Posts Tagged Birds

2015 – Part 4 – A Secret Garden

This part will be mostly pictures.

After I came north up the coast again, once I’d completed my Storms River stay, I went to Margate and stayed at the same place I always stay – Treetops Lodge.  Unfortunately the place, or at least the self-contained unit I stayed in – and I always stay in the same one, on the end, so I can see the monkeys pass by in the mornings – hadn’t been kept up at all.  I think nothing had been done there since 2007 when I first stayed there and it is the mould and mildew that get me the worst.  Even though I had had a case sent to them of the new stuff that breaks the spores (ZeroMold) so that it doesn’t come back, I still couldn’t stay in the unit for very long even with the windows open, and still breathe.  They sure hadn’t used the stuff on that unit.  Anyway, I’d had enough, and as much as I love their deck, couldn’t take the lack of maintenance any longer so moved down the coast to Marina Beach.

What a score that place was – I’ll tell you about it in the next and last installment.  And I got it, basically, due to the kindness of strangers.  I’ve said this many times, that travelling would not be nearly as fun or as serendipitous without the kindness of strangers.

But anyway, my landlord at the new place took me to see this local site, where someone had landscaped the vacant lot next to his own house and made a gem of a little park-like garden.  It’s just stunning!  So this will be mainly photos of the garden, with not much explanation, especially since I don’t know the plant names.

I hope you enjoy them.  If you know the flowers, let me know the names if you want.

 

 

 

 

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I’ve found MY Place, I think

Lots of catching up to do here.  Connections for phone and internet are practically non-existent at Tsitsikamma.  It was strange to be back there – so much has changed since I was there 4 yrs ago.  The Lodge has been sold to a small chain and the upkeep has been spotty – odd little things missed or done wrong that just grate.  And for the price they charge, I don’t want any  ‘odd little things’ grating!

 

Hadeda on the lawn

Hadeda on the lawn

View from my porch at Tsitsikamma

View from my porch at Tsitsikamma

Also, the N2 has been run across and north of the old road, so it’s right outside the cabins practically.  Now it’s the main route from east to west on the south end and you hear trucks and racing cars all day and all night.  Not the pastoral serenity I was looking for.  Still really nice staff, but that doesn’t make up for what was lost.  And now they take in small coach tours, so the place is full of noisy tourists, mostly German while I was there.  Don’t have anything against German tourists, just coach groups tend to be much more noisy than single travellers.

BUT – when I left this morning I decided to double back and look at Storms River Village since that’s where the canopy zip-line tours run from and I really, really want to do that, but chickened out again yesterday when I had the chance to do it.  What a place – I’m in love again!  One little street of one block with touristy things on it – horse riding, tubing, bike tours and the zip-line thing, with a second-hand bookshop and a small grocery store, restaurant and internet cafe.  Then there were some accommodation establishments, one called Tsitsikamma Village Inn caught my eye.  Large, well-tended grounds.  Several types of living spaces – Swiss wooden cottages, adobe type fisherman’s cottages, old Cape Dutch ‘row housing’.  It was so intriguing.  I went in to the reception and asked the woman what the charges were, and they’re half of what the place I stayed was.  And she said feel free to wander about and any room door that is open, I could go in and check it out.  They were all excellent rooms.  Done up so nicely, clean bright and thoughtfully set up.  And the Albert and Victoria suites were really something!  THEN when I spoke to the woman on the desk again, she said that the former owners of Tsitsikamma Lodge bought this when they sold the other place to the chain. This couple have a genius for making a place have a vibe where you just feel like you can let your breath out and your shoulders relax.  I wanted to stay there so badly, but already had my reservations at the B&B here in PE, so regretfully left.  Had talked to the second-hand bookstore owner and he said that a monthly rental there in the village would be about R2-3,000/mo.  That’s pretty reasonable and I loved the place, what little I saw of it.  Don’t know if it’s close to a beach or not, but google earth will surely tell me.

Storms River Village 2

Storms River Village 2

Storms River Village 1

Storms River Village 1

Saw lots of birds at the Lodge though.  One that looks like a robin kept coming and sitting on my windowsill and looking in at me.  It was a hoot.  And lots of  hadedas on the lawns.  MT you’ll have to tell me how to pronounce that bird’s name.  I’ve been rhyming it with lah-di-dah but have no idea if that is correct.

Also saw this bright little thing that never sat still for more than a few seconds unless it was way high up.  Irridescent as so many here seem to be.  Black, red, turquoise and yellow.  Looked a lot like the lilac breasted roller but black where the roller has the lilac.  It makes a strange sound, a ‘tink-tink’ call that sounds just as if someone was snapping their fingernail against an empty beer bottle.

The weather is something else.  When I was through here before, it was gloomy.  While I was down the road, PE and East London had a heat wave of 38C.  Now I’m here and it is thundering and gloomy, and the wind!  My grief!  PE is definitely the Chicago of SA.  It thunders and lightnings a lot, but doesn’t rain much – a few sprinkles.  I asked the chap at the Lodge about that because it thundered and lightninged in a major way all last night but there was only a few drops of rain there.  He said because it is already so damp on this side of the mountains that the clouds don’t release their rain until the other side, over the Karoo, which is a desert, so they will be glad of it.

The wind is so bad I don’t really feel like venturing out so it’s a good time to catch up on my blog here, then I’ll see what this town has to offer by way of touristy stuff.

 

I did go back to the elephant orphanage and did a different program this time.  Since the weather was great and there were lots of people they did the walks and educational talks this time.  The walks are when they bring elephants out and you can hold ‘hands’ with them and take them for a walk.  That was fun, and the educational session was good too.  You get to feel the elephants’ trunks, teeth, foot pads and so on and how everything works is explained to you.

 

 

And I went to Birds of Eden again.  Love that place.  Had a great long chat with the woman who owns it as she was walking on the path back to the office so started explaining some things to a bunch of us who were looking at the birds.  So everyone else moved on and we stood and chatted for quite a while.  A lot of the birds they have there as well as the small monkeys which are new and the pair of duikers, were pets that people either were mistreating or decided that they couldn’t handle.  Even though there is the monkeyland park next door, which she also owns, those monkeys – two kinds of tamarins I think they’re called – can’t go in there since they really don’t know how to behave properly to be accepted and they’d be killed.

 

 

People just don’t think before they get an animal way too often.  One of the elephants at the elephant orphanage was a pet.  Someone kept her until she was about 4 I think and was getting way too big for the house but didn’t want to stay out.  So the poor thing got turned over to the orphanage and they had a heck of a time for a couple years  keeping her out of the ‘people buildings’.  Now she has taken over the role of foster mother to any new elephants because even though she’s the oldest, she can’t be a matriarch of the herd since she doesn’t know enough about elephant stuff.

 

 

Saw a T-shirt on the net that I loved.  I’d get it if I didn’t already have too many T-shirts.  It said “Anything unrelated to elephants is irr-elephant.”

Anyway, I think that’s all for today.

ttys,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunny days

Yesterday was a sleep-in day.  Kept getting up and going back to bed.  It was fairly chilly so I was quite happy there.

Today went to the bird park and there were some intersting birds there, the best of which was the giant hornbill.  He was a ways up in the tree so I don’t know for sure how big he was, but it looked as if, if he stood on the ground he would almost reach my shoulder.  He was ENORMOUS!!  (Actually just looked them up, and average size is 4-1/4 ft (130 cm) head to tail, but doesn’t say how tall).  (Google ‘giant hornbill’.  A couple great articles/videos there)

There were a lot of other birds I wasn’t familiar with, like the vasa, who was quite a good talker, and a lot of mutations I hadn’t seen before too.  I was kind of sad though since it seems that their diet consists of sunflower seeds either entirely or primarily – even the nectar eaters.  and they have not really been socialized properly and have had no stimulation.  Too many birds plucking or just sitting crouched way back in the pen, behaving like that poor abused parrot I got from the rescue.  I know if he tried to run a place like that in Canada or the US, he’d be shut down before you could turn around.

The rest of the day I just sat on the porch here and watched the birds, or wandered around the grounds.  Good variety of birds here, and a feeder hung out near the deck.

It’s much more tropical here than up north.  The grounds here are all indigenous trees and shrubs, so palms of different kinds and many I don’t have a clue about.  It’s really quite beautiful and peaceful.  And the stream at the bottom of the property, which you can now hear since the rains, but not see due to the ‘jungle’ down there, is making a lovely racket, which tends to soothe me right into a drowse.

 

 

 

It’s a hard life, eh?

I’ll be off to the gorge tomorrow, then Sunday will drive to East London I think since I don’t want to do the whole way to Tsitsikamma all at one go and end up arriving in the dark.  Did that last time and missed the gate/turnoff 3 times.

Guess I should go and try to make my Sunday night reservation . . .

ttys,

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