Africa, Life

Late Night Bedroom Experiments

Peter Brauer wrote an email – it becomes this, my first guest post:

Subject: My latest Clinical research at its best

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions whether eye problems can result in general fatigue and lethargy – “If I read till late at night I feel fatigued the next am”. I’ve not been convinced and have always been rather skeptical of any such link.

However, after three very late nights (in fact early mornings) of computer work and reading, I woke this morning with abnormal fatigue and literally had to drag my weary body to work. So after thirty five years of thinking otherwise, I now thought I had irrefutable proof that eye strain could do this to me.

That was until I discovered that having removed my plus-fours before retiring at 1am last night, the little white tablet I had taken for cholesterol was in fact a very similar looking little white tablet for knocking you out for a good night’s sleep! I had taken a Stillnox and not a Prava!

So yes, my eye problem certainly resulted in the extreme fatigue and weary body that my legs could hardly drag into my office this morning. But it wasn’t eyestrain that did it – it was PRESBYOPIA.

So if you feel listless in the morning, forget the dietary advice on what constitutes a good breakfast . . maybe it’s just time for a good eyetest . .

Wisdom followed . .

Another Peter (Muller) wrote: Ja well no fine – the problem I see is having to drag your body to WORK at all at your age . . stop doing that, and the fatigue will go away . .

This Peter (Swanepoel – me) wrote: SOUND advice from Muller, as always. – and thank goodness that other little tablet is blue . . if it was also a little white tablet there could be pandemonium at 1am in this interesting bedroom clinic.

~~~oo0oo~~~

plus fours golfers and presbyopes use these; Peter Brauer is both; So who knows which ones he was removing in his interesting bedroom clinic . . ? Methinks we should install cameras . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Birds & Birding, Wildlife, Game Reserves

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 – this was the furthest south I’ve seen them. Then my first-ever sighting of African Bullfrogs! I’ve seen the Giant Bullfrog in Botswana – once – but had never seen the African.

– bottom, 2nd from left – African Bullfrog Pyxicephalus edulis –

Godfrey the owner came round to visit Saturday evening, having recognised my name on his guest list; we had a long chat about his trees. He is a huge dendrology enthusiast and his current project is photographing a new un-named Combretum ‘novospeciosa’ – new species. He takes daily pics as the leaves and buds unfold and has a daily whatsapp conversation with ace botanist Richard Boon (now living in Aussie). Fascinating. He is building up an amazing catalogue of images of the 180 tree species on his property. He soon lost me as I’ve grown rusty on the dendrology side! The purple flower below is a Vitex (I think). I didn’t get a good picture. His pictures are pin-point sharp. He tried to show me how to get better pictures, but I think the extra secret is practice, practice.

– Sand Forest Lodge Nov 2019 collage –

Godfrey showed me a number of his trees and they’re all beautiful, but I am so rusty and he knew mainly the common names of the ones he isn’t actively studying at present, so I couldn’t place them easily. One I do remember is the Forest Iron Plum, Drypetes gerrardii. I’ll slip in a little post about young Mr Gerrard after whom it was named.

– African Bullfrog, Pixycephalus edulus, bottom middle – Red Toad, Schismoderma carens, top middle –

On the way home we drove through Hluhluwe Game Reserve. Lots and lots of water after seeing it dry for a long time. Lots of greenery too, so very few animals, as they didn’t need to be anywhere near the roads. Four tiny little warthogs were the only sighting of note. Hot dog-sized.

~~~oo0oo~~~

PS: On the way up I told Jess the Lodge owner’s names are Godfrey and Cary and she refused to believe me! There’s no such name as God-free she insisted. She’s heard of sugar-free and gluten-free but she just knew I was pulling her leg about God-free. When I introduced him to her she went wide-eyed and quiet like only my Jess-Jess can!

I now call them God-free and Care-free and that reminds me of Frank and Gretel Reitz who Sheila, Bess and Georgie used to call Frankful and Grateful.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Bird list: Broad-billed Roller – seven of them, most I’ve ever seen together; Crested, White-eared and Black-collared Barbets; Yellow-rumped Tinker; Klaas’, Diederik, Red-chested and Emerald Cuckoos; The Emerald only heard, the Red-chested put on a big display and I got saturation views. He / She was being mobbed by a drongo and a __ (forget); Square-tailed Drongo; Red-eyed, Emerald-spotted and Tambourine Doves; Long-crested Eagle; Three dark sunbirds – I think Marico, Neergaards and Purple-chested, but I can’t claim them all for sure. The other birders had long lens cameras and were trying to get pics of all three to prove it; Scarlet-chested Sunbird; Lesser Honeyguide calling all day – didn’t spot him; Yellow-breasted and Rudd’s Apalis; A big flock of European Bee-eaters; Spectacled and Dark-backed Weavers; Dark-capped Bulbul; Yellow-bellied and Sombre Greenbuls; Terrestrial Brownbul; Purple-crested Turaco; Southern Boubou; Orange-breasted and Gorgeous Bush-shrikes (heard both only); Green-backed Camaroptera; Rattling Cisticola; Yellow-fronted Canary; Tawny-flanked Prinia; Long-billed Crombec; Crested Guineafowl; Natal Francolin; Pied Crow; Egyptian Goose; Paradise and Black Flycatchers; African Goshawk; Striped and Brown-hooded Kingfishers; Crowned and Trumpeter Hornbills; African Hoopoe; Green Wood-hoopoe; Rufous-naped Lark; Black-and-White Mannikin; Red-faced Mousebird; Black-headed Oriole; Yellow-throated Petronia; Red-capped Robin-Chat; Cape White-eye; Fiscal Shrike; Black-bellied Starling; Lesser Striped Swallow; Palm Swift; Kurrichane Thrush; Southern Black Tit; Heard the Nerina Trogon often on both days; Pied Wagtail; Golden-tailed Woodpecker;

~~~oo0oo~~~

Godfrey was excited by something about a new tree in his sand forest: Dovyalis revoluta. I couldn’t quite get what was new; something about Richard Boon and Abraham van Wyk and a new discovery. So I went looking and found it. Dovyalis revoluta is a separate species, not just another Dovyalis zeyheri. So we have a new tree in the ‘Wild Apricot’ gang. My garden has plenty Dovyalis caffra surrounding it as a thorny hedge and bird and creature refuge.

– Richard Boon and Abraham van Wyk’s pics of D. revoluta –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Food, Motorcars_Automobiles, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

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 options and the food a la carte, but decided in the end that it was just too remote for a city slicker! ‘Enjoy your sticks and trees, Dad!’ he bid us farewell.

– chalet in sand forest overlooking Lake St Lucia –
– Nibela Sobhengu flowers –

Jess liked the place immediately. It had cellphone reception and DSTV. Also there was wifi at the main building. What was not to like?

– hey Dad, there’s DSTV! –

The food at the lodge was great. The one pork belly dish was the best I’ve had, and all their soups and veges were superbly done. We ate there three nights and I made supper one night.

– ’twas cordon red –

We searched for the African Broadbill, but no sign was seen or heard, so it remains on the wishlist. This is what its sand forest haunts look like, where it performs its little bird-of-paradise dance to get laid so an egg can get laid:

– Lucky at Nibela trying to call up broadbills – I soon put a stop to calling them – I’ll wait –

Lovely local specials we did see were Woodward’s Batis – a pair displaying and calling two metres away in a tree; Rudd’s Apalis; Purple-banded Sunbird; all good sightings and obligingly chirping as we watched. Narina Trogon, calling each day, but not seen; Heard but didn’t see a possible Neergard’s Sunbird. Two lovely bird parties popped up right in front of our chalet: One evening Dark-backed Weaver, Puffback, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow White-Eye and Southern Black Tit; The next morning Dark-backed Weaver, Puffback, Pink-throated Twinspot, duetting Southern Boubous, Square-tailed Drongo, Yellow-breasted Apalis and Collared Sunbird.

Jessie’s Best Sighting:

In the grounds of the lodge Jess spotted something beautiful in a tree! Look! Dad! wifi! You didn’t even have go indoors to have wifi!

– wifi in the bush – a millennial’s delight –

A drive out to where the Mkhuze river flows into the lake brought back memories of my last trip there – by boat on a bird count with the game warden nearly forty years ago. Greater Flamingos, one Lesser Flamingo, White Pelicans, a Rosy-throated Longclaw, Common Ringed Plovers, Kittlitz’s Plovers, Stilts, Yellow-billed Ducks, Hottentot Teals and many more.

– where the Mkhuze flows into Lake St Lucia –

Pelicans fishing in a ‘laager’ – surrounding the fish then dipping in: Heads up – Bums up.

– White Pelicans fishing near the Mkhuze mouth into Lake St Lucia –

Lots of creatures:

Nibela Sobhengu creatures collage

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Free State, Vrystaat, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

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 fair and just world she would have been given a heavy backpack and her kierie would have been confiscated. As it is, she hared down like a springhaas, leaving the other four of us who deserted the platoon for our ‘shortcut,’ gasping in her wake.

– Nigel Hemming’s unusual shot of One Mans Pass from directly above –

‘It’s steep but it’s not far,’ I said confidently, clearly remembering the last time I had descended this pass on Platberg, or Ntabazwe – only about fifty years ago when I was a fit, lightweight klipspringer. Well! The first, rocky, section turned out to be twice as long as I’d remembered; and someone had loosened the rocks:

– dancing on the dolerite down One Mans Pass – it carried on and on –

This part ended at the sandstone cave, which meant we had ‘conquered’ the dolerite cliff section, if we remembered Leon’s geology lesson correctly.

– Tim in sandstone cave where his ancestors left graffitti – J Jacobs – but couldn’t spell their name –

The second section is the grassy-rocky section which I also remembered well – except it was also much longer now. Perhaps there’s been a tectonic upwelling since I last did it?

– descent of One mans Pass – grassy slip part –

. . then a section I had completely forgotten about. A bonus section, you could say.

. . a last little bit:

. . and we were on terra firma horizontalis, on the Bloekombos site of many a happy Methodist Sunday School picnic in the ‘sixties. As Tim correctly pointed out: As Methylated Spirits, we were only allowed tea and ginger beer at our picnics.

Now all we had to do was walk on the level to the Akkerbos – or Oak Forest – which I clearly remembered as being at point A:

– Platberg – and the Akkerbos which somehow moved east in the last few decades – tectonic shift, no doubt –

. . but which is actually, and disconcertingly, at point B.

So we trudged. A reconnaissance patrol was dispatched to find us, but their vehicles turned out to be less capable than we’d have wished for, unable to negotiate a few fallen twigs across their path. Field Marshall Lello RSVP also seemed to have less pull with HQ than we hoped, so no helicopters were dispatched either.

So we trudged. On the way we passed some ladies packing a lovely smelling herb into bundles. We greeted them and trudged on. Luckily Gail had passed them before us and been more engaged. She told us how they had been delighted she could speak isiZulu and knew their herb was Imphepho (Helichrysum, or liquorice plant – that was the smell!). They were bundling it up for sale in eGoli, eThekwini and eKapa (Joburg, Durban and Cape Town). Imphepho is used for ritual purposes by sangomas for summoning the ancestors. According to Pooley ‘to invoke the goodwill of ancestors, to induce trances – and to keep red mites away.’

Soon we arrived at the Akkerbos to tremendous applause and a lavish spread. Well, one of those. A lesson learned: The old ‘Don’t Split The Party’ is a good principle!

~~~oo0oo~~~

kierie – unfair walking aid which well-balanced people don’t need. At first

springhaas – jumping hare; bouncing rabbit

klipspringer – petite antelope which lithely and blithely bounces from rock to rock without causing them to start mini avalanches

bloekombos – gumtree plantation

akkerbos – oak plantation

~~~oo0oo~~~

Weather: Light westerly breeze; gale, actually!

A bit of stopping to smell the flowers en route:

~~~oo0oo~~~

I’m afraid the conservation status of Platberg, this precious mountain, is precarious. Do read about it.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Read about how we were not the only, nor the first, holy folk to descend this mountain: ‘It was the arrival of the Prophet Isaiah Shembe at KwaZulu Natal (Durban) from Ntabazwe (Harrismith) as he was instructed by the Word of God to do so.’

~~~oo0oo~~~

This stroll was Monday. It’s Thursday and I’m still walking like Charlie Chaplin in slow motion. Tom seriously said ‘Dad, maybe you should see a doctor.’

~~~oo0oo~~~

Monday, exactly one week later and I’m tripping the light fantastic as usual – Normal gait restored.

Africa, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids

What’s In There, Dad?

Nephew Robbie must have wondered what the heck could be so interesting that Koos was always peering into that thing.

So he investigated.

Ten or fifteen years later, we re-enacted the scene.

The original was on their farm Umvoti Villa between Greytown and Kranskop on the Mispah road; the re-enactment was at Mangeni Falls where ‘Lord’ Chelmsford was arsing about while his men got killed at Isandlwana. Isandlwana has been the scene of many re-enactments, so this was quite appropriate!

It’s about ten years later again – time for another re-pete.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Top: Introducing daughter Jessie to the wonders of the ‘scope. Now she’s 21 and her response is ‘bo-oring!’