Africa, Birds & Birding, Wildlife, Game Reserves

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 of Westville towards the Pavilion shopping centre, where St James crosses the Mkombaan river! Looking for all the world like a lost kalkoen.

In thirty years living in Westville, seldom venturing forth without my binocs I had not seen a Palm Nut Vulture here, never mind one dodging traffic.

So I had a good chuckle when I reported the sighting to the birding fraternity. The response was immediate face palms: 1. Oh, we often see them! and 2. Everyone knows there’s a pair that nests in Westville!

Oh. OK. Um . . 1. Not. and 2. Um, not.

I sent the response to Palmiet valley doyenne Jean Senogles and we had a hearty laugh and skinner about ‘birders!’ especially newbie birders! Us birders who have birded for half a century can still allow ourselves to get excited over interesting sightings. In the competitive game, not so much! Shut up, I’ve already seen that one!

~~~oo0oo~~~

skinner – gossip

kalkoen – farmyard turkey

Africa, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Wildlife, Game Reserves

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 beautiful garden! I didn’t take a picture, damn!

Now, looking at birds is normal, of course, as is drinking good coffee. Here are some of Roger’s bird pics. No, I’ll show you the weird part later. His daughters must die of embarrassment. I now can prove to my kids how normal I am.

– Roger Hogg’s garden bird – normal –

Here’s the part that pleased me:

– Roger – how very English –

Here’s the real Bill Oddie, a crazy Pom. I got to know about him when Aitch bought me his ‘Little Black Bird Book’ cos she agreed with his assessment: ‘Bird-watchers are tense, competitive, selfish, shifty, dishonest, distrusting, boorish, pedantic, unsentimental, arrogant and – above all – envious’.

And here’s an embarrassing discovery: I’ve seen lots of twinspots, but I thought this one in Roger’s garden was a first for Westville. When I went to add them to my life list, I saw that I’d twin-spotted twinspots in my own garden! In 1999 at 7 River Drive!

Petrea’s response was sharp, as always: ‘How wonderful to suffer from Sometimers. Every bird is a lifer! And anyway, ‘normal’ is a setting on a dryer.’

– more Green Twinspots –

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British birding – we should realise how lucky we are!

“Only around 150 people can look through the fence and see the bird at one time, so we have been organising a queue system. People can see the bird for ten minutes, then get to the back of the queue and wait their turn again.”  – Aaah! – to be born English is to have won first prize in the lottery of life – Geoffrey Caruth esq quoting that scoundrel Cecil John Rhodes –

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Just a week later the twinspot occurrence turned into an infestation. The Lellos sent pictures of a female in their garden, a kilometer downstream. So now there are twinspots upstream and downstream from me, and I’m on barren bend!

Africa, Birds & Birding

At Last, A Visual

I’ve been bothered by a thrush.

THRUSH Poetry Journal considers thrush songs to be among the most beautiful birdsong in the world. ‘We love that, and that is how we feel about poems,’ they say.

Thomas Hardy was feeling bleak when:

At once a voice arose among
      The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
      Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.

So my thrush has been calling just after dark and just before light for months but not once did he let me see him. But now I got him. He was way higher up than I’d been looking:

I’m still puzzled how he doesn’t show himself here! I used to see them regularly at River Drive.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Now he’s everywhere! I’ve seen him every morning since. I got footage. Excuse the discordant background noise. That’s son Tommy coming up to give me a hug while I was filming!

– morning song – and some morning noise! –

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Thanks to xeno-canto.org for the top recording of Turdus libonyana, the Kurrichane Thrush – – – – xeno-canto: ‘sharing birdsounds from around the world’ – what a lovely thing to do!

Africa, Aitch, Family & Kids, Home, Motorcars_Automobiles

Techno-fob-ia?

Stefanus wrote about a new thing. I paraphrased his rant:

What a bloody stupid idea. The ‘Key Fob’ or ‘Keyless Start’ or ‘Keyless Go’ or ‘Proximity Key’. I have always thought it was a stupid idea but I wasn’t sure why. Tonight I found out why.

Our friend John gets home with his wife after several stops, including our place for a while. Cannot find his ‘fob’; realises the car might have started because his wife had the other fob in her handbag. Panics.

After much driving around and searching in various places, including our place, it ‘turns up’ under his drivers seat where he insists he had searched several times. But ‘it had gone into a crevice.’

Steve expostulates: It’s a lousy idea! You could leave your key fob behind and drive 300 km without knowing you don’t have it, because the car opens and starts with the proximity of the duplicate ‘fob’ in your wife’s handbag. Frikkin stupid, really. Although in hindsight he could have narrowed the search by checking to see if the car would start without his wife’s keys being nearby . . .

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

I wrote:

Aha! A technophobe!

I’m going to ask them to implant mine in a crevice so I can never lose it.

And I won’t let them fob me off.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Steve:

Technophobe – yes. Ask my older brother.

Ja, but how will you avoid forgetting the rest of your keys – the ones that are attached to the – er – transponder? Having your own practice I am pretty sure you have a bunch of keys like a prison guard anyway.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Me:

Me? Keys? Nope.

I am lucky enough to have an “Open Sesame” lifestyle. The practice is always open when I get there at a leisurely hour, and my home is always open. Overrun with bloody kids who all know the 1299# that opens the gate from outside. Me and security are strangers.

Thank goodness for Raksha and the keys at work and Cecelia and the no keys at home.

Sadly, I do have to carry the one single key for the 2007 Ford 4X2 3litre diesel double cab bakkie. White. I lost the canopy key so now it doesn’t lock. Help yourself to my toolbox back there. At times I do spend some time looking for the damn thing on the odd occasions when I put it in a clever place instead of the usual on the kitchen counter. For some reason my Ford key says ‘Mazda.’

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Steve:

I should have realised I was speaking to the wrong person. We tend to lock stuff by and large. Someone came and had an overnight scratch around Wendy’s unlocked car a while ago. Front door gets locked at night or if we are not around. We regularly get wide-eyed warnings from the neighbours about dodgy people seen snooping around the street.

Office keys: I am the first to arrive by a half an hour (OCD) so key needed.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Me:

I am weird that way. Partly slackness, partly – slackness. Been very lucky and fully aware that could change.

1984 – Marriott road flat – nothing. No incidents.

1989 – 7 River Drive Westville – pre-kids. Zanele said she saw an umfaan in our room and she said ‘Hey! Wenzani?’ and he scuttled off through the burglar bars, which were big enough for him to get through.

Years later Aitch found her Zeiss binocs were missing. ‘Stolen!’ she announced. I thought no, ‘Misplaced.’ She thought ‘Poephol, stolen!’ Two years later we found them in the socks drawer.

Then post-kids I got hijacked and taken off in a friend’s car. That wasn’t good.

2003 – 10 Windsor Avenue Westville – Break and enter while we were out and Aitch’s binocs WERE taken. Also her wedding ring. She replaced only the binocs with a shiny newer model – insurance. I still have the new ones.

2005 – 10 Elston Place Westville – nothing.

The reason I have a keypad at the gate where friends just enter the last four digits of their cell number and Open Sesame is I hate closed gates. I once – ca1982 – waited on the pavement in Argyle road outside the palatial home of one of Barks’ friends, ringing the doorbell in vain. Party inside, so they couldn’t hear. Pre-cellphone days. Eventually went home and resolved never to live in a fuckin prison. Still don’t.

Weird? OK.

Confession: I do insist the kids practice common sense security and keep doors locked if they’re alone at home and when they leave the home unattended!

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

umfaan – youngster

Hey! Wenzani? – Oy! Whatchadoin’?

Poephol – husband

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Talking of phobias, isn’t this a lovely one?

The Fear Of Giants: fee-fi-phobia

Africa, Aitch, Life

Please Call The Police

‘Please call the police; my friends are fighting and I’m very worried.’

The sound of a young woman’s voice early Saturday morning on my gate intercom. Luckily the intercom was in one of its working phases. They’d had a party, she said. Funny, I hadn’t heard anything. Sometimes the parties are really loud. I dialed 10111, explained, gave my name and address and the man said ‘I’ll send the police there’ which I found re-assuring. He said ‘I’ll send them’ not ‘I’ll tell them.’

Later the same lovely voice very politely checking ‘Did you phone the police? I’m so worried!’ I asked Are You Safe? Do you want to come in? To be behind the gate? ‘No, I think I’m safe,’ she replied, which I didn’t find overly re-assuring.

A short while later the gate again, ‘Thank you so much, they’re here,’ followed by three more Thank You So Much-es.

As far as I can recall, that’s the first time I have ever called the cops!

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

I spose I must have called them back ca.2004 when we had our only robbery – in 10 Windsor Avenue while we were out. Aitch’s Zeiss 8X32 binoculars and her wedding and engagement rings were gone. Typical Aitch, she replaced the binocs only.

Wait! Once when we were young . .

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Africa, Birds & Birding, Wildlife, Game Reserves

An Armrest Kink

You need to kick back with Binocs, Beer, Telescope on Tripod and – lately – Camera to do your front porch birding justice, and I have just the chair for it on my porch – a Lazy Boy thingamiebob. Newish . .

An Argentine-African United Nations veterinarian writes a lovely blog he calls A Bush Snob Out Of Africa. In it he has a feature called Spot The Beast in which he shows a picture of a cryptic or camouflaged creature and invites you to find it. Then he zooms in to reveal an insect on bark, or a mantis, a leaf butterfly or moth, a frog, even a cheetah hidden in grass. I love it.

So go back to the picture above and see if you can spot the dragon or dinosaur sharing my chair today. Only then scroll down:

.

.

A Striped Skink waits for flies to approach

While I’m at it, I may as well mention some other lizards I have seen . .

A snake?

No, a Legless Skink, on the road in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

A snake?

No, A Grass Lizard – The Cavern, in the Drakensberg
Spot three of his tiny legs

A snake? About the size of an earthworm . .

Yes, a Thread Snake at home in Westville. The sharp tip is his tail

Maybe Peters’ Thread Snake Leptotyphlops scutifrons – known to be found in the Durban area.

——-ooo000ooo——-

Here’s the birding spot in full operational mode: