Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Common Fiscal - a pair

Although I've posted about the Common Fiscal before (it sits still for ever-so-long and makes for good photography), last week I managed to get these beautiful images of a Common Fiscal pair AND their nest. 


Common Fiscal male

As I photographed this obliging and beautiful bird, I noticed another on the fence beyond. I zoomed in...
Common Fiscal female (she is duller and has chestnut brown flanks)

When I took the photo below, I imagined she was bellowing at her mate to stop posing for a silly human with a camera and check up on the nursery! 
Get on with building the baby's room! 

Later that morning Eryn called me to come and see a bird's nest. She cautioned me not to let her little brothers and sister (Elijah, Israel and Kerren) know what we were up to!

When we got inside the little natural forest of shrubs that Debbie had planted especially to encourage birds and wildlife, Eryn pointed to the nest.
There it was: a bulky nest concealed in a low tree

 I stood tiptoe, held the camera over the nest and snapped. 

One egg in a cup-like nest 

When we returned over the weekend, Eryn told me that there were now FOUR eggs in the nest. Grant, Eryn and I entered the nest surreptitiously. Grant, who could see into the nest, took photos for me:
Four speckled eggs in the nest

I googled the nest and eggs and had our identification of Common Fiscal as the parents, confirmed. 

I'm linking my post to Wild Bird Wednesday here

HAPPY WEDNESDAY TO YOU ALL!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Blog catch-up II

Last night I posted about a whistle-stop visit to John, Debbie and family in the Drakensberg. On Friday, Angus and Amanda (our younger son and DIL who live next door to us in Marquard) suggested we all make a weekend trip to visit John and Debbie. Angus and Amanda hadn't been to visit since 2010 which meant the last time they were there, John and Debbie and their first three children were living in a caravan on site. Debbie was pregnant with her fourth, Elijah. 

Today John and Debbie's home and property are beautifully established with a natural garden overlooking one of the Drakensberg's most beautiful valleys below and the majestic mountains in the background. 
The view from John and Debbie's home in the Berg

We left on Saturday morning; four adults and three children in Angus' estate wagon family car. The two older children, Joel and Abby were terribly excited at seeing their cousins again - we hadn't been together as a family since November last year when John and Debbie stopped over here en route to Mozambique. 
Abby
Joel
Liam

I always make padkos (food for the road). This is traditionally South African and works out more economical (not to mention healthier) than buying takeaways on the road. I had made grilled boerewors, cut up into bite-sized pieces and sandwiches to suit all. Cheese and tomato for the vegetarian (moi); cheese sandwiches for Amanda who doesn't eat tomato; savoury mince sandwiches for anyone who preferred a meaty choice. For Joel I made gouda cheese and Bovril; Abby had peanut butter sandwiches. 

There was coffee from a flask for the adults and juice in traveling cups for the little ones. 
Our three Marquard angels enjoying padkos on the road

When we arrived at John and Debbie's place, there was great excitement as cousins greeted each other and immediately ran off to play. There's no end of  natural, healthy entertainment indoors and outside. 
Bethany and Joshua assist Joel who made his way to the top
 of the climbing wall in John's house
Liam found his way to the pee-wee in the corner of the room
Kerren, not the baby anymore, offers little Liam a drink

After each of the older children had had a turn on the climbing wall, Joshua saddled up Misty and guided her around the large property with Joel in the saddle. 
Eryn, who's unbelievably gentle with the younger children, wove a crown for Princess Abby

Later that afternoon, John BBQ'd meat and Debbie made a huge salad. Sliced rye bread and farm butter - all set out on the lawn overlooking the mountains, and dinner was enjoyed el fresco by the whole Hedges family.
As grandparents, these nine gems are our most valuable assets to date! 

The children played until it was too dark to see. Adults sat at the table and chatted when Eryn pointed to two bright stars above. We suddenly remembered that Jupiter and Venus were going to be visible together that night. Eryn and I grabbed our cameras while Debbie and Amanda snapped away with their smartphones. 
Venus and Jupiter visible in the west over John's house: 
Saturday 27 August 2016

I posted several photos on Facebook while the parents prepared their children for bed. For this post, I've only placed this one photo below: 
Little Abby exhausted but utterly contented after a hard day's play with her cuzzies

Grant and I slept in the mezzanine in John's house so that Angus and family were together in the rondavel. John and Debbie and their children slept in a large bedroom below. 

Early on Sunday morning, I awoke to a red glow shining through the dormer window - and the waning crescent moon above. 


Waning crescent moon; visibility 6%; age 26 days; 28 August 2016
Looking down into the garden, I saw that several of the smaller children  still in their pj's - were already at the stables: obviously discussing the horses
Early morning juice and fruit: Joel, Kerren and Abby

Then it was time to pack and go home. (Joel was in tears, he didn't want to leave - he'd had such a fun time - they all had!) 

Granny being granny then called for a group photo. Luckily Debbie and Amanda rounded up the children (Angus joked that you need to do a head count); Angus set up my camera on self-time and voila! 
The Hedges family - strength (and numbers) is unity! 

Debbie had packed a lunch box for our trip home. Stopping along the way with children, not only means nourishment; they're able to stretch their legs and get rid of excess energy after being strapped into their car seats for a couple of hours.
Enjoying a cheese and ham roll and stretching our legs
Joel the intrepid really let off steam by climbing the sign board 
 at the National Parks reception

Once again, Grant and I returned home (this time with Angus and Amanda) after a wonderful time with our precious families. 

HAPPY MONDAY TO YOU ALL! 











Sunday, August 28, 2016

Blog catch-up!

Phew! I've been away from my desk and laptop for an absolute age; a week, to be exact. But here I am now again; back and catching up with blogger friends and posts. 

On Tuesday morning at 5am we made a quick trip to the Drakensberg in Kwa-Zulu Natal. John, Debbie and family had arrived home earlier than normal and wanted us to visit.

It's a three-hour trip through the most beautiful Golden Gate Highlands National Park , the journey culminating at John and Debbie's home overlooking the Champagne Valley in the Berg

Shortly after we'd arrived and happily reunited with our children and six grandchildren, Debbie's dad and mum, Mike and Barbara arrived from Durban.  
The children's horses are inquisitive and will come and meet newly arrived. Here Misty greets Barbara who's chatting to Eryn
Thunder, a gentle giant of a carthorse, is more interested in the lucern (fodder) which Joshua brought him
After tea and cake enjoyed out on the lawn, we all decided we needed a walk. Debbie saddled Misty up and while Israel and Bethany rode her, Thunder wandered along behind looking for juicy bits of grass to munch on


Later on in the walk I asked Debbie to stop so I could take a photo of them against the skyline
After the walk, John fired up the Weber braai to BBQ meat for a late lunch
A large gathering of family 

Barbara and Mike, who have their own B&B had to leave soon after lunch to accommodate guests. We had a restful evening with John and Debbie and later retired to sleep in their beautiful guest rondavel which stands a little apart from the family home.

The next morning I was up early and photographing the beautiful view of the Drakensberg ...



...and the many, many birds in Debbie's natural garden. (I'll post about these later). While I wandered around, camera in hand, I noticed the children were busy. 

Each child in the family has chores according to age and gender. 
Here below Kerren (2 1/4 years old) takes greens to the guinea pigs
Isn't she just too precious?

Soon after this, four-year-old Israel came out with an empty 5 litre water bottle. He'd been tasked to fill it with rainwater from the tank next to the house. 
Little Kerren follows her brother to the water tank
I should have videod this scene: the conversation between these two little ones was priceless!
Back indoors, seven-year-old Bethany, a budding chef, 
was attending to a pan of eggs for breakfast

Although I didn't record it on camera, the older children were also performing their daily tasks around the place. Eryn had cleaned out her guinea pig pens; Elijah had mucked out the horses stables and Joshua was chopping wood for the hot-water boiler. 

Grant and I returned home, refreshed and rejuvenated after spending time with our precious family.

Here's wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.







Blog catch-up!

Phew! I've been away from my desk and laptop for an absolute age; a week, to be exact. But here I am now again; back and catching up with blogger friends and posts. 

On Tuesday morning at 5am we made a quick trip to the Drakensberg in Kwa-Zulu Natal. John, Debbie and family had arrived home earlier than normal and wanted us to visit.

It's a three-hour trip through the most beautiful Golden Gate Highlands National Park , the journey culminating at John and Debbie's home overlooking the Champagne Valley in the Berg

Shortly after we'd arrived and happily reunited with our children and six grandchildren, Debbie's dad and mum, Mike and Barbara arrived from Durban.  
The children's horses are inquisitive and will come and meet newly arrived. Here Misty greets Barbara who's chatting to Eryn
Thunder, a gentle giant of a carthorse, is more interested in the lucern (fodder) which Joshua brought him
After tea and cake enjoyed out on the lawn, we all decided we needed a walk. Debbie saddled Misty up and while Israel and Bethany rode her, Thunder wandered along behind looking for juicy bits of grass to munch on


Later on in the walk I asked Debbie to stop so I could take a photo of them against the skyline
After the walk, John fired up the Weber braai to BBQ meat for a late lunch
A large gathering of family 

Barbara and Mike, who have their own B&B had to leave soon after lunch to accommodate guests. We had a restful evening with John and Debbie and later retired to sleep in their beautiful guest rondavel which stands a little apart from the family home.

The next morning I was up early and photographing the beautiful view of the Drakensberg ...



...and the many, many birds in Debbie's natural garden. (I'll post about these later). While I wandered around, camera in hand, I noticed the children were busy. 

Each child in the family has chores according to age and gender. 
Here below Kerren (2 1/4 years old) takes greens to the guinea pigs
Isn't she just too precious?

Soon after this, four-year-old Israel came out with an empty 5 litre water bottle. He'd been tasked to fill it with rainwater from the tank next to the house. 
Little Kerren follows her brother to the water tank
I should have videod this scene: the conversation between these two little ones was priceless!
Back indoors, seven-year-old Bethany, a budding chef, 
was attending to a pan of eggs for breakfast

Although I didn't record it on camera, the older children were also performing their daily tasks around the place. Eryn had cleaned out her guinea pig pens; Elijah had mucked out the horses stables and Joshua was chopping wood for the hot-water boiler. 

Grant and I returned home, refreshed and rejuvenated after spending time with our precious family.

Here's wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.