Seabirds – Magic in the Air [Part 1]

"Magic is in the air ... there ain't no science here..." And a good south wind sprung up behind;  The Albatross did follow,  And every day, for food or play,  Came to the mariner's hollo!  'God save thee, ancient Mariner!  From the fiends, that plague thee thus! —  Why look'st thou so?'—With my cross-bow  I shot the ALBATROSS. And I had done a hellish thing,  And it would work 'em woe:  For all averred, I had killed the bird  That made the ...

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The Pink Pimpernel

Who is the Pink Pimpernel? Is the Pink Pimpernel an anti-hero? We may never have satisfactory answers to these pertinent questions but let's set some of the fundamental issues straight. Unpacking the Kamfers Dam debacle requires a gambol back in time [flamingo chicks don't gamble, sir - people do, for fame & fortune, & with other people's money, usually] and although the devil resides, stoically, in the detail, most, if not all of what follows here, is freely available everywhere. What we don't ...

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The Pink Parade & human frailties

Is 'Conservation' trailing an elongating shadow as the sun sinks on common sense? - If we consider this year's 'partially-failed' Lesser Flamingo breeding attempt & the subsequent rescue of abandoned chicks, en mass, it isn't enough to leave well-alone. In 2006 a large, S-shaped island was built by Ekapa Mining on Kimberley's Kamfers Dam. The island provided scalable habitat on which Lesser Flamingo could breed; and breed they have. Given their limited access to ...

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Rainbow’s gold

"It's just after nine", said the clock on the wall. "It's off we go; tally-ho - hi-ho", sang Mrs Nutter, to herself, mostly. "Where to?", said I, with great patience, humility and forbearance; fearful of the second verse. "To see the Golden Pipit, of course - don't be daft!", finished the ebullient Mrs Nutter.  "The bird in KZN over the hills & hills & hills and very far far away?", said I with knitted ...

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Birdlife South Africa: by-catch

For a small, annual sum, members of Birdlife South Africa enjoy a meaningful contribution to an organisation giving wings to birds - the NGO positioned at the polished end of the National Conservation Spear.  Birdlife's successes are legion - none more important than their contribution, via the ATF (Albatross Task Force), to the Global Seabird Program - the catch-all, in this context, for 'finding innovative and win-win solutions to seabird by-catch' [i.e. - in the fisheries]; and by 'winner-winner, chicken-dinner' ...

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Ticking the Tweeters

We share our home with a geriatric, milky-eyed Yorkie. He tolerates his own company - halitosis & flatulence his bedtime mates - much to the dismay of most everyone else in an ever-widening circle of influence... He's done his time; is a steady fixture & knows his way around the place but if there's a rat in the kitchen, he'll get bitten on the arse. #BBD2018's Wilge River Valley proved to be 'our ...

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Birdlife’s #BBD2018: ‘Preparations’

Birdlife's Birding Big Day [#BBD2018], juxtaposed on our local 'Wider Gauteng Challenge', lends some black & white authenticity to what is usually a colourful year; at least it should do, but doesn't always. We're committed to another #BBD, at the 11th hour, in a quest for exclusivity that is almost an obsession. It's laughable. What fun eh, if you can't have a poke in the mirror? ...usually a colourful year For those of you who don't know, Birding Big Day is a ...

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A bird in hand – Zaagkuilsdrift

We were pulled-over by an admin account sailing at full-mast with an old bangerful of bookclub friends. Foregoing the usual how-de-dos & the other social subtleties that hint at good-breeding, we 'paid homage' to the pseudo-intellectual & drilled down to sub-species for a Yellow Wagtail  (we'd seen earlier). The interrogation, designed to put me in my place, was accompanied by sniggers from the juvenile squad in-back; fun to anticipate... High in impudence & low ...

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Easter in the N. Cape

The Easter weekend is South Africa's traditional weekend for a pilgrimage to the coast or to family residing further afield. The ensuing chaos is a SANRAL [South African National Roads Agency ie: toll co.] bonanza. N, Far E & SE attract more than their fair share of traffic - we avoid those sharp-ends like we would one prick too many. With that in mind, we chose to meander through the eye of the storm & cover ...

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Marion Island – the ugly truth

Imagination is the genesis of creativity - an original idea with value. "The path to least resistance leads to crooked rivers & crooked men" [Henry David Thoreau] I picked up a copy of Peter Ryan's 'Guide to SEABIRDS of Southern Africa' & was struck by the recurring theme - '... high chick mortality due to mouse predation.' That tends to get annoying. Appended nearer the front of the publication are some harrowing pictures of ...

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