It was in May 2017 that I first mentioned conflict between birds and people ( At the time I was horrified to note that three tall trees growing in a narrow garden outside a block of flats had been felled. It wasn’t only the loss of trees that upset me, but that only a few weeks before I had observed African Sacred Ibises and Cattle Egrets coming to roost in three tall trees growing next to a block of flats at the end of the day. Some of the latter had fledglings in their nests, while others were flapping their wings whilst firmly gripping the slim branches in the afternoon breeze. Doubtless residents had complained of both the noise and the mess made by the birds.

The Natal fig tree in our garden hosts well up to twenty Hadeda Ibises every night – as do other large trees in our neighbourhood. We are usually woken at least twenty minutes before sunrise by their harsh cries. They might have been annoying at first, but after 35 years of listening to them greet each other and plan their day we have grown to love them for their cheerfulness and character. It is marvellous watching them glide silently towards the branches and listen to them scuffling around before they settle down. Their mess? That all adds to the thick layer of much in my ‘secret garden’ below them, which in turn adds to the tiny creatures fed on by birds …

Back to the African Sacred Ibises and the Cattle Egrets … when those trees were felled in 2017 they found other tall trees close to the CBD to roost in. I showed the tops of some of them in February – all I could see above the buildings at the time (

In March this year I watched African Sacred Ibises and Cattle Egrets coming in to roost in a different tree growing on the edge of the Peppergrove Mall. I photographed them with my cell phone.

This week I happened to be in the same car park and was again horrified to see that same tree being felled.

Today there is not even a stump left.

These communal roosting birds regularly use alien species of trees, such as Eucalyptus, Pine trees or Monkey Puzzle trees as these provide suitable nesting opportunities based on their structure and the size of their branches. We have all of these trees growing within our urban environment and so it follows that there will be some conflict between the people and birds.

I cannot give a solution to the problem of noise and mess, but I feel very strongly that cutting down the trees the birds roost in is not the answer. They have already demonstrate that they will simply move on to use the next suitably sized one they find.

In the end, will we have no large trees left? Trees that have taken years to grow?

Do people ever consider how much noise they make whilst partying or think about the rubbish they leave behind after public events? I doubt it – they are having too much fun at the time and … it is someone else’s job to clean up after them.



I featured a photograph of a very beautiful Knysna Turaco perched in my garden during my April garden-bird round-up. Here is another view of it.

What has it to do with my birthday? Coincidence? Serendipity?

A friend whom I seldom see as she has moved to one of the coastal towns pinned us both down for tea today. As the date approached and the weather improved, she announced that I was to provide some savoury snacks and she would bring the rest.

The rest?

It turned out that as she had the opportunity to see me during the latter part of the afternoon she had decided we should celebrate my birthday early with … gin. Not any old gin, but Knysna Gin.

This is delicious! We added frozen mixed berries for an extra festive flair – a successful move.

It is made in a copper pot still by the Knysna Distillery and, according to their website, “features nine different botanicals, including the Knysna Lourie’s favourite food, the Num Num berry [also known as Natal Plum],

almonds from Sedgefield, honeybush from the Crags, and Mondei Whitei from Limpopo.” All in all a very interesting tasting combination.

This was a happy – and tasty – early birthday surprise.


Someone had a birthday party at Ebb and Flow. I know this because when I opened the cupboard in the rondavel we had been allocated to check if there were spare blankets (it was a chilly night) I saw these two balloons cheerfully wishing me a happy birthday.

They bounced around happily in the whoosh of air current created when I opened the door and soon revealed that there were not only two of them, but three:

Why had they been left there? Forgotten after the party yet still filled with the joy and happy memories of the day. I wonder if they were missed. Did the birthday person stay in the same rondavel that we were now occupying?

We returned to Ebb and Flow exactly a week later on our trip home from Cape Town. This time we had been allocated a different rondavel – nothing interesting in the cupboards – and arrived with enough afternoon light left for a walk around ‘our’ section of the rest camp. There were all sorts of things to see: birds, fungi, reflections, a dead snake and a squashed locust, flowers and … this:

Not deflated enough yet to obscure the happy birthday message, this balloon was bobbing about in the late afternoon breeze from a fig tree in the camping area – not very far from the first rondavel we had overnighted in. Same kind of balloon. Same happy message. Also forgotten in the frenzy of packing up to go. Perhaps this is where the birthday had been celebrated: I can imagine more than one generation of the family (it would have been the older ones staying in the rondavel) gathered around a camp fire standing or sitting on camp chairs … there would have been a braai, some light music playing, lots of laughter and doubtless interesting conversations as the night grew dark and the stars pricked the sky.

I hope whoever had their birthday party in this beautiful place had a wonderful time – the message of joy certainly stayed on long after they had gone home.


Overseas readers might find it difficult to believe that we had to spend two days on the road to reach Cape Town to lodge our respective applications for Schengen visas in order to visit our children now living abroad – a process which took less than half an hour – followed by a two day trip home again. This explains my temporary disappearance from reading your posts and generating any of my own. We arrived home mid-afternoon yesterday and today undertook a three hour round trip to Port Elizabeth for a forty minute consultation with a medical specialist.

There have been compensations: we were able to visit our daughter and her family whilst in Cape Town and spent a morning at the Boulders Penguin Colony – more of that once my camera card has been downloaded and I have caught up with ‘life’ back home. On today’s trip we saw a giraffe along the way, which cheered us up.

Another compensation is the tranquility of staying over in a rondavel at Ebb and Flow in the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park. Can you imagine listening to Knysna turacos, nightjars, owls, Egyptian geese, hadedas and guineafowl as the sun sets and stars begin to light up the night sky? Then there is the dawn chorus to which can be added red-eyed doves, bulbuls, Cape White-eyes, Cape robin-chats and many others as the sky begins to lighten. There are forest trees and the quietly flowing river nearby … I will tell you more of that too.

Eskom load-shedding is the downside.  The country’s electricity provider has reached such a precarious position that we have been plunged into stage six: 13 hours of no power for us today! What it meant for us on our home journey was that the power went off at our overnight stop at 8 pm and wasn’t due to come on until nine o’clock the next morning – this meant we had to pack up in the dark and there was no way to make tea or coffee before we left.

By the time we pulled in at a garage near Humansdorp I was gasping for a warm drink. This one was just what the doctor ordered: