She Spotted Janet. Or Did She?

I thought the nervous client had spotted Janet also looking at the scorpion and the puff adder in her room. But it wasn’t like that; Janet wasn’t there. The lucky, nervous – and ‘happy at the same time’ – client had spotted a scorpion, a puff adder AND a spotted genet like this one: AllContinue reading “She Spotted Janet. Or Did She?”

Umhlanga Lagoon

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 theContinue reading “Umhlanga Lagoon”

Sheila at Fugitives Drift Lodge – Sit Still!

Sheila worked at Fugitives Drift Lodge with David and Nicky Rattray for a while and met many interesting people and characters from all over the world. She should write about the weird folk she met – the judges and military men and colonial types and rich folk and historians and chief constables and all theContinue reading “Sheila at Fugitives Drift Lodge – Sit Still!”

Acacias – Let’s Just Call Them Thorn Trees

There are rules to how you name things. Plants and animals and things. The rules are something like this: The first one keeps its name, all others after have to fit in. So if a tree is named ‘acacia’ and another thousand acacias are found after it, it remains the type specimen for acacias andContinue reading “Acacias – Let’s Just Call Them Thorn Trees”

A Mystery Unraveled – Platberg Report

A guest post! A more factual and detailed report on this day by Nigel Hemming. This year’s Mystery Tour took us to Harrismith in the Free State where, amongst other things, we were to visit the Platberg Nature Reserve (PNR) and take a drive up to the top of the mountain before descending partway forContinue reading “A Mystery Unraveled – Platberg Report”

Explorers 15. Galton

Francis Galton, (1822–1911) was an English polymath, geographer, meteorologist and much else. We are mainly interested here in his 1850 expedition to Namibia. For the rest – and there is a lot of it! – refer to the sources at the bottom. Grandson of Erasmus Darwin and cousin and contemporary of Charles Darwin, Galton isContinue reading “Explorers 15. Galton”

Explorers 14. Gerrard

William Tyrer Gerrard sent a stuffed aardvark to Derby! How cool or how bad ass is that? You receive a parcel from your botanical collector: Here are some flowers and some leaves; oh, and one aardvark! Poor bloody aardvark had to stare out on grey Pommie skies from then on. I went looking for hisContinue reading “Explorers 14. Gerrard”

Sand Forest Again

Just one night with Jessie and Jordi. At Sand Forest Lodge. An emergence of flying ants saw birds in profusion feeding on them. Despite a stiff breeze I saw plenty good birds. Some birders there had counted up over seventy in their 24 hour stay. Seven Broad-billed Rollers in one tree was special – thisContinue reading “Sand Forest Again”

Lazy Sunday Rainy Sunday

I woke to a confidential sort of murmuring / chirping outside my window. What birds are those, I wondered and peered through my window, then my bathroom window. Then I went to the scullery and peered through the window. Still nothing, so I opened the top of the stable door and they scattered. Six BandedContinue reading “Lazy Sunday Rainy Sunday”

Nibela on Lake St Lucia

What luck! friends couldn’t make their timeshare for happy reasons (grandchild due) so we took over! With pleasure. Nibela is in prime Broadbill sand forest territory and I have dipped out on seeing a Broadbill, coming close a number of times, but no sighting. I was keen, so was Jess. Tom considered the fishing optionsContinue reading “Nibela on Lake St Lucia”

The Descent of One Mans

Charles Darwin wrote The Descent of Man. I’m going to write far more briefly and light-heartedly about The Descent of One Mans Pass. His is 900 pages long and has sex in it. Mine is one page and only has suffering. It was Barbara’s fault, of course. She was the instigator and in a fairContinue reading “The Descent of One Mans”

Face-Palm Nut Vultures

As British birding weirdo Bill Oddie rightly said: ‘Bird-watchers are tense, competitive, selfish, shifty, dishonest, distrusting, boorish, pedantic, unsentimental, arrogant and – above all – envious’. Driving down SinJim avenue one morning I had to brake for a Fruit and Nut Vulture perched on the busy tar road! Right here, on the way out ofContinue reading “Face-Palm Nut Vultures”

I’m, um, Normal!

Such a pleasure to meet weirdos who prove I’m normal. Friends Petrea and Louis – speaking of weirdos – cracked me an invite to an early morning visit to Bill Oddie’s house in David Maclean Drive to spot some twinspots. To do some twin spotting. Actually Roger and Linda Hogg’s home – what a beautifulContinue reading “I’m, um, Normal!”

Moth-Eaten Friends

For some unknown reason, Bruce Soutar thinks I know things, so he sends me stuff. Which I really enjoy! What’s this? he often asks. This was a moth on his car in Mbona, an ‘eco estate’ in the KwaZulu Natal midlands. Of course, I immediately knew – after asking Roy Goff of African Moths. HeContinue reading “Moth-Eaten Friends”

Another Garden Snake

We were happily sitting on a septic tank in River Drive when progress came rudely knocking. The municipality was putting in water-borne sewerage and the pipe was going to go through our garden and across the Mkombaan River at the bottom of it. There would be some dynamite blasting. Deep blasting where they were goingContinue reading “Another Garden Snake”

Another Friendly Garden Snake

This one on sister Barbara’s beautiful farm Umvoti Villa, on the Mispah side of Greytown. She’d seen a snake on the big homestead veranda, but then no, it wasn’t a snake. What was it? She sent some blurry pictures of the mystery serpent . . I asked for clearer shots, but by the time sheContinue reading “Another Friendly Garden Snake”