Stoute Invasion

A large flock of Kiwis flew in to Durban recently. Of course they can’t actually fly so they came by plane.

MurrayMo, Alex and Maxine

I met them at the Lellos. I thought it was going to just be Fiona and Pete but pleasant surprise! Alex, MurrayMo and Maxine were all there – about 10m of Stoutes in all, if you laid them end-to-end.

Yvonne presented a delicious meal – chicken and rice, but there was a better way to describe it. Sauteed Vietnamese jungle fowl? – and we reminisced about the olden daze. Mike religiously kept my glass full of good wine the whole night and I tried my best to drain it but it just kept getting topped up. Luckily I live just upstream along the Palmiet River from their place and if I closed my one eye, no diplopia.

——-ooo000ooo——-

waiting for pics, so used an ancient one taken n Rio de Janeiro to hold the place

Sanity Break

Kids – six of them! – driving me crazy so I pack a flask of coffee, some buttermilk rusks, grab my binocs and waai. Three minutes away to the Palmiet Nature Reserve on my doorstep.

Palmiet Picnic.jpg

Two hours later off to Pigeon Valley in town for another two hours. Palmiet is only 90ha in size and Pigeon Valley a tiny 10ha, but they’re rich in plant and birdlife. These collages are just some of the birds I saw and heard today in the two reserves:

Bird Pics internet

I spotted an old landsnail shell in a tree hollow. New life sprouting out of it.

I pinched the pics from all over the internet, and some from Friends of Pigeon Valley‘s Crispin Hemson and Sheryl Halstead. Thank you!

=======ooo000ooo=======

waai – bugger off

Ignorance is Bliss

snake for nick ID (2)

Found this tiny snake in my pool weir. Immediately set off to find my net – I have a dark little net they often just crawl into for refuge, making catching them easy. I very seldom handle a snake. Besides caution I really don’t want to injure them. Also I suspected this one may have been injured. Dropped into the pool by a kingfisher maybe, I was thinking.

But frustration and disorganisation – I couldn’t find my net or anything else to scoop it up with, and the bowl I wanted to use to take pictures in didn’t fit into the weir. So – convinced it was some kind of worm snake – I reached in and lifted it gently and placed it in the bowl.

Took pics and sent them to Nick Evans, Westville’s herpetologist extraordinaire.

Nick_and_Stiletto[1]

Ooh!  Confession time: Actually Nick, I did handle it!

So then he sent this:

Nick_n_Stiletto_bite[1]Weirdly, I had read up on the stiletto snake this very week and noted that “This snake cannot be held safely and you will, in all likelihood, get bitten if you attempt to hold one.”

But at average length 40cm and the fact that the stiletto “is an irascible snake that bites readily” and my little snake was so docile, I “knew” my snake was harmless!

Lesson learnt!

Stiletto snake Marais

Here can be seen how the stiletto snake can bend its neck and how a tiny side-swipe could allow a fang to prick you. Thanks Johan Marais (see his site).

Stiletto snake Marais_fangs
thanks Johan Marais

=======ooo000ooo=======

postscript: When Tommy read this he said, grinning: “Very caucasian to be handling a venomous snake, Dad, very caucasian”.

Steve Reed:

That oke is a hoot!  Sensahuma second to none.

Armchair Birding

Quietly sipping tea on my patio today I spot a Grey-headed Bush Shrike – a first for the garden. I’ve been hearing him, but today’s the first glimpse in the garden.

greyheadedbush-shrike-cmf_3361-pbase

Also a boubou, puffback, golden-tailed woodpecker, hadeda, yellowbilled kite, white eye, olive sunbird, yellow-breasted apalis, spectacled weaver, yellow-fronted canary & fledgling; black flycatcher & fledgling; purple-crested touraco, hlekabafazi (the woodhoopoe); toppie bulbul, tawny-flanked prinia, white-eared barbet, yellow-rumped tinker, red-eyed dove, red-winged starling and a fork-tailed drongo.

10ElstonPl (1)

Earlier I’d received a call from a Westville estate agent. Wanna sell? You’ve been in that house eleven years. Nah thanks, I’m going to die here, I told her.

Thanks Con Foley for the pic. See his amazing galleries.

Palmiet Rangers

Field Marshal Geoffrey Carruthers OBE VC ESO with bar, decided we needed to jack up the patrolling of the Palmiet Nature Reserve.

So he issued a decree and press-ganged a bunch of people into becoming rangers – Palmiet Rangers! and promised us suitable uniforms for the job.

We thought YAY! something like this:

Palmiet Ranger Issue

but all he gave us was this:

20140917_223452

OBE – Old Bullet with Empire delusions

VC – Very Conservation-minded

ESO with bar – Extinguished Service Order with drinking experience

New Lease On (wild) Life

Geoffrey Caruth is a doer. He gets going. He has run an indigenous nursery in an industrial area for decades, he ran an Olde Heritage Shoppe for years, he built a pond in a park – as a donation to the people of Westville; he has a lovely young (much younger!) wife and two ugly old dogs. He lives on the bank of the Palmiet river, on the boundary of the Palmiet Nature Reserve.

Recently he decided to re-introduce bushbuck into the 100ha Palmiet Nature Reserve and – typically – got off his butt. I would have talked about it, he rallied the troops.

So this week, 18 months after he decided to launch “Operation Nkonka”, we were in the Palmiet watching five beautiful bushbuck, three females and two males, jump out of the back of the truck and explore their new home.

 

 

Geoff and Warren Friedman watch with pride and angst:

20140712_162921

Check out a longer video:

Nkonka release

A = Release site

B = Where I last saw a bushbuck

C = Our home

Later four more were released. Soon we’ll be fawning over their offspring, we hope!

 

=======ooo000ooo=======

nkonka is isiZulu for male bushbuck;

bushbuck in general are imbabala