On Sunday Grant called me to bring my camera and focus on birds in the sky above us. There were six Bearded Vultures which had caught a thermal and were soaring above effortlessly. It wasn't easy getting photos; out of 134 images, I've managed to pin down four which are reasonably clear.
I'm linking to Wild Bird Wednesday here HAPPY WEDNESDAY EVERYBODY!
Every year in the middle of winter, an event is held in the Champagne Valley: The Polar Bear Challenge. Anyone can enter to swim either 25 meters or 100 meters across the Dragon Peaks Dam at the resort by the same name. The water is normally icy cold. This year it was the coldest ever: 7 °C/44.6 °F ! Last month, Grant put his name down to swim the 25 meters. Although he's a strong swimmer, he'd heard about the stringent conditions of the water and thought he'd rather do the shorter swim than have to opt out of the long race because of cramps or other cold-related problems. Ironically, last week we were at our motorcycle AGM in Bloemfontein and the name of the weekend was Ysbeertjie which translates into English as Polar Bear. Champagne Valley Polar Bear Challenge is held in aid of animal welfare and the proceeds of the entry fees, donations and lots of pet food goes to the local township animals and an animal shelter in a neighboring town.
Grant's shirt had "Ysbeertjie" / Polar Bear on the back
The setting of this dam at the resort is particularly idyllic
There is a great festive air at this event
People brought their dogs, small...
... and large
One young lady even brought a kitten
Volunteers registered the participants
One jolly young crowd wore glittering party hats - even while they swam!
I loved the colorful reflection in the water
The resort restaurant did a roaring trade in meals, drinks and snacks
Grant looking wild and woolly as he moves across to the opposite side of the dam
These swimmers wait for the start of the 100m swim
Two boats were in the water to assist or load any swimmer in trouble
The first swimmer in is Papa Bear who swims the 100m after which swimmers are set off one-by-one to do the challenge
This lady did the 100m and then swam up to the bank below the 25m participants
A swimmer experiencing cramps was loaded onto the boat and taken to the end
Craig (my hiking friend) and Grant wait their turn
When we arrived at the spot where the 25 m swimmers set off from, the other two adults said they were pleased to see they weren't the only grown-ups taking part in the kiddies challenge!
Note the warm dress of the spectators!
Craig was first off the mark with Grant hot (er, cold!) on his heels
Two grey-headed and brave men reach the end!
Back on the other side of the dam, Grant dried and got dressed and rejoined me, Steve, Estelle and Muthi on the restaurant veranda.
Steve, Estelle and Muthi - this canine was the oldest spectator at Saturday's event!
When questioned about his experience in the water afterwards, Grant said he has never been in such cold water. He says that he intended to swim free-style which is his strong point; however when he came up after diving into the water, he was so cold he couldn't lift his arms out of the water. So he swam breast stroke all the way. He says he'll do it again next year; the 100m meter challenge!
Hi Bozo and Mum's blog readers; this is Ambrose with photos of Skabenga and Eddie and Dad Ginger and Unca Shadow. Mum says I was hiding in the forest most of the week and Aunty Chappie was on the bed during the cold weather.
Mum took these photos in the night while Skabenga rolled on the grass
Mum says Labradors don't feel the cold that's why Skabenga was out on the frosty grass in the middle of the night ! Brrr.
Unca Shadow was doing an inspection of the horses' stables
Eddie also checks out the hay bales alongside the stables
Dad Ginger made a nest in the hay pile in the stables
Unca Shadow also enjoyed the warm sunshine while nesting the the hay
While the lands next door were being harvested we were thrilled to see a flock of about 50 Southern Bald Ibis. These ibis are quite rare and were almost wiped out by pesticides a few years back. They are very skittish and I struggled to get decent photos of any one of the birds.
Southern Bald Ibis
Visiting a friend at his home, I stopped to photograph this old chap
I like all manner of critters; even metal ones flying above us!
Meet Archie, the new pony
The miniature horse, Angus who missed his Uncle Romeo terribly, has fallen in love with Uncle Archie
Both horses sport beautiful new blankets
Walking with the dogs last week, I rested the camera on a bale and snapped the fields
The weather forecast for today in the mountains is -1 °C overnight with it warming up to 18 ° C during the day. We had had reports of snow and the skies have been heavy and gray but we wait to see what actually happens.
Hello everybody; I'm back home in the mountains and back on Blogger. Grant and I have been on a motorcycle trip to the Free State. It was our motorcycle association's AGM which was held in Bloemfontein. More about our trip later. I'll also get back to blog visiting soon. For now I'm posting the waning gibbous moon taken two Sundays ago.
Waning Gibbous; visibility 97%; age 16.5 days; 11 May 2017 at 6.47am