Helmeted Guineafowl, Numida meleagris, close-up
Caption: Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) close-up, showing the colorful red cap, blue neck and horny casque (or helmet) on its head, Letaba Camp, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Below: Close-up of the guineafowl’s feather pattern.
Guineafowl feathers

Helmeted guineafowls are found throughout southern Africa and their lovely black and white feathers, like the porcupine’s quill, have become something of an icon of the African bush.

The crested guineafowl (Gutteria pucherani), with its characteristic black head-plume, on the other hand is much less common and hence more difficult to find and photograph.

In many of the Kruger Park camps helmeted guineafowl are habituated to people and are not afraid to come up close, hoping to be fed. But they don’t stand still, instead constantly pecking around in swift, jerky moves, so are difficult to keep in focus.

For the above head shot I relied on the fast focusing of my old Canon 1D Mk II in follow-focus (AI Servo) mode, although the EF 70-300mm lens is not ideal for this as it doesn’t have the ring-type ultrasonic motor for silent, high speed autofocus found on Canon’s telephoto L series lenses.

Camera: Canon EOS 1D Mk II; Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/320; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO: 400.

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+Scotch Macaskill