ZEBRAS AGAIN

A few readers enjoyed the glimpse of zebras in my post on the landscape of the Eastern Cape, so I thought of providing a few more pictures of them for your enjoyment. These photographs were all taken in the Addo Elephant National Park. The first shows a zebra in a field of gazanias. It is wonderful to see how this park transforms into a floral wonderland once the first spring rains have fallen.

While we often see herds of these beautiful creatures in the open grasslands, occasionally one or two walk purposefully next to the road. What a joy it is to see them from so close.

This one has a particularly intricate pattern on its back.

While this one shows recent battle wounds. Males attack each other quite fiercely to gain or maintain breeding rights.

During the winter, even dry grass contains some nourishment.

Lastly, a photograph to demonstrate how useful zebras find their tails to ward off flies and other biting insects.

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MORE EASTERN CAPE SCENERY

On this road trip we will stop along the Highlands road to look across the valley towards the Pumba Private Game Reserve.

Look at all that beautiful space covered with natural vegetation.

We stop further along the same road for a closer view of some of the indigenous forests which are, sadly, interspersed with pine trees and wattle.

Travelling south, towards the sea, it is always a pleasure to spend time driving through the Addo Elephant National Park. The natural vegetation was cleared many years ago for farms and has still not recovered, even though these farm lands have long since been incorporated into the park.

Should we decide to travel northwards, we might pass rocky outcrops such as these near Riebeeck East.

We might decide to stay over at the Mountain Zebra National Park so that we can enjoy the open vista of grassland interspersed with acacia trees.

As the day draws to a close we can appreciate the beauty of these mountains near Tarkastad.

Of course it would take more than a day to cover all of this ground, but it gives you an idea of the kind of scenery I call home.

GEELBEK VISITOR’S CENTRE

A pleasant place to stop to stretch one’s legs in the West Coast National Park is the Geelbek Visitor’s Centre.  There are some imposing gate posts on one side of it.

While at a smaller opening in the low surrounding wall one can get a good view of the Langebaan lagoon.

I was intrigued by this old bell.

It fits with this beautifully restored Cape Dutch building, named after the Yellow-billed Duck.

The building appears to date back to 1860 at least.

It has been proclaimed a national monument and as such preserves a part of our cultural and architectural history.

INTERESTING FINDS IN THE GREAT FISH RIVER RESERVE

The roads in the Great Fish River Reserve in the Eastern Cape are generally not in good shape and so a high clearance vehicle is recommended. The vegetation here is typical of the thickets one encounters in natural areas here.

The reserve is close enough for us to visit it for a day. This time we were intent on visiting the rapidly disappearing ruins of Fort Willshire – a brief history of which you can see on this plaque.

Each time we come here the walls are more difficult to find as the whole area has become very overgrown as the veld has had two centuries in which to reclaim its own.

Weathering has taken its toll of the lettering on the few gravestones seen in the area. These are now enclosed with a wire fence to protect them from the animals – but not the rampant growth of grass and bushes. One that is still readable is a stone erected in memory of eighteen year-old Matthew Stanworth, “Late Private Soldier who was unhumanely murdered by […] February 24th 1825 …”

The pictures in WordPress Reader are usually larger, so you may wish to have a closer look at this one there. Apart from some of the pretty flowers which I featured earlier, I also spotted a harvester ant carrying away a leaf.

Several dung beetles were busy taking advantage of a fresh pile of dung. This is one of many rolling a ball of dung through grass and over rocks.

SPRING FLOWERS IN …

… The Great Fish River Reserve. There might not have been enough rain to fill our storage dams so that we still have to deal with the water supply being on for one day and off for two, but … the light early spring rains have turned the grass green and the brought out the indigenous flowers. The veld is awash with these beautiful Common Gazanias (Gazania krebsiana) that typically grow throughout southern and tropical Africa.

Magnificent shrubs of Crossberries (Grewia occidentalis) are in bloom all over the veld. Some have been browsed so low that they look like bonsais, while others scramble over other trees and yet others have been able to take o the form of small trees themselves. They are all in flower.

Then there are these attractive yellow flowers, which may belong to the Gnidia  – the Saffron Bush) family. I would love a positive ID.

Bright blue flowers sprawl over rocks or peep from under shrubs. These are the Ecklon’s Commelina (Commelina eckloniana).

These delicate reddish flowering succulents are possibly Kalanchoe rotundifolia. There are plenty of them blooming now.

By no means the last of the flowers, but certainly among the very showy ones at this time of the year, are those of the Puzzlebush (Ehretia rigida). Some of these trees have also been browsed very low, whilst others have matured into small trees growing in the wooded grassland.