeyamaensis) in Bunaken, Indonesia (2011). Sitting in a typical position for blennies, it will seek shelter when feeling threatened. With its head protruding from a hole or crevice it will wait until the danger drifts away and return to the same spot again.
Damselfish (Chromis chromis) darteling at a lagoon in Mallorca, Spain (2012).
Celebes crested macaque (Macaca nigra) eating fruits on the beach in North-Sulawesi, Indonesia (2011).
Wild boar (Sus scrofa) rushing through the forest near Ede, the Netherlands (2015).
A herd of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) near Appelscha, the Netherlands (2015).
A roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in the forests south of Orléans, France (2015).
River Roer near Roermond, the Netherlands (2013). This creek is still allowed to flow naturally and meanders picturesque through the landscape. Both erosion at the outer banks and deposition on the inner banks of the river create valuable habitat. For example, the outer bank portrayed here forms an ideal breeding ground for kingfishers (Alcedo atthis).
The Schesaplana in Vorarlberg, Austria (2014). Though they rarely have a prominent role in my nature photographs, people can be included to show the grandeur of the outdoors.
Field trip around Château de Peyrepertuse, France (2013).
A bluefire jellyfish (Cyanea lamarckii) in the Oosterschelde, the Netherlands (2014).
A purple sea urchin (Sphaerechinus granularis) at Palma de Mallorca, Spain (2012).
Tench (Tinca tinca) in Lake Rauwbraken near Tilburg, the Netherlands (2014).
A common frog (Rana temporaria) in a small creek near Eyne, France (2013).
A brown hare (Lepus europaeus) racing behind Wageningen University, the Netherlands in the last sun rays of the day (2014).
Summer in Mont-Louis (2013). With its majestic wings, the apollo butterfly (Parnassius apollo) is resting in a mountain meadow of the French Pyrenees.
A wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) basking on an old wood log near Pic du Canigou in France (2015).