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Blog posts - June 2015


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Go-away Bird
Bat-eared Fox
Waterval Boven
Margate and the story of Trunko
Swartberg Pass
Weenen Game Reserve
Port Shepstone Lighthouse
Adopt a rhino
Wild Dogs versus Lioness
Black-headed Oriole
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28th June 2015 - Go-away Bird

Grey Go-away-bird in a typical pose

In the 1974 movie "Beautiful People", by Jamie Uys, there is a well-known scene where a San hunter keeps having his prey alerted to his presence by the call of Go-away Bird. After the bird alerting zebras, then Waterbuck, to the hunters presence, it cuts to a scene which suggests that the Go-away Bird becomes the hunters dinner.

Is there any truth in this? Certainly the call of this amusing bird does sound similar to 'go away' or, more accurately, 'g-wayyy'. The Grey Go-away Bird is common in bushveld areas and is always obvious as it sits on exposed perches of the tops of trees and bushes. So it has a good vantage point to see what is going on around it, so it could see both hunter and prey. Apart from that I am sure that it is all folklore. I have never seen animals respond to the call of one of these birds, not that I have been hunting at the time. Also, what benefit would it be to the Go-away Bird?

To me this is just one of those stories told around the campfire. Any hunters out there have a different opinion on it?

For more information on the Grey Go-away-bird click here

27th June 2015 - Bat-eared Fox

Bat-eared Fox plus pup

This Bat-eared Fox looks rather scruffy but its coat blends in perfectly with the surrounding grass. Both the colour and the texture match beautifully. Even so, its tiny pup is hardly visible.

For more information on the Bat-eared Fox click here

26th June 2015 - Hermanus=Whale-watching

Hermanus sits between the beautiful mountains and the rocky coast

Between June and early December each year the coastal town of Hermanus plays hosts to the visiting Southern Right Whales and thousands of tourists. They even have a 'Whale Crier' ready to spread the word as soon as a whale is spotted.

The whales return to Walker Bay to mate and to calve and, in the process, entertain the lucky visitors who get to witness these marvellous animals close by. The whales may be viewed from land or on specially licensed boat trips.

Southern Right Whales grow to a length of around 15 metres and may weigh over 45 tons. It is believed that the population in the Hermanus area is around 100.

For more information on Hermanus click here

17th June 2015 - Waterval Boven

There is plenty of beautiful scenery around Waterval Boven

The town of Waterval Boven gets its name from from the Dutch language and means "above the waterfall". Nowadays the town is actually named Emgwenya.

The area around the town is very picturesque with many mountains. The town is a centre point in the area for rock climbers and there are many climbs to attempt in the area (apparently there are around 700 climbs in the surrounding mountains). Many international climbers visit the town as well. The Roc 'n Rope lodge in Waterval Boven caters for climbers. There is also other accommodation available nearby.

Other outdoor activities in the area include mountain biking, birding, hiking and trout fishing. The clear night skies also attract astronomers.

For more information on Waterval Boven click here

15th June 2015 - Margate and the story of Trunko

A rocky stretch of coastline at Margate

In 1924 residents of Margate were amazed to see a battle in progress between two Killer Whales and a polar bear-like fish. For three hours they watched the battle out at sea.

The strange creature washed up on the Margate shore line where it lay decomposing for 10 days. Although no scientists investigated it at the time the animal was measured and found to be 14 metres in length and appeared to have white fur and some sort of trunk which was 1.5 metres in length and this led to the creature being called Trunko. The carcass didn't appear to have a head.

Although a photo of the animal had been published as far back as 1925 it was only in 2010 that a logical explanation was proposed by Karl Shuker. He identified Trunko as being a tough sac of blubber from a dead whale, after the rest of the skeleton and skin have separated from it. These are known as globsters. The white furry look of Trunko was actually tissue fibres. The Killer Whales, that it was supposedly battling, were merely tossing their food around.

For more information on Margate click here

11th June 2015 - Swartberg Pass

The twisty road over the Swartberg Pass

The Swartberg Mountains are one of the best examples of fold mountain chains in the world. The road over the pass seems to cling to the edge of the mountains and offers excellent views of the surrounding countryside. The road is not tarred and can be a bit dangerous in wet weather so be cautious.

Besides the stunning views on offer there is also a great variety of plant life. The rocky cliffs are also of interest to geologists.

For more information on the Swartberg Pass click here

10th June 2015 - Weenen Game Reserve

A Red Hartebeest at Weenen Game Reserve near Estcourt

About 30 km north of Estcourt is Weenen Game Reserve. It is a great place to go if you want to get away from crowds as it is never busy. It is home to a wide variety of mammals and is also good for birding, especially in summer.

Weenen Game Reserve was founded in 1975 and is 5 000 hectares in extent. It is administered by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The reserve has a nice camping area but the facilities are basic. The sites are, however, spacious and look out onto extensive grasslands.

There is a road network consisting of around 30 km of dirt roads, which are generally in good condition, and a few short walks, view sites and picnic areas.

For more information on Weenen Game Reserve click here

9th June 2015 - Port Shepstone Lighthouse

Port Shepstones lighthouse stands at the mouth of the Umzimkulu River

The Port Shepstone lighthouse is a quaint structure that stands on the south bank of the Umzimkulu River where it spills into the Indian Ocean. The lighthouse was built in 1905 and is painted in a black and white check pattern.

The lighthouse is fully automatic and has it's own back up power generators in case the main electricity supply goes off.

The light flashes every 6 seconds and is visible for up to 26 sea miles.

8th June 2015 - Adopt a rhino

My certificate for adopting Tobi the rhino

Today I 'adopted' a rhino through the South Africa National Parks website. It's so easy, you get to choose your rhno, a personalised certificate is emailed to you and it only costs R20.00 (you can donate more if you like).

We all know about the desperate plight of our rhinos and there are many ways that you can get involved. I like the fact that this particular one is through our National Parks Board but there are many other worthwhile projects.

If you do decide to adopt a rhino then I would love to hear about it. Click here to let me know.

5th June 2015 - Wild Dogs versus Lioness

Wild Dog at Hluhluwe Game Reserve

I visited Hluhluwe Game Reserve over the Christmas period last year and had some amazing sitings. The best though was a brief encounter with a pack of Wild Dogs.

I was heading towards iMfolozi Game Reserve from Hilltop Camp when I came across some Wild Dogs in the road. They had recently killed, and pretty much devoured, a female Nyala and some of the pack were drinking from puddles in the road. Others still lay around gnawing on the scraps of the food. Suddenly their attention shifted towards the thick bush on the left hand side of the road. They became agitated and some were giving off a nervous twitter. Shortly afterwards a lioness came out of the bush and the dogs made a hasty retreat.

The lioness sniffed around for a while then decided that there was nothing of interest to her and she headed back in the direction that she came from. By now the Wild Dogs had disappeared and I didn't see them again despite waiting for an hour. The only activity during this period was from a Yellowbilled Kite who kept sweeping down and picking up bits and pieces. It tried to carry off a leg bone but dropped it into thick bush.

For more information on Wild Dogs click here

1st June 2015 - Black-headed Oriole

A Black-headed Oriole sunning itself

A black-headed Oriole catches some sun at Stainbank Nature Reserve on Sunday. Oriole's aren't shy birds and normally make their presence known by their beautiful calls. They feed on fruit and insects.

For more information on this beautiful bird click here

18th December 2014 - The beauty of Boulders Beach and its amazing penguins

Some of the beautiful scenery at Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach is a beautiful beach on the Cape Peninsula. It is surrounded by residential properties but they do not detract from the beauty of this spot. The beach gets its name from giant granite boulders which are millions of years old. Despite the beauty of the beach and the boulders the real claim to fame of Boulders Beach is its breeding colony of African Penguins. Over the last 30 years the colony of African Penguins has grown to about 3,000 birds. Boardwalks have been erected at the neighbouring beach that allow you to wander amongst the penguins without causing too much to the birds. Despite their association with water the penguins are easily seen amongst the coastal bush where they breed. One can approach to within a metre or so of some individuals who seem unperturbed by your presence. Swimming is allowed at nearby beaches.

These African Penguins look like they are in an enclosure but they are wild penguins at Boulders Beach

10th December 2014 - Welcome to BlueGnu

BlueGnu is my personal project to document as much of the animal and plant life, as well as the towns, cities and places of interest, as possible. I am trying to do as much of the photography myself but am also making use of a photo library to help fill in the gaps.

The information given for each subject is not meant to be comprehensive. Rather it is meant to give you a quick guide to the subject as well as to illustrate it with photographs.

This site has only just been established in May 2013 and is being updated continually.

Subjects are added regularly so keep coming back!


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