Alas, I have no photographs of the eighteen wet and bedraggled souls who walked six kilometres in the rain along the beautiful Vermont coastal path and beyond, under the guidance of Hedley and John. Its just sod’s law that after weeks of clear weather, the first rains come on a Wednesday, but we were undaunted and enjoyed the outing nevertheless.
The birders searched for the lost African Openbill, but without success, however, we did see Greyheaded Gulls and a Giant Kingfisher, the latter supplementing his diet with some sea fish.
Our next walk is scheduled for Dot’s Dash, but the recent fires have ravaged the whole area behind Kleinmond, so Renee and I are scratching around looking for an alternative. Unfortunately, nothing will be able to match the Erica pilansii, which we’ll now have to wait until next year to see.
When Andrew told us that James had been selected for his district team to take part in the first round of the Under 11 Western Province trials we were delighted, as any grandparents would be. Saturday saw us on the way to Cape Town, via the Getaway Show at Lourensford and on Sunday morning we were ready and waiting for the game to start at 09h00. Unfortunately the match officials were a bit late, but things got underway at 10h00. Jamie was asked to open the batting for his side. After surviving an early dropped catch, he went on to make 19 not out before being retired so that his teammates could also show their skills. We will only find out later whether he has been included in the next round or not, but are happy to have seen him perform and wish him every success. Lets hope that next time he also gets a chance to bowl, as that is his favourite discipline.
Not for the first time, Barbara and her committee organised a really good field trip – this time to Verlorenvlei and surrounding areas on the West coast. We met (all 25 of us) at Vensterklip Guest House, where we were accommodated, either in chalets or at camp sites, on Tuesday afternoon. The first day was spent in the actual vlei area, where we saw a number of water birds, before tucking into the usual braai and accoutrements supplied by designated delegates. Wednesday saw us taking the road south to Velddrif where, despite the wet conditions we were not disappointed with the aquatic birds.
On Thursday we went north to Lamberts Bay seeing a fine range of west coast birds along the way. Bird Island was somewhat disappointing, with far fewer than usual Cape Gannets present and no Crowned or Bank Cormorants, although we did see many terns, but no specials. We were happy to spend the evening seeing Australia knocked out of the World Cup before tucking into another good meal and hearing Barbara’s accounting of our bird list – about 140 by then, with the West Coast National Park still to come!
The latter did had not produced many additions to the list by the time Renee and I left, but we did see Black Harriers, an African Marsh Harrier and a Black Sparrowhawk, so were quite happy until we returned home and went through the agony of watching South Africa falling apart at the hands of the Black Caps and failing, for the umpteenth time to win a game at the knock-out stage of the competition. What a disappointment!! The whole country must be in shock and we all wonder if our team will ever hold a cricket trophy.
There was one very positive aspect to the trip, albeit only on a personal level. We managed to survive three nights in our relatively new caravan, although sleeping on a slope on the first night was a bit problematic. Fortunately we got the levelling to hold up once we saw the cause of the problem!
Now I must attend to my 2011 Challenge List, as I know Mike will be asking for an update at month end! His is no doubt touching around 250 by now! What hope have the rest of us got??
My header provides a clue as to what makes me click in photography and shorelines are no exception. It would be impossible to live on the coast and not utilise the magnificent scenery available. Nature continues to overwhelm me with its beauty. I still have a number of photographs in mind and will be experimenting with further long exposures and artistic enhancements – just need to find the time and the right weather conditions.
All too often one hears the complaint that a photograph has been tampered with. Why, I can’t imagine. Its as if a photographer may only produce a realistic photographic image, i.e. one that perfectly replicates the original scene or subject. This is certainly the case with Photo-journalism, where, to alter a picture would be to distort the truth and the same can be said for Wildlife photography. For the rest, however, the photographer has as much right to make of his picture exactly what he wants, just as a painter paints his picture as he wants. This is where the art comes in and where the author shows his or her ability to create an image using a scene captured photographically as the starting point. Very few painters paint from imagination, prefering to paint a particular subject, but with their own unique interpretation. Photographers who strive to produce art, should do the same. Below are two examples of my photographic art which, fortunately, photographic judges have recognised as such.
Our walk this morning was from Grotto Beach to Sopies Klip, a distance of 12 kilometres in total along the beach. It took three hours and, despite a stiff easterly breeze, was very pleasant and a good opportunity to feel the sand between one’s toes. Kinky’s dogs kept us company and certainly enjoyed it, although they weren’t too sure about her wanting to take up residence in the rock shelter at our destination. Rumour has it that a latterday strandloper lived there for many years.
There were many Black Oystercatchers along the way, attesting to their successful breeding since beach driving was stopped. For the rest we saw little other than Gulls and occasional Terns. The only sour note was struck when we returned and were greeted by the awful stench of the lagoon where all forms of life must be waning fast in this decaying waterway.
Renee was the lucky winner of a cruise for two in Walker Bay on the catamaran, ‘Miroshca’, operated by Southern Right Charters. The voucher, won as a result of a draw after a cliff path clean-up, was due to expire at the end of March, but we kept putting it off because of other commmitments or the weather, but Saturday was windless and the sea, although big, appeared to be calm. We spent an hour and a half cruising in the bay, from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. It was really very pleasant, despite the heavy swells and we saw a huge number of Cape Gannets and African Penguins. There were many other birds, mainly terns, but we had trouble identifying them. Unfortunately we didn’t see any dolphins, but the whole experience was terrific and we would recommend it to everyone. The only thing that was missing was some form of communication from our skipper – he did not say one word, neither welcoming us aboard nor introducing himself or telling us what we would be doing.
It took just three hours to walk 6.7km up Droe Kloof, over the top of the mountain, down the zig-zeg path to the contour path above Voelklip and then back along the contour to Fernkloof. We had excellent weather – quite cool after the very hot spell that Hermanus has been experiencing over the past few weeks – and a turnout of 15 walkers, including newcomers Jenny and Mick and a visitor, Mervyn, from New Zealand. The path was in good condition and the views, as usual, were awe inspiring. We really do live in a beautiful place.
The high point for the birders was the sighting, from one location, of two rock jumpers, a rock thrush and no less than six ground woodpeckers sitting together sunning themselves after their breakfast!!
Admittedly it was Renee’s birthday the day before we got there and mine was on Sunday, when all except Renee and I left for home, but that didn’t matter one bit. The whole family pitched in to make it a really super weekend for the two of us, providing a non-stop array of wonderful food and entertainment. The Tides Lodge was a great venue and we could not have asked for anything better. It has a really good piece of river frontage and provided safe swimming for everybody – and the kids certainly loved it. No doubt they all slept like logs on the way home. On Sunday afternoon after everyone had left, we went for a drive along the river, but did not see anything to compare with what we had, in terms of space, lawn and river.
Thank you all for a great time. It is so good to have a family that enjoys each others’ company and makes the effort to get together at special times.