REGAL KUDU

Look at this magnificent kudu bull:

The photograph below is of a female. She had been browsing next to the road and is making her way through the bush. Although her pose looks a little inelegant, she was through it in seconds and started browsing on the other side.

IT HAS RAINED

Yesterday and today have been by far the coldest of the winter so far – uncomfortably cold. The best part about this icy weather is that it has been accompanied by some very light rain: 4mm one evening, 4mm the next, and today we measured a ‘whopping’ 12mm! The garden is rejoicing. Look at this flower on the ginger bush:

Even the dry grass in the background has greened up over the past two damp days! It is wonderful to see damp soil in the patch of garden around the bird feeders instead of dust.

This is not a quality picture at all, but the very sharp-eyed among you might just recognise the shape of a Knysna Turaco in the leafless tree. I counted five of them in the garden yesterday! The strong Berg Wind that brought the cold front in its wake shook the trees and sent leaves cascading all over the garden. Instead of the usual crunch underfoot, I could delight in seeing wet leaves on the path.

Already Cape White-eyes and other birds having been making use of the pools of water that have collected in the aloe leaves.

These are snaps taken with my cell phone – not brilliant, but enough to share with you the joy of hearing the soft pattering of raindrops during the night; of breathing in the delicously damp aromas of wet soil, wet dry grass, and the unparalleled freshness of rain-washed air. They are good enough to convey the feeling that there is hope and that – despite the cold – even that little rain has revived me just as it has perked up the flowers in my tiny patch of garden and brought a new ‘growth-energy’ to the almost dead lemon tree in the back garden.

In the words of Langston Hughes:

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby

IT WAS VERY COLD

We usually camp when visiting the Mountain Zebra National Park: the camping area is lovely and provides magnificent opportunities for photographing birds. How glad I am that circumstances dictated that we opt for a chalet during this visit for the prevailing temperature was icy cold!

It was so cold that every morning the windscreens of our respective vehicles bore visual signs of why we felt so icy.

This is an unusual experience for us, so I appreciated the pretty patterns seen from within the warmth of the vehicle.

Even in the mid-morning sunshine, there was evidence of the cold in the stalagmite that formed under a dripping tap during the night.

Here is a section of ice retrieved from one of the swings next to the swimming pool.

The air was crisp and the views stretched out to forever.

We will return once the weather has warmed up a little!

YELLOW GRASS

The bleached yellow or straw-coloured grass is a striking feature of the Mountain Zebra National Park during the winter – along with icy temperatures. The Springbok in the foreground is lying down to seek respite from the latter.

So are these Red Hartebeest, with a single Springbok to keep them company.

This almost colourless grass covers the valleys and spreads up the hillsides onto the plateau. A Mountain Zebra appears to be standing guard over a small herd of Red Hartebeest.

Despite its desiccated appearance, the grass is still nutritious for grazers, as this zebra demonstrates.

As do these herds of mixed antelope on the plateau.

The early morning and late afternoon light turns the grass into spun gold.

MOUNTAIN ZEBRAS GALORE PART TWO

No two zebras look alike, which makes it compelling to photograph the different patterns they display. Apart from that, I enjoy finding an individual with something different about it. During our visit to the Mountain Zebra National Park, this zebra caught my eye as it has somehow lost the tuft at the end of its tail.

This must be a nuisance when it comes to fending off flies, for example. It was soon enjoying a dust bath in a dry dam.

Several others in the herd were doing the same.

Appropriately, the last animal we saw as we were leaving the park was a Cape Mountain Zebra walking away from us: a fine farewell to a beautiful place and these fascinating animals.