The ‘project’ that caused my frequent absence from WordPress over the last six months had several interlinked phases.

It stemmed from a sense of restlessness and the knowledge that sooner or later we needed to downsize our house and home. I started exploring parts of the country online, browsing areas to move to and places to live, dubbing it my “parlour game”, a form of displacement activity – or so I thought then.

But then suddenly it became real – the “parlour game” started to resemble making plans.

The next part of the project became readying our house and garden to sell – not something to be undertaken lightly as I am sure you will all know.

And dovetailing with eventually putting our house on the market we were looking more seriously at places to move to, narrowing options down, and then in the end having a sudden change of plan and going somewhere other than where we had thought we were going!

After stops and starts, negotiating lots of hurdles, feeling anxiety and enthusiasm, sadness and hope, lots of mixed emotions actually, naturebackin, my spouse, dogs and cats and I are relocating to a village in the Western Cape at the end of January.

So my blogging will continue to be erratic. After lots of ‘decluttering’ we are now embroiled with packing things up, accustoming our animals to travelling in the car, and going through the final stages of getting ready to depart from the place we have loved living in for over 21 years.

Leaving the naturebackin garden will be tough. Here are some ‘last looks’ – some photos I have taken in our garden over the last few months, which have turned out to be our last months here in our KwaZulu-Natal garden.

Stormy skies have been pretty much standard in the interior of KwaZulu-Natal throughout the summer. In fact today and tomorrow the entire province is under a high-level weather warning for disruptive rain with potential for further flooding.

It has been nice weather for frogs, including this pair of Natal Forest Tree Frogs (Leptopelis natalensis) photographed at the edge of the garden pond.

Insectivorous creatures, such as this dragonfly perched at the pond, have had to take advantage of the relatively few sunny days that enable them to hunt.

Likewise for the fishing spiders living in the pond – this one is waiting to ambush any unsuspecting tadpoles that may come by within reach.

Pollinators too have had to make hay while the sun shines so to speak.

A black-collared barbet (Lybius torquatus) defending its nest from a pair of lesser honeyguides. Honeyguides are brood parasites, and a pair were hassling the nesting barbets, trying to give the the female honeyguide an opportunity to slip into the barbets’ nest so as to deposit an egg.

One of the lesser honeyguides (Indicator minor) trying to draw the barbets into chasing it so that its mate has the opportunity to enter the barbets’ briefly vacated nest to lay an egg. The battle between honeyguides and barbets can be relentless and appears to be exhausting, with the barbets calling in rasping tones and exasperation as they try to chase off the marauding yet evasive honeyguides.

Bract fungi growing on the trunk of the dead tree that houses the barbets’ nest.

A group of mushrooms that suddenly emerged at the edge of our vegetable garden, flourishing in the damp overcast weather at the time.

A red millipede, commonly known as a songololo, curled up defensively when I saw it crossing our paved patio on a damp day.

A Natal crinum lily (Crinum Moorei) – growing near our pond – in bud.

The same lily after the buds have opened.

Also growing near our pond are several wild garlics (Tulbaghia violacea), lovely when sporting their mauve flowers on long stalks.

While I was sitting on the lawn watching the ongoing drama between the barbets and the honeyguides a tambourine dove (Turtur tympanistria) arrived to forage in another corner of the garden. It was tame enough to allow me to take a few long-distance photos of it.

The lovely yellow and unusually-shaped flowers of the pambati tree (Anastrabe integerrama).

A crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) soaring overhead. Its mate was also flying with it as they slowly spiralled up and away on a rising thermal as they were calling in an aerial display. They also have to take advantage of fine days to engage in their soaring aerial displays.

We will miss these eagles as we are moving further west than the south-western extension of their range. There will be many favourite birds, creatures and plants that we will miss. But there will be lots to discover and learn in an entirely new environment with a winter rather than a summer rainy season. Once we have settled in, I hope to be able to share some of our discoveries on naturebackin.

Posted by Carol