Africa, Family & Kids, Food, KwaZuluNatal

Pre-Wash

We’re on a septic tank and a soakpit and I’m the only one who cares.

So I think about all our waste and our waste-water, as none of it leaves the property. It all stays right here and must be done right.

So whenever I had a pot or pan or plate with grease, oil, fat or protein on it, I would have it pre-washed before running the dishwater. That way less fatty waste was in the pipes and the pits.

Made perfect sense to me, was hygienic and made a huge difference to the gunge in the system, as Sambucca’s poop would be flushed down the toilet same as ours, and I wouldn’t need to pay for a honeysucker truck to suck.

Yet my co-habitants thought EW! and YUCK! Sambucca’s spit, Dad! Hello! It gets washed off at high temperature, dudes. They remained unimpressed. I remained unmoved. Sambucca’s movements were regular.

Now Sambucca has shuffled off and they’re happy and I’m not. The ants – millions of them, are also happy. And I’m not.

~~~oo0oo~~~

The pic is not actually Sambucca – this is Greg Price’s picture from Hilary Price’s cartoon website Rhymes With Orange. Sambucca got given her licking n pre-wash duties outside the kitchen door. She LURVED the job! Sometimes, though, she’d be less than thorough and I had to say Hey! Lick Up! – that was when it was olive oil. When it was dead animal juice she would lick the platter clean.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Another cool honeysucker truck . .

Africa, Home, KwaZuluNatal

Driveway Drizzle

It’s drizzling and the driveway looks sparkling and green-ish – needs weeding one day – on the brick from my kitchen window, so I took a picture which doesn’t look as good as it does. The camera – or the cameraman – hasn’t captured the mood . .

Yesterday the meadow popped some tiny little flowers when the sun popped out:

Your pinky nail would cover them.

In the drizzle the squeakers (Arthroleptis wahlbergi) are squeaking and the robin is prrrp prupp (Red-capped Robin-chat).

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Birds & Birding, KwaZuluNatal

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 xeno-canto.org – 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 –

~~~oo0oo~~~

And then at last I saw one of Crispin Hemson’s 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.

Africa, Birds & Birding, Wildlife, Game Reserves

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 Banded Mongooses on the back lawn outside my bedroom window! What a lovely sight! Had I been awake I’d have taken a camera to the door! Last week Jessie had called me to the lounge: ‘Dad! What are those! Come look!’ and showed me three mongooses on our front lawn. Hope they’re here to stay.

A lovely morning so I set off early for Pigeon Valley.

– a Pigeon Valley morning –

Soon after I got home the rain started – lovely lazy day listening to the rain on the roof; eating TomTom’s macaroni cheese, lots of bacon; its quite dark so maybe the sun is over the yardarm, I’ll have some vino now without looking at the clock.

~~~oo0oo~~~

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 –

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

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!