THE TEASING TURACOS

We hear the rasping korr-korr-korr call of Knysna Turacos (Loerie) in our garden almost daily, so we know they are there – somewhere in the foliage. These fairly large birds move soundlessly between the branches and from tree to tree, which means that we hear them more frequently than we see them. Sometimes a flash of red will catch my eye as one flies across the garden; only a flash mind you and then the bird ‘disappears’. Imagine then how delighted I was when a pair of Knysna Turacos appeared in the Dogwood tree and gradually made their way down through the branches towards the bird bath situated not far from where I was sitting, camera in hand.

They were tantalizingly close, yet so difficult to photograph! One looked at me obligingly while sitting absolutely still for several minutes.

After I had been watching them for half an hour one of the pair disappeared in the direction of the fig tree. One moment it was there and the next it was gone. I thought the other had too, until it reappeared in the Dogwood, from where it kept an eye on me for another twenty minutes or so. What a handsome bird!

Soon after, the other member of the pair appeared on my neighbour’s windowsill, where it spent some time looking at its reflection in the window.

Note: Click on the photographs if you wish to see a larger view.

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A WALK THROUGH THE COASTAL FOREST

The walk through the coastal forest at Tsitsikamma to the Storms River starts at the little beach.

A lovely collection of light blue agapanthus flowers grow near the first waterfall.

One gets interesting views of the coast and of other paths through the forest trees.

Steps made from plastic wood make the steep ups and downs easier to manage and help to protect the forest floor from the hundreds of feet that pass this way every day.

Moss-covered trees abound in the forest.

The first glimpse of the mouth of the Storms River way below the path.

There is a rocky beach at the end of the walk.

And a series of suspension bridges to cross on the way back!

Note: click on the photographs for a larger view.

ROCKY LANDSCAPE

There are no soft, rolling green hills here, instead this part of the Karoo is noted for its rocky landscape.

A White-browed Sparrow Weaver blends into the stony environment as it looks for seeds to eat.

These tiny grains of sand have been used to build an entrance to an ant nest.

Enormous smooth boulders swell out from some of the hills.

As barren as this might seem, a Cussonia has found a foothold between the cracks of the rock.

Survival is everything here. On the valley floor a tree has a tenuous hold.

For, as you can see, the rocky substrata is friable.

SCHOTIA BRACHYPETALA

I recently mentioned the Pied Crows perched on a stunted (or severely browsed) Schotia brachypetala. Given that my original post on this tree has been accessed regularly since it was published in 2015 – see https://somethingovertea.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/huil-boer-boon-weeping-boer-bean/ – I thought I should provide an updated photograph of a particularly attractive example of these blossoms, which overflow with nectar – hence the ‘weeping’ part of its name. Not surprisingly, these scarlet flowers attract a wide variety of insects, birds and butterflies.

You can see a cluster of green pods on the right-hand side of the picture. This is what the more mature pods look like. They too have an attractive quality about them.

The tree, also known as a Tree Fuschia, has been named in honour of Richard van der Schot (1730-1790), the Dutch Head Gardener at the imperial Gardens at Schönbrunn in Hietzing, Vienna.

Note: Click on the photographs for a larger image.

VACHELLIA KARROO

This is the time of the year when the Vachellia (formerly Acacia) karroo comes into its own. Also known as the sweet thorn (soetdoring in Afrikaans), this beautiful tree brightens the drought-stricken environment in the early summer with its bright show of fragrant yellow flowers shaped like tiny pompons which attract numerous insects.

The common name, sweet thorn, comes from the gum which is exuded from wounds in the bark. Although I have not tried it, the gum is reputed to taste pleasant enough to be eaten both by people and animals.

The trees are characterised by sharp white thorns that can grow to considerable lengths.

Here an Ant-eating Chat uses a Vachellia karroo as a handy perch.

A Vachellia karroo (which will always be an Acacia to many of us!) in its glory: