creatures creeping thru the bush…

28 01 2013

Oops. I promised in the last post that I would post more often, and already I have failed to do that. Humblest apologies!

The last week or more has been taken up with recovering energies after all the mucotic forces in the world combined to attack my throat. Well, it felt that way. Energy levels are still low after a really nasty flu bug struck, so after an emergency trip to Dar es Salaam to seek good medical attention I am on the mend.  (I realised that you do NOT want to get sick in Mwanza! Especially not when my doctor friend is out of the country!)

Here are a few catch up pictures, from our last farm visit.

We tend to focus on the small creatures, as they often get overlooked but are really impressive in what they offer.

December is summer time in the bushveld of SA, and reptiles creep out of the hiding spaces they find for the winter. Our farm is full of lovely lizards, and David Attenburgh has (say in a whispered voice…) “visited the farm to observe these reptiles of delight…” Ok, go back to normal voice. But it seems our lizards are rock stars. They rocked our rocks for sure! (the colour-candy lizard above has not yet been fully studied and named)

We have several Giant plated lizards around: an adult is around 45cm in length. These guys look fierce but are rather friendly and came visiting every day.

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While considering the slimy creatures, I have to mention a favourite of ours.

Every December one can see these masses around little ponds, big dams, or any reasonably sized body of water.  Sometimes they are more than ten meters up, clinging to branches. More often they hover about a meter or two in a tree hanging over the water. This mass of foam is about 10 to 15 cm in diameter.

Look closely at the bottom of that mass and you will see it is not a case of washerwomen-gone-wild, but an amazing creation’s work. The foam-nest frog creates the mass of foam by kicking the back legs, and the texture becomes rather solid. This provides a nutritious and protected zone for the eggs to mature and then the little tadpoles do a cordless bungee jump to the water below when they are ready to start swimming.

Such amazing workmanship, and so many strange ways to keep us fascinated for ages.

This nest was near the communal swimming pool on the farm, and we heard a loud singing from the trees nearby one day while cooling off. It took a while to find this handsome creation, and if he had not been croaking (with his throat billowing like a sail fully spanned) I would never have found him. The mate was high in another tree, and that took some effort locating too.

It is a joy to find these things in the summer time which we just do not see in our winters. Many of the larger mammals hide away in the summer, seeking as much shade as they can, so finding these gems makes a few days in the hot bush worthwhile.

 

Another summer blessing is the red-headed weaver.

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These aeronautical gymnasts gain their red colour only for the summer; they are usually far more yellow. There are several nests where anxious renovation is done each summer: we were amazed at how the males strip the leaves off all the branches of the trees to get to the stalks below. This is what is used for the building schemes and to try to impress the females. We saw a few males and each was trying his spec-building plans with several nests at a time.  Is it any wonder that they look for the juiciest, grubbiest grubs to fill their bellies, as the dude above is doing?

Their nests dot the office and clubhouse compound on the farm, keeping all walkers aware of any falling parcels and of walking straight into the nests. This leads to much unhappiness for both the birds and the pedestrians!

 

Another lovely bird sighting we had was inside the Kruger Park, where we saw this pair of Painted Snipes. They are usually solitary (the few that I have seen, anyway) and to get a pair together was special.

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Some of our other specials were on our camera trap.

From the all-too-common marauders who visit regularly (but do not always stop to skinny dip, as the littlie on the left is doing… aaaaah, cuuuuuute!)

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To the gorgeous buck who sometimes give is the pleasure of a visit. We love it when the nyalas drop by – and we saw that families are together for Christmas, not split into groups of males and females apart, as they spend a large part of the year.

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We have yet to see a bushbuck on the farm: they are elusive creatures normally. But we know they exist because we have photos of the visitors! Yay.

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Our special Christmas visitor was a honey badger, who only came by to see if there were Christmas scraps. They are far more visible in winter when they actively terrorize the food off braai fires, so it was a treat to catch this visitor on our camera.  (sorry, he only gave us this shot. No smiles for the camera)

 

 

Sometimes we need to look rather carefully to figure out what is on the trap, and we can get scary night eyes.

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and then we see the image if they favour us with a day time visit and are truly glad to have waterbuck, right close by to our house! These are wonderful buck. Really pretty.

And on our last night before we left, there was a special visitor:

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Porcupine visited again! Great!

And then, every once in a while, we get something on the camera that simply cannot be explained:

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Moving away from creatures to people.  This last week has been very difficult for some people in our family as we had the dreadful news of the unexpected death of my cousin.  67610_532131536820739_1326988890_n

I have pondered the value of each life, purpose, wasteful activities, how precious each soul is.  I value afresh my siblings and the smart choices we have made, and pray grace for the stupid substances that consume our thoughts at times.

May Donald’s mom and sister find real comfort, may we each realise how we are valued by our families and may we live so that we change the world in a positive manner by our being here.

 

 

And a final image of beauty and grace. Down to the smallest creature is noticed by some person at some time.  You count, you have value and you make the world more interesting and special for others just by being here.

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One response

29 01 2013
Allan Sutherland

Thanks Karen for the stunning blog.

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