Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New curtains, flat-screen telly and a barn owl

My heading sounds like the lyrics of a song or a story title. It's not. This is life in our world here in Mwadui.  

Last week, friend Rob kindly took me to Shinyanga to make a few private purchases. Grant and I wanted to buy a flat-screen television and I wanted to look for curtains for our lounge. 

Rob could be mayor of Shinyanga. Having lived here for the past eleven years, he knows everyone important in the area. He's also an excellent negotiator when you need to buy something as expensive as a telly.  He took me the Samsung shop and when the shop owner tried to sell me a generic set called Zek, Rob told him to find a Samsung and we'd be back in a couple of hours. 

While we waited for the telly shop to find the appropriate set, Rob took me to a smalll shop which sold "ready-to-hang" curtains. He waited patiently in his car, and I ended up haggling with the three men in the shop about how many curtains I needed (they couldn't understand why I would need twelve drops/lengths for four windows - wouldn't four drops do?) Then it was counting out the hooks, rings and I also asked them to cut the curtain rods in 2.5m lengths. Again, they wanted to know why I couldn't just take the 3.5m lengths that were available.  Finally, the shop assistants carried my purchases to Rob's car, secured the rods on the back of his pick-up and loaded the parcels in the cab. BTW there wasn't a great selection of patterns, textures or colors. I just took what was available in the quantities  required.

We returned to the Samsung shop where the correct set had appeared as if by magic; Rob haggled with the proprietor until the price was acceptable to all of us and we walked out with the flat box containing the Samsung flat-screen tv

Ultra-bling curtains now adorn our lounge windows 

Program descriptions are much easier to read now! 

While sitting outside with the cats last night, as usual I  watch the dozens of LBJ's (Little Brown Jobs/Birds) in the huge trees overhanging our garden. There are weavers, sparrows, sparrow-weavers, starlings, pigeons and doves. They all sit and watch the cats who are lying close to the feeders I have in the garden.  When we come inside the with cats, the birds swoop down and get their last meal for the day. Last night however, the birds were making much more noise than normal. I looked up wondering if there was a snake in one of the trees, as I could hear the twitterings were more like alarm calls than their usual happy songs. 

Then I spotted it. Sitting quietly on its normal branch almost above my bedroom window, was our resident barn owl.  Almost invisible in the gathering dusk, but watching carefully for a tasty morsel of a young bird perhaps? Or was it just waiting for the gheckos to make their appearance once our security light came on? 

 Our resident Barn owl had the smaller birds all in a twitter last night

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Weekend Reflections

I was fascinated by the transparent bottom half of the Thick-knee's shadow

For the past two weeks, I've accompanied Grant on evening inspections on the mine. Of course, I take my camera along. So far I'm still trying out various functions on my camera which will give me half-decent photos under very different light/dark conditions. However, with Grant's help as he focusses on the subject with a torch, I'm improving as we go along. I will post some really clear photos later this week.

I wish you all a great week ahead.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Poor forgetful mum!

Hi Bozo and other readers of our mum's blog, this is Ambrose again, posting on behalf of mum. Ginger and Shadow.  Last night I watched as she frowned, and typed something, frowned again and then said she had no Internet. What's that I wondered? Anyway, looks like she gave up wondering and turned off the computer, turned out the lights and went to bed. 

This morning I heard her tell our dad that she has no Internet. That word again. Mmmm. Dad said he had Internet at the office so he couldn't help her at all. Then it seemed like she just gave up trying to log on!

All day she lazed around knitting, reading her Kindle; she watched a movie,  and even had a nap in the afternoon. No work was done on the computer. Of course, I was sitting here on her desk, biting my tail in frustration as there was no post for the day! 

Late this afternoon, she sent a message on her Smartphone (not as smart as cats, though!) to her son. She must have told him the problem and he must have given her the solution. Suddenly she slapped her forehead (humans are strange!) and took money from her purse. She gave the money to Edward Askari, and asked him to buy her some "vocha"

When Edward returned with the airtime vouchers, she fiddled with her Smartphone, wrote a whole stack of numbers into it, and then inserted a card into the WiFi. Eventually we heard her sigh, raise her hands in the air and shout "Yessss!" 

As I said, humans can be strange, eh? 

After posting some cute photos of me and Shadow on mum's bed and of Ginger on his office chair, next to mum's, I can go and sleep on the day bed at last. *Sigh*
Here I am with Shadow waiting patiently for mum's blog post!

 Ginger waits patiently on his office chair

For more cute pets like we are, please click here

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hedges Crown Jewels

Five of family gem collection currently in the Drakensberg;  top left: Bethany, Joshua, Elijah and Eryn. Top right, Eryn. Bottom left: Baby Israel with a royal wave and right: Bethany on the peewee with older brother Joshua (Photo credit: Debbie Hedges)

 Top left: Elijah;  right: Baby Israel; bottom left: beautiful sisters: Eryn and Bethany and right: Bethany on her bicycle (Photo credit: Debbie Hedges)

Joel, our shining diamond in the Free State (Photo credit: Angus Hedges)

A pretty pearl, Abby more concerned about climbing UP the slide than sparkling for the family collection! (Photo credit: Amanda Hedges)

Grandchildren are the crown of old men, And the glory of sons is their fathers. Proverbs 17:6\

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Early morning, late evening skies in Mwadui

Yesterday morning I was awake and dressed early, so once I'd loaded the washing machine, I took the cats into our private shamba/garden. As usual I had my camera ready and snapped away at the beautiful pink and mauve shades of the newly - awakened sky. 

 Shadow thrilled to be out and about so early in the morning, watches intently for a sleepy/unaware insect to cross his path

 Ambrose gazes wide-eyesd into the distance while Ginger has a blade of grass for breakfast! 

Last night we had friends Rob and Nsia over for a visit we all sat in our garden. Marnitz, the young production manager who lives in the cottage behind our house, joined us as well. When Rob and Nsia left, Marnitz went into his house, while Grant and I walked with our friends to their vehicle in our outer garden. As they drove away, I had a beautiful view of the full moon shining through the trees. So of course, I photographed it. 

A perfect beginning and ending to another perfect day in Africa. 

For more beautiful sky photos around the world, click here  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pottery projects completed

Earlier this week I posted about the members of the pottery club here in Mwadui. Below I've set out the items that I've made since I started this wonderful new hobby in October last year.

A selection of bowls, spoon rests, meat platters and decorative tiles which I've made since October last year

The brown-ish plate with the Beautiful Sunbird image, was my very first attempt. And it's obvious! The clay was also apparently inferior, so once baked, it has a blotchy, beige and brown appearance. Nevertheless, at the time I was very proud of this plate and it motivated me to continue. The meat platter to the rear right of the photo is my best effort so far while the wonky jug/beaker, which I've posted about before was my most fun item made to date. I've also had umpteen compliments on it. 

I trust you are having a great week.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday and Wild Bird Wednesday combined

Some days you're the bird...

...and some days you're the statue!

I'm linking to  Wordless Wednesday and Wildbird Wednesday here and here

Shhh, baby's sleeping




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pottery in Mwadui April 2013

As the year progresses, so our pottery class grows in membership. Last Thursday, Rina, a new South African expat, joined us in the studio. And as you can imagine, the chatter and laughter also increases and the camaraderie strengthens with each class.
From left: Linda, bending over in the background, Rina with Rob (who brought her) hiding behind the ladies! Amanda, our talented and professional potter and Tilla who "owns" the studio

From left: Tilla brandishing a rolling pin, Amanda, Rina, Linda and Jo (Photo by Rob Garib)

I'm linking this post to Our World Tuesday which you can access by clicking here

Monday, April 22, 2013


Over the weekend, Grant collected me several times to go birding on the mine while he did his rounds. Apart from many birds seen, we were thrilled to come across a little family of three dik-dik running along the road towards our vehicle.

The youngest member of a dik-dik family we came across, skips along the road

Momma and pop are much more suspicious than their little one in the front

A dik-dik is a small antelope in the Genus Madoqua that lives in the bushlands of eastern and southern Africa.  Dik-diks stand about 30–40 cm at the shoulder, are 50–70 cm long, weigh 3–6 kg and can live for up to 10 years. Dik-diks are named for the alarm calls of the females. In addition to the females' alarm call, both the male and female make a shrill, whistling sound. These calls may alert other animals to predators. 

Dik-diks are hunted primarily by monitor lizards and smaller cats, such as the caracul as well as  lions, hyenas, wild dogs and humans. The dik-dik's other predators are leopard, cheetahs, jackal,  baboons, eagles hawks and pythons. Dik-diks' adaptation to predation include excellent eyesight and the ability to reach speeds up to 42 km/ 26 miles per hour.

 The youngster was very interested in these strange creatures watching him

I wish you all a wonderful week ahead.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

She's still at it!

Tsk, tsk,

Hi Bozo and all my mum's blogger friends. She (mum) is at it again. She came home this week with MORE photos of those teeny kittens. To top it all, she also had photos of ANOTHER cat. Mmm. Where does she see all these kitties?

This is me, Ambrose sitting on mum's desk waiting my turn at the computer

This is one of the kittens that I wrote about before. Mum and dad said it had grown and now has a name: Topsy

This is Topsy's brother or sister, Tipsy. Doesn't it know to face a camera because it's going to appear on mum's blog?

And this is ANOTHER cat who belongs to mum's friend, Amanda. Mum said his name is Mattewis (which apparently means Matthew) 

Uh-oh, Mattewis is chewing the beaded fastener on mum's bag. If Shadow see this post, he'll be mad! He considers mum's bag his possession

Thanks to all my "aunts" out there who were so kind to me last week and convinced me that I'm still mum's favorite cat.

For more posts on cute animals like I am, please click here

Dabchick on nest reflected

I'm linking this post to Shadowshotsunday

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Southern Lesser Bush baby

Last night we were invited to dinner with Dick and Rina, newbies who've arrived recently in Mwadui. They're South Africans, they're sixty-something and they've just joined the : "we love cats club!"(Two weeks ago during a tropical rainstorm, Dick found two half-drowned kittens on the side of the road. Ambrose - our youngest cat - posted about these kitties last Sunday) 
 Topsy who fell with its paws in the butter and now belongs to Dick and Rina
Tipsy the sibling, already very much at home with its new mom and dad

While we chatted, Dick told me to keep my camera ready and an eye on the tree stump just outside the open front door. There's a hole in which a pair of bush babies live.   Suddenly Dick, Rina and Grant were calling out for me to focus; the bush baby had appeared. No matter how hard I looked I couldn't see it. Then Rina stood behind me and told me to follow her finger pointing straight at it. I was so surprised to see this tiny little face with huge eyes and ears looking out of the nest holes and  down at four excited humans. 
My first photo of the bush baby - facing away from the camera

Then a careful one-eyed peep

A bolder look
Southern Lesser Bush baby

A bush baby has a cry like a human baby, hence the name. It measures head and body at 14-17cm and the tail 11-28cm. The Southern Lesser Bush baby has greyish brown fur with large ears and large orange eyes. They have a dark eye mask, tail and yellowish legs. 

Southern Lesser Bush babies inhabit a band across Southern Africa, including Angola, Zambia and Western Tanzania. They inhabit semi-arid Acacia woodlands,  savanna and forest edges. Here in Mwadui, they live in gardens with no dogs. 

Bush babies are nocturnal and arboreal. (live in trees) They live in groups of between one and five animals but forage alone at night. They eat butterflies, moths and beetles. They sleep in tree hollows during the day.

The gestation period is 121-124 days. After the first pregnancy, the female gives birth to a single baby and then has twins after the following pregnancies. The babies are carried by the scruff of the neck in its mother's mouth for the first 50 days of its life.

Off to forage for the night, it turns around in a last pose for the camera

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.
Southern lesser bush baby, South African

Friday, April 19, 2013

Night Sky over the mine

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Birding weekend

As mentioned yesterday, Grant and I went onto the mine and into the surrounding bush several times over the weekend. We saw quite a number of birds which included three lifers.

When we drive along, Grant is normally sharper-eyed than I. But on Sunday morning, just after the sun rose, I asked him to stop as I'd seen a largish brown bird under some bushes on the side of the sandy road. He reversed slowly while I kept my camera ready. And sure enough: so well-camouflaged in the thicket was a Spotted Thick-knee warming itself in the early morning rays.
Spotted Thick-knee

As we watched the bird, Grant pointed to the left at a second bird. A pair! And then we saw the juvenile ! It was standing as motionless as its parents in the middle.

The second adult Spotted Thick-knee

Their youngster, a fluffy little lad also sharply aware of the "danger" nearby

While in Kenya, on Lake Baringo, we saw Water Thick-knee. But seeing Spotted Thick-knee this weekend was a first for me and Grant these were our first lifers spotted that day!

When we went out again later that morning, these birds were standing in exactly the same place. During the day, they're found resting in the shade under bushes and this family was doing just that.

On our 4.30 excursion to the mine, we checked on the Spotted Thick-knee and they were still resting under the bushes. They 're common residents, often found in pairs, but we'd found a family! They're active primarily at night.

The Spotted Thick-knee still resting during the late afternoon. Can you spot the juvenile?

After I'd taken enough photos of the Spotted Thick-knee at our initial sighting, we drove on. A few meters ahead Grant saw a small flock of Spurfowl on the side of the road. I took several photos thinking these were Spurfowl we'd seen before in Kenya. However, when I downloaded the photos, I found that they were Grey-breasted Spurfowl (Francolin) which are endemic to Northern Tanzania. In fact, in my Birds South of the Sahara guide, there is only a tiny red dot on the map. This is a dark brown spurfowl with broad chestnut streaks on back. They have grey-brown legs, an orange pink throat and a white moustchial stripe. They're uncommon and found in pairs or small groups. 
 Grey-breasted Spurfowl

 The  broad chestnut streaks are rather pale in the early morning sunlight but the orange-pink throat and white moustachial stripe are distinctive 

This small flock of three Grey-breasted Francolin made up our second lifer for the day.

We drove on and saw and photographed many birds, not least a dabchick on its nest on the small dam. As we left the dam, I asked Grant to stop again as I'd seen a very small bird perched high up on a dead tree.  I zoomed in and managed one photo before it flew off. Checking on the screen, I realized we just seen out third lifer! 
 A Straw-tailed Whydah! 

I'm linking my post to Wild Bird Wednesday here

I trust you're all having a great week.