Saturday, May 31, 2014

Rhino in game reserve holds up the traffic

I zoomed in on the rhino's lips; they're square which makes this a white rhino 

There are two kinds of rhinoceros in Africa – the black rhino and the white rhino. There are approximately 4800 black rhino and 20 000 white rhino surviving in the wild.

Facts about White Rhinos

  • The white rhino has a wide mouth. The name of the white rhino is sometimes said to be a corruption of the Dutch word “wijd” but nobody really knows where the names come from.
  • The white rhino grows to 1.8m and weighs over two tons. It is second only to the African elephant in the size of land mammals.
  • It is a grazer and lives in social groups.
  • They mainly eat grass and are the most abundant rhino species.
  • They have two horns.
  • The story of the southern white rhino is one of the great conservation success stories of the 20th century. A hundred years ago they had been hunted almost to extinction. A small surviving population of about 50 was protected in Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. That population grew and the then Natal Parks Board (now Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) began to translocate animals to other areas where they could breed to form new populations. They are no longer considered critically endangered, although are still regarded as vulnerable.

We'd rounded a corner in the park when this large rhino walked from left to right across the road. Although a smaller vehicle had passed us and wended its way past the stationary rhino, Grant stopped our vehicle so that we could get a good look and of course, good photos! (Apart from that, can you imaging trying to "move" this rhino?)

I can just hear this rhino say: "Make me!" 

On my first post about Isimangoliso Wetland Park, part of which we visited on our holiday in South Africa, I posted our first rhino sighting as we entered the park. Later my sister-in-law, Shelley told me we'd seen a BLACK rhino which is a rare sighting indeed. 

  • Black rhino (which are actually grey) are browsers, using their pointed upper lips like a miniature elephant trunk to twist off low-growing branches of trees and shrubs.
  • They are sometimes said to be bad-tempered, but are actually just shy and inquisitive. They will run towards anything unusual in their surroundings, but usually run away if they smell humans. Even so, if a black rhino is encountered in the wild, you should climb the nearest tree or stand very still. Some individual rhinos are very nervous and a female with a calf will charge anything she considers a potential threat.
  • Rhinos have poor eyesight but a good sense of smell and hearing.
  • Black rhino grow to 1.6m tall, weigh up to 1 400kg and have two horns.
  • Black rhino are the fastest kind of rhino with a top speed of 55km/ hour.
  • They eat woody trees, shrubs and herbs.   
  • The black rhino which I posted about a week ago on this meme

How to distinguish between black and white rhino in the wild

Black rhino are more likely to be solitary and are shyer, keeping to thicker bushy areas. White rhino tend to be in groups. Black rhino have short necks and hooked lips which make browsing branches easier. White rhino have long necks and wide mouths for eating grass.
I'm linking my post to Saturday Critters hosted by Eileen
I hope you're all having a great Saturday.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sunset reflections

...on the Indian Ocean waves...

...and in the blue vervet monkey's eyes

I'm linking my post to Skywatch Friday which you can access by clicking here

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Short holiday at Cape Vidal

Having posted about various birding and wildlife outings at Cape Vidal, I want to post a little about actually being at the beach for two beautiful days.

Cape Vidal has pristine beaches and when the weather is good, as it was while we were there, it is really stunning!

While we walked along the beach, Rina's mobile rang and she answered it. While she talked to her caller, she suddenly - using her foot - started to draw a circle, then another and then another in the sand. No sooner had she added the rectangle and the half-moon at the end, and a two couples of semi-retirees arrived on the scene. Exclaiming that the blocks were far too wide, each of the two ladies took turns hopping through the pattern. Then their men did the same.  Much laughter, wheezing and spluttering followed. Then us and them, total strangers, wished each other well and said goodbye!
The men enjoyed hopping along to a childhood game almost forgotten!
Grant, who'd never heard of the game Hopscotch (where DID you grow up, darling?), took his turn at hopping along without touching the lines! Rina was telling whoever had phoned her that people passing by were enjoying the game she had inadvertently created on the beach!
No seaside holiday would be complete without a photo of two grannies sunning on the beach

I hope you're all having the greatest week ever!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Birding in South Africa

As always when we're outdoors, I keep an eye out for birds. As always I have my camera ready! Our two-day stay at Cape Vidal within the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, delivered on wildlife and of course, birds. 

Sitting on the beach late one afternoon, we noticed a nifty little bird running hither and thither as the tide came in. I took several photos of it with my camera and then photographed the image on the camera screen! This I sent to my sister-in-law, Shelley who identified it as a Kittlitz' Plover.
 Kittlitz' Plover 

I photographed the Kittlitz' Plover alongside a Grey-headed Gull to show how small it is

While we sat and watched the birds (and people) on the beach, I suddenly saw a flurry of activity in a group of Grey-headed Gulls in front of us. I focused my camera and managed to snap a parent gull feeding quite a large juvenile!
 Mum, I'm hungry! 
OK, let's see what I can rustle up for your dinner! 
Down the hatch it goes!  

During our game drives through the reserve you could stop at viewpoints and get out to see the beautiful view over the bushveld. 
 Grant and Rina look out over the beautiful view of the lakes and bushveld

As I finished photographing them, I spotted a hornbill on a bush nearby.
 Crowned Hornbill

At Cape Vidal there are many loops which you can drive down to see wildlife and birds. We headed off along one and reached a hide overlooking a large body of water. Of course, sitting there, we spotted hippo (too far for me to photograph); a likkewaan/monitor lizard; a web with a large red-legged spider and many water birds. 

Apart from photographing the above insects and reptiles, I also snapped heron, white-faced whistling duck, African Jacana and a juvenile of the latter.
 African Jacana 
African Jacana (Juvenile)

Back at the chalet I spotted a flock of Crested Guineafowl. As we only see Helmeted Guineafowl where down in the Cape and Free State, and haven't had the privilege of seeing this species here in Tanzania, I was thrilled at this sighting. 
 Crested Guineafowl

Apart from the obvious difference in the headgear between, the black feathers of the Crested Guineafowl are finely spotted with pale  blue. I've added a pair of Helmeted Guineafowl which I photographed down on the Cape coast while on our bike tour to show the difference.  The guineafowl below has blue-grey plumage with white spots. 
 Helmeted Guineafowl

When taking Rina home from Marquard to Parys later that week, Grant took a short cut. It turned out that we traveled 200kms extra on gravel! Nevertheless, we drove through farmlands, (where I took the photo of the windmill at sunrise) and also passed through a game farm.  I took photos of the dassies/hyrax; reedbuck/antelope and giraffe; we also stopped to watch a flock of Swainson's Spurfowl, which are near-endemic to South Africa ! 
 Swainson's Spurfowl

I'm linking this post to Wild Bird Wednesday hosted by Stewart Monckton of Australia. Please click here to access his beautiful blog. 

I hope you're all having a great week.  



Do you think it's time to tell him?

For more Wordless Wednesday please click here

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Family reunion

The day after we arrived home in Marquard from Kwa-Zulu Natal, we took Rina back to her home in Parys, Northern Free State. Although we were sad to say goodbye to this dear friend of ours until August, we were thrilled to see the cats, Topsy and Tipsy again. For those readers who've followed my blog since last year, you'll know that Topsy and Tipsy were boarding with us in our Mwadui home in September last year, when Rina's husband, Dick died of malaria in South Africa. I ultimately got them "shipped" (flown) to Rina's home in Parys at the beginning of December.You can read about our involvement with these two kitties here and the post following that.
 Topsy and Tipsy greet Grant

That night back home in Marquard, Grant and I joined Angus and Amanda at a new pizza place in town for a birthday celebration. It was Angus' 35th birthday and Angus had also invited friend, Michael; Amanda's parents, Lourie and Celia and Amanda's sister, Ilze. 
 From right to left: Abby (Angus' and Amanda's daughter) Angus, Amanda; Joel (their four-year-old son) Celia and Lourie, with Ilze behind them; Michael, moi and Grant
Birthday boy man, Angus and Amanda with their young family 

The next day, Saturday, John, Debbie and children were coming to visit us before going on to Bethlehem where they'd await the birth of their sixth child, our eighth grandchild. They hadn't been to Marquard since 2009 and Joel and Abby had never met their "Natal cousins." Angus primed Joel, a very extrovert four-year-old that when John drove into the courtyard, he was to say: "Afternoon, my cousins" He promised this is what he'd do. However, when the vehicle stopped and I opened the back door, all Joel saw was a sea of heads. He was struck almost speechless and all he could utter at my prompting, was a wavering "Hello" !
 Friends Jenny and Peter joined us for the afternoon 
Debbie and Jenny were thrilled to meet up again after so many years. Jenny was surrogate grandmother to Eryn and Joshua when they lived in Marquard, as I was in West Africa
Granddad's little bikers! Joel, Joshua, Bethany and Elijah
Angus gets in touch with his feminine side wearing my pink frilly apron. He helped Grant to braai (BBQ) the meat

Just before the meal was ready, once again, I asked that we have a family group photo. This time Grant and I would have our whole family around us. Knowing how complicated it would be to round up the Hedges family and get two of our friends, Michael and Peter to take the photos, Amanda started by getting the children to wait on the floor.
The Hedges grands: Eryn and Joshua; front: Abby, Elijah, Israel, Bethany and Joel

The Hedges clan: Amanda and Angus; Grant and me; John and Debbie with our seven precious grandchildren(Photo credit: Michael Barath)
With two photographers standing in two different parts of the room, we didn't have one photo where everyone looks in the same direction at the same time! (Photo credit: Michael Barath)
Eventually it was time to eat  - 16 people enjoying a meal and great fellowship together

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

Quali Family Time

On holiday this past month, we popped in and visited John and Debbie in the Drakensberg. I book a cottage which we use every time we're in the Berg. We arrive, unpack the groceries and our luggage and then John, Debbie and children arrive from their home on the hill, not far from this cottage. 

As a granny, I normally convince granddad to let me bring gifts to the children. For the little girls, Eryn and Bethany, I had toiletry bags filled with linen handkerchiefs which I bought in Marquard, and all the sample toiletries which I collect on our travels.  
 Eryn and Bethany inspect their toiletries

Little Israel took his toy car and played with it for the rest of the day! 

Later that evening Grant made the maize porridge (a firm favorite with a braai/BBQ), Rina made a tomato and onion stew on the stove while John and Debbie BBQ's the meat outside. It fascinated me to see two-year-old Israel still playing with his blue car and how Eryn switched off completely to read a book on the corner of the sofa.
Granddad Grant makes the porridge while he, Bethany and Elijah sang Incy-Wincy-Spider; Row-row-your-boat and many more! Little Israel played with his car while Eryn read her story book
All the children around the breakfast bar with mom Debbie 

Then as always, I, as granny, requested that we have a family photo. Debbie didn't want to be in the picture and offered to take it. We started to round up children, called John away from loading his vehicle, and found Rina tidying up the kitchen and eventually we were ready. Debbie didn't want us to look into the sun but although we changed locations after the first few photos, we just seemed to move a little to the right and still faced the sun! 
 Granddad and the first three grandchildren were ready and waiting (albeit squinting into the sun!) 
 John, Jo and Grant; Joshua, Eryn and Rina holding Israel. Standing in front are Elijah and Bethany (Photo credit: Debbie Hedges)
Moving the group around a little we still had the sun in our eyes and Israel showed his discontent and not being able to push his car on the ground! (And the normally quiet Joshua is showing his boredom! )

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I am fully back into camp life (thank goodness; this time it took me a week to recover from my travels!) and hope to be very visible on Blogger ! 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mum's back!

Good morning to Bozo, Lindy and all mum's blogger friends! Yes, mum's back! After quite a long time, she and dad arrived home this week. We were so well looked after by Regina, that we took a little while to show mum that we're happy she's back. That night Unca Shadow and I raced around the house, spinning grass mats out of shape and pulling the tablecloth off the table. 

Whats' that, Unca Shadow? Oh yes, we did this at night, while our yoomens were asleep. Dad Ginger watched from the foot of mum' bed!

Of course, every day we catch up on our sleep on the veranda day bed next to Mama Chui! So we can play again at night! 

For more cute pet posts around the world, please click here

Shadows on tip-toes

A warthog steps daintily onto the road and throws its shadow

For more beautiful Shadow Shots, please click here

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ubiquitous seawater collecting

On our February holiday in South Africa and on the Kwa-Zulu Natal coast, I photographed Grant collecting seawater in a large container. We always do this for our Marquard house-lady, Emily who has never seen the sea and always requests that we bring back seawater for her. People drink this seawater for many reasons and to read more about it, please click on my post here. (Be sure to check the link within this post)

We'd already packed the car, locked up our chalet and dropped the key at the Parks Board reception when Grant walked down to the sea's edge to collect the ubiquitous seawater! As he reminds me every time he does this job, it's not an easy one. But as I watch from higher up on the beach, it looks quite simple; and of course I take photos! 
  The first couple of scoops half-fills the container with seawater

A couple of deeper scoops digs into the sand (this is very important!) adds roughage topped with  more water to fill the five-liter container 
 Finally Grant walks back up the beach with Emily's seawater. I love the way the container reflects in the waves on the shore

I'm linking this post to Weekend Reflections hosted by Jame of Something Sighted.