Thursday, April 30, 2009

Straggler

On a recent visit to one of the game reserves close to Port Elizabeth, we found this lone European Swallow sitting on a fence. Most of the swallows have left up north already and the first thing that came to mind was "straggler". I can imagine him sitting there watching the sky and wondering if its really time to head north before winter arrives down here.
For more great pictures where you can watch the sky like this little fellow, go to Skywatch.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Succulents

Its been a while since I've done a Random theme post. For today's post I did an impromptu macro photo shoot in my garden. I love succulents and cacti as they are easy to maintain and make the most interesting flowers when they do bloom. In front of the house I have a small rock garden while I have lots of different succulents in pots around the pool.



Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Silver Seas


Early morning and the sun's reflection turns the ocean to silver at Pollock Beach, Port Elizabeth

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pixi Picnic Table and chair

I found these mushrooms growing under the "fort" in our backyard. So the normal happened. Fetch the camera, get down on my tummy and click away. My mom was visiting us for the weekend and when I got up she was standing behind me looking at me funny. Oh well, I'm getting used to it.
I'm not 100% sure what type of mushroom it is, but I think its a Parasol Mushroom or alternatively it could be a type of Field Mushroom. Whatever it was, the pixies had such a massive party on it last night that it was gone this morning.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Library stained glass windows

The old Port Elizabeth Main Library was opened in 1902 and has some magnificent stained glass windows which was restored a couple of years ago.


One of the stained glass windows in the library

The stained glass dome in the roof

When we were small my mom used to work across the road from the library and we often got to visit it. We used to sneak up on the gallery walkways to enjoy the view from the top. I still remember the smell and atmosphere of the library and when I do get to go there, it normally all comes back to me... cause it still exactly the same.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Birthday Party

Chaos Boy turned seven on 14 April while we were away camping over Easter Weekend. Last Saturday was his party and this whole week I've been wanting to post a couple of pics.

The general theme of the party was boats with the Damselfly keeping the theme constant through the invites and birthday cake as usual. At least this cake wasn't as complicated to make as some of the other ideas she has come up with in the past.


Other than the party packs for the kids, we cater a bit for the adults as well. After a couple of years of boerewors (farm style sausage for those who don't know the term) rolls, we have now reverted to a big snack platter.

The kids had a swim and then decided that it was too cold to play outside *???* and headed for the bedrooms. The little girls were playing in Drama Princess' room, while the boys were trashing playing in Chaos Boy's room.

Then it was time to open the presents...

... and show it off

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The boy in the red shirt

On our recent trip to Cape St Francis, Chaos Boy decided to tag along on my outing to find the wreck indicated on the information sheet at the resort we were staying at. While I was taking pictures all over the show, he was exploring away on his own. I liked how his red shirt stood out against the greenery.



He found a lot of "sea sound shells" as he calls any shell he can keep up to his ear to listen to the sound of the ocean.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pink Candelabra

In September I did a post featuring the Seal Point Lighthouse with a Candelabra flower in the foreground which I took some time ago. On our recent visit the Candelabra flowers were in bloom again and I decided to see if I can get some slight variations on the original photo. So here is one of the pic I came up with.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lighthouse study

About two weeks ago Max did a similar series of photos on the Cape St Francis lighthouse on The maX Files and after seeing it I felt inspired to try some creative shots in the lighthouse as well.

Looking out one of the lighthouse windows on the way out


Damp taking its toll

Spiraling down

One powerful light bulb

Zebra railing?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rain spider

Regular visitors my remember that I did a post a couple of weeks ago about a Rain Spider's Nest. This last weekend on our camping trip the people on the site next to us found a rain spider in their caravan and the man caught it and brought it out to release it in to the bush again. As always I had my camera on hand.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Kite surfing

The wind out at Cape St Francis was just right for the kite surfers to come out and play. The wind was on-shore and the guys were gunning it up and down the beach in the shallows.


Chaos Boy was mesmerised by these guys being dragged around the sea by their big kites. I imagined him thinking something like: "One day when I'm big..."

A close-up of one of the kite surfers as he came past us

Go and visit Skywatch. The photos are great and the sky is the limit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Evening lighthouse moods

We camped out at Cape St Francis over Easter weekend for three nights and one of the missions that I set for myself was to get a nice Seal Point Lighthouse picture at sunset.

I missed sunset on the first evening to say the least. We got busy and by the time I realised the sun was down... well, it was too late. So I ambled over the dunes with my camera and tripod and set up for an evening shot from a distance.


The second evening I headed down to the lighthouse and got there just before sunset. The sky wasn't as beautiful as the previous evening, but at least I got this pic.

The last evening the sky looked very much the same as the previous night, but I headed down to the point yet again. Not much sunset to play with (this will now have to wait for the next visit which will be who knows when), but I tried to get the lighthouse from a different side.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cape St Francis Wreck

We went to camp at Cape St Francis over the Easter weekend. On Sunday morning I decided to take the trail westward along the coast as indicated on the resort's info sheet to see if I could find the wreck (apparently what is left of The Osprey which ran aground in 1855) and the blow hole marked on it. Unfortunately the tide was too low to find the blow hole and, well, there wasn't much left of the wreck to say the least. But no worries, it still made for a great photo opportunity.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pyrgomorphid Grasshopper

I can for the life of me not remember what the ranger said this grasshopper's common name is, but I will put it in when I remember of find out.
The Pyrgomorphid Grasshopper (Family Pyrgomorphidae) is a grasshopper in all the sense of the word as they can fly. Their wings are under developed and their hind legs are designed for jumping. They make no sound and is fairly slow moving.


Their bright colours warn predators that it is poisonous and it produces a foul smelling foam if disturbed. This guy was playing hide and seek with me behind the grass as he kept on bobbing left and right as I tried to get a clear photo of him.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Zuurberg Pass

In today's modern day people traveling between Port Elizabeth and Cradock crosses over the Zuurberg Mountains at speed via the Olifants Kop Pass (R32). In olden days travellers had to cross over the old Zuurberg Pass which was quite a treacherous journey. The Zuurberg Pass is still accessible today although its mostly a very bumpy dirt road. In the past I have travelled up to the Zuurberg Inn several times, but I've never been over the pass' back and down the other side.

The ideal opportunity to explore the whole pass came my way when we got to go to Addo Elephant Back Safaris which is situated in a valley at the top of the mountain. I took the wrong road decided to attempt it from the inland side and exit on the Addo Elephant National Park side which is the side I'm familiar with. We started out on the Jansenville dirt road (R400) linking the Cradock road (R32) with the Graaff Reinet road (R75). All started well with a straight and smooth dirt road which was a pleasure to fly drive along.

At one of the intersections close to the historic Ann's Villa we found this sign. I just had to stop to take a picture. It also told me that the road has been around for a while and I could start to hear the ghosts of ox wagons grinding along the dirt road heading north. But we were heading south and there were thunder in the air ... or was it just my stomach grumbling.

It wasn't long before the road started to get narrower and a lot more bumpy and rocky. It was winding its way up and down the mountain like a hungry python trying to choke its prey. But the scenery made up for the fact that if I had dentures I would have had to pick it up from the floor.
The mountain side was covered in a blanket of heather. Like somebody took a pink quilt and draped it over the Zuurberg. It was absolutely awesome. Heather forms part of the Fynbos biome or Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest of the world's six floral kingdoms. The Cape Floral Kingdom was proclaimed an UNESCO World Heritage natural Site which means that fynbos is highly protected by law.


As much as the Damselfly wanted to stop and pick some to take home for the lounge I wasn't prepared to take that chance of the flower police sitting somewhere watching me. Specially not within the Greater Addo Elephant National Park At the end of the winding road we got to our destination for the night and after the next mornings elephant ride and activities we went on up the mountain again, still heading south. After some more rattling we got to the historic Zuurberg Inn which seems to be going up full steam ahead after last years big devastating fire. From there its smooth sailing down the mountain side before hitting the tar road again near the National Park's main gate on the R335. A trip to be recommended if you like mountains, passes and fantastic natural scenery.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ironman South Africa

Probably one of the biggest challenges in the world of endurance sports is Ironman. Run all over the world, the only city in Africa to host an Ironman is Port Elizabeth. Ironman is the ultimate test of endurance. It starts with a 3,8 kilometer swim followed by a 180 kilometer cycle and a 42.2 kilometer run. I get tired just watching these guys go.

I was on the beach at sunrise this morning to see the competitors off on their swim. The conditions were perfect with barely a breeze and a very flat ocean.


07h00 and they are off...

They swim two laps before coming out the water into transition before the cycle. There was a hole in the shallows and a couple of the competitors had a bit of a dive after the fact.

The grueling 180 km cycle gets done over three circular laps of 60 km each around the city. The cycle was done in souring heat with temperatures probably reaching into the 30's today. As I am writing this most of the competitors are still busy with their run. Cut-off is at midnight tonight and by then some competitors would have been going for 17 hours. Two of the most awesome competitors out there today were a blind guy with his guide and a guy who towed a young boy with him the whole way. And of cause Pamiejane, one of my blog friends.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Elephants eating

It is not often that one gets the opportunity to get right down on the ground close to an elephant to get photos of him eating and going about his daily routine. This was one of the things I really enjoyed at Addo Elephant Back Safaris last weekend.

Elephants are fascinating eaters. They eat up to 200kg of vegetation per day.


Because they are herbivores (vegetarians), and thus only eat plants. Imagine if the were carnivores. What would it look like when elephants hunt? Anyway, they eat anything from grass and leaves to roots and bark. In this case this particular one was eating Acacia Karoo or Sweet Thorn. You can see the thorns on the piece in his mouth.

Elephants are referred to as very destructive feeders. This isn't just because of the quantity that they eat, but also because the would tear down whole young trees just to eat the leaves or get to the roots. The other thing is that they have very bad digestive systems. They only digest about 60% of their food. If you look at the pic above, the little mushrooms are growing in elephant dung. It looks like dead grass, which proofs the point. Pity I couldn't get the focus right, but the elephants were coming and I was in the way. I wasn't about to be stepped on by a 3.5 ton animal to get the perfect photo.