Although the weather has cooled considerably at night, the days are still a sultry 25•C and the late afternoons / early evenings are calm and warm. This is when I wield my trusty camera and manage to capture industrious birds hawking before bedtime.
Malachite Sunbird (male) in eclipse plumage
I was using my manual function on the camera so didn't capture the sunbird too clearly - but here he is hawking for his supper
Back on his perch, he swallows his prey
I love this image where you can almost see inside his throat!!
And just as we thought that we only had the Malachite Sunbird in our garden, he dive-bombed another bird in a tree along the driveway. I zoomed in nano-seconds before IT flew away and managed a rather blurry photo.
White-bellied Sunbird (breeding male)
I'm linking to Wild Bird Wednesday which you can visit here
This weekend past was a long one; Monday, 27th April 2015 was South Africa's 21st Freedom Day. Freedom Day (27 April) is a national public holiday in South Africa that serves to commemorate the country’s first democratic post-Apartheid elections, held in 1994. On Sunday Angus, Amanda and children walked over from next door to have a BBQ with us. While the men prepared the fire, meat and maize-meal porridge (Grant's secret recipe), we women soaked up the warmth in our sun-porch. Rina and I have embarked on another knitting project: her daughter, Melony, who teaches at a primary school in Welkom (a nearby town) asked us to knit finger-less gloves for the pupils. Apparently there are none for sale in their specific school color which is sky-blue and not navy blue like the other schools in the town. At first I found a pattern on Pinterest in which we had to use four DPN's (double-pointed needles). When I learnt to knit as a very young girl, I remember my mother showing me how to use DPN's which we called sock needles. We lived in a tropical country at the time and never wore socks or mittens so I can't remember, even my mum, who was an avid knitter, ever using these needles (apart from demonstrating their use to me!) Well, Rina and I cast on the required amount of stitches, divided onto three of the needles and started the pattern, using the fourth needle. By the time we'd knitted in the round for the fourth time, we were hysterical with laughter. We'd dropped stitches and added stitches until we were quite confused. I'd copied and pasted the pattern onto my Word document and printed one for Rina. My instructions I read from the screen. Grant asked to use my laptop to rip some CD's which his machine was incapable of. So I moved to the sofa to continue with the difficult task of knitting the gloves. When I needed to know the next row, I'd ask him to check. He'd click on my documents, open the folder and read the pattern to me. By the end of the evening he said he'd be able to knit a pair of finger-less gloves as well! Rina and I completed one glove each and although they seemed quite "OK", we decided that the intensive labor was not worth the price we were charging. She phoned her daughter who said it has to be easy: she used to watch her husband's grandmother knit a pair in under two hours. We guffawed and wondered why she hadn't learned to knit them then? A few minutes later I received a WA from Melony with a blog link with a pattern for easy finger-less gloves! I copied this very, very easy pattern onto my laptop. It consisted of only three separate rows of pattern which we memorized. AND it's knitted on two straight needles. Yippee! To date we've each knitted four pairs. When Amanda arrived on Sunday and saw the industrious grannies, she asked for a pair of needles and spare wool. She wanted to knit herself a pair of these gloves. The only glitch is that although Amanda can knit scarves and blankets, she's never learned any other stitch than plain. I quickly taught her the purl stitch and that the pattern starts with a double rib: two plain and two purl right across the rows. I must admit that my own knitting lagged behind as I repeatedly fixed her errors until she got the hang of it!
The knitting team has increased!
When the weather warmed up, we migrated onto the patio with our knitting. I had my camera on hand to snap birds, crittters and the children.
Angus always gives the children a fun ride on Gran's bike
It's amazing how unafraid these children are of two-wheeled speed. Just look at the expression on Abby's face!
My garden and patio are large enough for the kids to have great rides
Joel clung to his dad like a little monkey while Abby leans into the bend as Dad zooms around the patio
On Monday, Rina's son, DIL and two grandchildren from Welkom popped over for a visit. She was very excited to see her family again. Of course, we prepared a BBQ !
Grant with Leon, Ruan, Megan and Marley
Rina and family relax in the sun
After the Young family left for home, Rina and I packed the dishwasher. It wasn't quite full so she said, don't start it yet: Angus and Amanda may pop over for afternoon tea... Sure enough, half an hour later, as the three of us sat on the patio, Abby and Joel appeared around the corner. Followed by their dad and mom pushing Liam in his pram.
The littlest Hedges blowing bubbles and gurgling... too cute!
I'm linking my post to Our World Tuesday which you can visit here
As the autumn draws to the close in the Southern Hemisphere, some birds change their plumage, while others cash in on the berries, still prolific on the shrubs and trees. As for the cat in the post, well... is he bird watching or what?
A rear view of the Malachite male in eclipse
tRed-eyed Bulbul eating the berries off the Firethorn bush in Amanda's garden - viewed from our patio
A pair of Red-eyed Bulbul enjoying the berries
Apart from the red eyes which are diagnostic in this bulbul, the yellow vent is another characteristic
A sneaky black cat sits on the wall below the shrub watching the birds...
Tipsy had the grace to look embarrassed when he noticed me snapping him
I'm linking this post to Saturday Critters with Eileen here
While in the city on Tuesday, I snapped several fences and boundary walls as we drove through the streets.
This large fenced area above is part of an open park and zoo
The Bloemfontein zoo houses many primates. A chimp named Charlie developed a serious smoking habit which the zoo tried to help curb. I'm not sure if Charlie managed to kick the habit or even if he is still alive
Although this bird isn't a lifer for us, it was exciting to see the African Harrier-Hawk again this week. It landed on a pole in Amanda's back garden next door. We've been seeing a Harrier-Hawk regularly here since we moved into this house 15 years ago.
African Harrier-hawk , the largest grey hawk in the region. Head small with yellow face and long thin yellow legs.
It's a fairly common resident (as we've noticed)
It specializes in robbing eggs and nestlings of birds ranging from waxbills to herons. The African Harrier-hawk is sometimes referred to as a Gymnogene which was it's name before
Yesterday I mentioned that Rina and I were busy with a project the whole of last week. We'd decided to knit slippers for the oldies in the retirement center.
The knitting team
Rina demonstrates how to stitch the slippers together
The slippers; we crochet a length and thread it through the ankle and you have laces
It was a great time of camaraderie while we knitted the slippers: we had ten pairs to knit. Rina knitted five pairs while I knitted four (OK OK, so I knit very tightly and use thinner needles) For the last pair, we only had one ball of wool left. So we decided to knit the pair together. With me on 4 mm needles (instead of 3.5 mm) and Rina on 3.25 mm instead of her 4 mm needles we ended with two almost identical slippers.
Rina and I knitted the last pair from one ball of wool; I drew from the center and she from the start on the outside of the ball
We stuffed the slippers with cotton wool and placed them in individual packets
Once we'd tied the packets with gift ribbon, we added a Scripture pertaining to feet
There are five Afrikaans ladies and two English ladies in the oldies' center
We duly finished the slippers on Sunday evening. On Monday I phoned the center and asked permission for me and Rina to come and treat the oldies as they gather for lunch in the dining room. We arrived with our basket of slippers, took three pairs to the frail care center. The sister on duty said she'd fit them onto the old ladies who are bedridden.
Before we handed out the "surprise", I explained (paraphrasing the Psalm above) that the Lord keeps our footsteps firmly placed on a wide step and that with Him holding us,
our feet won't stumble
I explained this in Afrikaans and then in English
Rina handed out the gift slippers
Such a small gift but such appreciation from these dear sweet ladies
Hannie, a dear lady who came to Marquard in the early 60's as a young farmer's wife; moved away twenty years ago when she was widowed and has returned and retired in the MGO. She is MIL Pam's next-door-neighbor
We walked back to MIL's room with her where Rina tried on her slippers for her
Then she did a little jig to show how pleased she was with her slippers
Two of the ladies (one being Pienkie) didn't go to the dining room today, so we delivered their gifts to them personally. A great surprise for these two dear oldies as well.