Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hedges Kitty update

Hi Bozo, Lindy and all Mum's blog readers. This is Ambrose with an update on kitty life in the Hedges household. 

Earlier this week our yoomens got a big fright. Our yoomen dad came into the bedroom and found Dad Ginger lying under Mum's linen chest. He was panting, his tongue hung out very far and he was flicking his tail very fast. Our yoomen dad called Mum who came to the room. She picked up Dad Ginger and carried him to the bed. There she stroked him, massaging his chest while speaking quietly to him until he breathed normally again. That night Mum kept Dad Ginger on her bed and watched him closely. Luckily early in the morning Dad Ginger jumped off the bed and ate a bowl of cookies. I think our yoomens were very happy that Dad Ginger wasn't seriously ill. I heard Mum telling our yoomen dad that probably Dad Ginger had eaten a lizard that day and it got stuck in his throat! 
Dad Ginger the day after his mishap - here he's resting in the sunny garden
Dad Ginger is getting quite old
 Unca Shadow and I rest on Mum's 'lectric blanket every night
Cousin Tipsy and Aunty Chappie don't get on at all
Here Tipsy was creeping up on Aunty Chappie...
...who hissed at Cousin Tipsy

For more cute posts of pets around the world, please click here

Saturday, May 30, 2015

More critters from our Zululand holiday

Driving to St Lucia we always cross a bridge over the Estuary. Last week I posted about the hippos and crocodiles on the Estuary. This week, I'm posting several birds seen at the same time while standing on the bridge.

Further up river I zoomed in on a heron. When I downloaded the photos I saw that I'd captured a Goliath Heron on film. These photos are taken early in the morning hence the strong light on the water...

Goliath Heron

The Goliath Heron is the world's largest Heron, found in Sub-Saharan Africa with smaller numbers in Southern and southwestern Asia. 

Leaning over the bridge railings, we spotted movement on the plinths below. 
White-fronted Swallows (Juveniles)
A pair of Pied Kingfishers sat fishing in the reeds ahead of us
Later they flew to another plinth beneath the bridge, giving me a good view of them

On the beach later, after I'd photographed the Grey-headed Gulls (posted on Wednesday) I snapped away at other critters which caught my eye. 
A fisher-woman...
...who looked very much at home in this pose
Horse rides ...
...the beach
A seagull screaming at the other birds?
A scurrying in the sand near my feet showed a Ghost Crab emerging
And another Ghost Crab ...
...just beyond the dunes in front of me

I'm linking my post today to Saturday Critters with Eileen here

Happy Saturday to you all! 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Stormy Skies over the Sea

Our last day at the beach - we fetched Erica's seawater this day

I can never resist snapping birds, hence this kingfisher, also against the grey skies 

For  more skies please click here

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Good fences, great birds

Sitting in the garden earlier this week, I photographed our resident Common Fiscal against the boundary wall between us and Angus.
Common Fiscal against the boundary wall
I'm always thrilled when I manage to produce a clear photo of the subject while the background (in this case, the wall/fence) is fuzzy

Swinging around on the garden bench, I focused on a movement which I'd seen in the corner of my eye.

Black-throated Canary against the palisade fence which separates us from our young neighbors at the back
Soon another Black-throated canary joined my subject; it's fuzzy image can be seen against an almost solid palisade fence behind it

I'm joining my post to Good Fences Thursday hosted by TexWisGirl here

Have a great day! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Greyheaded Gull

While on holiday recently, Rina and I spent a good couple of days on the beach.  While Rina plodged in the waves, I sat on the sand with my camera at the ready. 

The most birds on the beach were Grey-headed Gulls. (there were a couple of plovers but I'm still looking for their definite identification before posting.) 

I first captured an adult gull sitting quite close to me on the sand...
Grey-headed Gull (breeding adult)
Nearby was a non-breeding (or juvenile) adult which defended its territory with vigor! 

Then as I pointed and focused and snapped I captured several interesting interactions between the non-breeding (young) adult and the breeding adult right in front of me! Soon several other gulls appeared - whether to watch the altercations or not, I'm not sure. 
 Then the first non-breeding adult dive bombed another non-breeding adult which had found a morsel of food on the sand
A breeding adult gives chase while the first  two non-breeding adult take flight; another gull swoops in from the north!
The original juvenile made a turn and came back to chase his pursuer away from its patch
 The victor swoops down and grabs a tidbit that I'd thrown for it
 Meanwhile another breeding adult flew over me 
Don't you just love the way it cocks its head?

The first non-breeding adult scoops another morsel on the sand, the second non-breeding adult in hot pursuit while the breeding adult dives down to see what it could glean

Time for a short rest
And then a determined step before taking off into the air again
The breeding adult flies in ...
... but decides to fly past me
While the territorial non-breeding adult came straight for me! 

I'm linking my post to Wild Bird Wednesday hosted by Stewart Monckton here

Happy Wednesday to you all! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Re-visiting the past

As you know we went on a ten-day holiday in Zululand. 

The weather was beautiful: 35•C/95•F. Winter months in Zululand on the Eastern Seaboard of South Africa are normally the best. 

On Saturday, 9th May, Grant left for his reunion ski-boat fishing trip in Mozambique (830 kms further than where we ladies stopped off for the holiday) with 11 other fishing buddies from 34 years ago. 

Rina and I were booked into my friend, Brenda's Guest House situated near her farmhouse and surrounded by lush garden shrubs and huge old trees. I've already posted something of the birds we spotted in and around the garden; I have many more to share here...

We spent time on the beach (more about the birds I photographed there tomorrow), we went into town and we visited  a nearby game reserve.

A friend from the late seventies, Jenny Smith, contacted me on Facebook and we arranged to meet at the new bistro in town called Feast. We had a wonderful reunion, catching up on the 36-odd years since we'd last seen each other. 
Jenny and moi. Jenny and her husband, Butch are avid birders so you can imagine the talk!
While we chatted up a storm, the proprietor brought the tea and a complimentary health breakfast made with her own muesli

During the week I met up with several friends who had their children the same time as I did in Zululand. More about this in a later post. 

I'm linking my post today to Our World Tuesday here

Monday, May 25, 2015

Home again

Having arrived home from our holiday at the beach earlier this week, we're back into life at home. 

Of course, it was family time over the weekend and the children came over from next door for the obequitous BBQ. Grant and Angus grilled huge steaks on the fire; Grant made maize meal porridge, called pap (pronounced "pup") on the kitchen stove,  and Rina and I made tomato and onion stew to go with it.  

Of course, Angus and the children enjoyed Granny's motorbike to the fullest...
The Hedges grandchildren are crazy about motorbikes. I wonder why...
In the above photos, the children and Angus wore helmets as he took them around the block

When Angus came around the back of our garages and rode up the driveway, you can see Joel leaning ecstatically to the left. (A good pillion even at his age!) Then you hear Rina asking if he's not going to knock his head against the wall and I reply: Uh-uh (meaning "no") 

I hope these videos upload easily. Then you get a good idea how happy the kids are riding around the garden with their daddy. 

Meanwhile Rina and I have started a new puzzle. 
It's called Raiding the Apple Crop with lots of barrels of apples tipped over onto the grass by three cows

Soooo, watch this space! 

Happy Monday to you all.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Eclectic mix of Critters

While on holiday in Zululand last week, I managed to cajole Rina to go for a walk early one morning. 

All week we'd seen men riding red bicycles with the Coco-cola logo on several parts of the bike. I forgot to ask around about these bikes...
 Coco Cola bicycle 

We'd been hearing the Red-capped Robin-chat's distinctive call all week. But being an elusive bird, we never managed to catch it sitting quietly so that I could photograph it. Walking down the farm road along the banana plantations, Rina suddenly pointed to a branch above us.

The Robin-chat we'd been looking for! 
Red-capped Robin-chat
These birds often skulk in the dark shadow of trees and shrubs making it difficult to see them

This is the only Robin-chat with an orange face and light grey-blue wings and back. It 's a common resident in coastal, lowland, riverine and sand forests. It occurs in wooded suburban gardens, hence the fact that we heard it constantly in Brenda's lush, heavily tree-d garden. Its contact call is a two-syllable see-saw (like a creaking ship!). The song is loud and rich with impressive repertoire that includes mimicry of many bird calls and local sounds including yapping dogs! 

Walking along the main sandy road through Monzi, we'd no sooner started up the slight incline when we heard the sound of galloping approaching us from the front. Two buck had come around the corner and were headed in our direction! 
I had my camera ready and if you click on the image you may see the two buck which had turned at the sight of two humans in their path and headed back up the road! 

Bushbuck are most vulnerable to predators such as leopard, lions, hyenas and cheetah when on the run; yet,  if cornered, the male will fight bravely and if attacked may even become a dangerous foe. Even though baboons sometimes eat the young, bushbuck continue to associate closely with them at times, picking up fallen fruit and other foods that foraging baboons drop. (Google)

Rina was very worried that the buck could attack us but I managed a photo of them heading away from us... (I haven't showed her the Google description above! LOL!)
The bushbuck racing up the road again! 

I managed to coax Rina to walk further. I mean, the buck had run off into the bushes so what harm could we come to? We stood under a copse of trees while I tried to photograph a small bird which just would not sit still for long enough. Finally I gave up and focused on an interesting snail shell. 
A snail shell lying on the fallen leaves under the trees

Later that morning, we got into the car and drove to to nearby St Luci. We have to cross a bridge over the Estuary. Rina said she'd seen a hippo up-river so we stopped, parked the car and walked onto the bridge. I took several photos but to me it looked like a rock. When we returned from town and crossed the bridge again about an hour later, Rina said the "rock" had to be a hippo as it had now disappeared. Still, I wasn't convinced. I told her that the tide had pushed up into the Estuary and the rock would now be underwater. Mmm...

When I downloaded the photos, I saw that the "rock" had two distinctive eyes and a long snout. I called Rina to show her and after I'd apologized to her, we had a good laugh! 
The rock which turned out to be a hippo wallowing in the St Lucia Estuary
You can even see the happy lines on the back of the "rock" Definitely a hippo!

A few days before this we'd also stopped, parked the car and walked onto the bridge to take photos. (I have several bird images which I'll show in Wednesday's bird post) I spotted the crocodile swimming languidly upriver.
By the length of this reptile in the photo you can see how big it is. To think that our children swam in waters close by when we lived in the area! 

We visited a wetlands park nearby on our penultimate day of holiday. More about this in a future post! 

While traveling through the reserve and looking for animals (I must admit,  I was more interested in spotting birds), Rina called for me to stop. We'd been seeing large piles of dung and speculated whether the rhino (whom we suspected dropped these piles) were nearby. We never saw rhino but Rina had noticed the shiny bits on the dung and we stopped to take photos. 
Fresh pile of large animal dung...
...with beetles feeding on it
A lone younger beetle just beyond the dinner table of dung! 

Dung beetles are fascinating critters and you can read more about them here (If you're not familiar with dung beetles, please  do take a look at the link. It's very interesting and most informative!)

When we finally closed the passenger side door and drove further along the game reserve road, Rina and I chuckled at our quirky habits. We couldn't imagine that a man would stop and look at a pile of dung crawling with critters. Could you?

I'm linking my post today to Saturday Critters with Eileen here 

Happy Saturday to you all!