By Jos Weale
This is the awesome moment two birds appeared to wage an intense martial arts battle – with one replicating moves from The Matrix to trounce its rival.
Ernest Porter, 26, says he watched aghast as the tussling buffalo weavers went at each other ‘with gusto’ in a rarely seen ground fight at Nkorho Bush Lodge, Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa.
In one hilarious snap, one of the scrapping fighters appears suspended in mid-air, foot raised and wings spread, in the same iconic pose struck by Carrie-Anne Moss’ character Trinity in the cult film.
Witnessing wrestling and ‘Kung Fu high kicks’, chops and headlocks, Ernest says he was even stunned to see some ‘dirty tricks’ with one bird bestowing a nasty bite to his opponent.
But the mortal combat was apparently brought to a swift end when a hungry Sparrowhawk hovering overhead tried to swoop in – with the birds no longer appearing quite so tough.
Ernest, from Johannesburg, South Africa, said: “We were at Nkorho Bush Lodge leading a Big Five Photo Safari and during our lunch break, I decided to walk round the lodge in hopes of photographing some birds.
“I saw the two birds, and as I got closer I saw the one had the other pinned to the ground. Birds scuffling on the ground is unusual, so I investigated.
“When the pinned one got out of the hold, the two birds went at each other with gusto, and they were both Kung Fu Fighting like crazy. It was like watching a martial arts fight.
“I would describe it as a mix martial arts battle with a little dirty fighting. The battle consisted of serious wrestling moves where the one bird tried to pin the other to the ground.
“As soon as the pinned bird got out of the choke hold, it attacked with wings, beak, and claws – with some serious Kung Fu moves.
“It’s a bit like something you’d see in the movies The Matrix, or Kung Fu Panda.
“The down and dirty part is showed on the first couple of photos where the one bird is trying to bite the other one.”
The captivated photographer says he was overwhelmed to see how each plucky bird gave it his all as they came to blows.
Ernest said: “It was really impressive to see when one bird grabs the other one by his head and slams him into the ground. I also noticed how the bird on top pushes out his breast, as if he is so proud of what he just did.”
The two rivals’ fight was almost ‘to the death’, according to Ernest – but not by each other’s hand.
Ernest said: “This was a serious fight, and it almost resulted in the death of one of them, not because of the physical fight but because they were so distracted that they almost didn’t see a Sparrowhawk attacking them.
“Luckily for them they saw the Sparrowhawk just in time and both Buffalo Weavers got away.
“I would actually say that they were matched up pretty well. However, both were winners in my opinion by being extremely lucky to not being caught by the Sparrowhawk.
“It was really close, though.”
The nature lover, who has been snapping South Africa’s wildlife since 2011, claims he’s particularly chuffed with the impressive stills he captured before the sparrowhawk’s dangerous interruption.
Ernest said: “It was really entertaining to watch these two birds, which most people would consider totally harmless, battling it out so ferociously.
“I really like that I managed to get high quality sharp photos of the two birds fighting. These types of scenarios can be challenging to nail as the camera can easily focus on the background just behind them.
“I also managed to freeze the action and get the expressions and awesome Kung Fu moves photographed.”
And the snapper hopes that his pictures can open people’s eyes to the world of birds, and bring them all the closer to wildlife.
Ernest said: “I think the photos show how amazing birds are and how serious contests in the wild can be. It takes a lot of determination and heart to fight like these two little birds did.
“People normally associate animals such as lions with serious fight but, as these photos show, even the little guys can be tough and put up a good show.
“Mother Nature can give you treasures both great and small and also send totally unexpected surprises your way.”