Arid Areas Birding – Part 5, Kgalagadi National Park


We entered the park through the Twee Rivieren Gate and proceeded to our first stop at Nossob Camp where we had a river front chalet for three nights.  There were the usual stops along the way to look at sleeping lions, a leopard half hidden under a bush and a stretching cheetah.  It was very hot and the few birds that we saw were gasping for air!

Mornings were spent at the waterholes around the Nossob area and the large flocks of Cape Turtle Doves and their pursuing Lanner Falcons were a sight to behold.  There were, of course, other smaller birds present, such at Yellow Canaries, Shaft-tailed Wydahs, Red-headed Weavers and the ubiquitous Lark-like Buntings, as well as the odd raptor.  Swallow-tailed Bee-Eaters provided bright flashes of colour, and various antelope wandered by.

From Nossob, we moved on to the wonderful Grootkolk bush camp, a place where one can…

View original post 333 more words

Arid Areas Birding – Part 3, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay


It was a pleasure arriving in Swakopmund and being able to enjoy some cooler weather after the inland heat.  Swakopmund is a sophisticated destination where one can stay in first class accommodation and enjoy very good food.  Added to that, the area, especially around Walvis Bay, is a birder’s paradise.

We had our first taste of what was to come with a visit to the salt pans north of the town, but the real bonanza was the area south of Walvis Bay!  This must rank as one of the birding wonders of the world, with thousands of waders wherever one looks!  Of course, we were not only interested in waders as we wanted to see the rare Dune Lark, but we were once again, not successful.  Sure, we could have hired a professional for around R3000 for the two of us, but we wanted to do it alone.  We did…

View original post 135 more words

Arid Areas Birding – Part 1, Hermanus to Aus


Nam Kgal 2 Our proposed route in blue.  The red route was in November.

Having completed an extensive trip around eastern and northern SA in November, we decided to try our luck in the arid western portion of the area, including southern and central Namibia.  Our first leg was to drive to Springbok, a long, hot drive with little opportunity to see new species.  We did have a serious attempt at finding a Cinnamon-breasted Warbler or two in the granite koppies around the town, but to no avail.

Next day saw us heading down to Port Nolloth and on to Alexander Bay, where our target was the Barlow’s Lark.  Once again we were disappointed not to find this elusive little bird, but we were astounded by the beautiful day in Port Nolloth.  The sea was like a lake and it was warm and sunny – a perfect beach day with no wind at…

View original post 192 more words

Birthday Reunion at Breede River House


This weekend the twins celebrated their 48th birthday and we were fortunate to be able to all get away to the Breede River to help them enjoy their special day.  Breede River House was a large and comfortable place to stay and it accommodated all 15 of us (Gill came too) with ease.  Admittedly the drive down to the house was pretty steep, but we negotiated it okay and the only downside to the weekend was the weather.  After a sweltering week, the rain came in on the back of a stiff south-easter, so we were limited in our outdoor activities.

Fortunately the property is equipped with all the toys, so Michael was able to take all the kids and his brothers out on the river skiing or tubing. They had a ball, but found it warmer in the water than out!  We even managed to see a few birds…

View original post 30 more words

Beach walk at Sandown Bay


Our walk this morning along the beach from Kleinmond, east towards the mouth of the Bot River Lagoon was attended by 9 Hurriers.  We had perfect walking weather with overcast cool conditions and no wind at all.  Of great interest was the proliferation of small jellyfish that have washed up on the beach.  There were literally millions of them and at times walking became quite difficult.  I have managed to identify them as predominantly Cape compass jelly (Chrysaora agulhensis).  They are brought ashore by strong winds and tides.  Although small they can give a sting that is apparently equal to a bee sting, so we were wise not to attempt swimming.

We walked exactly 13 kms in exactly 3 hours!

View original post

Wisteria Bonsai

Valavanis Bonsai Blog


Last week I participated in GardenScape 2020, Rochester’s premier garden show. We forced many Azaleas, Pears, Cherries and two Wisteria to blossom in March, rather than in May.


The two Wisteria bonsai woke up and the flower buds began to open. One of the bonsai was delayed, exactly one week behind the other. When the flowers racemes began to open they looked quite different. A couple of days later I realized one of the Wisterias was Chinese, and the other Japanese, Wisteria floribunda ‘Macrobotrys.’

The Japanese wisteria I forced suddenly became beautiful with the long, elegant hanging racemes which are also fragrant. This bonsai began as a two year old graft which I sold to a student in 2001 for only $8.00. Each year he brought the Japanese wisteria to my classes for advice and training. Since he is moving out of state I was able to purchase the bonsai…

View original post 431 more words

The Art of Japanese Bonsai

Adela Teban

The Art of Japanese Bonsai is well known, they are very popular all over the world these days, but I feel like there history and symbolism is kind of left behind. Many people have in their home a bonsai tree as a decorative plant, but very few of them know exactly what is the meaning of it and what spiritual benefits brings to their home. The bonsai is one of the most authentic connection between the nature, art and spirituality in Japanese culture. bonsai-3125722_640Bonsai utilizes horticultural techniques along with artistic applications to cultivate miniature replicas of trees as they’re found in nature. The tradition has been refined over the last millennium to reflect the aesthetic qualities found in nature through balance, simplicity and harmony. The bonsai tree is not just a decorative plant, is a true form of art with deep and powerful meaning. In Japanese culture, people use the…

View original post 183 more words