Journal Entries

Off to the Blouberg!

Tomorrow I'm off on another exploration! Us folks of CREW are going to the Blouberg, a large mountain about 100 km from here. It is associated with the lower but longer Soutpansberg range, but well isolated from it at present. I know of at least one plant species that only occurs on the mountain; we'll be looking for that, as well as for any other rare and interesting stuff. I'll of course be taking my camera, and will write a full report!

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Latest reply: 5 Weeks Ago

Back from Kamonande

I spent a week in the Kamonande Nature Reserve with some friends! It was a great visit, and I'll soon post a complete report here - with pics! For now, could any of you guess or come up with a story, knowing I am an animal lover - why, at some point, did I wind up with my hands stained with the blood of a female Kudu?

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Latest reply: Mar 19, 2017

To Study or Not to Study

Folks, I need advice. I don’t know how many people still read here, but I’m hoping at least a coupla. I want to know what you think about me studying at university again. Right now, I do things I enjoy … I paint, I write, including the articles you see in The Post every week, I grow plants, I go on bird-watching and plant-discovering outings a few times each year. But I don’t get much money … I’m pretty much dirt-poor, having to seriously budget for vital things like food. So anyways. My psychologist thinks I should study again, maybe get myself a (more suitable) small job, like lecturing at a university a couple of times a week, or something else where I can share my knowledge and also earn some money. It would be nice, but I’m not sure I could do it! I still have massive post-traumatic stress about my previous attempts at studying … the first, when I studied full-time, ended in a serious suicide attempt, while the next, studying at the University of South Africa by mail, foundered on personality clashes with one of my lecturers as well as the unreliability of the mail system. And back then I had the support of my parents, which I don’t have any more.

If I study … I’ll have to really devote myself to it pretty much full-time. I may then have to give up things like my weekly Colours of Wildlife articles. I’ll have to put my painting on the backburner, perhaps. I’m not sure how I’d feel about that. One of my big problems is feeling worthless … that’s the reason why I’m trying to do so many different things, I’m hoping at least one of them will turn out to be worth something.

So: I have the stress and anxiety still haunting me from my previous study attempts; I still have a big problem dealing with pressure – such as writing assignments according to someone else’s standards. I feel that I’m hard enough on myself as it is. I’m not sure if I could do it.

And do I need it? My psychologist feels I need a qualification, a piece of paper to tell other people I know what I’m about. Do I really need it? Isn’t it enough that I know what I know, that I can do what I do, and can share it with people? Would an official qualification indeed make me more capable of doing what I do, which is what I want to do? I just want to do what I’m doing already … but better.

So: any advice?

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Latest reply: Jan 10, 2017

Birding Big Day 2016: The Red-Billed Rocket-Tails

Team ‘Red-Billed Rocket-Tails’ consisted of Mark, Julia and James Friskin, and myself! I met up with them at their home at 2:30 Saturday morning. We all had a look at each other so that we could tick off ‘red-billed rocket-tails’ off our list straight away! Just kidding. It was a drizzly morning, as other Polokwane residents might remember. It was rather rainy last year also … it seems to be a Birding Big Day tradition. At the end of the day we joked (though I was a bit slow on the uptake at that point) that we should have the bird day in early October to get a quick start to the rainy season!

We headed to the Polokwane Game Reserve first of all. On the way there we had the first charming encounter of the outing – no, not birds, but a couple of hedgehogs crossing the road! Once in the reserve, we caught some nightjars calling and were on the big rock for the dawn chorus, where we ticked off several species. The only owl we got there, was the Pearl-otted. It was a day for cuckoos, with Red-Chested, Black, Diederik and Jacobin cuckoos calling. We got several species of francolins and warblers. After the break of dawn we ventured on a drive through the reserve. A spec was ial encounter was a red-chested flufftail (heard only) at a small wetland. Mark was adamant that we should try to get at least 100 species before we leave for our other destinations – and we did! We were especially happy to get Wahlberg’s Eagle.

From the reserve we made a quick trip to the golf club, where we were charmed by several species of kingfisher – woodland, pied, pygmy and malachite. Another treat was thousands of tiny frogs hopping around! They must have recently metamorphosed. We also made a trip to a patch of veld close to the stadium, where we got, among other things, rock martins and redwinged starlings, and then took a detour to the Koraal retirement home. From there we visited the Flora Park Dam but were disappointed … not much going on, with some fishermen probably scaring the birds away. But there were more tiny frogs! I couldn’t stop to ID them, though.

From there we headed to BBB where we got wonderful waterfowl last year. This year the dams were not as full, but we got several species of wader: common, wood and marsh sandpiper, ruff and greenshank. We did get some ducks also: white-faced, yellow-billed, redbilled teal, southern pochard. We got several new species there, it was one of our most profitable stops. From there we headed to Vencor, the cattle-lot. James found the smell rather overpowering! There we found lots of storks: marabous, Abdim’s, and white. Mark saw some woolly-necked storks but I just couldn’t get a glimpse of them. We also got vultures: cape and white-backed. Unfortunately we missed the pelican!

From Vencor we turned back and had a quick trip to the Polokwane Bird Sanctuary. That wasn’t very pleasant smelling either, with lots of fresh sewage streaming from the works. We didn’t get much there, but did ID the African Sedge Warbler/Little Rush Warbler on call – always a stalwart. We did get a couple of other species also. Then we headed to the Haenertzburg-Magoebaskloof region. Along the road we got a couple of Greater Kestrel. We first made a stop at the cemetery and the patch of conserved grassland. We got, as we expected, the dusky flycatcher, grassbird, yellow bishop and Drakensberg prinia. We then intended to take the forest drive. The roads were very bad, though, and we didn’t actually make it into the indigenous forest. But along the road we saw a woolly-necked stork – this time I saw it clearly, in fact we all did! We also got cape canaries, lesser and greater double-collared sunbird, pied wagtail, sombre bulbul/greenbul, and, as expected, a long-crested eagle perched beside the road!

We made our last stop at the Magoebaskloof Dam, and from there headed back to Polokwane. The last species we recorded, was the Black Cuckooshrike – Mark and I saw a female.

When we decided to call it a day, our tally was 181 species! We had aimed for 170 – last year we got 152 – so we were very pleased. And still, there were several fairly common species which we missed! And because of the rain and the roads we didn’t get into the forests, where we might have glimpsed several more. So we are quite satisfied and also stoked for next year!

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Latest reply: Dec 1, 2016

Trump and Clinton Debate in Afrikaans Accents

Just a bit of fun:

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Latest reply: Oct 31, 2016

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