Sunday, June 24, 2012

Big Birds and a Bigger Cat

At the beginning of May I spent a few days in the Etosha Pans, 100km from Home:

There was not much game to be seen at this time of the year because, following a good Rain season, there was still ample water and grazing in the bush.

Often tourists are disappointed because they fly in for a few hours expecting to see every kind of animal.

For me, the magic is in just sitting quietly at a Water Hole in the knowledge that the scene unfolding is thousands, perhaps millions, of years old.

This Elephant was drinking at the waterhole when it suddenly took fright and stomped off in a huff.

I could see no other animals around which might have alarmed it - maybe Elephants just don't like me.

King Of The Road.

I was forced to spend 15 minutes staring at this fellow's butt as he ambled along the road.

He eventually moving off into the bush when another car appeared from the front.

For the first time I got quite close to Marabou Storks - a gang of about thirty hanging-out at a shallow pool of water.

They're scavengers and I'd seen them before in the distance, once waiting hopefully near a Lion kill.

It's difficult to decide which are uglier, Vultures or Marabous.

According to Wiki 'Marabous eating human garbage have been seen to devour virtually anything that they can swallow, including shoes and pieces of metal.'

I don't know what was going on in this Warthog boar's head.

He was feeding peacefully with his mate and two offspring when he suddenly started chasing after them making grunting a squealing noises - this went on for about ten minutes, with them all running around in circles.

There were a quite few Zebra around - but not the large herds seen in Spring when water and grazing is scarce.

Who are You? - Giraffe and the Moon.

The highlight of my visit occurred shortly after entering Etosha - the first thing I saw was the distinctive tail in the grass - the first time I've been close to a Leopard.

The sighting was over in a flash as she disappeared into a culvert underneath the road.

She glanced up once but totally ignored me - in that moment I felt completely exposed - I knew that she could reach me in one bound ...


Sunday, June 17, 2012

More Junk Art and a Fig Tree Spook

More Tsauchab River Junk Art - and the Fig Tree Shower mentioned in that post:

An alert Kudu beside a tree.

A snapshot of the entrance road and Reception area.

Johan has used tons of scrap metal objects and natural things like rocks, dead trees and plants to create an attractive open-air art exhibition.

A fearsome Crocodile grasps an antelope in it's jaws.

Birds of Paradise?

A Scorpion scuttles defensively around it's pedestal.

I wonder what this gaggle of Ostriches are discussing?

Camera 'round the neck and binoculars in hand, visitors on a hike - the smaller figure doesn't look too happy ...

The Fig Tree Shower I mentioned.

The tree is probably a few hundred years old and the centre, where the shower is, is hollow.

The smoke is coming from the "Donkey" - a wood-fired water heater.

When I first went to check-out the shower near Dusk, my peripheral vision told my mind that the mirror inside the tree was a Window ...

... I was startled when I looked at it and saw someone staring at me ... :)

Sadly, I didn't get any good pics of inside the tree and the shower but, this should give you an idea of what it looked like.

There's nothing quite like the sensation of standing in the open under a hot shower with a coolish breeze blowing over your body.

Related Post: Tsauchab River Junk Art


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Amazing Lithops Collection

On returning to the desert a few days ago, I stopped at the recently opened Alte Kalköfen Lodge on the Keetmanshoop - Aus Road.

Besides other curiosities which I'll write about in another Post, I was delighted to discover that the owner, Frikkie, has a Lithops collection in a nursery called the "Cole Lithoparium".

Lithops is a genus of succulent plants in the ice plant family, Aizoaceae. Members of the genus are native to southern Africa.

The name is derived from the Ancient Greek words λίθος (lithos), meaning "stone," and ὄψ (ops), meaning "face," referring to the stone-like appearance of the plants.

Frikkie, a registered collector, has a stunning selection of these small thumbnail-sized plants which occur in the arid western areas of Namibia and South Africa.

I was so engrossed in taking pics that I missed a lot of what he was saying but, from what I could gather, he has examples of every known Lithops species. A reference says that he has the best collection of Lithops in Namibia but I think that this is possibly the best (most comprehensive) collection in the world.

I believe too, that he has discovered one or two species himself - I'll pay more attention when I visit again.

Lithops are also known as "Living Stones" and "Baba Boudjies" (Baby Bums) or "Beeskloutjies" (Cattle Hooves) in Afrikaans.

Besides Lithops, Frikkie also has other rare succulent species from this Region in his collection.

Another amazing desert plant.

I only have a 300mm zoom lens and was unable to really do justice to the beauty of these plants.

Individual Lithops plants consist of one or more pairs of bulbous, almost fused leaves opposite to each other and hardly any stem. The slit between the leaves contains the meristem and produces flowers and new leaves.

I had to smile - this variety is nicknamed "Hotlips" - you can see why from the plant without a flower.

A moss-like growth of tiny individual Lithops plants, many with small yellow flowers.

The most startling adaptation of Lithops is the colouring of the leaves. The leaves are not green as in almost all higher plants, but various shades of cream, grey, and brown, patterned with darker windowed areas, dots, and red lines. The markings on the top surface disguise the plant in its surroundings.

There are some better images of Living Stones on this related post.

Alte Kalköfen Lodge


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cape Town, My Eye - Two

I don't like Cities in general but, Cape Town is an exception - mainly because it's so easy to escape the Concrete Jungle and disappear into Nature.

A Bronze Lion in front of the Studio of sculptor Donald Greig.

A section of a giant mural which adorns the wall of a building.

Someone's Hog against a red brick wall.

A steel-hulled sailing ship, Europa, in dry Dock for repairs - I believe it's a training vessel but I don't know it's origin.

All shall be Equal before the Law

I wonder what motivated the artist to paint this message on the last remaining wall of an old demolished building.

The yellowing Spirit of Autumn reflected off a car's windscreen.

Mercury sitting atop a building, holding a Caduceus.

The balcony of the Timbuktu Restaurant on Long Street.

The Drumming Troupe again - I can kick myself now for not being bolder and getting some close-ups of their faces.

Related Posts:
Cape Town, My Eye - One