|Most Recent Conversations|
My Heart is still Thumping!!!
(Posted: 5 Weeks Ago)
(Last reply: 38 Minutes Ago)
(Last reply: 5 Hours Ago)
Forget Eurovision: How About that Song for King Willem?
(Posted: 5 Hours Ago)
(Last reply: 5 Hours Ago)
(Posted: 6 Hours Ago)
Mum update (GB)
(Posted: Apr 3, 2013)
(Last reply: 7 Hours Ago)
A VISIT TO POLOKWANE MUNICIPAL GAME RESERVE PART THREE
(Posted: 18 Hours Ago)
(Last reply: 13 Hours Ago)
Wow, a tadpole swarm.
(Posted: 2 Days Ago)
(Last reply: Yesterday)
No no no!!
(Posted: Sep 18, 2001)
(Last reply: 2 Days Ago)
Freebie Film Tip: Theoretical Physicists and Other Mass Murderers
(Latest post: 2 Days Ago)
(Posted: 6 Days Ago)
(Last reply: 2 Days Ago)
Click here to see more Conversations
|Most Recent Guide Entries|
A87794978 Colours of Wildlife: Pygmy Hippo
(6 Days Ago)
A87794121 The Phyto-Philes: Flame Lily
A87794112 Colours of Wildlife: African Red Toad
A87792907 The h2g2 Poem: The Unicorn
(2 Weeks Ago)
A87792754 Colours of Wildlife: Dassie Rat
(2 Weeks Ago)
A87792637 Toad on the Town
(2 Weeks Ago)
A87791557 The Phyto-Philes: Umbrella Thorn
(3 Weeks Ago)
A87791548 Colours of Wildlife: Threebanded Plover
(3 Weeks Ago)
A87791179 Colours of Wildlife: Parktown Prawn
(4 Weeks Ago)
A87790756 The Phyto-Philes: Mountain Aloes
(5 Weeks Ago)
Click here to see more Guide Entries
|Most Recent Edited Entries|
A87740364 The Greyheaded Kingfisher - A Misnamed Feathered Jewel
(Jun 3, 2012)
A65191368 The African Dwarf Crocodile
(Jun 1, 2010)
A26151482 Aloe Dichotoma - the Quiver Tree
(Aug 29, 2007)
A23934404 Stapelia Gigantea: Giant Carrion Flower
(Jun 26, 2007)
A22716713 The Ten Biggest South African Tree Species
(May 24, 2007)
A823619 The Greyheaded Kingfisher - Picture
(Sep 9, 2002)
A685253 The Opera Web Browser
(Apr 5, 2002)
Click here to see more Edited Entries
|Welcome to my Weirld|
Hello. My name is Willem van der Merwe, I live in South Africa, and have been living here my whole life. I was born in Pretoria on 16 March 1972. I suffer from a mental illness - paranoid schizophrenia, according to the doctors. This makes my life rather complicated and puts a bit of a constraint on my options. I have to use medication that I don't like very much, but with that I can live. I want to say one thing: I love people again. I will dedicate my life to Love ... for those close to and those far from me, and those in between. I will make a change in my life. I will again reach out to people. Apart from medications, and psychotherapy, I will also from inside myself try to work to overcome my paranoia. The world cannot be all bad. People neither. I will focus on the good ... and right now I know that there's a *lot* of it.
What do I do? Well, I'm an artist. I paint, and I sketch. These days I am very much into watercolour painting, and I'm a member of the Watercolours Society of South Africa. I enjoy nature immensely, so most of my art is of natural scenes, plant and animal life. However, I also do portraits of people, in pencil or paint. I get quite a lot of commissions. I also do retouching of bad or old photographs. Not making much money with that, but I'm very good with it!
I also enjoy photography. It helps to supply me with reference material for my art, but I like doing it in itself as well. Because I can do retouching, I can make a lot of my not-so-good shots look really professional! Furthermore I also enjoy hiking in wild areas. I have that to thank for a lot of my knowledge and experience of wildlife. People tell me I'm quite a good tour guide for people who enjoy the wilderness experience! I don't do that for money though, just for good friends!
I am very health conscious. I don't smoke, don't drink caffeine or alchohol, don't use any recreational drugs. I only use the drugs I need to use to control my schizophrenia. I also don't eat meat ... I'm an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. So I eat eggs and dairy products, and fruit and vegetables. I also do weight training usually three days a week. I'm interested more in strength than in fitness, but I have a fair degree of endurance, and my heart is in good condition. I should actually do more fitness work ... walking and running! I want to live *extremely* long, because there is *so much* I still want to do! I still want to write books ... *many* of them ... and I want to illustrate them myself! I also would like to make music one day!
Another thing that I do, and that I am extremely enthusiastic about - I cultivate indigenous South African plants. I'm hoping to have a piece of land some day, on which to start out a Botanic Garden. In the meantime I grow lots of plants here at home, and sell some of them on occasion.
On the site below you can find photographs and painting by me (or in a few cases by other people):
Music is very important to me. Mostly, I listen to music while I paint, but sometimes I also dance around alone to loud music ... gives me a bit of exercise as well as being great fun. I wish I had someone else to dance with! There aren't nice dancing places here in my town of Pietersburg/Polokwane. When I was a student in Pretoria there were very nice dancing occasions ... we held dances at the hostel, and there were also dancing clubs in town. I mean nice clubs, where one can dance with a partner almost ballroom style.
But as for music ... I like everything from classical music, to heavy metal ... some genres excepted; I am not much into country music, or jazz, or rap.
I am looking for friends here, people to talk with, basically about pretty much any sort of subject. Please drop me a note here in case you're interested in friendship!
If you want to email me:
Please check out - or contribute to - this Art Gallery for h2g2ers started by Mudhooks Dubois:
See this thread for info on how you can contribute your own works to the gallery:
Gallery 42: The h2g2 Friends Gallery
Also check out this page, the H2G2 Friends of Tibet:
h2g2 Friends of Tibet
| ||People have been talking about this Guide Entry. Here are the most recent Conversations:|
Welcome to this Researcher's Journal. If you'd like to comment on anything they have written here, just click the relevant 'Discuss this Entry' button.
A VISIT TO POLOKWANE MUNICIPAL GAME RESERVE PART THREE
18 Hours Ago
All right let me wrap this one up!
1. Some poor guineafowl likely bought it here … perhaps a wild cat, caracal or jackal got it:
2. But there were plenty of living guineafowl. Again, it’s hard for me to take a good picture:
3. This pretty soft, spreading herb I found flowering in several patches. The small, nodding flowers are yellow and were being visited by bee-flies on this trip. I think it might be a Hermannia:
4. Here is a large, spreading Umbrella Thorn, Acacia tortilis:
5. This is a rhino rock! The rhinos rub themselves on it. They also ‘sharpen’ their horns on it. Their skins are so rough that the rock itself soon gets rubbed and polished smooth. There are several such rocks in the reserve:
6. A thicket: this one consists mainly of a Tinderwood, Clerodendrum glabrum, but there are also several other tree and shrub species and numerous herbs underneath. These seem to have grown on and around an old termite hill. This is frequently how trees managed to get established in grassland: it starts with one and then in its shelter many other seeds germinate. Termite hills are a focus because they aerate the soil, have very constant internal temperatures (cool in summer, warm in winter) and the remains and wastes of the termites are a source of nutrition:
7. Red Hartebeests! These funny antelopes are not rare in the reserve. They’re somewhat wary and therefore hard to photograph. Again it would have been better if someone was with me and could snap them while I was driving:
And finally …
8. Mother White Rhino and Calf! I saw them this time! From a great distance I managed this shot:
9. Another shot of the mom and her calf. She had a magnificent front horn. I really hope they survive:
10. After a while they moved on, and I drove on as well, but the road made a bend and I came out a bit closer. The calf then lay down while the mother continued grazing. Later on I saw more rhinos … a group of at least four, and then later a solitary one. I was very happy to have seen them.
A Visit to Polokwane Municipal Game Reserve, Part Two
5 Days Ago
A VISIT TO POLOKWANE MUNICIPAL GAME RESERVE PART TWO
1. Soon the giraffes were posing out in the open! Chewing with their mouths open too. And if you look closely you can see something else … tick birds! Actually they’re called red-billed oxpeckers. There’s one on the rump of the closest giraffe and another on the neck behind the ears of the next one.
2. This giraffe posed nicely for me. What I love about giraffes is how relaxed they are … most of the time! Not frightened of humans, not jittery or spooked, they let you get close and watched you serenely from on high.
3. This is a bull I think. They are bigger than cows but also get darker … sometimes their spots can be black and the skin in between so dark grey that from a distance they look entirely black.
4. Giraffe showing a nice profile pose. This one has two tick birds, one on the lower hump of the neck and one up just behind the ears.
5. A young giraffe lying down under a Silky Thorn tree! This one looked so peaceful. Silky thorns, Acacia rehmanniana, is a specialty of the reserve and the Polokwane region, they are rare or absent elsewhere in South Africa. They can be very handsome specimens. Their leaves and twigs are covered in soft, dense hairs.
6. Two giraffes browsing the same small thorn tree. As you can see giraffes don’t need to be as tall as they are, there are plenty of leaves well within reach, they don’t need to stretch up to get it. At present science still doesn’t exactly know why giraffes have such long necks.
7. A crested barbet! Sorry for the poor photo but at least I caught it! With my ancient camera with low resolution and no zoom it’s hard to photograph birds. I’ll put a link with a better photo after this. Crested barbets are relatives of woodpeckers, but are mostly fruit and invertebrate eaters and don’t hammer into trees. They still excavate their nests in soft wood. This one had caught a thingy in the road and then flew into a bush and ate it and watched me while I took its photo.
Here is a better photo (not by me!) of this species:
8. Another termite hill, this one with two holes dug in it! These were made by aardvarks. There are plenty of those in the reserve, judging by the evidence, but I’ve never seen one yet! Also note the soil here is different in colour, not as reddish as the previous termite hill. The nature reserve has a number of different geological features. There are sands and rock in places that are very rich in silicon … there is a silicon mine not far from the reserve, which along with the platinum mine is what Polokwane’s economy is based on.
9. Grassland. The reserve has a number of different kinds of vegetation, some with more trees, and some like this region primarily tall grass with trees and bushes very widely spread. A major kind of grass in the reserve is Themeda triandra, red grass, named after its tendency to turn red after the growing season.
10. A magpie shrike, Corvinella melanoleuca! Again I’ll soon provide a better photo. These are the largest local true shrikes, their long tails making them look even larger. They live in groups and perch prominently on trees and bushes, their long tails rippling in the wind, calling their lovely far-carrying liquid whistles to each other.
11. A plant that I haven’t seen before! It was scrambling through a spike-thorn bush. The spiky things you see here are not the spike-thorn’s spikes, they are the climber’s seed pods! They are long, straight and sharp-pointed but not as hard as spines. They grow in pairs set at an almost 180-degree angle. These kind of seed pods are called follicles, and they indicate that this is a member of the Asclepiadaceae, or the closely related Periploaceae. The follicles split at an upper seam to release the seeds which have fluffy white tufts to allow the wind to carry them away. This climber has round and rather fleshy leaves. Now my goal is to try and see its flowers which ought to help me identify it.
12. A rocky ridge in the reserve. The region is mostly flat, with only a few rising hills and rock outcrops; this is the most extensive one. The huge boulders are rich in fairly clear quartz. On these ridges there grow trees and plants not found in the open savannah and grassland. There are also wonderful lizards called flat lizards, the males of which have beautiful colours … I have yet to succeed in taking a good photo of them. They shelter in cracks between the rocks.
13. A special plant growing next to the rocky ridge: a Carrot Tree, Steganotaenia araliacea! This is the only large specimen I know of in our region, but not far from here there are many, such as in the Soutpansberg Mountains. This is a craggy character and I think it is quite an old tree already. Carrot trees have delicate, freshly fragrant leaves smelling somewhat of carrot leaves.
14. A close-up of the trunk of the carrot tree. Young trees have bark that peel off in thin, papery flakes, but in this old tree the bark has become very thick and corky.
All right, that’s that for this installment! Please stay tuned for Part Three.
A Visit to Polokwane Game Reserve, Part One
Here is my photo report of my trip yesterday to the Polokwane Municipal Game Reserve! I'm posting it in three parts to make it manageable. Also of course you don't have to click on every image, you can use my descriptions to decide which ones you're interested in.
1. This is what the savannah of the reserve looks like at the start of winter. There is still green in the leaves of trees and shrubs, but the grass is dry and brown. The reserve is dominated by Umbrella thorns, Acacia tortilis, but there are also many Sweet Thorns, Silky Thorns and Scented-pod Thorns.
2. On this visit I was surprised to find many ferns of at least two species! I found the ferns in the shelter of trees and shrubs in thickets. I think the rain we’ve had this year has given them a boost. Ferns are rare in savannah; they occur mostly in forest in cool, shady, moist situations.
3. This pond is close to the start of the game drive. It is always a wonderful spot to stop and watch birds … unfortunately this trip I forgot my binoculars! But I did see many birds here, mostly seed-eaters like weavers and waxbills.
4. This is what we call ‘paddaslyk’ (‘frog ooze’) in Afrikaans. A kind of algae that forms thick mats on the surface of bodies of standing water. This stuff has a very characteristic rank-ish odour I always associate with savannah ponds and pans. Underneath it’s nice and shady for fish and frogs and hides them from the eyes of herons, kingfishers and other thingies that might want to eat them!
5. Another view of the pond, showing some reeds and submerged water plants. The rain has filled up many such small bodies of water in the reserve this year. I’ll see how long the water lasts … next rains might be in October or November.
6. This is the most frequently encountered evidence of animals. This was left by some small antelope, I can’t say with certainty which species.
7. A final view of the pond. The red splotches at the left are Zinnia peruviana flowers, an exotic species that has become abundant in the reserve. In Afrikaans we call them ‘Jakobregop’ (‘upright Jacob’) because they stand up so straight with their flowers right at the top.
8. This is the inflorescence of Kalanchoe brachyloba. This is one of the most conspicuous succulents in the reserve. The great mountain aloes are of course the most conspicuous, but at this time of year these yellow inflorescences can be seen standing out all over the place in the dry bush or emerging above the grass tops.
9. The succulent leaves of the Kalanchoe brachyloba plant. You can see it using the support of the surrounding trees and bushes to gain height. The flowerheads can stand two meters tall.
10. Another Kalanchoe brachyloba flowerhead. The flowers are shrinking and the fruit capsules are expanding. This species is abundant in a few places. The rosettes are also quite large, reaching half a metre or more in width. At the end of winter the infloresences are dead and brown and the seeds are released into the wind, to germinate the next spring. This species is fairly short-lived, the main rosettes dying after flowering but sometimes resprouting from below.
11. This, Kalanchoe rotundifolia, is a relative of the previous species. It is much smaller, with round, greyish leaves and pretty pinkish-red flowers that stand out against the grey and brown bush.
12. A low but broad Umbrella Thorn tree, showing the appropriateness of the name.
13. A termite hill! I can’t tell you which species, but note the redness, which comes from the soil. In other places the termite hills are more brownish or greyish. Termites are very important components of the local ecology. The consume perhaps more plant material than everything else, including large mammals, combined. But they are food for many animals, their nests are used as homes, and even plants benefit by growing on or next to them.
14. Aerva leucurva is a member of the amaranth family. It is called ‘Aambeibossie’ (‘hemorrhoid bush’) in Afrikaans but I can’t find out why! Perhaps it has been used as a folk remedy in the past. It is a fairly abundant small, soft shrub.
15. My first good photo opportunity! This Impala ram was relaxing in the shade and didn’t bother to get up when I stopped the car next to him.
16. Here the impala ram shows his profile, his lyre-shaped horns almost lining up:
17. This was the day of the ostriches! Here you see a few of a group of about twenty in total, running in the road ahead of the car. I just drove along slowly, not rushing them. These are all females or youngsters. I did see males later but they were too far to photograph. The males are glossy black with white wing feathers and rusty brown tail feathers.
18. Another shot of the ostriches. If only I had someone with me to take photos of them while I was driving! They were just trotting along relaxedly and there were some to the sides of the car as well which would have been easy to photograph. I had to stop the car every time I wanted a shot and then of course they were moving away quite fast. So all I have are rear these rear views! But as far as experiencing it, it was lovely to encounter these big birdies.
19. Another bushveld fern growing fresh and green in the shelter of a thicket. I think this is a Cheilanthes, note the quite different leaf architecture from the other one.
20. And … now we come to the real highlight of the trip! This was the best giraffe photo opportunity I have yet had. Here is one of the first … a glimpse through an opening in the trees … but I soon got to see them much better!
This brings us to the end of Part One. Stay tuned for Part Two!
More Aromatic Leaves
2 Weeks Ago
I scanned a couple more leaves of aromatic plants I have in my garden.
This is a garden cultivar of the genus Pelargonium:
The flower looks a bit squashed ... I actually didn't close the scanner's lid on it, I just had two sheets of paper draped over it and it still got a bit squashed so it's a very delicate flower.
Pelargoniums are very diverse in South Africa, most species occurring in the shrubby fynbos of the Southwestern Cape or in semi-desert scrub. Several cultivars have been bred for gardens; this is one is a large and spreading, soft-stemmed shrub. The leaves are aromatic, though this isn't the nicest one I've smelled ... it has a wildish herby smell.
The next one is a Tetradenia riparia, which is called a Misty Plume Bush or a Ginger Bush:
Now this really doesn't smell like ginger at all. It has a more fresh, minty sort of scent. It belongs to the mint and sage family, the Lamiaceae. This family is huge in South Africa, especially around where I live. Most members are herbs or small shrubs, all interesting, with a variety of scents, shapes and textures in their leaves, and almost all having pretty flowers. The Misty Plyme Bush bears small flowers in large flower heads that rise above the branches. It is the largest local member of the family, growing to 5m/16ft in height. It is sort of succulent-ish, having thick but soft stems. It grows vigorously and can be cultivated from cuttings. Its leaves, apart from smelling very nice, are soft and velvety and grow fairly large, making it a nice foliage specimen as well. I'm trying to popularize this species over here, as it's an excellent garden specimen.
Carrot Trees and Parsley Trees
3 Weeks Ago
All right, I took some photos today of my carrot and parsley trees. Like I said elsewhere, they are tree-sized members of the carrot family, found here in Northern South Africa, often on the rocky hills we call 'koppies' (little heads). The parley tree sometimes grows in forests, where it reaches a height of 25 m/about 83', but mostly it is much smaller. The carrot tree reaches 7 m/23'.
Both these trees have flaky bark. The carrot tree has a yellowish papery bark with a green underbark that you can see poking through here and there:
The parsley tree has bark that peels in horizontal rings as you can see here:
Carrot trees regenerate vigorously from cut roots. This is a specimen in my plant house ... I keep removing and planting out the above-ground portions and the roots keep sprouting out new stems and leaves:
This species has quite attractive foliage, delicate-looking for a tree that often grows in dry, harsh landscapes. Here is a leaf I scanned in:
It's a pity I can't share the leaf's fragrance with you! It smells carotty as you might guess from the name.
Here's a leaf of the Parsley tree:
It has a nice fragrance, not exactly like parsley but still very pleasant. These leaves actually come in many different forms ... the above, with three leaflets per leaf, is actually very simple ... the leaves can have a very complex pattern of division, with nine or ten or more leaflets.
Click here to see more Journal Entries