Previously I left you seeing the Mud Cow in an uncompromising position when I focused on the Urban Herd on the corner outside our home. Well … needs must. In her defence, I will show her on two other occasions:

Here she is lying down peacefully chewing the cud while the rest of her section of the Urban Herd wander around munching grass or suckling their calves.

She is in the background on the left above. This time you can see some of her companions as they graze on a grassy slope leading up to a school playing field.



Earlier this month we were visited by a small number of the Urban Herd, including this very fine looking speckled cow:

They gathered on the verge outside our home. The Bronze Cow is on the left and the Mud Cow can be seen on the right – recognisable as she looks as though she has been splattered with pale mud:

Here the Mud Cow is on the left and on the extreme right is the Brindled Jackal Calf:

The Bronze Cow can sniff something in the air as the Mud Cow lifts her tail:


No wonder she lost interest!


We are used to members of the ever-increasing Urban Herd making themselves at home in our suburbs. These ones are chewing the cud on a pavement next to an outside garden shed.

A cow and her newborn calf take advantage of an unmown grass verge.

These cows are in the street behind our home.

There are an increasing number of donkeys roaming the town too. This donkey and her foal can be seen next to a school sports field.

Now we have goats added to the mix. This is only part of a herd of large, sleek goats seen roaming the suburbs a few days ago.

They look very at home!


… 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 Most have now been replaced by solar pumps and the old stalwarts have been left to rust … clanking uselessly in the wind.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:


The week leading up to Christmas always seems to be such a busy one – there is no end of tasks that need to be completed. My cell phone camera has kept track of some of the interesting sights and events of the week. Today was 38’C so I naturally sought the shade while having tea and watching birds – only to be attacked by mosquitoes!

I have noticed for some time that several Cape Honeysuckle leaves appear to be covered by a series of intricate white dots.

A closer look – thank you cell phone – reveals tiny insects probably sucking at the sap in the veins. I imagine these are a type of aphid. Eliza (see comments) has identified them as cotton mealybug (Phenacoccus solenopsis).

Imagine my surprise and delight at this unexpected courier delivery bringing Christmas cheer from afar!

The poppies in the back garden succumbed to the heat a long time ago, leaving the hardened seed cases behind – I rather enjoy their structural details.

I leave you with a ‘new’ Urban cow sporting an interesting pattern on her hide. Her calf is next to her – they are part of another large herd that have moved in to munch on the long grass growing near the vacated school playing fields.