Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our World in the Valley

As mentioned in my Friday post, Stanley and I often walk along the mine road to collect plants for our garden. We also, on a quarterly basis,  visit the lady at the club with medication for her two dogs, Mbwa Moja/Dog#1 and Mbwa Mbili/Dog #2.  (Read here about our first visit to the dogs)
Mbwa Mbili not even fazed by our visit to his garden at the club! (I didn't see Mbwa Moja that day)
We left the club property and walked a little further down the road to the general dealer store
I needed salt, flour, plastic packets which are all available from Josephine (above) who owns this shop. I also bought a dozen pancakes: sweet dough cakes which have been deepfried and bear no resemblence at all, to pancakes. I gave the treats to Naomi and Stanley to share when we got home

While I was chatting to Josephine, a small goat was bleating behind the counter. I asked her if it was a pet, but she said no, it just wanders in and out of the shop. She lifted it onto the counter so I took a photo!
Then Stanley and I walked back up the hill to the camp
As we strolled along the lane to our house, I heard the screech of a parrot. We stopped and Stanley who is very good at spotting birds, pointed to the Meyers Parrot in the tree above us
As we passed my neighbour's house, I heard an African Green Pigeon's call. Stanley and I walked to the Wild Fig Tree and spotted a pair of these beautifully coloured birds on a branch above us. Of course we spent another fifteen minutes there while I clicked away
When I walked into the kitchen the cats were waiting for their lunchtime snack!

For more scenes around the world, click here (Thanks to Gattina, Arija, Lady Fi, Sylvia and Sandy for keeping this meme going)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Joel!

Today is the 2nd birthday of our second-born grandson and fourth grandchild, Joel. I cannot decide whether his mischievous grin is his dad's or his mom's!
Joel Hedges wearing his dad's running shoes!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Serene meanderings

From the raging waters in November last year, to this clear and tranquil river today  (I've regularly posted about this river below the offices)

For more beautiful scenes around the world, click here

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Monkeys in my garden

Some readers may remember how at times I've posted about the monkeys my garden. I always mention that though they are very human-like, funny and the babies are cute beyond description, they can also be a terrible nuisance. Although I have a variety of fruit trees in the garden, we never get to enjoy the ripened fruit ourselves. The monkeys pick a green fruit, take one bite and throw it down on the ground. Often a whole branch with several fruits still attached is dislodged and hurled to the ground. They also rob birds' nests of eggs so we have no fledgelings or birds sitting on nests in the many trees in our garden. They're also very inquisitive and will enter the house if they smell/see fruit or bread on your kitchen counters. I have screen doors which successfully keep them out, but others on camp keep their main doors closed to avoid illegal monkey entry!

Nevertheless, these primates are well worth watching and have provided me with hours of mirth and photo opportunities over the past year.  Last week I watched several mothers and babies on the lawn. I had to take the photos through the window else the monkeys grab their babies, turn around and scamper off. It was also almost dusk so the lighting was against me. I think you get the picture though, if you'll excuse the pun!
Two female blue vervet monkeys with their very small babies

This mother noticed me at the window and turned her back on me!
In between snapping away at the mothers and babies, I couldn't resist a shot of this adult monkey who seems to be grinning at something in his hand!

Scratching mom's back!

Practicing climbing skills
I'm staying with mom, where it's safer!

More interesting discoveries

Whoopee look how high I am...

Oops, lost my footing there...

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Blue Skies over the Valley

Mid-week Stanley and I walked along the main mine road to the club. I had worm pills and anti-flea and tick medication for the resident dogs. Afterwards, while walking back to the camp, I couldn't resist photographing the beautiful blue sky over the mountains and valley.
For more beautiful skies around the world, click here

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Common Sandpiper

The Common Sandpiper is one of the birds frequently seen at the concrete bridge at the river below the mine offices.

I love the way that many birds are able to stand on one leg for an extended period of time!

The Common Sandpiper is a small wader with a short, sharp bill and short, greenish legs. The dark grey-brown upperparts contrast with the white underparts and the white on the breast curves over the shoulder. I use this "C" formation - C for Common -  to help me identify the bird !  This bird has a characteristic horizontal stance and often bobs its head and tail. Like the African Grey Flycatcher which I've posted about before, this bird is quite tame and stays relatively still while you photograph it!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Egyptian Goose

Last week after visiting the market, Sue and I drove to the dam for a spot of birding. She'd told me about a pair of Egyptian Geese with five goslings and wanted to show them to me. When we arrived, there was no sign of the little family. Nevertheless, we watched and photographed the other birds around the dam.

Malachite kingfisher
Grey Heron and it's beautiful reflection in the water
A small flock of Cattle egret wandering around on top of the pondweed in the dam!
African Grey Flycatcher; endemic to North East Africa. This is one of the most rewarding birds to photograph as it sits still for ages while you click away!

Then Sue located the family of Egyptian Geese on the other side of the dam. We walked quietly towards a mound on the bank above the birds and took up our positions to get really close photos.

The Egyptian Goose is a large brown waterbird with pink legs and a pink bill. It has a conspicous rufous patch around the eyes and a dark patch in the centre of it's belly. The genders are alike although the male has a thicker neck than the females.

Egyptian Goose male and five goslings
Papa Goose on duty
Male Egyptian Goose on the right of the photo (note thicker neck than female) and female with their fluffy family
Female Egyptian goose stretching her wings, with the male in the centre. An African Jacana shares the little bay with the Egyptian geese

The male Egyptian Goose stands protectively over the goslings while the female looks for dinner
And a close-up of three of the little ones...

For more bird posts around the world, click here

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One year in the valley!

This week marks a year that we've lived in Keirio Valley, in Kenya. I've made up a few tiles of life here in this beautiful remote valley within the Great Rift Valley.
From top: flying into Kenya; staying over in the Sarova Stanley, Nairobi; a view over the Great Rift Valley; the 24km road into the valley; arriving at the guest house; last photo: the lane leading to my friend, Sue's house

Our house in the corner, bordering the African bush; a beautiful bougainvillea in my garden; a view over my garden; Ginger, the cat we inherited as we arrived; I celebrated my nth (!) birthday in that first month; a luncheon at the guest house

An avid gardener, I found a kindred spirit in my Kenyan gardener, Stanley. Together we changed the existing garden from primarily exotic to 80% indigenous. We also revived and revamped the neglected rose garden at the side of the house.

Stanley my loyal gardener and two of the many birds which visit our garden
The middle photo in the first collage in this post is my "before" garden. Above is our "after" garden
In May we brought our Sudanese cat, then living in South Africa into Kenya! Although he hunts lizards with a vengence, he has no interest in birds, which is a relief!
Company management flew into the valley for meetings during the middle of the year.  Sue and I helped the Guest House to cater for their stay. I also joined Sue for an ice-cream and soda party at school one Monday morning
In July a security officer arrived at my door with a bedraggled kitten. So now the Hedges have three cats in Kenya! In the photo bottom left, carpenters are attaching screen doors which were for our own account. This is to keep monkeys (of which there are many in our camp) out and to keep cats in!

In between during the week, Sue and I would go birding around the dams and in the bush on the mine

Over weekends Grant and I went birding on the mine property
Among other interesting activities we attended school functions
In October I held a formal tea at my home. All three the ladies on camp (at the time) attended!
Every five weeks we go up the steep, winding mountain road for monthly shopping. There is always something interesting on this trip: birds, large lizards, Black-and-white Colobus and Blue monkeys; new-born lambs, and runners (Kenya has world champions) in training
The last full moon for 2011. It was a lunar eclipse!
An important young man?
Stanley and I created a welcoming display of potplants at my front door
After months of training on a leash, (like I'm doing with Ambrose now) Shadow has the run of the garden
A week before and the Christmas weekend was spent in the Masai Mara, on Lake Baringo, at Lake Elemtaita and at Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge, Nakuru. Divine! 
 On the last day of 2011, Grant and I attended a wedding with a difference: the bride never arrived!
On the 1st day of 2012, Grant and I went out birding around the mine and I got my best photo of a Fork-tailed Drongo
Sue and I have been birding recently as well. Apart from this awesome heron and its reflection, I have several interesting photos. More about that tomorrow.

Anyone visiting my blog for the first time, you can scroll back over the past year and read about all I have spoken about and shown in collages above. And more... I can honestly say that this has been one of the best - if not THE best - year as an expat!
For more on other people's worlds, click here