Tag Archives: nature

Tuesday Spring Fever

Daisies

Daisies

I love the humble Daisy.

It is Spring here in Cape Town, South Africa. I took my camera with me on my walk with my dogs round the block the other day. My neighbours have lots of flowers suddenly blooming on their verges and I thought I would share their exuberant beauty with you this week: one a day. Yesterday was my garden.

I liked in this first photo how the bright sunlight turned the daisies into an abstract art painting. The full photo follows:

Daisies and LM

Daisies and LM

You can just see Little Monkey’s back as she walks by, giving you perspective.

 

Pass By

Cape Weaver 1

Cape Weaver 1

I think this is a female Cape Weaver, but I’m prepared to be informed otherwise!

It was pretty hard to see clearly (even after having washed the windows!) as I was sitting way back in my lounge. This is the original shot –

Cape Weaver 2

Cape Weaver 2

There is a saying that goes something like this: “If you stay in one place long enough, eventually the whole world will pass by.”

I can’t find it on google. (I know!) It could be a Chinese proverb quoted by Sun Tzu, an interpretation of Confucius, or an old Japanese saying: “If you sit by the river long enough you will see the body of your enemy float by”.

All I know is this: as I sit on my chair in the lounge, one bird after another alights on my fence. I have seen Cape White Eyes, Mossies, Cape Robins, Bulbuls, Pigeons, Olive Thrushes and Fiscal Shrikes; even squirrels from time to time. And now this Cape Weaver.

So I do begin to feel that all I have to do is sit here and wait for the world to come to me. Or at least all the little animals.

 

Etiquette at the Water Hole

Waterhole 1

Waterhole 1

The lion calls a truce with the springbok when quenching his thirst at the water hole. Peace reigns.

The same is true at the bird bath; my own little watering hole in the garden.

Waterhole 2

Waterhole 2

White Eyes lined up patiently to take their turn in the bird bath in the early evening. They waited on the branches above until the bath was free.

Waterhole 3

Waterhole 3

A much larger Cape Bulbul joined in the fun. But instead of chasing off the tiny White Eyes, he waited his turn patiently.

Waterhole 4

Waterhole 4

There was lots of splashing going on.

Waterhole 5

Waterhole 5

And sometimes there seemed to be more eyes than birds!

Waterhole 6

Waterhole 6

At the very end of all the flurry, one little chick took his first dip while Mum watched protectively from above.

All done, the flock twittered off into the trees to preen themselves and prepare for bedtime.

Just another night in the bush in the wilds of Africa!

 

Ducklings

Ducklings 1

Ducklings 1

Ducklings having fun on the weir.

Ducklings 2

Ducklings 2

You’d think these little things would be washed away by the fast flowing water in this weir. But no, they were very sure footed.

In fact, the last time I saw ducklings here at Newmillerdam Yorkshire, a hand-written sign had been put up informing the public that the ducklings were not stuck down in the weir and were quite capable of climbing out when they wished. The locals obviously got tired of ‘helpful’ citizens calling up for assistance for the ducklings.

 

Down on the Farm

Cows 1

Cows 1

Milking Time

A description of Modern Day Farming Methods

When my sister and I went for lunch at a restaurant on a working farm in Yorkshire last June, we were lucky enough to be there at milking time: which was, surprisingly, 2 pm.

We had already visited the calves; see Baby Face, when heading back to the car we noticed all these cows sort of congregating in the field.

Cows 2

Cows 2

They seemed to be lining up in a particular order, as some who were already up on the path were waiting for others to go in front of them. To the right of the muddy part on the photo was a large green field. It was only churned up here where they all gathered for milking.

Cows 3

Cows 3

My sister knew this place, so led me off into a back area and up some steps to a public gallery, where we had a clear view of the whole milking process.

There were two doorways through which the cows could enter. For some reason some were still trying to get in through the middle door that did not open. The side doors opened automatically to let only one cow through at a time, when a milking ‘station’ (for want of a better word) became available.

Cows 4

Cows 4

The cow then walked along till it reached the open gate, and entered the stall. The gate automatically closed behind the cow, shoving its bum in as it did so. It was a very snug fit, as you can see from the photo.

Cows 5

Cows 5

Once inside, an automatic feed dispenser (the large red box thing in the roof area) dropped down a portion of cattle food and the cow contentedly munched away while waiting its turn to be milked.

Cows 6

Cows 6

There were two guys on the floor level between the two rows of cows. They went to each cow in turn and cleaned the udder, before attaching the milking machine.

Cows 7

Cows 7

When a cow had finished being milked the machine partly fell off, so the guys knew then to let them out of the stall. The automatic gate opened on one side when it let the cow in to the stall and opened on the other side to let them out, so the cow just walked into and out of the stall.

Cows 8

Cows 8

Some cows that entered the shed were not allowed into the stall to be milked. I assume they were either too young, or pregnant. The automatic gate closed as they approached and did not open again until they had passed by. The way the gate opened and closed gave them no opportunity to back track into the stall.

Some were quite persistent in waiting there. They wanted the cattle feed in the trough!

You will realise just how automated the whole procedure was by the number of times I’ve written the word automatic. The cows must have been wearing a computerised disc (the orange tag in the first photo) that was scanned as they approached the stall, to decide whether or not this animal would be let in to the stall.

All this is a far cry from the farm I knew as a kid. We’d visit my uncle’s farm and watch the cows milked. They all had names and walked into the same stall each time. We drank fresh, warm milk straight from milking and ate home made butter. All the farmer’s children had chores to do on the farm and had those ruddy cheeks associated with a life lived mostly outdoors. And though I wasn’t exactly a city-slicker, they put me and my siblings to shame. We never did a day’s hard labour.

Fun Cow Facts

  1. Cows are extremely curious and inquisitive animals which will investigate everything.
  2. Cows form close friendships and choose to spend much of their time with a few friends.
  3. Cows have almost full panoramic vision, helping them see predators.
  4. Cows can hold a grudge for years.
  5. Cows become excited when they solve problems (some even jump in the air); for example finding out how to open a door to get food.
  6. Cows spend 10 to 12 hours a day lying down.
  7. Cows have an excellent sense of smell and can detect odours up to 5 miles away.
  8. Cows can hear both low and high frequency sounds beyond human capability.
  9. Cows tend to face either magnetic north or south when grazing or resting, regardless of the sun’s position or the wind’s direction.
  10. Cows share 80% of our genes.

post script: For more info, see Amazing Facts About Cows and 20 Things you didn’t know about Cows.

 

Like Father; Like Son

Baby Mossie 1

Baby Mossie 1

This little chap flew into my daughter’s bedroom via a small open window last week. It must have taken some manoeuvering through the burglar bars! (Pictured here by a large window, not the small one it flew through.)

Baby Mossie 2

Baby Mossie 2

I didn’t want to stress the little guy any more than I had to, so took just a few quick shots, as I slowly approached the window where he was trapped.

Baby Mossie 3

Baby Mossie 3

As you can see from these photos, he was very scared and bashing his wings and tail and everything against the window and bars.

I finally got the window open enough for him to fly out. I hope he was only a bit bruised and not damaged.

You might remember my post last week, Ruffled Feathers, about an adult male Mossie (Cape Sparrow) who flew splat into my lounge window from outside in the garden. I can only think this little chick is his son, as he seems to have inherited the genes for flying into windows!

Like father; like son!

 

Wake

Newmillerdam 1

Newmillerdam 1

Birds appeared out of nowhere, when my sister and I walked round Newmillerdam in Yorkshire, on my recent visit to the UK.

They were so keen to reach us they each left a wake.

Newmillerdam 2

Newmillerdam 2

The duck in the foreground here is not actually walking on water! There is a weir, as you will see in the next photo.

Newmillerdam 3

Newmillerdam 3

We didn’t have any bread, which is perhaps just as well, as it is bad for them.

But I used to come here often and feed all the water birds, when I was a kid, and beyond.
If possible, I always like to make this nostalgic trip, when I visit my home town.

 

Spangles

Dew 1

Dew 1

If it ever got below freezing in Cape Town, this early morning dew would be frost. However, it rarely gets below even 10C in the middle of winter, so all we get is heavy dew.

Dew 2

Dew 2

I tried to capture the colours of early morning sunlight reflected in the dew drops, but failed.
Afterwards I wondered if the blues and yellows I was seeing so clearly were maybe due to the refraction of light in my thick glasses!

But perhaps if you squint a little, you can see some colour in these spangles?

 

post script: Many places in SA do get well below freezing in winter, and get snow too. When I lived in Johannesburg, it was minus 8C one night, and the fountains froze in town! 

post post script:  A spangle is a small sparkling object, drop or spot.