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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Blogg anniversary.

It has been a bit more than a year since I started blogging, and I have enjoyed every moment of it. Met lots of interesting people and discovered other blogs that have enriched my life.


Checking the stats this morning I see that I have and 40,186 page views to date. The most popular posts have been the following. (My hit counter shows 33,766 page views and seems to get further and further behind). 


The moon, 6th of April 2011, 6,837 page views. This was a story by Herman Charles Bosman.


Mother Nature, 28th June 2011, 5,629 page views. This post drew a lot of attention from India and countries in the Far East.


Ant Lion, 30th October 2011, 3,936 page views. I was most amazed at the interest shown in this post, and is still being shown. At the moment this post is at the top of the monthly and weekly page views.


Aids & South Africa, 25th May 2011, 1787 page views.


Cape Town, 8th April 2011, 1678 page views. This post has drew the most comments.


To date I have done 360 posts, 361 with this one.



Half moon and vagaries of the weather.

Last night the Italian Leprechaun and I had one of our regular "braais", (BBQ). This is when we open a few beers, chew the fat, (literally and figuratively), and generally solve the Worlds problems. The sky was overcast but it did not look like rain, suddenly - it took only a few minutes - the clouds disappeared and the moon became visible. I grabbed my camera and took a few photos.


Click on photos to enlarge.




Just as fast as the clouds disappeared they gathered again.




The photo above has a hazy, almost halo effect around the moon due to the rapidly gathering clouds. These two photos were taken minutes apart. Within minutes it was completely overcast and it started to rain. We carried our BBQ equipment onto the far edge of the veranda and lit the fire. 


It's 09:45 am and still raining and cold, just letting us know winter is on it's way.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Fish and water features; Makaranga garden lodge.

Looking through my photos I came across these I took on my last visit to Makaranga Garden Lodge on the 26th December, 2011. Makaranga has some lovely ponds, small streams and water features, and where there's water there's often fish.


Click on photos to enlarge.




Large koi, would need at least a 6 weight rod to land this one.




One of the small waterfalls and lily pond.




Bridge over calm, (not troubled) waters.




Small tilapia under a lily pad.




Side view of a small waterfall.




More tilapia.




Just love the colours.




Kept wishing I had smuggled my 3 weight in. All these fish were feeding off the surface so a dry fly would have worked nicely.
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A school of tilapia. There are several different species of tilapia in Africa, some of which grow quite large.


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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Groundscraper Thrush.

While drinking my early morning coffee this morning, I watched this early bird looking for an early worm. 




Groundscraper Thrush. (Psophocichla litsitsirupa). When moving around on the ground these birds have a very erect posture, causing their tail to scrape the ground, hence the name.  




A view from the back. These birds hunt earthworms and insects. As I was leaving for church this morning I watched one haul a worm from it's hole. As luck would have it, I had no camera with me.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Cape Glossy starling.

Took the photo below through my lounge window. The water bowl is carved from a block of sandstone.


Click on photo to enlarge.




Cape Glossy Starling. (Lamprotornis nitens). 
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The girls are sulking.

The three females in my life are not happy. They really don't like the idea of this new dog in their live's, things were just fine as they were.




Here the three of them are feeling very sorry for themselves, misery likes company.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Meet Bruno.

This is Bruno the new addition to the family. Bruno is a miniature Doberman.


Bruno's owner passed away recently at the age of 82, and her family asked me if I would adopt Bruno. They must have said, "when it comes to dog's Phillip's heart is like one of our notorious mini bus taxi's. Even if it's already over the legal carrying capacity, there's always room for one more". 




Bruno shortly after his arrival watching his three new step sister from the back of my chair.




This morning Bruno took a tour of the garden, marking every fence post, tree and shrub in true male dog fashion. 




"Yup, I think this will suit me just fine".


There's a whole new inter dog dynamic that has to be sorted out now and the three girls don't quite know what to make of the new arrival. At the moment Bruno is sitting next to me on my armchair and the three girls are sitting, all squashed up, on my feet.



Monday, 19 March 2012

Inyanga.

While walking down the street on Saturday I spotted this sign. 


A traditional Inyanga is a herbalist, well trained in the knowledge of useful medicinal plants and their uses. Medicinal plants are used for fevers, pain, headaches, gout, rheumatism and digestive problems, to name but a few. The body cures itself most of the time, but it helps psychologically when someone "treats" the problem. In the isolated rural areas they are usually the only "doctor" available.


In the urban areas it's a totally different story, here charlatans abound. Just the name says it all, (Prof.), never mind the etc. at the end). "You name your problem, we have a cure/solution".  Yet people are desperate and very gullible, looking for an easy solution to life's problems. 


These charlatans often become very wealthy.



Saturday, 17 March 2012

Skink.

While sitting on the veranda enjoying a cup of coffee, in the late afternoon sun, I spotted this Skink also soaking up the last rays.


Click on photo to enlarge.




Variable skink. These little guys are quite happy to live very close to humans and there are several that live around the cottage. They often come walking in through the door and proceed to investigate the whole lounge, looking for insects to eat. Their diet consists of grasshoppers, spiders and other insects, sometimes even other lizards. The one in the photo was about 4 inches long.


Enlarge the photo to really appreciate it's beauty.
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Thursday, 15 March 2012

Get those boots on.

When I take my hiking boots out of the cupboard my dogs know now we're going walking or fishing, and their joy knows no bounds. 


Took my 6 weight rod with a foam popper and tried my luck on some bass. There's something so relaxing about casting a fly line, the rhythm, the timing, the whole process, is a bit like meditating. You loose yourself in the action of casting.


Click on photos to enlarge.




The boots that make my dogs so happy.




Lady can't contain herself,  "come on, come on, get those boots on," if she could she would put them on for me. Sissy gets a bit of grooming in. 




At last, we're on our way.




This White-faced duck seemed to think it was well hidden.




A heron settling down for the night.



While I was photographing the heron above, this small bass took my motionless popper and basically hooked himself. I caught several more bass among the reeds and water grass.




Walking home we were rewarded with this sunset.
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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

To see what we could see.

Took the camera and the dogs and I went to see what we could see. We didn't see anything very exciting, only some old familiar friends.




This family of Cape wag tails. They're on the spillway of the dam every day, so we hardly notice them any more.




Three proud Egyptian geese, mom, dad and junior.




This rather disreputable looking Ha de dah Ibis, preening itself. Seems I caught just after it's evening bath.




A black headed heron, also a regular on the dam wall.




A pair of yellow-billed ducks, paddling sedately together.




Three black-smith lapwings patrolling the edge of the pond for a last minute tit bit before bedtime.




A quiet, wooded glade, inviting one to linger a moment and enjoy the peace.




The imperious red-knobbed coot, who barely spared us a glance over it's shoulder.



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Monday, 12 March 2012

Autumn.

Suddenly this morning you knew that autumn was here. Nothing dramatic, a slight chill in the air, and it was as if the leaves on the trees had changed somehow. Most of them are still green with individuals and clumps turning yellow. Every now and then one would let go and drift to the ground, every gust of wind shook of a few more. Soon it will be the norm as flurries of leaves fall.




Above autumn morning in the Clarence district of the Free State Province of South Africa. One of the few places in South Africa where you can see autumn in it's dramatic beauty.


Autumn By Roy Campbell.


I love to see, when leaves depart,
The clear anatomy arrive,
Winter, the paragon of art,
That kills all forms of life and feeling
Save what is pure and will survive.

Already now the clanging chains
Of geese are harnessed to the moon:
Stripped are the great sun-clouding planes:
And the dark pines, their own revealing,
Let in the needles of the noon.

Strained by the gale the olives whiten
Like hoary wrestlers bent with toil
And, with the vines, their branches lighten
To brim our vats where summer lingers
In the red froth and sun-gold oil.

Soon on our hearth's reviving pyre
Their rotted stems will crumble up:
And like a ruby, panting fire,
The grape will redden on your fingers
Through the lit crystal of the cup.


Roy Campbell, South African poet, 1902 - 1957.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Fly fishing at Injasuthi.

Remembered my fly rod this time and all the other bits and pieces one has to take along to catch a fish. One thing has me beat though, and that is how do you carry your landing net? I've tried to attach it to the ring at the back of my fishing vest, stick the handle down between my day pack and my back, (not very comfortable) attach it the front of my fishing vest, to my belt, carry it in my hand, nothing works. The fine mesh hooks onto every, branch, twig, thorn bush and even blades of coarse grass.  


Click on photos to enlarge.




Looking up the Injasuthi valley. 




Tried this pool first, but had no luck. The water was crystal clear and my 4x tippet looked like a ships anchor cable in the clear water.



Drove down the road about 4km's and parked on the side. Made my way down to the river over some very rough terrain. The river is only about 50 meters to the right but one has to work your way a considerable distance upstream before it is possible to get through the thick bush along the banks and into the water.




All along the way there are these small streams of water that join the main river.




Another little stream.




After I got to the river I worked my way upstream until I got to this long deep pool. Although the water was just as clear here I was standing below the bank and not so visible against the sky line. After 10 minutes of fishing I shortened my leader and reduced my tippet to a 5x. Almost immediately I got fish attacking my size 14 stimulator. It was as if they were trying to drown it before taking it. I changed to a size 14 DDD, a spun deer hair dry fly which floated better in the rough water. Again lots of splashy rises, one fish even jumped right out of the water and onto the fly in an attempt to drown it.


Looked through my dry fly box and found a size 16 Humpy. This fly I had tied with CDC feathers instead of deer hair and a bright green body of floss. A few strands of antron for the tail under CDC, and a CDC wing. This fly immediately got serious attention, but my strikes were either to quick or too slow. (There's a thin line between too quick and too slow with dry flies). 


But then a gentle sip, so slight I almost missed the take. This time I got the timing right and a feisty rainbow trout was giving me a run for my money, making full use of the strong current in it's efforts to get free. After a bit more than a minute I was able to land the exhausted fish. I held it in the water for about a minute so it could get it's "breath back", before posing it for a quick photo.




The fish had swallowed the fly quite deep but I had no problem removing the de-barbed hook with my forceps. Then I noticed that it was bleeding badly so I decided not to release it to die anyway, but killed it quickly. Now residing in my fridge and will make a nice breakfast. 


Don't ask me how I got the fly line so tangled around the handle.


When I gutted the fish I saw that it was gravid with roe, the next generation of trout. More's the pity at having to kill it. Trout will start spawning in our rivers by May as winter sets in and water temperatures drop. Stream and river fishing for trout are closed from the 1st of May until the 1st of September. So I've got a bit more than a month's stream fishing left, then it's still water fishing for trout through the winter.


The weather had turned hot and sultry with huge banks of clouds massing over the Drakensberg. When I heard the first rumbling of thunder I decided to pack up. It does not pay to wave a long piece of carbon fibre around when there's thunder and lightning about.
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Rainbow over the cottage.

It had  been threatening to rain all Saturday afternoon with dark heavy clouds building up to the south and south west. At about 5:30 I looked out the window and saw this rainbow. The setting sun's rays had sneaked in under the clouds and created this rainbow as a light rain was falling, a few drops speckled the camera lens.


Click on photo to enlarge.




The dogs also came out to see what the excitement was about. Thombi and Sissy were on their way down the driveway to visit the neighbours who were braaing (BBQ'ing), some meat. 


Talk about clever dogs.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Cautiuos bird.

Every morning I scatter bird seed on the lawn. Within minutes the lawn is covered with birds, some are already waiting for me when I appear at the front door with their daily treat. 

Click on photos to enlarge.



Above a male Village weaver, (Ploceus cucullatus).This bird was very cautious in his approach.




Having a good look to make sure the coast is clear.




Getting very close, everything still seems OK.




Let me have another look to make doubly sure.




The reason for his caution is this Pin-tailed wydah. This bird has declared my yard his domain and spends most of his time attacking other birds that dare to approach.


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Thursday, 8 March 2012

Cat the cat.

My fly tying bench was just getting too cluttered so I moved my vice to the dining room table. The only positive thing about this piece of furniture is that it has big drawers for storage, other than that it is very impractical as a tying bench.


Cat has decided that the empty spot where the vice stood would make a good spot for him to lie.




Cat taking his ease in his new favourite spot. I suppose you could call Cat dubbing on the hoof!