One of my favourite relaxing pastimes is game viewing and birdwatching and since I am blessed to live in Africa I get to visit a Game Reserve at least once or twice a year. Nothing can compare with that quiet anticipation as one waits silently inside one of the many game viewing hides usually positioned on a dam or watering hole. With binoculars in one hand, camera in the other – and possibly a chilled glass of wine too, there is always a sense of excitement that at any moment something will be spotted! Of course there is an art to this kind of viewing from inside a Hide – it’s called scanning. One’s eyes need to constantly flick from left to right and from high to low and then far to near because it is so so easy to miss the magical moment! Here are a few of my fave pics from Mankwe hide in the beautiful Pilansberg Game Reserve:
The wide open spaces as the sun is setting:
The important thing about visiting game reserves is to learn to appreciate ALL creatures and not just the classic BIG 5! Time spent observing habits and antics gives true insights to the character and personality and habits of the wild animals.
Whilst most of the chicks in Mamma Dabchicks little brood were clearly quite independent and ‘cool’ with her going off in search of her own grubs and weeds, this little fella was most unhappy and gave us more than a few giggles as he frantically tried to keep up with her and frequently ducked under water in his efforts to find her!
A cormorant catching some last rays. I love this next pic of a Grey Heron focussed on his fishing:
I have to pinch myself some days – Was I really there sitting on a shore staring out at the endless magnificent deep deep blue ocean off Vilankulous? A few scenes that took my breath away are fortunately captured through the lens of my camera else I would think I had wandered there only in my dreams!
I was dismayed to discover that I had a rogue visitor in my bantam enclosure during the night. The poor beheaded body of my little black hen lay at the gate – the classic trade mark of either the meerkat or the black tipped mongoose who bites birds’ heads off and leaves the rest of the carcass untouched. I wish I could understand why they do this!?
I have had this visitor before too! Some years ago he got into my pigeon loft and beheaded every last bird grrr – NOT like!!! I will have to do some detective work to see where the thief/murderer got in.
This rooster was definitely agitated this morning and strutting up and down on high alert – What a pity his little crow is so small I would never have heard any raucousness from my home!
My poultry family has grown since I was lucky enough to buy in 3 breeding pairs of Golden Sebrights – I am thrilled with them. Apart from the fact they are already settled in and eating out of my hand, I spotted two little eggs in one of the new nests I made for them! Apparently the hens are not enthusiastic brooders so I will give them a chance but may have to resort to using my next door neighbour’s incubator later since there are already a number of folk who have expressed interest in buying chicks from me – maybe my hobby will one day become a business yet!?!
I am also raising two groups of indigenous fowl which we call “bosveld’ and ‘kaalnek’ chickens. They are really not the prettiest of birds but they are known to be excellent scavengers. My plan is to put them in the cattle ‘kraals’ where we have a summer problem with the fly population zooming in to lay their eggs in the enticing wet dung of the cows we keep there from time to time when we bring them in from the distant fields to check them over, pregnancy test them and secure their ear tags. On the whole our animals live out on the grass pastures rather than close to the farm yard.
My pair of Carolinas and the teeny ring necked Teal are very happy with their new pond. They are both still quite young but I hope to see them laying in the near future.
Needless to say I am on high alert for the prowling murderous mongoose and my fences are all being checked and tightened – Unfortunately these scavengers tend to learn bad habits rather too quickly and become unpopular around the farm yard. I am not inclined to shoot at all since I prefer the principle of ‘live and let live’ – but if they keep on killing my innocent pretty hens… they had better watch out for “Annie, get your gun!”
I never imagined how hard this would be – I never imagined this day at all. I am here in your spot doing your work, talking to the customers you have always been here for, writing on the pages that are filled with your handwriting, sitting in your chair behind the desk…but today they find me standing here in your place! As I see the shock and sadness register on the faces of our clients who are hearing the sad news for the first time, I ache all over again, my throat constricts and I fight the tears… it’s so hard!
I was your teacher, I showed you the way, I taught you the ropes, I learned to trust you and you learned to trust me, and I saw a light of deep intelligence burning brightly behind your glittering eyes and in no time at all I could leave you with the big responsibility of looking after our family business and never worrying at all because you were so capable and you loved your work so much – and you were so damn good at it too!
You cut the apron strings so confidently and grew more sure of yourself every day … You told me not to worry and because I had other things to do – you gave me wings to fly. That was exactly four years ago and we have never, even for one second, had to doubt your ability – or your loyalty – and I also know deep in my soul how much you loved me, my friend.
But oh my heart is so heavy since our world changed in that moment last Saturday evening. Stunned, shocked and disbelieving our family was plunged into mourning when that phone rang to tell us the news that you had been in an accident… we were hearing words we didn’t want to hear – No! No! NO! It can’t be true… Make another call please will someone tell us it’s all been a big mistake and you are fine, you are watching a soccer match with your fiancé… but it is true my dear, dear friend, and you are gone forever…
I want to rage at the world for allowing drunk drivers on the roads, I want to rage at the driver for being reckless – and a drunk, but he died too – I even want to rage at you for staying in a taxi when you realised the driver was drinking still – Why? The witnesses say he was speeding, there were beer bottles everywhere, he could not take the bend, lost control and at high speed went somersaulting through the air…they say the passengers never had a chance… When, when, when will there be an end to drunken drivers?
I am older than you – you called me “Ma”; I am your employer – but you never called me “Boss”! I shared your highs and lows, sadnesses and joys even as we so excitedly looked forward to your wedding day – You knew my heart too and would know from just looking into my eyes if it was well with me or not ; Some weeks when I was busy and travelling you would call saying, “ Ma, I just wanted to hear your voice, to know you are well!”
In this wounded country of ours where there is still too much focus on black and white hatred, we need to stop once in a while to simply appreciate the small corners of our homeland where there is love, respect and joy in friendships and partnerships which quietly build bridges across man-made divides… You are black and I am white but together we were forever true to our own motto: “It’s got nothing to do with the colour of your skin, and everything to do with the colour of your heart!”
I will never forget you Sannie Mokwena!
When I first saw the topic for the Weekly Photo Challenge was fleeting moments, I immediately thought of this photo which I took with my cellphone one evening when we were out checking our maize fields in the middle of this summer’s drought – it was really hard to capture the flash of lightening so I was pleased with this – unfortuately it represents an altogether fleeting moment as the stormy weather was mostly a thunder and lightening spectacle and no rain 😦
Another image which is very special to me is a photo taken my Dad in his youth, of the train crossing the bridge as it approached my home town. I recently shared this on a Reunion page on Facebook and have ben amazed and delighted by the many fond memories this fleeting moment captured in time so long ago has evoked for those of us who had a wonderful childhood playing along the river bank and in the shadows of the bridge!
And then I read the instructions properly!!! Share a picture that captures a fleeting moment on the street! Oh dear, I don’t live near a street unless I can call my farm road a street where I was standing when I snapped at the lightening… unless the dusty road on the edge of town where my Dad was clicking his antique camera aimed at the old steam engine on the railway bridge counts as a street Nope? Hmm… thinking again! Whew after a while trawling through my farm and wildlife and cross country pics, I suddenly thought to scan my album from my visit to my children who were teaching near the town of Samut Sakhon in Thailand last year surely I’d find a fleeting moment captured in a street scene 🙂 and I did!
Busy city sidewalks trapped with human beings buzzing past on their overloaded scooters, sometimes entire families off to their corners of their world, a street market for a meal, a temple to pray, a tiny cramped apartment in a never ending flow – an inexorable tide of humanity!