Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

The Pelican Shark

On Sunday 25 July 2010 I looked up as a massive group of pelicans flew overhead. They were so close and so tightly packed together that I saw three of them collide above the garden and could hear the peculiar “cl-ock” of feathered bone meeting. Had each pelican been a jet aircraft we would have had a fiery tragedy in our backyard, but these birds just took it in their stride.

I watched for a while as they circled overhead gathering altitude all the while. Then I dashed in for the camera and grabbed a few shots by which time  had already moved quite far away.

This looks a bit like a shark:

Pelican Shark?

I counted about sixty birds. A friend said she counted eighty when she saw the same phenomenon from her home.



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Whirlwind visit from a sunbird pair

Warning: poor photos below – taken in haste when an opportunity presented itself. Click on each to see slightly better detail.

Well it seemed like a whirlwind of activity anyway.
In late July we cut back a tree in the garden and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this revealed a previously hidden bird nest. For a while we had been aware of a male sunbird appearing quite frequently in our garden. He (a Lesser Doublecollared Sunbird) was soon spotted on the nest and in the company of a female. Homeowner identified! (more…)

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Thursday 3 June 2010

Between 4 and 5am

A short thunderstorm wakes me in Somerset West. Jipe barks at the thunder. I go back to sleep. A bit of rain falls, but not much.

About 10am

Dad calls from Betty’s Bay: “Just want to let you know the mountain above us is on fire. No need to panic yet, just an early warning.” Obviously this morning’s lightning started a fire. I go about the day as per normal and check in with the folks from time to time.

About 10pm

I talk to mom. They’ve packed essentials (change of clothes, documentation) and placed everything in the entrance hall. Friends in the community have been quick and generous with offers of help. Two of their largest paintings have already been moved to the Ficks. The Bossengers brought their trailer to the house and it is filled with books and wine. Books would be difficult to pack in a hurry – my folks have quite a large number of books they would be devastated to lose.  Wine would be awkward to pack in a hurry. A dropped bottle can never be recovered. I wish them well and go to sleep.


I’m woken by an SMS. “Packing cars”. I have a difficult night tossing and turning, wondering what’s going on in Betty’s Bay but not wanting to call and wake them or interfere with things at a possibly critical moment.

Friday 4 June 2010


I call the Bossengers. The folks are still in the house – it hasn’t burned down yet. Call the folks. Mom answers. Fire still a way off, but probably just a few hours away. She’s had two hours of sleep. Dad is talking to the fire chaps up the road in the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. Sister Cathy & her husband John are on their way from Cape Town. I decide to leave it up to dad to decide if they need me. He calls later and I take the seats out of Melanie’s car and pack the roofracks, grab a torch, pocket camera, cellphone and charger and I’m off – leaving the wife to look after the dogs. (more…)

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The Peaneafowl

There are many many troops of Guineafowl in Somerset West and we have quite a few around us. Homer (the dog) and I encounter them every morning on our inspect-and-sniff of the suburb.

A while ago I noticed (and heard) a young peahen in the nearby garden of a friend. The bird didn’t belong to her, but would sometimes arrive to snack on the seeds that her family puts out for the guineafowl. Some days she’d see it and others not. It seems to have a free run of the suburb.

Since then I have often seen this bird in the company of a troop of guineafowl, looking much like a grand aunt. This morning I snapped a couple of shots with a small camera:

Peahen wandering with guineafowl

The Peahen amongst the guineafowl

For a while they felt it best to eye us from the safety of a tree:

Peahen and guineafowl in a tree

The peahen and guineafowl in a tree

The photos are very indistinct as the small camera couldn’t deal well with the early morning light.

I wonder if this fowl split from one of the groups on Lourensford estate or on Erinvale. However it happened, Homer and I continue to enjoy our suburban safaris.

Update: Here are a couple more photos – just a little clearer.

Four guineafowl and a peafowl

Four guineafowl and a peafowl

The peahen with a number of guineafowl

The peahen with a number of guineafowl

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