Saturday, 28 January 2012

It's Raining Starlings!

We have a metal roof with a fairly steep pitch, (as the building regulations lay down here in our village,) so when birds land in any number, they tend to make a huge noise as their claws scrabble for a hold on the shiny metal and it often sounds like hail on the roof! At this time of the year we have a multitude of Starlings around, either the European or the pied variety. The European ones were introduced into Cape Town by Cecil John Rhodes in 1899. Interestingly enough, they are limited to the Cape Province and have not spread into Gauteng at all, clever birds! When they are changing into their breeding plumage, the males look as though they are wearing polka dotted waistcoats!

Can you see the polka dotted waistcoat, nearest the camera!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Bats and Wind Turbines.

A few months ago we bought a bat box. We haven't put it up yet though as it is very heavy and must go on top of a 5 metre pole! We have bats in the (no, not the belfry) old farmhouse buildings next to us, and we watch them in the evenings fall out from under the roof and fly off to consume as many mosquitoes and crop eating insects as they can! Apparently they can consume their body weight in insects! (I can do that with chocolate cake, but I'd never fly afterwards!) Bats are also responsible for the pollination of an amazing list of nut and fruit trees, as well as helping to promote the spread of new trees by pooing while they fly and letting the poo drop onto open ground! Unlike birds that poo in trees! I wanted to find a picture of bats to insert in my blog, so I happily Googled 'bat pictures'. Well, I realised that I should have been more specific as I ended up with a screen full of Batman and Robin in various poses (hmmmm!), old pictures of a pop group called 'The Bats', cricket bats, cricketers holding bats, cricketers running with bats, and a few real bats thrown in for good measure. See below!!

Real bats..thanks to 'africam'

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Friends and Neighbours!

I was listening to the radio the other morning and the presenter was saying that he had just moved into a 'leafy suburb' in Cape Town, and therefore would probably never meet his neighbours! I thought about what he had said and realised that neighbours differ from city to town to village! When we lived in 'The Big Smoke' aka Johannesburg, we lived in a high-walled-several-unit complex, where we did know our neighbours to a certain extent, especially if the power went off or the water supply suddenly dribbled to a halt, then people would meet in the road to make sure that it wasn't just them! The talk then turned to the weather before everybody returned to close their doors against getting too personal! Many of the larger complexes have more units than we have houses in our entire village! Then you 'recognise' your neighbours by sound, i.e. they play Barry Manilow while you are trying to watch rugby on Saturday afternoons! People back in 'The Big Smoke' who live in streets with seperate houses demarcated by electric fences and gates and 6 ft high walls sometimes never see their neighbours, robbers could arrive and empty the house and nobody would give it a thought beyond, 'Oh, I didn't know that they were moving!' Once, long ago when I was teaching, my whole class and I sat and watched a car being ramped up into a large truck that we presumed was taking it to a nearby garage to be fixed. Except that it wasn't broken, because soon a parent returned to find that her car had been stolen!And we watched it happen! Probably waved to the driver!

Then, there are Weskus neighbours!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Die Kaapse Klopse!

Talking of Public Holidays (well I was a while ago!), remember I mentioned 'Tweede Nuwejaar' or second New Year on January 2? That is the day that hosts one of the most unique and colourful events in Cape Town's year. The 'Kaapse Klopse' or 'Cape Minstrel Carnival' is rooted deep in Cape Town's history and is traditionally the day when brightly costumed troupes take to the streets to entertain the crowds and to compete against each other. The specially designed costumes are hand made from satin and silk and can cost up to R350 each! The brighter the better though, and prizes are awarded for costumes, choirs and bands. The member’s ages range from 5 years to 80 years, and while the older members usually make the music, the younger ones dance and sing. The leader of the troupe must be agile enough to walk and dance in front and keep the pace going for hours!

Thanks to Ricardo Kleine News 24

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Snakes Alive!

Yes, it's the 's' word! And yes, dear readers, we have a very long, yellow-gold Cape Cobra in residence. In the front garden, that just the other day I was digging and poking around and moving rocks and weeding. And poking a stick down a mole hole wondering quietly to myself if there was a mole down there. The short answer is No. There is no mole down there for the simple reason that the cobra is down there! We saw one last year in the garden but we thought that it had moved on, hopefully far away! Well, a few days ago Rob saw it slide its way behind Mandela Bay, across the stones and pouf, disappear! I know that they are timid and that they are more scared of me (ja, right!) etc etc, but I don't want the cats to play with it, and Dopey was showing signs of doing exactly that! Last year a cobra killed a neighbour's little black Scotty, but the dog managed to fatally wound the snake too and they were both found dead the next morning. So, we have been watching the hole very carefully, (from a safe distance, inside the house actually, through the window,) stamping on the ground as we walk past, and this morning we watched it ooze out of the hole and slide across the garden, up some rocks and over a 90 cm high wall as though the wall wasn't there at all! That bothered me as we have low veranda walls too and I thought that they would be high enough. We even bought a bottle of Snake Repellent and have sprayed it around liberally. Now to find out if it works!

The head appears!
Up and over and away (hopefully!)

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Yes, well it won't be such a happy one for the elephants, as I heard on the news that over 3,000 were killed in 2011 for their ivory. (23 tons to be more or less precise, the most since 1989 when ivory trading was banned.) My heart sinks again, if it's not rhinos that are slaughtered needlessly, it's elephants. And when they are extinct, along with the rhinos? What then? Well I suppose the poachers will move on to their next victim, for horn, tusk, hoof, hair, whatever, until another species bites the dust. Literally. And all for nothing.

Rob and I sat up last night to see the new year in, hoping that there would be no fireworks, but although there were a few and Alfie went in to panting- shivery-heap mode, I guess it could have been worse. He refused to go and have his last minute ‘emptying’ before bed and slept quite happily for the remainder of the night. He must have a bladder the size of a camel’s as he wasn’t too desperate to go out this morning either!
So, what will 2012 bring? Hopefully some good news for us all, visits to and from my family, the usual wish to lose weight, (oh for some willpower, why am I not addicted to carrots?) I also wish that the aches and pains that are so noticeable in the morning fade away to nothing and stay away! For Rob and Alfie and me, caravan adventures, enough money to live comfortably and that the laughs and fun we have here in our village continue.

On the road again!!

And what more, really, could a person want?

Happy 2012 from us all!! Thanks to John Hilton for the photo.

Happy New Year to you all!