29 January 2009

Sky Watch Friday - Land, sea and sky

The day dawned bright and clear, the clouds were dissipating and soon afterwards the fishing fleet that had come into St Francis Bay to ride out a storm, chugged off back to the open sea.
Visit the Sky Watch site for more great pictures from around the world.

Garden Route - Agapanthus

I always enjoy our trips down the Garden Route, because no matter what time of the year you happen to travel, there is always some plant flowering. This profusion of colour was created by the fynbos and a clump of agapanthus. The agapanthus has become a very popular garden plant but it is indigenous to the area.

This close up was also taken along the Garden Route, on a previous trip.

27 January 2009

Signs and I wonder.....

Phew, I'm so glad smoking is not permitted on the ride........mmmmmmmmmmmm.....like that is going to happen.

24 January 2009

The parking lot kids - update

The parking lot kids ar just three days short of six weeks old and doing well.
Over this period, this is the first time I have managed to photograph the two chicks together - and they parted company very quickly. It must be something about the survival instinct that makes them separate from each other. On a few occassion this week I could not find them, but their colouring is so amazing that they just disapear in the grass.

It wont be long before they lose all the baby feathers and start looking more like the adults. Tgis one is already taking on that sleak appearance.

The shot below was taken on 15 December 2008, the day the eggs hatched. I thought I would put it in just to show the progress.

If you want to see the progress just click on "crowned lapwing" under labels

22 January 2009

Sky Watch Friday - Summer skies

A balmy morning, no wind, a flat sea, a few clouds and a golden sunrise - what a way to start the day.
For more pictures from around the world visit the Sky Watch site.

21 January 2009

Dinner for two

An elephant cow and her calf "enjoying a meal together" after having had a really good mud bath.

18 January 2009

Of reptiles and fools

Yesterday morning was one of those spontaneous moments, when I took my grandson out for some quality time at Reptile World. The two of us always have a great time when we are together, doing what I call making memories. Yesterdays memories was learning about reptiles and other amphibians.

Ethan saying hi to a blue tongued skink.

Ok so I know that many people are squeamish when it comes to snakes, so if you are close your eyes. I was brought up to believe that the only good snake is a dead snake. I have managed to get past that and appreciate their role in nature. I am still content to just look at them and not do the handling thing - unlike Ethan who was content to touch the tail of Annie the 12 year old Burmese python, who was featured in yesterday's Port Elizabeth Daily Photo.

I did not take many pictures because the light was not that great and some of the snakes like the black mamba were too active. The green mambas' were more cooperative. They are found found in forests chiefly near the coast stretching from the Eastern Cape in South Africa through Mozambique and Tanzania as far as south-east Kenya, going inland as far as southern Malawi and eastern Zimbabwe. Like the black mamba they are highly venomous, but not as aggressive. If you want more information about these fascinating reptiles go to Wikipaedia.

This rattlesnake was relieved from a pet shop, which was about to sell it as a pet to a five year old. When the owner of Reptile World heard about it he was horrified and immediately took action to get hold of the snake. When they collect it the bottom fell out of the cage - just as well that this happened with the specialists and not the kid. Can you imagine the irresponsibility of the parents and the petshop owner

My hope is that Ethan will have a more balanced view of snakes than I did.

17 January 2009

Sunrise at Hobie Beach

Suzi-k and I were on the 03h00 to 05h00 neighbourhood watch shift this morning. Believe it or not that is our choice, because were then have the opportunity to watch the sun come up. With the misty mornings we have been having lately we have not seen many sunrises, but this morming we hit the jackpot.

While we were enjoying the early morning vibe at the beach front, I managed to capture these fishermen were all set to launch their rubber duck from Hobie Beach

15 January 2009

Sunrise over St Phillips Church

Looking out of our dining room window is a view of the historic St Phillips Church with Algoa Bay in the background. This shot was taken a while back in winter.
The Sky Watch site has many great pictures from around the world and if you have not been there it is well worth a visit..

Nearly time to spread its wings

It is amazing how quickly these guys have grown up. It is a week since I last photographed the two parking lot crowned lapwing chicks and they are already beginning to look more like the adults.

I have enjoyed watching their progress over the past two weeks - not long now and they will be making their own way in the world.

14 January 2009

Oh flowers

I photographed this flower in the garden at the entrance to Redhouse last week, but have no idea what it is. Can anyone help me out?

11 January 2009

Welcome guests

Suzi-k and I were sitting of the our front porch this morning painting some bedside cabinets and and discussing the politics of the nation, when suddenly when she was in mid sentence I leapt up and ran into the house for my camera. Fortunately she is very indulgent about some of my foibles, like photographing birds.

With three cats we do not generally get many birds visiting our garden, but this female Greater Double-Collared Sunbird could not resist the flowers this morning.

It had no sooner arrived when a Cape White Eye joined it. They are both very active birds - they do not sit still for a second, but I did manage to get a few shots before they flew off.

10 January 2009

Crowned lapwing chick

These little guys are growing up fast - I can already see a difference in this chick after a few days. I find it amazing how they survive in the harsh environment of the parking lot. It has been extremely hot in Uitenhage this week and there is no available water - I assume they make do with the dew in the morning.
If you are interested in birds, pop over to Firefly who has posted some delightful pictures of a Cape Glossy Starling feeding her young.

08 January 2009

Sky Watch Friday - Landing gear lowered

A kelp gull coming in to land at Port St Francis, against the backdrop of a beautiful blue sky.
For more great pictures fro around the world go to the Sky Watch site.

06 January 2009

Avian update #2

About three weeks ago I did a post, Avian Update, on the arrival of two Crowned Lapwing chicks. For the South Africans, it is a kiewietjie.
After being away from Uitenhage for three weeks, I was delighted to see that the chicks are flourishing. The only problem is that whenever I am near enough to photograph them, the light is poor or they are running around. Also true to form the chicks do not remain together. As soon as an intruder arrives they retreat in different directions

Mother is warning me off . Come any closer she says and I will attack. They are very protective of their young.

Spam, spam, spam

Do you respond to spam comments?

I certainly don't. I did not start blogging to provide a free advertising platform for various corporations, traders or sleeze merchants.

I have been getting a fair number of spammers leaving comments lately and have made a point of deleting them. Their pitch makes usually it sound like you visited their site and that they are really enjoying yours - come on Nike Air Jordan shoes what do you take me for. I certainly will not be buying your shoes.

Then today I received 57 comments from what I can only assume to be a sleeze merchant, that glories in the name of Sex. What they are saying I have no idea, as the writing appears to be Chinese. I have no intention of visiting that site either and will base my assessment of it on its name. I do not want these comments on my site so ove the next few days will be pressing the delete button.

For self protection against spam, I will resort to comment moderation for a while, so please bear with me..

04 January 2009

Red-necked Spurfowl

A rare event - this red-necked spurfowl stood around long enough for me to get a few pictures. It was also part of my re-education on bird names, as it was previously classified as a francolin. Up until a few weeks ago I still called them francolin and in fact I posted a picture of a "francolin", not too long ago - that of course was before my re-education started. I suppose I will have go and correct that post one day.

Hard sell

What really gets under my nose these days is the new form of tele-selling the banks and other businesses feel inclined to inflict on us. These calls usually come at an inconvenient time and quite frankly, anyone who tries to sell me something I don’t want or need is wasting my time and theirs.

The first clue when my cell phone rings is that it lists a “Private number”. “Ok I think, it is one of those.” Very often I do not bother to answer the call, because I know that if it is someone who genuinely wants to speak to me, they will leave a message on my voice mail and I will phone them back.

Usually the call starts with, “Good day Mr H how are you?” As if they care, because as soon as you say you are fine, they go into their long and scripted sales pitch, without pausing for breath. You are then bombarded with a barrage of hard sell and if you try to be polite, you are sunk, because they will push it to the bitter end.

That is what they rely on. Most people are too polite to say no. I was like that – not wanting to cause offence has resulted in many hours being wasted listening to a sales pitch.

My approach these days is very simple. As soon as I am hit with the “Good day Mr H how are you?” my immediate response is, “So what are you trying to sell me today?”

This totally floors them, because to does not follow the script, there is no short answer so the next best option is to launch into the sales pitch. This response usually causes them to lose their composure for a few seconds and I quickly add, “Because I do not want to buy anything today.”

That is normally enough to kill the call. If that does not do the trick, I press the red button and kill the call.

If you want a bit of fun try this one:

“It is not convenient to talk now, but if you leave me your number I will get back to you.”

Of course you know that that is never going to happen.

“No problem,” you can say, “just give me your cell number and I’ll phone you when I get off work.”

The next time I am inflicted with a “Good day Mr H how are you?” I think I will try something different. Maybe they will leave me alone if I respond something like this, “I am so glad someone is prepared to listen. I am having a really bad day - a bad week in fact. I have the most terrible headache at the moment and I have a terrible stomach ache. I do not think it is my appendix……..”

Knowing my luck it will be someone selling herbal remedies and they will have just the thing for me.

03 January 2009

It was a wet and misty morning

Our neighbourhood watch patrol was from 02h00 to 05h00 this morning. Generally the only people out at that time of the morning are the pimps, protitutes and pushers and party goers.

We were surprised at how quite the streets have become, at that time of the morning, remembering back to when the patrols started.

The occassional car prowling the neighbourhood, beats a hasty retreat as soon as it sees the patrol vehicle. By 04h00 the young women are returning up the hill, after a night of walking the pavements of Govan Mbeki avenue. We do record the registration numbers of their clientele, when we see them making a pickup.

Our job is to observe and record, which we do.

The flats where the human traffickers were arrested a few weeks ago are quiet. The regular drug runners are nowhere to be seen that could be because one on the kingpins had been arrested the day before. We suspect we have identified a few new ones tonight - maybe they have just changed their cars.

At about 04h30 the rain starts coming down and all movement stops. The revellers in Parliament Street and Rink street across the road in Centralcleave - they also leave the streets littered with empty beer bottles and other debris.

When our shift ends we decide to cross over into Central, to hopefully see the sunrise at the Donkin, but it is too misty. The view is not too bad though, looking out over the harbour from Belmont Terrace.

Signs and jargon

You have to be so careful how you word signage. Heck, the salesman just needs to tell me that the car is used. I don't need the guarantee.

At least they did not use that ridiculous term, "pre-owned cars," which always makes me wonder who owned the cars before they were sold, the first time round?

This reminded me of a resume I once received, where the guy listed his marital status as "post married." I wonder what happened to old fashoned divorce? Fortunately that one has not caught on.

01 January 2009

Sky Watch Friday - Marlin

This metal sculpture of a marlin that now graces the fountain at Port St Francis, struck me as being a good subject for this week's Sky Watch. Yesterday was a beautiful day at the Port. No clouds and very little wind, made it a pleasant day to be out and about. My commiserations to those of you who are enduring snow and ice at the moment - I love Africa.
For more great pictures from around the world visit the Sky Watch site.