Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Last week I posted several photos of the Greater Double-collared Sunbird. At the same time I was photographing this beautiful bird, there were other sunbirds flitting about and feeding on the nectar-laden blooms as well. 

However, I've not been able to properly identify the other male sunbirds or even the females that were with the Greater Double-collared Sunbird at the time. But I decided to post the females anyway (and two of last week's images again) 

 Female Sunbird (TBC)
 Female Sunbird (TBC)
 Female Sunbird (TBC) 
 Greater Double-collared Sunbird (male) 
 Greater Double-collared Sunbird (male) 

 Female Sunbird (TBC)
 Female Sunbird (TBC) 
 Female Sunbird (TBC)
Female Sunbird (TBC) 

I'm linking to Wild Bird Wednesday here


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Work and play

Last week, the dogs and I had already walked to the top gate and back early one morning. As I got home, I heard Grant speaking on the phone to Gavin, the farmer who baled the land in February. His tractor and trailer would be coming in that day to collect the bales. Namusa walked in just then and I asked her if she'd go and unlock the gate. 

She called Skabenga who, after looking back at me, and watching her go on his favorite road, eventually loped after her. Eddy didn't relish the idea of going off a second time and this without Mum. So she turned around and when I walked back to the gate, I saw her sitting there! 

Eddie outside the gate! 
 Here Skabenga and Namusa on the way back from unlocking the far gate! 

 Hello Mum; Musi and I are back from our task ! 

I'm linking to Our World Tuesday here

As this post is aired, I'll be on a hike with my walking club friends. It's a far shorter and much easier walk than the one we did last week. Grant said last night he might or might not accompany me. We'll see...


Monday, May 29, 2017

Aloes edited

When we took our visitors, Neville and Gill to see friends Steve and Estelle's quirky accommodation, at one stage I wandered off and photographed the beautiful aloes in full bloom against the backdrop of the mountains. 

Today I felt like playing with the photos and using and Luncapic came up with these...


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Only me...

Hi Bozo and all Mum's blog readers; this is Ambrose and this week the post is about only me! 

Mum was taking many photos of some pretty birds in the garden and all the time, I was lying asleep underneath the bushes. She also took photos of me when she noticed that instead of being in the rondawel with the other kitties, I had stayed out in the garden! 

For more cute pet posts, please click here

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A mix of critters

Last week as Grant and I drove off the farm where we drop our garbage to be recycled, we came across an adult Swainson's Spurfowl and two youngsters. I've posted quite a few times about this bird; in fact we have them roosting (resting) in the grass near our rondawel and as I walk the dogs along the servitude, they often flush one or a pair up into the air. So they have become "quite common" to us since living here. 

We had stopped on the main gravel road where people come around at a terrible speed so I didn't have a lot of time to take the photos. I have cropped and edited them slightly and hope you can see the juveniles with their parent. 

Swainsons Spurfowl and two juveniles

People ask me if I don't have a problem with cats, dogs and guinea pigs on the same yard. Well, I never let the guinea pigs out without the dogs and cats being closed up. But when I feed the Guinea Pigs and the dogs or cats are outside the cages, it's obvious that neither (especially not the carnivores) actually take any notice of the other. 

Ulgar Pulgar and Hurricane look out at the dogs who aren't even looking towards the Guinea Pig cage!  
 Ulgar Pulgar looks straight at the camera 

While photographing the Greater Double-collared Sunbirds earlier this week, I noticed that one of the Leonotus leonurus shrubs had a white flower. All the others are all orange.  Obviously this one is an albino. I Googled this and came up with a shrub with all white flowers here but nothing with orange flowers and ONE white bloom. I'll have to keep an eye on this plant and do some more research. 

Note the orange blooms and one white bloom 
Close-up of the bloom shows there will be another white bloom shortly
I never realized how hairy these blooms actually are! 

On the way down from our strenuous hike on Tuesday, I noticed a Thrush on a fallen log in the forest. I stopped to photograph it but was shaking so badly from exertion, that I had to delete most of the photos. I was left with one and I'm still not 100% sure which thrush it is.  
Kurrichane Thrush (TBC) 

Back at the hotel, we all stopped to admire two beautiful birds in a cage on the veranda. I took several photos and as I moved off, the one bird screeched so loudly in protest,  that we all jumped a few feet into the air! 
Macau and Parrot 

Then my piece de resistance...

Photographed on the kitchen window against the blue sky, is a Tachinid Fly. Ant has given me a book called Good Bug, Bad Bug and according to this Insect Identification Guide, the fly on my window is a GOOD BUG. With the cool winter weather we don't have flies so this is definitely what we laymen call a Brownfly but and now we know it's a Tachinid Fly! 

I was thrilled with the photos...

Mmm, I'm wondering what my blogger friend, Sandra would do with this image ! 

I'm linking to Saturday Critters here


Friday, May 26, 2017

Sun rays on autumn leaves

 Note a black dog's back at bottom of the photo! 

I'm linking to Skywatch Friday here


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Champagne Valley Walking Club - Sunset trail

On Tuesday I deemed myself well enough to do a hike in the mountains with my fellow hikers. Grant opted to stay home as he was busy on a project.  We all met at Champagne Castle Hotel car park and at 8am (now that it's winter) five of us intrepids set off.

Neil, who was the leader said as we started, that this is by far the most strenuous of all the walks we've done as a club.

*Ergh* (thought I,) but once I'd taken the photo below, I strode up behind the group.
Five of our regular 12 hikers set off for Sunset Trail and the Matterhorn
Just past the hotel, I photographed these beautiful aloes in full bloom

Then I stepped onto the road and saw a path to the left of me. It said Sunset Trail with an arrow pointing in the direction of the mountain. I called out to fellow hiker, Trish who said they were up that path and to just follow! 

Then reality struck! The climb started IMMEDIATELY. Not one kilometer into the hike; not a gently incline. We started to hike up and up and around the mountain - for two solid hours! 

The beginning of the hike was an immediate climb 

We climbed, straightened out for a few meters; climbed again and straightened out for a few more meters. On and on and up and up! 
 Trish, Josh and Neil had got to a resting spot 
a few minutes ahead of me and Price 
 The view of the hotel and the valley beyond

The hike we did is in the 29000ha Mdelelo Wilderness Area of the Ukhalamba/Drakensberg. Familiar landmarks are Monks Cowl, Cathkin Peak, Gatberg and the Dragons Back. Below is Gatberg which is Ntunja in Zula and means "the eye of the needle". 
Gatberg was one of the first peaks we saw on our hike on Tuesday

When I arrived at the second rest stop (Neil said he didn't mind admitting but he's legs were like jelly - I was glad for the rest for the same reason) Neil was pointing to a property down below. When I heard him mention the very rough gravel access road, I remembered that we were originally supposed to go and live there. It was a beautiful huge house with five rondawels nestled in the trees under Cathkin Peak. The idea was that Grant and I get the homesetead and rondawels up and running as a Guest House.  

Then Grant became very ill and between John and Debbie they decided that the purchase is called off. Now in retrospect I'm so pleased we didn't take on that challenge. I hear quite a number of horror stories when Guest House owners relate about difficult guests and often the same ones who leave the accommodation in a terrible state when their stay is over. 
Neil points to the road leading to the property Grant and I would have taken on as a challenge project 
Price coming up behind me on the incline shows how steep our path is
 Onwards ...

...and upwards again

 Again, when I stopped to catch my wheezy breath, I turned around and there was Price, resting lower down on the path
 Another stop two-thirds of the way to our first tea break
The views are well worth the slog up the mountain 
 As we hiked up the last few hundred meters to our tea break, I captured one of the peaks mentioned above : Monks Cowl  
It felt surreal to be almost on eye-level with this 3234m high monolith. The visible snow is in the neighboring country,  Lesotho 
 My friend, Trish already sitting on the knoll waiting for Price (just ahead of me this time) to bring the flask of tea 
 Tea and sandwiches taste 5* when eaten at this altitude! 
The scenery is dominated by Cathkin Peak (3149m). The Zulu word for it is Mdelelo, which means ‘make room for him’ and refers to the theory that Cathkin Peak pushed aside other peaks to make room for itself

 While having my tea, I couldn't resist photographing the wildflowers ...
...and grasses nearby 

We descended from our tea spot and then ascended another hill, and another. 
 ...and another 
 Time to stop, catch your breath and survey the beautiful scenery
 Trish was the first to spot these, the mountain rhebuck running up a hill to the right of us
 Hiking across the plateau with the mighty Cathkin Peak above us
 Josh had to stop and retie his bootlace; we were pleased to stop and rest 
Far ahead to the North, we could clearly see The Bell at Cathedral Peak  (My photo)

Cathedral Peak and The Bell (Google image) 
Then it was downhill for a while

 Our second tea stop was at Breakfast Stream 

One of the most popular routes in this area is the contour path via the Sphinx. This route takes you to the higher peaks and passes of the area and gains some 450m in altitude. 
Then we wended our way downwards... 
...and ever downwards to the Sphinx  

Three members of the hiking group had opted to do a slightly shorter route to the Sphinx. Alan (87,) Anthony (76) and Jenny (support lady!) walked from Alan's house to the Sphinx where they waited for us to meet them on the way down. 

Meeting up with the other group of our hiking club who had waited for us at the Sphinx

Then we set off for the rather long downhill descent back to the hotel. 

As you round the Sphinx, legend has it that if you toss a stone into the hollow (visible about a third of the way up on the right)  you will have a good life. Price and Neil tossed stones successfully into the pool but I only took the photo below AFTER the fact! 
The contour path under the Sphinx 
 The path below gives an idea of the height and descent of the hike 
 I stopped to photograph this Leonotus Leonurus against the rugged cliffs 
The last few kilometers is through the yellowwood forests which thrive on the mountainside 

For those of my blog readers who enjoy hiking, the outdoors and generally exerting yourself, I hope you enjoyed this post. I certainly enjoyed the hike and also retelling (and reliving)  it here.