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Thursday, 29 November 2012

After the storm.

Today was one of those very hot, humid days when you know there will be a thunder storm late afternoon. True to form it got hotter and hotter with huge thunder clouds building all afternoon. At about 4:30 this afternoon the skies opened up and the rain came down, fortunately there was no hail. After about a 20 min downpour it stopped as suddenly as it started and a cool breeze started blowing out of the south.

Click to enlarge.

Soon after the rain stopped the dogs and I headed out for a short walk.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Game birds, evening skies and mountains.

Game birds abound here on the farm, among them helmeted guinea fowl, Swainson's spurfowl, (francolin), and common quail. The spurfowl and the quail, wait until the last second before exploding out from right under your feet. To hunt them you need a good pointer and retriever dog. Guinea fowl tend to run low on the ground all in front of you. 

Above is a photo of a helmeted guinea fowl. At the moment the guinea fowl are moving around in small groups of three or four as they have chicks. Your chances of spotting a guinea fowl chick are very slim, their camouflage is excellent and they flatten their bodies on the ground under any sort of cover while the parents lead you off. Later in the season the guinea fowl will gather in large flocks.

The southern buttress of Nthabamhlope, (White mountain). The vertical, almost concave cliff on the left is a several hundred feet drop.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Termite mounds, streams and fishing.

Thought I would try some fishing in the Little Bushman's river on the farm this afternoon. Packed my kit and 3 weight fly rod in a backpack and headed for the river, a good 45 minutes walk from the house. 

Walked downstream a bit and along the way came upon this 2 meter high termite mound. The South African writer, Eugene Marais, wrote a book during the 1920's titled,th "The soul of the white ant," about termites and their colonies. He described a termite mound and the termite colony as a single living entity, not as tens of thousand of individual termites. The book makes interesting reading to this day.  His work was plagiarised by someone in Europe who won a scientific prize for "his" work. (so the story goes). 

Marais was a tragic figure, a trained medical doctor and a naturalist of note, he also was an opium addict, spent seven years in jail for manslaughter, (killed his brother). He was a renowned Afrikaans poet and wrote other books such as, "My friends the baboons," in which he describes his very close relationship with a troop of baboons.

Looking downstream, a long pool that goes around the spur of the hill on the left, almost forming a horse shoe bend.

These natural stone steps look as if they were created especially for a fly fisher to stand here and cast a line. Just mind the trees behind you. 

Looking upstream, where the rapids enter at the head of the pool is a good place to try bottom nymphing for yellow fish, they prefer fast running water to still pools. The pools are a good place to try for bass. Other fish that might occur here are carp, Tugela mudfish, several minnow species and small rock catfish.

I didn't stay long as there was a freezing east wind blowing and it started to rain.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Sunrise with my morning coffee.

While having my first cup of coffee on the front veranda at 4:30 this morning the first rays of the rising sun were shining through a gap under the cloud cover. The cottage faces north and east is to the right of where I'm standing. 

First photo.

While fixing a second cup of coffee the sky brightened considerably. A few moments later everything was a dull gray as the sun rose above the clouds.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Smokey and family.

Some photos of Smokey and his family.

Just laying around. Lady in the bottom of the picture, Bruno on my chair on the left, Smokey and Sissy on the couch and Cat the cat totally relaxed. Tombi was sitting on my feet while I took these photos.

Close family.

Happy Thanks Giving to all in the USA.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Queen of the night.

Early this morning my friend Graham phoned me and told me about some cactus flowers that had opened over night in his garden and asked if I would like to photograph them. These flowers only open at night and only last for about 24 hours, so on my way to school I stopped at his house and took some photos.

Thanks Graham.

Click to enlarge.

Queen of the night flowers. These flowers have an extremely strong scent, almost overpowering.

A "group" photo.

In the heart of it's beauty.

I had to buy space on Google to be able to upload more photos, seems I've used up my free space. At $2.94 a month it's not to bad, but think how many millions are paying Google $2.94 a month.

First catch, no photo.

Yesterday afternoon late, after 5 pm, I walked down to the farm dam with a fly rod and some flies and tried my luck. The rod I took was a 9 foot, very fast action and stiff 3 weight, loaded with 4 weight line, casts like a dream. This might sound a bit light for bass, but  you can cast all day with it. The rod was a gift from my brother in law Grant who built it from MHX, carbon fibre blanks from Mudhole in the USA.

It was a warm summers evening with a thunderstorm approaching and the water was like glass. Bass were very active in the shallows among the reeds jumping and chasing insects. After about 40 minutes of fishing I got my first take, but lost it when the fish jumped. (Have to sharpen my hooks) Ten minutes later in almost the same spot a bass grabbed my size 14 muddlers minnow and dived, I gave it a second or two and set the hook. Well and truly hooked there was no escape. For a moment it felt like I'd hooked a trout, not the normal large mouth way of heading for some obstruction or water weeds, but a determined run for open water, and fighting right to the end.

After a minute or two I lifted a 2lb plus small mouth bass from the water, a sleek well conditioned fish. First small mouth I've caught in about 30 years. The rod did not have quite enough backbone to lift the fish so I had to grab the leader and pull it out. And guess what? the cameras memory card was lying at home instead of being in the camera, so no evidence. Not the first time I've forgotten it.

Monday, 19 November 2012


On Saturday and Sunday I went out and photographed sunsets among other things.

Click to enlarge.

The photo above was taken on Saturday, late in the evening. The sun was going down just behind my left shoulder, with a few rays coming through beneath the low clouds. Those clouds were not just empty threats, during the night it started to rain and continued until 11 am the next day.

This photo, taken yesterday, looks as it could have been taken on Mars or some other strange planet, but this is how it looked. The sun had just gone behind a thick cloud-bank, creating an almost eclipse of the sun effect. The light was very erie with the cloud patterns and colour adding to the strangeness. In the foreground is a field that has been lying fallow for more than six months, with sparse, almost desert liked plant growth, also adding to the weird effect.

A more conventional sunset taken about thirty minutes later than the one above.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Natures bounty.

As a fly tyer I'm always on the look out for feather. On my walks I pick up any interesting feathers I see, especially next to farm ponds where ducks and other water birds gather. Several days ago I came across a whole pile of guinea fowl feathers, where some animal had made a kill. It must have happened the night before as the feathers were in perfect condition, bright and shiny.

Amazing that this black and white pattern camouflages the bird so well. The imagination runs wild thinking of the flies that can be tied with this lot, soft hackles and streamers. 

Detail of a single feather. The fluffy filoplume at the bottom part of the quill is great for tying nymphs with lots of "life". Dubbed onto a hook using the split thread method some great effects can be achieved.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Smokey. (aka Cattoo)

Smokey has made himself totally at home. Have you ever tried to write a post while a cat is walking over your laptops keyboard? Well that's what I'm trying to do now.

Click to enlarge.

Smokey on the back of my chair, playing King of the castle, daring the dogs to knock him off. The dogs have been very protective of "their" cat, chasing away the neighbours dogs if they dare come close. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Walking home with the dogs late this evening I took this photo below. Now a days the camera means walking to the dogs, so when I take it out of the cupboard their joy knows no bounds.

Click to enlarge.

This photo above is as taken, no editing done to it.

I've also been experimenting with a photo editing program called "Photomatix", used to make HDR photos. (HDR high dynamic resolution). 

I took three photos of the scene above, one normal exposure, one under exposed by 2 stops, and one over exposed by 2 stops. Load the photo onto the program and you get the result below.

This is a trial version thus the Photomatix watermark on the photo. Cost of the licenced version is US $99, (+- R900 in SA money), next month is bonus month, (13th cheque) for me so maybe.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Meet Cattoo, (Cat2)

Well his real name is Smokey. Smokey and three siblings were found abandoned on a farm road by Hazel, a grade 5 teacher at our school, on her way to work this morning. The four of them were sitting huddled together in the middle of the road. Hazel stopped picked them up and brought them to school. Three of them were adopted almost immediately, with one still to find a home.

One wonders what type of person would do this to small helpless creatures. The Estcourt SPCA premises are only about 6 km away from where they were found, it would have been so very easy to leave them there. 

Now you can see why he is called Smokey, (the most beautiful blue-gray colour), and not Cattoo. Smokey made his first acquaintance with the vet this afternoon, for de-worming and first inoculations.

Smokey must be about 5 weeks old and fits nicely into the palm of my hand. Introduced him to the other animals, Cat had a good sniff, then yawned as if to say, "if you've seen one you've seen them all'" then he walked away. Lady, Tombi, and Sissy all gave him a good sniffing and going over. Bruno wasn't to sure about this funny little thing and is still holding back judgement till he has made up his mind.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Windbreaks, flowers and other views.

Hundreds of trees have been panted on this farm over the years some as windbreaks some just for their aesthetic value. Apart from the pine trees that I photographed today there are also dozens of oak and other species of trees. 

A three row windbreak of pine trees, these trees will also provide shelter for cattle under them on cold winters nights and shade on hot days.

A long single row of pine trees stretching of into the distance to join up with another row at right angles. The grass growing here is kikuyu grass, fast growing, lush, and animals just love it, mow it and it makes a lovely lawn.

A yellow wild flower looks a bit like a daisy.

Hidden away in the grass I found these flowers. I don't know what they are called but the whole bunch was not much longer than my index finger. I need to get a book on wildflowers of Natal. 

Rich grasslands in the foreground stretching away to the hills in the distance. The amount of plant species among the grass is simply amazing, flowers of every colour of the rainbow, most of them very small.

Lone tree against the evening sky.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Beautiful sunsets.

On my evening walk today I concentrated on sunsets.

Click to enlarge.

Bruno posing against the sunset.

Sunset over the water.


Mushrooms anyone?

After my fishing outing at the farm dam yesterday evening I took a slightly round about route home and came across this iKhowe mushroom. 

Click to enlarge.

Placed my watch on top of it to give an indication of it's size. These mushrooms are delicious pick the wrong one though and eat it, you're a dead man. About a month ago a whole family of 5 or 6 people, here in Natal, was wiped out after eating poisonous mushrooms.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Still counting my fishing blessings.

Apart from the Bushman's river that runs through the farm there are several farm dams all of which are stocked with large mouth black bass. So how lucky can a man get?

Click to enlarge.

This morning while having my first mug of coffee and watching the sun come up from my veranda, I spotted this Long crested eagle hunting from this perch on the center pivot irrigation system. (Today was the first full day of sunshine, without rain, for several weeks) His main prey are rats and mice, which would be abundant in the ripening wheat below him. Every now and again he would swoop down into the wheat to catch something, he was too far away for me to actually see what he caught.

At about 5:30 this afternoon I walked down to the biggest of the three farm dams that lie close to the farmstead. This one is about 600 meters from my cottage.

The head of a terrapin, (turtle) sticking just above the surface of the water. Note the rings on the water of fish taking insects just below the surface. Bass can sip rising insects as delicately as any trout.

Looking across the water from the dam wall to the farmstead.

Looking from the dam wall down this long shallow valley/wetlands, know here in South Africa as a "vlei", (pronounced flay). This will be a good spot to look out for wetland birds such as blue cranes. 

I managed one hook up with a black woolly bugger but lost the fish when it jumped and threw the fly.  

Friday, 9 November 2012

Canine and feline felicity.

Some photos of a very relaxed cat.

A very blurred photo of a very relaxed cat. 

Cat the cat lying with the dogs, this has never happened in the past.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

More interior shots.

Well I'm almost done settling in my new cottage, most things have found a place and my books have been pack out. Some adjustments will have to be made to find the best place for each item. My next task is to set up my fly tying corner in the spare room, I'll try and get that done Saturday.

Click to enlarge photos.

View of the lounge from the bedroom end. Cat the cat in the foreground, Sissy and Lady on the couch and Tombi on my chair. Bruno was stretched on the bed. The boxes on the right of the photo contain books on their way to the hospice/SPCA shop.

Kitchen is just separated from the lounge by this counter unit. I spy my weed-eater hiding and it needs a more appropriate home.

Photo taken from my chair in the corner, my knees in the foreground. The spare room is just around the corner behind the bookcases, my bedroom door can just be seen, and the bathroom just to the right.

The dogs and I are at our ease listening to some Beethoven (Appassionata) playing, and all is well with the world.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

An African river.

Well this time, as far as fishing goes, I think I've fallen with my bum in the butter!

The dogs and I took our usual evening walk and walked right to the Little Bushman's river that runs through the farm. All in all I recon we covered between 6 and 7 km, down hill most of the way there, and up hill most of the way back. The river lies in a "kloof", (gorge) with typical African bush along it's banks, also very typical snake country, especially puff adders, Cape cobra's and rock pythons. So on hot days I will have to step very carefully.

We left home at 4:30 pm and only got back after seven.

Click to enlarge.

A section of the river looking up stream, with a nice long, deep pool on the right. This river is a tributary of the Bushman's river, which flows through Estcourt, it joins the Bushman's river just below the town. 

Downstream view of the pool, lovely water for small mouth bass, sharp tooth cat fish, (barbel) and maybe carp.

A short stretch of rapids below the pool.

Looking downstream from the rapids. Chances are good that the fast water with have Natal yellow fish, also known as scaleys. Yellow fish are indomitable fighters and give you a good run for your money.

So Lord willing, I know where the dogs and I will be Saturday. And with a bit of luck I might even post some photos of the fish I've caught.