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.


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.


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

Bufftail Hoot

It’s been a long time since I last heard the plaintive, mournful-sounding hoot of the Buff-spotted Flufftail, Sarothrura elegans. But the last few nights he has been hooting gently outside my window in Westville above the Palmiet River:

– sound from – thank you –

Hope they stay awhile . . .

– crispin hemson pic from pigeon valley durban – thank you –

I heard it for years at 7 River Drive on the Mkombaan River in Westville, but although I searched and stalked and lay in wait at all hours, the only one I saw was one the bloody next door cat killed! Something like this:

– not my pic –


And then at last I saw one of Crispin Hemson’s tame*** flufftails at Pigeon Valley in Durban. One lone male. And just for a few seconds before he ducked into the undergrowth. I was pleased to see one of Crispin’s pictures has been used in wikipedia.

*** not really tame – just on his famous patch!


List of Birds of 7 River Drive – my patch

Mkombaan River valley, Westville – Jan 1989 – Dec 2003

Breeds – Y means we have seen a nest or young being fed here

Spotted ThrushSeen three separate winter-times in 15 years
Kurrichane Thrush
Olive Thrush

Narina TrogonThree times in 15 years, once stayed a week
Pigmy KingfisherThree times
Brown-hooded KingfisherNests in a bank in Deon’s yard next door (no. 5)Y
Malachite KingfisherOnce
Olive Bush-shrike (ruddy formOnce – stayed about a week. Lovely song
Orange-breasted Bush-shrikeHeard quite often, seen about three times
Black SparrowhawkRaises a chick here most yearsY
GymnogeneRaises a chick here most yearsY
Crowned EagleFlying & calling overhead
Fish EagleFlying & calling overhead
African GoshawkResident King of the woodsY
Black-headed HeronFlying overhead
Pied CrowFlying overhead
Barn Swallow

Lesser Striped Swallow

Rock Martin

White-rumped Swift

Little Swift

Palm Swift

Reed CormorantOnce, flying overhead, then circled and landed in the Mkombaan River!
Woolly-necked StorkPerched on a garage roof at top of our valley!
Bush BlackcapOne winter, stayed ten days
Willow WarblerArrives every summer from frosty England
Red-backed Mannikin

Bronze Mannikin
Bar-throated Apalis

Yellow-breasted Apalis

Rudd’s Apalis !!?Unlikely, yet seen close-up by Trish and I on potplant on the driveway! Nov 2003; Needs verification!
Natal FrancolinHeard often, seen once
Buff-spotted FlufftailHeard very often, never seen
Red-chested CuckooJuvenile seen once in fig tree over pool
Emerald CuckooIncluding a juv being fed by Olive sunbirdy
Klaas’ Cuckoo

Black Cuckoo

Diederik Cuckoo

Longbilled Crombec

Tambourine DoveOften
Emerald-spotted DoveSeldom
Red-eyed DoveMost common dovey
Laughing Dove
Ring-necked parakeetOnce, flying past into no. 14
Fiery-necked nightjarHeard often, seen twice
Paradise flycatcherNests every yeary
Dusky FlycatcherNests every yeary
Blue-grey FlycatcherNests most yearsy
Spotted FlycatcherA few visits
Black Flycatcher
Purple-crested LourieNested in Umdoni tree on River Drivey
African HoopoeOnce at top of River Drive
Red-billed Wood HoopoeHave nested in our nestboxes about 3 timesy
Lesser HoneyguideOften
Greater HoneyguideSeldom
Scaly-throated HoneyguideSeldom
Sharp-billed HoneyguideTwice
Blackbellied Glossy StarlingsNest most yearsy
Green TwinspotSeen four times, heard more times
Long-tailed WagtailUp & down the river, occasionally next to pooly
Cape WagtailNests in Dracaena outside front door
Pied WagtailNext to pooly
Southern BoubouHeard all the time, seldom seeny
Golden-tailed WoodpeckerNests most yearsy
Cardinal Woodpecker

Olive SunbirdThe Boss; Once raised an Emerald Cuckoo chicky
White-bellied SunbirdUsually behind house, seldom in front garden!
Collared SunbirdNests most yearsy
Black SunbirdOccasional
Grey SunbirdOften
Black-collared BarbetAlwaysy
Crested BarbetOnce
Golden-rumped TinkerAlways
HamerkopOften – heard more than seen
Yellow-billed Kite

Burchell’s Coucal

Grey-headed SparrowSeen twice
Streaky-headed Canary

Yellow-eyed Canary

Bully Canary

Tawny-flanked PriniaNests every year in long grass above washliney
Natal RobinTrish’s friend – also spotted chicks most yearsy
White-browed Scrub-robin

Southern Black Tit

Terrestrial BulbulOutside bedroom window
Black-eyed Bulbul
Sombre Bulbul

Black-headed Oriole

Black Cuckoo-shrikeIn fig tree most years
Fork-tailed Drongo

White-faced Whistling DuckWhistling high overhead at night
Cape White-eye
Bleating Bush Warbler


Indian Mynah

Cape Glossy Starling

Plum-coloured Starling

Thick-billed Weaver

Spotted-backed Weaver
Spectacled WeaverNests every yeary
Forest WeaverSeldom
Blue-billed Firefinch

Common Waxbill

Grey WaxbillRegular in early years, scarce lately
Swee WaxbillTwice
Redwing Starling

Chin-spot Batis

Cape Batis

Hadeda Ibis
Sacred IbisFlying overhead
Speckled Mousebird