Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Weaver Up-Date

Day 3
& the weaver-saga continues: The Masked weaver male continues to add blades of grass to strengthen his nest, but at the same time seriously starts to court the surrounding female weavers.

The courtship process includes much chirping & fluttering of wings ... it's serious business but ... is the male successful in attracting an interested party?

To his consternation other Masked weaver males arrive ... probably to "check out" the opposition? Our little "hero" successfully defends his territory & chases away these prospective "contenders".

And now? That's not yet another male weaver giving our hero grief! Instead a Blackeyed bulbul reveals more than just a passing interest but our hero also sees this potential "enemy" off.

At last! A truly desired "inspector". The female Masked weaver appears seriously interested & checks out the interior - is it cozy & safe?

She also inspects how safely secured the nest as a whole is - but when she pecks around & finds a loose twig, she creates the impression that she's dissatisfied & just might ... destroy all the hard work? But she flies off ...

... and how does our little hero react to the situation? As if he got the message that something is still missing from his nest representing a safe & secure home, he continues to weave by adding even more blades of grass.

Is the process of building ever going to stop? Proudly our little hero takes cognizance of the situation - but will he successfully attract a mate?

To all intends & purposes, the nest appears finished. So only someone to occupy it is required.

Then: drama! A sudden change in the weather adds a "spike" to procedures - as the day comes to an end the heavens open. Will the rain spoil everything?

To be continued ...........

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Weaver Magic

When I saw this Masked weaver starting to weave a nest right in front of our bedroom door & window, I decided to "document" the process by regularly taking photos of this busy little weaver's progress.

The nest starts as a circle & the weaver either "works" on the in- or the outside, using blades of grass, which this bird "collects" from our garden.

My intention, to record the various stages of the building process, was thwarted by the busy builder - when next I checked, the circle had developed into a near-complete nest! Although I was aware how quickly a nest is built by weavers, I was still taken by surprise that all it took to reach this stage, was no more than a couple hours.

The process didn't go unnoticed - I was "joined" by a female weaver or two watching the nest "unfold".

Eventually a female weaver decided to inspect the nest "at close quarters" - since I know that female weavers tend to destroy a nest they instinctively feel doesn't represent a "safe haven" for them and their eggs, I was expecting the worst! To my relief, it only turned out to be a passing visit from a female & the male could continue constructing its nest instead of having to start from scratch.

Unabated the male did just that - he continued the process of weaving.

Just for interest's sake: this is day 2 of the building process.

Outside & inside - the male Masked weaver continues to weave his "magic".

When late in the afternoon (Day 2) I saw the male amongst the Bottle-brush flowers, I thought he was looking for much-needed sustenance after a day of hard work. After all birds like weavers, bulbuls, sparrows & white-eyes often "descend" on this tree. But the male weaver wasn't looking for food! Instead he was on a mission to collect leaves to "decorate" the inside of his nest!

And this is the result - camera in hand I had a peek. Although weavers use blades of grass to built their nests, they "soften" the inside by obviously using leaves of various sizes & from a variety of trees.

Another "statistic": the nest "hangs" between 1 & 2 meter above the ground.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Time to celebrate because ........... this is my 100th (!!!) "proper" entry on this blog-site = proper, because there were other (short) entries, e.g. to say I was going on tour OR to "celebrate" a special day on the SA Calender. Bring out the champagne/wine bottles/coffee, whatever!

I'm celebrating "my way" with a few of my favourite photos, either "published" before or new.

Our National Flower = a King Protea

A landscape-scene in the Winelands-region of our beautiful country.

I think of this as a typical savanna-scene - this is also my "trade-mark"-photo (with regard to my writing about animals & nature).

The "synergy" of colour on this photo amazes me every time I look at it - a scene along the Atlantic coastal strip of the Cape Peninsula.

My favourite lioness-photo!

This photo (taken in the Chobe Game Reserve) inspired me to write my "Elli the Elephant" -story-with-photos for children, but first ... "Impi the Impala" (SEE: my blog "dedicated" to the 1st Chapter: - to be published on glossy paper & in an A4-size before the end of this year!

On to my "favourite subject" = birds. The sun, which was about to set, truly enhanced the magnificent colouring of this Lilac-breasted roller.

Another one of those photos where the light was "just perfect" = a White pelican.

After catching these 2 Ground hornbills "making love", I find the way the wings of the male appear to form a heart-shape, amazing - even if the expression on its face seems to say: "I'm not amused" OR even: "Bugger off"!?

Last BUT NOT least - one of my "accidentally perfect" photos of a Cape White-eye "taking off".

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Port Natal = Durban

I call the harbour-town of Durban South Africa's "Rio de Janeiro without the Sugar Loaf". On Christmas Day, 1497, Vasco da Gama sailed into the bay & called it "Rio de Natal" (= Christmas-river).

A look from one of the hotel-windows & in the distance, the Bluff = a huge, age-old & petrified sand-dune. In front of it is the harbour entrance (now under construction = being "enlarged"). The view is also across part of the Victoria Promenade = the "Golden Mile".

This "clock" (which no longer keeps "time") was erected to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Durban - it has various names, e.g. Portuguese Clock, Vasco de Gama Clock & Fountain. At the 500th anniversary, a commemorative stone-plague was placed in front of the memorial.

Probably one of Durban's most beautiful buildings is this Tudor-style house (now part of a theatre-complex) in the centre of town.

The City Hall is situated on Farewell Square - named after Farewell, who together with Fynn, settled at Port Natal (= Durban's name then) in 1824, where the Zulu king at the time, Shaka, granted them land around the bay. Today the City Hall houses the Durban Museum of Natural History as well as the Durban Art Gallery.

Selling "muti" (= traditional medicine) outside the Indian Market in Victoria Street. After the old Indian Market burnt down in 1973, the larger & more "secure" market-building was erected.

The Jama Mushid Mosque (near the Indian Market) is said to be the largest mosque in the southern hemisphere. The first Indians in South Africa arrived in 1860 to work in the sugar plantations. Although most of them were followers of Hinduism, the large population of Indians (between 1-and-half to 2 million) living in South Africa today also includes many Muslims.

One of many Hindu temples situated in Durban.

Did you know that Mahatma Ghandi spent 21 years in South Africa (from 1893-1914)? Although he arrived as a lawyer he left the country as a politician - he already formulated his doctrine of passive resistance whilst living in SA.

To end today - a lovely sunrise (because the view is towards the East) as seen across the Indian Ocean from a hotel window along Durban's Golden Mile.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Heritage Day

Today South Africans are celebrating Heritage Day - and I'm doing it "my way" with a kaleidoscope.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spring is in the Air

During this last trip/tour nature "unfolded" = spring is in the air. Although I always tell the tourists I guide through our beautiful country that there isn't a "marked" seasonal difference like spring (or autumn) because in most parts of our country it's either suddenly hot or cold, nature "exploding" is nonetheless proof that after all, its spring! So I'm going to share some of that today - other than a few photos snapped during the last tour.

This magnificent daisy seemed to challenge me to photograph it during a hike at Grootbos in the Gansbaai area.

Another example of spring being in the air is the Impala lily - photographed in a camp in the Kruger National Park.

Back home I "revert" to a role of "playing" paparazzi - always on the look-out for birds, as this photo of a hoopoe represents.

Similarly "hidden" but nonetheless detected by me, was this Little egret in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve.

I was fascinated to see many instead of only the more usual one or two terrapins on a riverbank in the Kruger Park - before I even noticed that not one but actually two crocodiles shared the same "space" = nature at its best!

Whilst the terrapins obviously didn't feel threatened by the presence of crocodiles, this photo represents an entirely different scenario - a large herd of impala just couldn't "make up their mind" if the hippo in the small pool of water represented a threat!?

Too cute! That was my reaction when I saw how this young giraffe "cuddled up" to its mother.

I think that similarly endearing is the way these two baboons seem to smooch.

Staying with the "theme" of primates, I'm always excited when I have the opportunity to spot the rather rare Samango monkey - so far only early in the morning or late afternoon at the Hilltop camp in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Funny Expressions

Before I leave tomorrow on another tour I'd like to share some photos on which I think birds not only reveal funny expressions but also a lot of character:

Just look at the expressions on the faces of these 2 Yellowbilled hornbills & how that "changes" on the next photo...

... to quite funny especially because the 2 appear to move "in tandem"!!

Similarly these 2 Indian myna look funny - the way they stare at the sky if in different directions [the myna was "imported" from India but is now a quite "common" bird found mainly along the KwaZulu-Natal coast and in the Joburg area].

And what about this Cape gannet appearing to have the "jitters"?

And ditto this Grey heron?

Whilst this Grey heron seems to "apply" for a job as a waiter?

In contrast this Yellowbilled heron just looks miserable (= has a good reason because it's soaked after heavy rain).

I have absolutely no clue what this Crested barbet is "trying to accomplish" - I just think it's funny!

What now? Did we accidentally land in the Cape cormorant's "Red District"? With a "pimp" in the form of a Kelp gull (= on top of the red lights).