… the part of the Eastern Cape where I live. Grahamstown is surrounded by farms, game reserves, hunting areas, and is close to the coast. We are not going to reach the sea on this virtual trip, but will stick closer to home. The first scene then is of an abandoned windmill. These wonderful wind-driven pumps were iconic structures of farming communities all over South Africa. Most have now been replaced by solar pumps and the old stalwarts have been left to rust … clanking uselessly in the wind.

Grass fires spell danger and destruction to anything and everyone who lives in their wake. Many fires are fanned by strong winds and recently our town was smothered in thick smoke coming from a bushfire on the side of the surrounding hills. In this view across the valley, you can see the brownish layers of smoke from grass fires somewhere in the region.

Now many of you are familiar with my tales of the Urban Herd: cattle that are left to wander around the suburbs to feed on the unmown grass verges, unkempt public parks – and to drink water from ditches and potholes. These two almost look as if they wish to pay the homeowner a visit!

The number of donkeys seen in town as well as in the suburbs has also increased over the years. These two are typical of many of them: finding grazing wherever they can in the suburbs:

From time to time some may be collected by their owners and in-spanned to pull a donkey cart. The latter are frequently used for collecting firewood, or wood from the wattle forests that are growing on the fringes of the town for building houses. In this case, these youngsters may have delivered something or are simply going on a ‘joy-ride’ through the suburbs at the end of the day:

We have become so used to seeing these domestic animals both in town and in the suburbs as well as along the road that skirts through what is euphemistically called the industrial area on the edge of town – there are no factories here – that we tend not to worry about them anymore. Yesterday evening a cow stood in the middle of a busy street while she suckled her calf: vehicles simply slowed down and moved past them without a fuss. A boon for the bird-watcher in me is that the presence of cattle in the area means that I occasionally see Red-billed Oxpeckers feasting on the ticks they carry:



I introduced the Half-collared Kingfisher Trail after our stay-over at Ebb-and Flow earlier this year.

What follows is only a glimpse of the experience:

View of the rest camp from the path.

Bracken growing in the shade of the forest.

An example of fungus – we saw a great variety growing on decomposing wood.

A very old tree.

Touws River seen through a gap in the trees.


One gets a good taste of the Karoo landscape whilst driving through the Karoo National Park. The environment there is so arid that it is difficult to believe that millions of years ago it was covered by a shallow sea.  Look at these beautiful hills and carved out valleys.

The sky is beautifully clear and ‘big’; the air is crisp.

The rock-strewn valley floors are sparsely covered with typical Karoo vegetation.

This flock of ostriches seem to have an endless vista through which to explore.

Mountains and hills provide a worthy backdrop to the flattish valley floor.

I leave you with a closer look at the rocky layer that forms the top of one of the many hills.