Early Bird Books

We grew up with Roberts Bird Book in the house. First edition, but about the sixth impression. It still had its dust jacket with the kingfishers and bee-eaters beautifully depicted on it. Mom and Dad still have it – I took this pic at their home in Pietermaritzburg. We also had a newer McLachlan &Continue reading “Early Bird Books”

What’s a Hartebeest?

I’ve always been a bit confused about the hartebeest and the tsessebe, which I thought must be closely related. This weekend we saw a nice herd of hartebeest on the slopes of Platberg in the pine forest, so I thought I must look into this. And its quite complicated! As always with classification you getContinue reading “What’s a Hartebeest?”

Another Successful Campaign

A well-drilled, orderly troop of Queen and Empire Poms marched up Platberg. And when they were up they were up **. They reconnoitered the surrounding area looking for Boer commandos, ready to report any sightings to some grand old Duke, or Lord, or someone. Ridiculously dressed in anti-camouflage they stuck out like sore thumbs, butContinue reading “Another Successful Campaign”

Ode to a Commode

I wrote poetry in high school once. We were doing Engels and had to read ‘ode to a something’ and so I wrote my Ode to a Commode, which was way better than John Keats’ effort. Hey, I was an immature, scatological teenager easily amused. In some ways . . . . I searched forContinue reading “Ode to a Commode”

Caltex Calenders

Annie had a Caltex garage; Dad worked for Annie; Louis Schoeman traveled for Caltex. Between 1962 and 1971 Caltex gave cloth wildlife calenders as their gift to their filling station owners. Dad (now 96) says Louis would ‘forget’ to hand them out and he would insist on seeing what was in his boot. And there,Continue reading “Caltex Calenders”

Our Mountain Burns

Once again Platberg is burning. Old school friends Noeline Bester and Annatjie Labuschagne sent these images. Sure hope the Grey Rhebok and Mountain Reedbuck and Chacma Baboons that Koos Beukes and Pierre du Plessis tell me are still there, are OK.

Little Switzerland on Oliviershoek Pass

I asked Leanne Hilkovitz Williamson about Poccolan / Robinson’s Bush and this brought a flood of memories: She takes up the story: I was born on the farm De Nook which belonged to my grandfather Elias Hilkovitz and was inherited by my father Leo Hilkovitz after the 2nd World War probably round about 1945, twoContinue reading “Little Switzerland on Oliviershoek Pass”

Save Precarious Platberg!

Platberg, overlooking the town of Harrismith in the Free State, is an inselberg that presents a refuge for indigenous plants and animals. And its status is precarious. ‘Little is known about the different taxa of Platberg and hence a detailed floristic and ecological survey was undertaken in 2009 by UNISA’s Robert F. Brand, Leslie R.Continue reading “Save Precarious Platberg!”

Cuckoo Comeuppance

People often rail against cuckoos and use all sorts of pejorative descriptions about them and their ways. Hey! Cuckoos gotta do what cuckoos gotta do. Nature. Survival of the fittest. Evolution. Life. Bird life. Consider three things: 1. Cuckoos have no alternative. This is the ONLY way they can breed; 2. Cuckoos eat a wholeContinue reading “Cuckoo Comeuppance”

Mfolosi Wilderness Walk

The Umfolosi Wilderness is a special place. Far too small, of course, but its what we have. I read Ian Player’s account of how Magqubu Ntombela taught him about wilderness and Africa and nature. The idea of a wild place where modern man could go to escape the city and re-discover what Africa was like,Continue reading “Mfolosi Wilderness Walk”