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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Last winter days (?)

Tomorrow 1st of September is officially the first day of spring, winter hasn't let up yet and large parts of the Western, Southern and Eastern Cape have been having heavy rain, snow, sleet and gale force winds. Very cold weather was predicted for our region, but it hasn't arrived yet, although there's a chilly wind blowing out of the north.

Took the dogs out for their afternoon walk and I marvelled at the huge blue dome of the sky above me, and the vast distances I could see through the clear air, a big change from the dusty haze of the past few weeks.

Click to enlarge.

Winter afternoon.

Looking north, north east across the farm, if you enlarge the photo you will see mountains way in the distance, which are about 60 - 70 kilometres away.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Wild life on the farm.

While on my afternoon walks around the farm over the last two weeks I spotted these reedbuck, male & female.

Click to enlarge.

Reedbuck ram lying low in the lush green winter wheat, just to the right you can see the ears of his mate. The above photo was taken on the 15th.

The ram in full flight leading the dogs away from the ewe which stayed hidden in the grass. Photo taken on the 18th.

Standing tall and proud, all male. Photo taken yesterday.

The ewe, delicate and feminine.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Sunday? no Tuesday the week after.

On Sundays walk I saw that the pair of blue cranes were back, they were totally unconcerned of my presence and basically ignored the dogs.

I've been trying to get to finish this post but life keeps getting in the way!

Click to enlarge.


Down the hatch it goes.

Crowed crane showing off for his lady love.

Doing a little dance.

Marching in step.

Male Blue crane showing off.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Saturday evening walk.

Spring is sprung, (well almost but not quite). Last week was hot and dry, very hot and very dry, the start of the August Berg winds. Following close behind the Berg winds was a cold front from the south, by Friday the cold front had enveloped basically the whole country bringing our first rain of the summer, much earlier than usual but very welcome indeed. Saturday the weather started clearing and the sun came out. Spring "officially" starts the 1st of September, but yesterday and today feel like spring days.

Click to enlarge.

A pair of Egyptian geese enjoying the sunshine.

A Swainsons francolin in the rays of the late afternoon sun.

A spurwing goose, Africa's largest goose, enjoying the lush green wheat.

A pair of Egyptian geese that had just taken off, the wings of the bird on the left has just reached the bottom of the down stroke, the primary feathers are all over lapping to give maximum lift. On the right this birds wings are starting their upstroke, the primary feathers are all separated to so that there is minimum resistance as they move upward. This happens automatically, pilots on propeller driven aircraft can do a similar thing with the propeller of an engine that has to be switched of in flight, it's known as feathering the prop.

The pair in full flight.

An antelope spoor imprinted in the dried mud, probably a mountain reed buck. There is plenty of wildlife on this farm and yesterday morning the Italian leprechaun saw a honey badger as he was driving down the farm road on his way to town. It is very unusual to see one of these animals as they are very scarce, I didn't even know that they occurred in this part of the country. We have seen hares, rabbits and even an African wild cat, which looks very similar to domestic cats, but they have very distinctive colouring and markings.

"... even Solomon in all his glory.." A wild flower only a few millimetres across, much smaller than my thumb nail, but perfect in every respect.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Doggy heaven.

My dogs don't dream of doggy heaven, they'er already living on one.

Click to enlarge.

Tombi and Lady cooling off.

After running 3+ kilometres, chasing all sorts of wild things, interesting smells and rolling in nice smelly stuff,(don't ask what), there's a nice muddy puddle of water to cool the tummy with squelchy mud for tiered paws. What more can any dog ask for. 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Blue cranes, purple flowers & sunset.

While walking yesterday the Italian leprechaun and I spotted these blue cranes, (Anthropoides paradiseus) earlier in the day I had heard their call, a sort of loud, guttural, kraaaarrrk, but I did not see them. This pair was back again this evening.

Blue cranes are considered vulnerable, their having been reduced from a historical 100,000 to about 20,000 in the 1990's. What there numbers are now I don't know. They occur across most of South Africa except the far west, with the highest concentration in the eastern parts and Drakensberg.

The long trailing feathers are inner wing feathers (tertials) and not the tail. In the old days, Zulu warriors put great store in having some of these feather in their headdress, not an easy thing to obtain.

Sissie putting on a burst of speed trying to catch herself a blue crane. The big dog in the background is Bear, my landlords dog, he doesn't seem to know what he's chasing.

This is a big bird standing one meter + tall and a wingspan of almost two meters. These birds were not too fazed by the dogs, and actually intimidated them by crouching low and spreading their wings.

A tiny purple wild flower in the last rays of the sun.

A golden sunset haze over the hills.

The sun almost gone, a month ago the sun was setting well to the north, (right) of this hill.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Yesterdays walk.

Some photos yesterdays evening walk.

Click to enlarge.

The mega pivot at work, each nozzle delivers about 15 gallons a minute. The middle of this pivot is out of sight over the curve of the hill.

I was always under the impression that centre pivot systems needed level ground to be able to work effectively. On this farm I found that is not so, this pivot covers some pretty rough ground. The pivot moves in an anti-clock wise direction, in the photo above that is to the right. From the point where the pivot is now it starts to go down hill, almost a 40 degree slope, it crosses several very big contour ridges but nothing stops this thing, it just keeps moving inexorably  on. 

A view of the pivot from the other side.

When I asked the farmer if all the wild ducks and gees that are eating his wheat bother him, he said; "no, it will soon outgrow them". Here only the heads of a pair of African shell duck show above the fast growing wheat. 

Long shadows, there are hundreds of trees on this farm.

A good night wink from the sun.