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letting nature back in

nature and nurture in suburban spaces

Winter solstice birds in the garden

In our dry winters, visiting birds make the most of the birdbaths in our garden. In this winter solstice week I decided to spend time photographing some of our mid-winter avian visitors.

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Sombre greenbuls can be loud and splashy too

The sombre greenbuls that visit our garden all year round are mostly evident from their loud and penetrating contact calls as they forage while concealed in dense vegetation or high up within the tree canopies.

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Enchantment in a monochrome woodland

Forests and woodlands have old associations with enchantment and mystery. As magical places forests may be benign and even be sacred places, but conversely enchantment may be malevolent.  Forests can provide sanctuary but they can also conceal danger. Wildness can be healing but it can also be threatening.

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More on our wild irises: The yellow and the forest wild irises

Following last week’s post showcasing the large wild iris (Dietes grandiflora), this post features the other two wild irises in our garden: the yellow wild iris or peacock flower (Dietes bicolor) and the less well-known forest wild iris – or simply forest iris –  (Dietes butcheriana), which is also known as the broad-leaved dietes.

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Introducing three wild irises

The lovely soft looking flowers that don’t last long on the plant make it surprising that wild irises of the Dietes genus are in fact incredibly hardy, to the extent that they are a familiar sight in mass plantings in urbanised places such as business parks and shopping malls.

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Meanwhile back in the garden: Images of early winter

Shorter days and cooler nights bring changes as the daytime temperatures vary between hot and mild. With the dryer air the sunshine has a golden clarity enhancing the colourful winter flowers and mellow berries, and brightening the visiting birds and insects in the garden.

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Journeying from freshwater pans to garden pond

One of the most beautiful fresh water pans in the northern Zululand region (Maputoland) of KwaZulu-Natal is the Inyamiti Pan in Ndumo Game Reserve.  The pan is fringed by fever trees with their pale yellow bark reflecting in the water, especially in summer when the water level is high.

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Going with the flow: Some southern African rivers and wetlands

The freshwater biome can be categorized into lakes, streams and wetlands, and all are interconnected. We depend utterly on freshwater systems that globally comprise only 0.8% of all the water on the planet and cover only 1/5 of the Earth’s surface.

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Looking out to sea: The shoreline, the estuaries and the coral reefs

Aquatic biomes include both freshwater and marine biomes. The marine biome is divided into three main ecosystems: the oceans, coral reefs and estuaries. South Africa has a coastline that is over 3000 kilometres in length and it features coral reefs on its eastern coastline and numerous estuaries along its length.

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