Tom went to visit Ziggy in Umhlanga so Jess and I had a late breakfast at Europa Cafe – poached eggs, haloumi, mushrooms, bacon, tsatsiki, all-sorts, yum! Followed by delicious hot bitter black coffee and some sitting back and sighing. And then, what the hell, a chocolate milkshake!
Then off for a stroll at the lagoon in the Umhlanga Nature Reserve, a KZN Wildlife park.
A few birds – Diederik Cuckoo, Southern Masked Weaver, Bronze Mannikin, Familiar Chat, Olive Sunbird – but it was midday. I heard the cluck – cluck – cluckcluckcluck of a Little Rush Warbler while I was photographing a butterfly, so I switched to video:
Umhlanga Rocks is in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa; Umhlanga means reeds
“To a person uninstructed in natural history, his countryside or seaside stroll is a walk through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall” – THOMAS HUXLEY – English biologist
“Bird-watchers are tense, competitive, selfish, shifty, dishonest, distrusting and – above all else – envious. I know many who are generous, witty and delightful company – but they’re no fun!” – BILL ODDIE;
“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment…and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn” – HENRY DAVID THOREAU, author, poet & philosopher – I once had a pigeon shit on my shoulder while collecting money for charity – shaking a tin – outside the Jeppe Street Post Office In Johannesburg; does that count?
“God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages” – JACQUES DEVAL , French playwright
“If you bird, you will see stuff” – THE ORACLE, birder
“A weird screechy howl, which rises in a nerve-shattering crescendo, to peter out like a cry of a lost soul falling into a bottomless pit” – AUSTIN ROBERTS, original author, Roberts’ Birds of Southern Africa – talking about the Manx Shearwater? or me when dipping out yet again on an African Broadbill?
“I don’t GO birding. I AM birding!”– FAANSIE PEACOCK, birder – (always! I agree with Faansie, an amazing birder with the best possible name for one!)
“Use what talents you possess: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best” – HENRY VAN DYKE, American author – who hereby gives me permission to sing in the shower and while driving
We’re on a septic tank and a soakpit and I’m the only one who cares.
So I think about all our waste and our waste-water, as none of it leaves the property. It all stays right here and must be done right.
So whenever I had a pot or pan or plate with grease, oil, fat or protein on it, I would have it pre-washed before running the dishwater. That way less fatty waste was in the pipes and the pits.
Made perfect sense to me, was hygienic and made a huge difference to the gunge in the system, as Sambucca’s poop would be flushed down the toilet same as ours, and I wouldn’t need to pay for a honeysucker truck to suck.
Yet my co-habitants thought EW! and YUCK! Sambucca’s spit, Dad! Hello! It gets washed off at high temperature, dudes. They remained unimpressed. I remained unmoved. Sambucca’s movements were regular.
Now Sambucca has shuffled off and they’re happy and I’m not. The ants – millions of them, are also happy. And I’m not.
The pic is not actually Sambucca – this is Greg Price’s picture from Hilary Price’s cartoon website Rhymes With Orange. Sambucca got given her licking n pre-wash duties outside the kitchen door. She LURVED the job! Sometimes, though, she’d be less than thorough and I had to say Hey! Lick Up! – that was when it was olive oil. When it was dead animal juice she would lick the platter clean.
Go to bed early and be up early guys! That’s Tom, Ryan and Ziggy. They want to go fishing in Kelso on the rocks in front of Tom’s happy childhood haunt Happy Wanderers.
So they get to bed at 2am and I have to roust them at 5:45am. C’mon, move! We drive off at 6:20am and get there in an hour. They go fishin’ and I go for a peaceful breakfast in Scottburgh, then birding and butterflying. No pictures, though, nothing would sit still. Luckily Ziggy took pickishas of them . .
They even catch. Shad and an eel. The eel gets released, but two shad are brought home against my wishes. Too late, by the time they get back to me they’re dead. But Dad, they’re legal and we want to have them for lunch!
I take them a mid-morning snack which is accepted with huge cries of welcome and relief like they were dying of thirst and starving. I have to interrupt Tom and tell him to write a book about the tough time he had in The Struggle!
More surprises: At the end they go for a swim in the waves and even Tom goes in! Amazing. Tom got wet in the sea! – and he wore shorts! ex Africa semper aliquid novi ! On the way home they’re bubbling over with excitement and chuffedness and tall tales and heroics and what-they-would-have-done stories.
We’re talking so crazily and over each other and laughing and shouting that I don’t see the cop till he jumps right in front of me and flags me down! Yes, YOU, he indicates. It didn’t feel like I was going fast, but I spose it never does.
I pull over in front of a big truck they have also flagged down and haul out my licence and wait. They’re all over the truck, write him a ticket and walk back to their camera. The truck pulls out past us and the passenger shouts to us in isiZulu: ‘They pulled you over for nothing! Go!’
So we go.
As I write there’s a happy fish braai happening outside my office window:
Later: The fresh shad was succulent and delicious! Ziggy is a qualified chef and she seasoned it to perfection! I told the fellas to take notes . .
While waiting for the fisherfolk, I lurked in the coastal bush shade.
A few days before, Ryan’s Dad Andy had taken them to Durban harbour, where they caught a tiny little smelt: