31 May 2010

Tuesdays Trees #19 - Spiny partners

Todays trees are the Aloe Ferox and the Acacia Karoo taken near Craddock.

30 May 2010

Crooners and Cocktails

Crooners and Cocktails, put on by Two Tone, has become a popular gig on the Port Elizabeth circuit. Suzi-k and I went to the first one just over a year ago. On Friday night we spent another enjoyable evening, at the Barn, chilling out and listening to many of the old great crooners' numbers and some of Ulagh Williams own compositions.

29 May 2010

Karoo Kameos #5 - Locust

This rather striking locust appears to be wearing red stockings. It was photographed in the Karoo near Kleinpoort.

27 May 2010

Skywatch Friday - Turkish sunset

Sometimes I do leave the Eastern Cape. Suzi-k and I were enjoying dinner on the roof of the Aria Kebap House, in Sultanahmet, Instanbul on a trip to Turkey last year. From our table, we were able to enjoy a 360 degree view that included the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and parts Sultanahmet (mostly roofs) and watch the the sun go down behind the Blue Mosque.

Skywatch is the place to go, if you want to enjoy many great photos and meet bloggers from all over the world

26 May 2010

Golden Dawn

The early bird catches the worm, or in this case maybe the fish. Fishermen about to launch from Hobie Beach.

25 May 2010

Flowers of the Eastern Cape #3 Proteas

This week's selection is quite magnificent - a protea bonanza.

These flowers are endemic to the area and are still putting on a great show.

Reminds me of an incident Sue told me about many, many years ago. A new stamp cover with proteas had just been released. She happened to go to the post office to buy stamps at the time and when she received them, started raving very enthusiastically about their beauty, as only she can do. The surly guy who was serving her muttered, "They're just rubbish flowers." What a sad fellow he must have been.

King Protea opening up.

Protea Eximia                                                 

Protea Repens

Getting close up and personal with a Protea Eximia.

Tuesdays Teees #18 - End of an era

The Baakens River Valley is a nature reserve that bisects a large part of the city and is home to a variety of wildlife and indigenous vegetation. Over the years alien invaders have also made the valley their home threatening the local fauna and flora. Though many of these are impressive trees, they suck up a lot of water and destroy the indigenous vegetation in their immediate vicinity.  

The blue gum invaders have been systematically ring-barked and most have now died off and will soon be replaced by the local vegetation.

These blue gum branches look like gnarled fingers reaching for the sky in a last desperate attempt at survival.

23 May 2010

Cape Sugarbird

Not the best photo, but I was delighted to capture this little guy at the van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve.

These birds are endemic to the Fynbos biome of the Western and Eastern Cape.

21 May 2010

Karoo Kameos #3 - an old "Pony"

This old lady, a Massey Harris Pony, was cutting lucerne on a Karoo farm, until a few years ago. Did I say a few years? Judging from the amount of dirt she is standing in, it may have been more than a few years. She has been pesnsioned off in a shed, alongside the now fallow fields, but her owner is convinced that if she is given a new battery, she will start without any trouble.

Spare  a thought for the poor driver who had to spend his day in that seat. Having ploughed many a furrow sitting in a similar seat, I can assure you that they get very uncomfortable after a while. At least the instrumentation was simple.

These tractors were produced between 1947 and 1957 and I believe that they have become collectors items. She just looks like a project waiting to be lovingly restored.

20 May 2010

Skywatch Friday - Flight of the bustard

This was one of those rare moments when we came across a pair of Kori Bustards while driving through the Karoo near Kleinpoort. After a while they became uneasy and decided to leave. This one very obligingly decided to become a Skywatch subject.

For those who would like to know more about the bird..................

The male Kori Bustard averages about 110 cm (3.6 ft) in length. It stands up to 90 cm (3.0 ft) tall and has a wingspan of up to 2.75 metres (9 foot). An average male bird weighs about 12.4 kg (27 lb), though they do get larger. It is also claimed to be one of the largest birds capable of flight.

For more great photos visit Skywatch

19 May 2010

A quiz or is that a curiosity - answer

Firefly, I could possibly award you for your answer, because some of these items may be found among the Motherwell daisies, but it is not the answer.

If you said containers, you would have been right, up to a point, but since when was an umbrella a container, especially one that is longer than 40cm.

Believe it or not they are all classified as dangerous objects, along with some really dangerous objects, under the “2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Special Measures Safety and Security Regulations, 2009”. Pant, pant, pant - that was quite a mouthful.

So, the way I see it, if you thought that you could take your bottle of sparkling water or carton of liquid fruit into a soccer stadium forget it. It has been decreed that they are “dangerous objects”.

I can just see the headline, "SOCCER FAN BLUDGEONED TO DEATH WITH MILK CARTON"................

It seems to me that the only danger these types of containers will pose is to a few lost sales, for those who will be pedalling their wares at extortionate prices at the games. Or are soccer fans really that bad? I think not.

And don't forget, if you take an umbrella to a soccer match, make sure that it is not longer than 40cm.

If anything shoud have been declared a "dangerous object" it is the dreaded vuvuzela (a horrible rowdy plastic horn, for the uninformed). Or maybe they could limit the length of the vuvuzela to 5cm.

A quiz or is that a curiosity?

Do you have any idea what the following objects have in common?
Bottles, cans, cups, thermoses and other beverage containers, objects made from PET, glass or any other fragile, non-shatterproof or especially tough material or Tetrapak packaging and umbrellas, but only if they are longer than 40 cm.
I didn’t know the answer to this question until today and quite honestly have never given it a thought.

Watch this space for the answer tomorrow.

18 May 2010

Flowers of the Eastern Cape #2 - Shades of Autumn

I had no problem in finding flowers for this weeks post, the problem was what to choose.

The choice in the end was simple. It is now late Autumn and it is that time of the year we associate with yellows and oranges. The Eastern Cape is no exception, so enjoy what I captured this weekend.

Bauhenia galpinii, looking stunning against a blue sky. It is not strictly an Eastern Cape plant, but who could resist its beauty.

Strelitzia regina, also known as the crane flower or bird of paradise.

Strelitzia juncea. It had its debut in #1 of this series.

Metalasia auria, a plant that is very common in this area. 

A very tied looking Berkheya decurrens.

This could be a young Aloe arborescens. The Eastern Cape will soon be glowing as the aloes start to flower.

And that is a sample of Autumn in the Eastern Cape.

How do I get "legal"

Is it just me or are there others who use Blogger who are unable to schedule posts?

Whenever I set the time the system tells me, "Illegal post time (format is: hh:mm AM/PM)". This is all  frighfully formal and bureaucratic and of absolutely no use to man or beast. That was what I did in the first place and then when I try to be "legal" as instructed, I and still informed that my format it is illegal.

Can anyone tell me how to "legally" format the dates? I have even trie channg the date format.

In the meantime I will continue to use the automatic version.

For those of you who followed a broken link to my site I apologise as those posts were not yet ready to be published

17 May 2010

Tuesday's Trees #17 - Strelitzia alba and nicolai

Way back in 2008 I started a series I called Tuesday's Trees and stopped after 16 posts.  I have decided to reinstate this series, because I have collected many more tree pictures since then.

I thought the tree Strelitzias would be a good starting point.

The Strelitzia alba grows in the forests of the Southern Cape and this grove can be seen along the road  as you travel up the Grootrivier Pass from nature's Valley.

The Strelizia alba grows to a height of about 10 metres (33 feet). We had some of these in the garden of our previous home. They are nice, but very messy.

This flower is from the Strelitzia nocolai, which grows naturally further north along the coast Eastern Cape and Kwazulu Natal Coast into Mocambique. It also occurs in Zimbabwe. I chose this flower, because I do not have one from the Strelizia alba. The difference between the two is that the flowers from the Strelitzia alba are completely white and lack the blue that is present in its cousins.

I have heard that the Strelitzia regina has become quite prolific in California. I would be interested to know if the tree Strelitzias have been introduced there as well?

15 May 2010

Aliens in the garden?

A common site in sandy soil throughout South Africa and I believe the rest of the world, is the sand pit trap of the antlion. Any ant that slips into one of these traps stands a good chance of being eaten - why I say stands a good chance is because I have seen ants flung out of the trap, as an over zealous antlion tries to capture them.

The antlion itself, looks very much like an alien monster to me. Who would imagine that these will eventually transform into a damsel fly-like creature.

Post script - Sunday, 16 May 2010:

 To catch an antlion take a thin stem of grass and gently run it around the edge of the sand trap to mimic an ant trying to escape. If the antlion is at home and hungry, you will soon know it is there as it shoots sand in the direction of the movement.
At this point deftly scoop up a handful of sand from beneath the trap – the soil will be quite sandy, so it is relatively easy to do so.

The next step is to cup your hand and wait. The inclination of the antlion will be to burrow and escape. When you feel a tickling in the palm of your hand you know you have it. That is unless you get a fright and drop the sand.
Slowly get rid of the sand until the antlion is left in your palm. Don’t worry about its pincers, they do not bite – at least I have never been bitten.

Size wise they get up to about 1 cm (2/5th inch) in length, before spinning a cocoon.

13 May 2010

Flowers of the Eastern Cape #1 - Strelitzia Juncea

I have often said that there is always some plant that is flowering in the Eastern Cape, no matter what time of the yearit is. I have decided to put my theory to the test and will publish a photo a week, at least until spring.
My first flower this series is the Strelitzia juncea, which grows naturally in the Uitenhage and Patensie areas, just to the North of Port Elizabeth. 

This photo is not the best quality, as it was shot from my car window at a traffic light in Uitenhage yesterday evening, in a hurry. And in case you are wondering I was not driving. I had to be very quick as the light was about to change and my camera was still in its bag. Up until that point I did not know where I was going to find my first subject.

These are ideal plants for beautifying the road verges because they are very drought resistent and as we are in the middle of a terrible drought at the moment need no tlc.

Skywatch Friday - Horse Memorial

I have been very slack about travelling with my camera lately, but yesterday morning decided to take it with me. On the way home I decided it might be a good idea to fill up with petrol, because my warning light had come on 40 kilometres earlier.
What a stroke of good fortune that I chose the filling station opposite the Horse Memorial........ the rest is history....................

The inscription on the base of the memorial reads:


I have read that about 300,000 horses died in that war.
For more great pictures from aroound the world visit the Sky Watch site

09 May 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Wishing all you mothers out there a bright and breezy and a happy mother's day.......

I just hope that your day is not like hers...................

06 May 2010

Skywatch Friday - a gnu sunset

These wildebees, or gnu's if you prefer, were photographed at Kleinpoort, which is about 120 kms from Port Elizabeth. I just loved the way light caused the layering effect of the mountains.

For more great pictures from around the world visit the Skywatch Friday site.

03 May 2010

Karoo Kameos #2 - ...things bright and beautiful

I will definitely have to find out more about butterflies - I think this is one of the Monarch species.

It struck me as strange that they are still around with winter just around the corner. But then we have been have lovely warm and sunny days and many flowers are still blooming, as they do all year round in the Eastern cape, so why should the butterflies also not hang around to enjoy them.

The plumbgos an be seen every where as they are now in full bloom and make a beautiful display in many gardens, in the bush and along the roads.

The gazanias are never disappointing. They may be very non-descript until the sun comes out and you are rewarded with a beatiful display of colour.

02 May 2010

Karoo Kameos - Fogs

Any aspirant princesses out there?

Take your pick.................

I never expected to find frogs in the Karoo, in the middle of a draught, but this lot had taken up residence in a spring fed pool at the foot of the Grootwinterhoek Mountains

Nothing like a good dip to cool off on a hot day.