MORE MONKEYING AROUND

These Vervet Monkeys were photographed in the Kruger National Park some time ago. The pictures provide an interesting view of them simply getting on with life. Here a mother and child work their way through fallen leaves and seeds to find something edible. Note the expression on the youngster’s face as it learns from its mother’s actions:

The youngster is putting the lesson into practice:

Success?

One can always try to reach the source of the delicacies!

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SOUTHERN BOUBOU

They skulk around the undergrowth and occasionally appear at the feeding tray once the other birds have gone; I often hear their lovely boo-boo duet and may see one or other of the pair perched higher up in one of the trees; I seldom manage to photograph them in my garden though and so these photographs have been taken in the Addo Elephant National Park. The bird in question is the Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferrugineas).

Here one has emerged from the thick bush at the picnic site at Addo to filch a piece of ham that has fallen from the table. The rich buff wash on its belly suggests that this is a male. The meaty meal fits in with its natural diet of invertebrates, reptiles, nestling birds, small mice and even fruit – I occasionally see one pecking at the apples I put out on the feeding tray.

This one, on the other hand, is probably a female.

Although one might mistake it for a Common Fiscal from the back – because of the white bars on the wings – it does not have the same hooked bill, which is clearly visible in this photograph.

The bill and the markings of the Southern Boubou are very clear in this photograph.

Here is another view of the female.

MONKEYING AROUND

The omnivorous Vervet Monkeys are curious creatures, ready to explore their environment to the full in order to source food. Like Baboons, they are at their best when seen in their natural environment.

See this Baboon yawning:

This Vervet Monkey is having a natural snack.

Unfortunately, as is the case with Baboons, the human-like features and behaviour of monkeys bring out their ‘cuteness’ factor which encourages visitors to game parks and popular picnic spots to feed them. That might be fun for humans and animals alike in the short term, but it is dangerous in the long term as the monkeys come to expect food from humans. Campers, caravaners – and even visitors staying in chalets – in wild areas have become all too familiar with monkeys raiding one’s temporary living space. This Vervet Monkey has just been chased from a caravan and is about to inspect the kitchen area in the Mountain Zebra National Park.

Their bright eyes pick up anything deemed edible – even the tiny seeds that have been scattered around a campsite to attract birds.

Once they have become used to humans, monkeys are difficult to shoo away for they lose their natural sense of caution around us. Being the opportunists they are, a group of monkeys happily walked over cars in a car park – keep your windows closed when they are around – to see what they could filch, leaving tell-tale footprints in their wake.

COMMON CORAL TREE

At this time of the year the brilliant scarlet flowers of the coral trees are giving way to the bright green of new leaves. Soon black pods will form that will, in time, pop open to reveal the hard scarlet seeds. The trees in our garden are all Erythrina caffra, which has a fairly limited distribution along the coastal regions of the Eastern Cape and Kwa Zulu Natal – which is why it is sometimes called the Coast Coral Tree. Their vermillion flowers are the most common variety, which you can see in combination with the new leaves in our back garden.

Some trees bear flowers that are more orange and others cream-coloured flowers, such as this specimen photographed in Port Elizabeth.

The tree I grew up with in Mpumalanga, is the widely distributed Erythrina lysistemon. Because it grows over much of the country, it is known as the Common Coral Tree. It is a particularly spectacular tree as the flowers are usually a bright scarlet. They produce abundant nectar that attracts many birds and insects.

Several of these trees have been blooming in and around Grahamstown.

 

BROWN SAGE

I have seen the small greyish leaves of the Brown Sage (Salvia Africana-lutea) in passing, but this is the first time I have photographed the golden-brown flowers. The unusual colour is intriguing and rather beautiful when seen on the plant as opposed to an illustration in a field guide. It is a plant that flourishes along the South African coast, from Namaqualand to the Eastern Cape.

The flowers contain a lot of nectar and so are attractive to bees, moths and sunbirds. This hardy plant is fairly drought-resistant and worthy of finding a place in coastal gardens. This specimen was photographed on the campus of Rhodes University.

TWININGS ENGLISH AFTERNOON TEA

What a dream! Why wait for the afternoon to enjoy this beautiful brightly coloured, smooth, flavoursome tea? The 100 tea bags come in a gold foil pack – once opened I keep them in a tin. I scanned the box, so the colours do not show up as well as they might.

As you can tell from the picture above, the design of the box is attractive in its own right: a mixture of black, yellow and different shades of green – all very summery, born out by the  (should be yellow) kite fliers and the suggestion of waves, light breezes (and is that a green flower peeping out from behind the black box on the front).

Then, of course, there is the ethical bit – the ‘feel-good’ factor to enhance your tea-drinking enjoyment:

What I find interesting – apart from the refreshing flavour and the lightness of the tea that has one reaching out to pour a second cup, is the blurb on the back of the box: Master blenders use all their knowledge to choose just the right teas at just the right time. They select the best teas from Africa (they don’t mention from where exactly but, note this, they use only the brightest, freshest African leaves) and assure us tea drinkers that it is the bright freshness of the African leaves that makes this tea so refreshing. Other leaves are from Assam, obviously picked when they are at their best, and high-grown Ceylon, which originates in Sri Lanka.

I am not mocking this tea – I love it and highly recommend it to anyone who has easy access to it (mine was a gift from England) – I am amused by the marketing hype (as if the tea needed it – the taste alone is a winner). It is the slightly patronising nod to the African tea that raises an eyebrow. No mention of African tea leaves is made on the website https://www.twiningsusa.com/our-products/english-afternoon:

Our English Afternoon tea combines carefully selected Keemun tea from the Anhui province in China with Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka. Keemun teas are light-to-medium bodied, smooth and slightly sweet in taste. Ceylon teas are bright in colour, crisp and refreshing. Blended together, these two varieties provide a modern twist to a storied tea that is perfect as an afternoon pick-me-up or whenever you need a little lift.

Forget about what is on the box and focus what is in the box – brew it for two or three minutes and enjoy your cup(s) of Twinings English Afternoon tea!