Saturday, November 20, 2010

Henpecked Hadeda ...

Chris was handing back the laser pointer that he had borrowed from Gigi for his final Computer Science honours presentation. Gigi absent mindedly shone it into the tree above and was amused by the Hadeda's reaction. We don't generally tease wild animals but, being careful to not shine it into the bird's eyes, we just had to have a little fun at the expense of these two bird brains.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Rondevlei Nature Reserve, Cape Town ...

After dropping Carla off at the airport for her trip to Kruger Park, Gigi and I visited Rondevlei Nature Reserve in Grassy Park. Here are some of the interesting birds we saw.

Carla checking out of Cape Town ...

Just a couple of pictures to wish Carla well on the next stage of her South African visit.

She left Cape Town this morning at 09h00 on British Airways for Johannesburg.

She is driving with colleagues from there to Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga for two days before going off to Kruger Park for another five days or so.

Carla checking in at Cape Town Airport

Carla's flight to Johannesburg

Carla is now off to experience some real African savannah in Kruger National Park

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I give Carla her first hands-on woodturning lesson ...

The day before she left Cape Town we managed to squeeze in a first hands-on woodturning lesson for Carla. We turned a couple of spin tops for Carla's young niece back in Lisbon.

Carla was an excellent student and learned quickly, completing the third spin-top almost entirely on her own.

We will continue with Carla's woodturning lessons when she returns to Cape Town next year.

I'm looking very forward to that Carla. I hope that all your plans to return to Cape Town for an extended period next year come to fruition.

I hope that you really enjoy your Kruger Park visit before you fly home.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A shoping expedition and bike ride around Cape Town with Carla ...

On 23 October 2010 I accompanied Carla, a very good friend from Portugal, to various Cape Town craft markets to shop for gifts for her family and friends.

We took my old Honda Steed 400 and continued our shopping expedition with a ride down the Cape Peninsula via Llandudno, stopping for lunch in Hout Bay. After watching some seals on the Hout Bay Harbour breakwater we completed our ride by taking a trip over Chapman's Peak Drive and home over Ou Kaapse Weg.

Carla took some great video footage from the pillion.
Share our shopping and bike ride in the two part video below ...

Part 1

Part 2


Friday, October 22, 2010

Collecting Carla from Stelenbosch ...

On Friday I rode out to Stellenbosch to collect Carla to visit for the weekend.

She says, "Come and see this African Goshawk nest in the middle of the University Campus".

Before we get to the Goshawk nest I spot this classic Royal Enfield Bullet 350

See here for more info

The Goshawk wasn't sitting on the nest but I got a good pic of her in a nearby Plain tree

On the subject of plane trees.

I had something nearby to show Carla.

A plane tree grafted on to an oak tree.

Carla is going to try and find out more about this strange tree from staff of the Botany Department

We took the coastal road home along the False Bay coast and stopped for a couple of pics.

Very scenic but what a stupd place to build a road - along the coastal primary dune and in places even seaward of the primary dune.

But that doesn't detract from this beautiful image.

Later on our walk in Kirstenbosch I took a pic of the full moon

Carla takes a ride along Chapman's Peak Drive ...

Here is a short video of a ride that Carla and I took on my Burgman 650 over Ou Kaapseweg, Chapman's Peak Drive and Constantia Nek in October 2010.

Sunny skies, stunning scenery, interesting geology and extrovert Southern Right Whales make for a great ride.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spotted Eagle Owl and chick ...

Yesterday I took some video footage of a Spotted Eagle Owl and chick in Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden, Cape Town.

Here is the video that I compiled.

The chick is about two weeks old.

And here is a short video that I took on 12 and 19 November 2010 when the chick had been out of the nest for about 3 weeks.

He does seem rather alone though compared to previous years where the parents raised two chicks each season. This year the second egg unfortunately failed to hatch.

He is doing very well and growing rapidly. I really enjoy the fact that when we walk in Kirstenbosch each evening there always seems to be someone else "just checking up" on the owl chick. He is very tame and is quite a hit among regular visitors to the garden.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A ramble around the back table of Table Mountain ...

On 14 October I took my good friend Steve for a ramble around the back table of Table Mountain.
Starting in Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden we climbed up Skeleton Gorge, visited the Waterworks Museum just below the Hely-Hutchinson Dam and hiked along the old railway track to the top of Kasteelspoort where we had a magnificent view over the Southern Atlantic.

After a lunch break we retraced our steps along the old railway track and crossed the dam wall of Woodhead Reservoir. We walked along the jeep track past Victoria and Alexandra Reservoirs after which we cut back, northwards along the Eastern edge of the mountain to the top of Nursery Ravine. After a visit to Castle Rock, the top of the buttress between Nursery and Skeleton Gorges we returned and descended by Nursery Ravine back down to Kirstenbosch Garden.

The video that I took of the hike is recorded below in four parts
(Parts 2 - 4 have yet to be uploaded to YouTube but I'll do that over the next couple of days and update this post as I go.)


Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

After our hike we delivered Steve to the Airport later that evening and in due course he arrived home in Columbus, Ohio, USA.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A day at Jonkershoek in the rain ...

On 09/10/10 we had dinner with John and Ziska in Stellenbosch, spent the night at the family cottages at Oude Nektar and the following day 10/10/10 we had a lazy morning and drove around the Jonkershoek circular drive and took lots of pics.

First thing we drove up to the 3 Stone Pines on the hill to take in the view

Here is a wonderful example of a tree resprouting from it's burned bark after a severe fire last summer

Some Proteas on the other hand shed their seeds after the fire so although most of the Proteas die a new population of plants is established from the shed seeds

This is an 'interesting' spiky tree growing next to the cottages on Oude Nektar

I must do some research to discover it's name!

Steve walking alongside the lower dam at Oude Nektar

Hans Peter's wife, Midori, is Japanese so there is quite a strong Japanese influence on the estate

The wine tasting room is on an island in the middle of the dam

View from the wine tasting room at Oude Nektar

The wine cellar at Oude Nektar


Carla chatting to Gigi


Carla chatting to Gigi

Smiles all around

Andi indulging in the very soft lighting of the overcast morning

Steve doing the same

Andi enjoying herself

The beautiful curves of the bridge to the tasting room

The wine tasting house at Oude Nektar

The wine tasting house at Oude Nektar

Gazebo at the damn

Stopped on the circle route to take pictures in the beautiful soft light







Swartboskloof behind the ridge

Carla braving the elements to get photographs

Afternoon Tea with John and Dear 'Auntie' Ziska

This is actually Ziska's guest house where Carla is staying

Andi and Gigi








... and after tea it was off back home to Cape Town

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Climbing the India-Venster route up Table Mountain ...

One lovely Saturday morning ...

... on 9 October 2010 a bunch of friends climbed Table Mountain in Cape Town

... and rested often

What gorgeous scenery ...

India ravine in green which we traversed, right to left, just below the rocks.

You can just see the path on the right hand side.

Looking across India ravine to the base of the crux section.

Higher and higher and more rests to take in the scenery.

Resting below the crux

Resting above the crux.

I used Andi's video to film the crux pitch so there will be links to you tube here soon!

And up and down went the tourists.

We were having much more fun.

Carla says, "Don't let my Mom see these photos!"

"It doesn't look so bad in this photo, you can't tell why i'm grabbing on that rock so hard :)"

Carla says, "Do not do this if you cannot deal with heights! But for me the challenge bit was the one with the staples and chains...and greasy hands.."

But unfortunately we all need to use sunscreen!

Andi catching breath and settling the wobbly knees.

Go girl - you did good. Much less swearing compared to the first occasion!

Steve was very casual about the entire climb. Very laid back.

Hup we go Steve

Hup we go Gigi

Life is good

Steve sharing one of my favourite places on the planet.

Carla says, "Mine too"

Andi and Steve chilling out for a moment.

Up here Andi and Steve - don't look back!

Christian bouldering

Ride that rock Christian

Carla adds to the cairn on the edge while the gobbed smacked tourists sail by

Carla says, "This is the one I don't want my Mum to see!"

Then we walk around on to Fountain ledge and Carla photographs an Agama (Bloukopkoggelmander!)

Carla with the corner of Clifton Beach and the whole of Camps Bay beach far below

Photographing the rock climbers above Fountain ledge

A couple of tricky scrambles to ascend up levels on Fountain ledge

Look at that wonderful view again

There are the rock climbers everyone was photographing. they were taking the more direct route!

The 3 fixed ropes were those of Absail Africa, a commercial group that allows climber/tourists to absail off the top of the mountain.

Nice work Andi.

Although you don't seem quite vertical to the horizon?

But we didn't go down!

Andi and Steve arrived first.

And were shortly joined by all the others.

One of the rules of the mountain is never to loose contact with anyone in the group!

We walked right across the mountain (Christian and I taking a detour to the cable station to fill everyones water bottles) to Maclear's Beacon, the highest point on the mountain.

The plaque on Maclear's Beacon

Steve posing on Mclear's Beacon

After 'climbing' the beacon we all had a well deserved lunch break in the amphitheater just below the beacon

Walking back from Mclears beacon across the Eastern Table towards Platteklip Gorge and the upper cable station on the Western Table

The National Parks staff have built walkways across the marshy sections to prevent erosion

Chondropetalum sp. (Restionaceae) beautifully back lit in the late afternoon sun

Everlastings (Helichrysum sp.) on the Eastern Table

Carla admiring the view from the top edge of the mountain

Gigi and Carla at the upper cable station before we all took the lazy way down!

All of us at the upper cable station before the decent.

Carla hamming it up for Xanic as we left the lower cable station