Spring Sprung

Spring birding has been great. Some poor but fun pics of what’s been buzzing about.

– Cardinal Woodpecker – only one, but I inserted him three more times using FastStone –
– three birds in one shot! – top Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Spectacled Weaver and female Black Cuckooshrike bottom – I added in a clearer pic of the cuckooshrike –
– Yellow-bellied Greenbul – left one is same bird added in (a bit small!) – insert was nearby – there were three of them –

Above: Cape White-eye and African Firefinch – Spectacled Weaver – Olive Thrush

– the Lodders came to visit and Louis casually shot a Grey Waxbill while we were talking – see in the inset how she flashed her scarlet rump lingerie at Louis –

Below: A Pegesimallus robber fly; The tail hanging down from the branch? A vervet monkey; Temnora marginata (a sphinx moth); Ceryx fulvescens (yellow sleeved maiden moth); and – the white moth possibly a citrus looper? Thanks, iNaturalist.org for help with identification.

The female Black Cuckooshrike returned and I got a better view. Pics are poor as I took them through my dirty window rather than open up and spook her. One bird, I compiled this montage with FastStone again.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Half a House Living

While our renovations were being done in 2011 and 2012, we lived in the bedroom wing. Jess and Tom kept their bedrooms, mine became the lounge; we all shared their bathroom and my bathroom became the kitchen. Worked fine.

– Tom and his mate Josh snugly azizz –
– bedroom wing passage boarded up and sealed from the mess –
– my main bedroom became our lounge –
– with all mod cons, hey, Jess? –

I had a mattress on the lounge floor which I’d stow away by day. Looxury.

‘Course it took longer than we planned, but we were OK.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Herds o’ Butterflies

There been herds o’ butterflies mooching through my garden lately. I been shooting them, but still they come. So I thought I’d post some of those I shot for the enjoyment of them that are fond of the lil guys. Like me.

I’ve posted them – and many other creatures and plants – on iNaturalist.org here.

~~~oo0oo~~~

“I been shooting them, but still they come,” is me quoting from a book I read long ago, “The Man-Eaters of Tsavo.”** It told of settlers living in early Kenya who planted citrus trees. The elephants in that dry country loved them and they shot them and shot them, “but still they came.” Aren’t we humans delightful?

** which man-eater story, incidentally I recommend one takes with a huge pinch of salt. I don’t think lions behave that way, and I don’t think humans behave that way. But it sold like hot cakes and was imitated and frauds were perpetuated on its wave of success (at least one book had that title but the stories inside had nothing to do with the title!).

~~~oo0oo~~~

I have learnt, in trying to emulate another, more famous Swanepoel with a butterfly net, that catching these flitters aint easy! So its more stalk and click than stalk and catch.

iNaturalist.org is Amazing

iNaturalist
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Connect with Nature!

One of the world’s most popular nature apps, iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over a million scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Roof Inspection Makeover

What started out as a routine roof inspection has morphed into a general sprucing up at 10 Elston Place. Geoffrey Cholmondeley Caruth esq. famous painter, builder, redecorator, raconteur, empire-nostalgic, makeover artiste and paddler, came over and made some suggestions and we ended up deciding to fix the roof, bargeboards and fascia boards and paint them; fix the windows and paint; replace the old gutters with aluminium gutters; Almost forgotten in the mix was my second main aim: To catch my rainwater; We’ll add a 5 000l tank to catch the rainwater off the garage roof; Oh, and we’ll also add a door to the flatlet; fix a door frame and paint four doors.

Especially paint four doors! I’ve been wanting to paint these doors a proper deep cobalt blue for a long time. A blue to match Aitch’s blue kitchen wall back at River Drive!

I wasn’t brave enough to paint a wall such a blue, but two outside doors was my kick for touch. And the colour blue the doors have been for nine years is fine, but not right; The first blue Geoff showed by painting half one door was way better, but still not quite right.

– the old and the better – but not right yet –

Then he got it: The right blue. I call it Deep Cobalt Blue, or (as he has traces of Pommy in his veins) British Racing Blue. Above we have the old blue and the better blue. But wait till you see the Right Blue: Deep Cobalt Blue!

. . . to be continued . . .

. . getting closer. I showed Geoffrey a pic of the old 1999 kitchen blue vs the sample. Also I described the blue of a cuckoo-shrike I had seen in bright sunlight in Mkhuze . .

. . and he came back with the right blue:

I got my blue.

So we moved onto door knobs. I asked Sir Geoffalot for good outdoor knobs, not the el cheapos that hurt my lily-white hands. You’ll get only the best, he assured me. They look great! Are they definitely outdoor quality? I checked with the master designer. Absolutely, saith he, they come with our extended warranty:

Fourteen Days. Partly guaranteed. As long as it doesn’t rain.

Ah, well. He bribes me with good muffins for morning coffee.

~~~oo0oo~~~

And so we carried on! Now the one cottage wall is being painted. Oy! I said to Geoffroy the Pom GCMG, I still don’t have my water tank!

We’re victims of Mission Creep, Fauntleroy the Master Pom replied airily.

~~~oo0oo~~~

– it wasn’t bad but he insisted on painting it –
– nothing to see here, moving on –

Whatta Relief

Like FINALLY relieving yourself after a desperate long wait – whatta relief. Aah!!

A nice Zimbabwean man with a three ton truck came and took it all away.

Now why didn’t I do this LONG AGO?

I was sad to see my first plastic kayak go – but I’ve had four others, still got a new one – and UV had got to this 1983 Perception!

~~~oo0oo~~~

One Day

I know I should work to earn money so I can one day sit on my arse and listen to the birds and photograph butterflies. And see two gory kills within minutes, with two animals dying before my very eyes to satisfy the hungry needs of their predators.

So this morning:

– Forest Queen – ‘rare south of the Tugela’ –

Flies don’t even have to be buttered to be photographed:

– some diptera or other – big fly –

A drongo zapped an insect in mid-flight and a sunbird nabbed probably a spider off the mistletoe, killing them mercilessly for food in the great cycle of nature. Someone has to be sitting on his arse to witness these things.

butterfly Forest Queen
– remote camera setup – pics triggered from my cellphone –

This time I was determined to concentrate. I gazed at my cellphone fiercely for hours. Once I had to change the camera’s battery. This Forest Queen thought he could outwit outplay outlast me!? Huh! I was determined to catch him opening his wings to make sure he was a male. I was occasionally distracted. Had to make coffee, had to reply to some slights on whatsapp, had to take these photos to show the remote setup and my impressive camera (you’ve heard about okes with small willies having to compensate with big cameras, right? Well.). And once I was also – fatally – distracted by Tommy who NEEDED me to transfer cash to his eWallet.

Done. Then back to the app:

– BLIKSEM!! –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Spotter of Note

Jess is my spotter in the game reserves. ‘Dad What’s That?’ she’ll say time and again. And it’s always something interesting. Once she said ‘Dad What’s That?’ and I peered and peered and eventually saw it after she’d told me exactly where to look – a snake in a tree as we were driving past! That’s amazing.

Walking to breakfast in Tembe we had Jess bringing up the rear as Aitch, Tom and I strolled ahead. ‘Dad What’s That?’ she said.

– we had to turn back to see the Vine or Twig snake –

Today she called me out to the porch. This time she said ‘Dad There’s a Snake.’

– over there, she points –
– with my binocs I could see it – a beautiful spotted bush snake – pic taken with 25X zoom –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Lockdown Frenzy

In forty one days of lockdown I had taken the car out two or three times. Yesterday I took the car out three or four times! Once to fetch Ziggy with the shopping from the nearby PnP; once to take Ziggy to the taxi rank where she headed off to work at her call centre; once to fetch a parcel from Sheila, delivered just up the road; and once to get out of the way of the plumber who came to replace our burst geyser!

Then today we had a visitor, one of only three all lockdown. The first two I had immediately shooed off the premises: Rasta and Thandi, well-meaning, but sorry, no visitors! Just cos our gate slides open doesn’t mean you can stroll in. But this was our housekeeper Cecilia Shozi, and she had come to fetch her ID card which she had left here over 41 days ago when I sent her home to her girls before lockdown. We weren’t expecting her, it was a surprise call, so thank goodness the place was looking presentable. Ziggy had cleaned the kitchen; I had mopped the floor, swept the patio and tidied my office; and Jess had swept the TV room and lounge; So when I served her tea on the patio she couldn’t laugh at us and tell us how we cannot live without her! Even though that’s true.

Such activity! I had to lie down a while once they’d all left.

~~~oo0oo~~~

A Whip Around The Garden

I was actually looking for a pregnant chameleon. Didn’t spot her, but snapped flowers, including some non-indigenous interlopers – Aitch was a softie towards the end, and allowed some strange plants in.

Also a (deceased) bush squeaker and a grasshopper – which reminds me: I must tell you the story of grasshoppers one day . . .

– poor Arthroleptis wahlbergi drowned –

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