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letting nature back in

nature and nurture in suburban spaces

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South Africa

A diminutive and dynamic presence: The African firefinch

I hear the tinkling call of visiting African firefinches more often than I see them. They forage on the ground and in low vegetation, venturing out into open ground when undisturbed.

Continue reading “A diminutive and dynamic presence: The African firefinch”

Ouhout: An adaptable and tenacious survivor

The holiday association of shrubby Ouhout trees lining mountain streams and hiking trails meant that we were delighted to find an established Ouhout growing in the garden when we moved into our current home some years ago. The Afrikaans name, used also by English speakers, ‘Ouhout’ literally means ‘old wood’, and even young plants have a woody gnarled appearance.

Continue reading “Ouhout: An adaptable and tenacious survivor”

Wheat, war, bread and biscotti

Food has become more of a global and personal focus in the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Some food supply chains are threatened, and for a variety of reasons thousands more people are now food insecure. Continue reading “Wheat, war, bread and biscotti”

Backyard curiosities 2: Bird’s Nest Fungi

No, I didn’t find fungus growing in bird’s nests, but a fungus that resembles bird’s nests. Very tiny nests to be sure, and within each nest-shaped cup nestles a cluster of egg-like capsules. Continue reading “Backyard curiosities 2: Bird’s Nest Fungi”

On the wings of hope

Hope can be a powerful force that sustains us through dark days and times of hardship. Many of us lean towards trusting in the possibilities for a better future as uncertainty, anxiety, fear, suffering, grief and hardship envelop the globe in these times of the Covid-19 pandemic.   Continue reading “On the wings of hope”

Fab beetle: Large, horned, colourful and unidentified

I had not seen such a large, colourful beetle before, and definitely not one with such an ornate y-shaped horn projecting from its face. This beetle is so large and distinctive, at least it should be easy to identify I thought. Continue reading “Fab beetle: Large, horned, colourful and unidentified”

Likeable lizards: Striped skinks in the garden

Mostly I notice skinks when they are basking in the sun, but last week I watched one on a hunting expedition in the herb patch and understood what focused little predators they really are. Continue reading “Likeable lizards: Striped skinks in the garden”

The hopefulness of a baby bird

First we saw one of the handsome parents, and then we saw the long-legged fluffball: a baby spotted dikkop. How special to see the caring and attention lavished on this precious little chick. Continue reading “The hopefulness of a baby bird”

Camdeboo National Park: Resilience amidst desolation in the Karoo

Camdeboo National Park is best known for Desolation Valley with its panoramic viewpoints where tall columns of volcanic rock tower up to 120 m high over the plains of Camdeboo below. The aridity of the region gave rise to the name Desolation Valley. It is even more desolate now in the current drought emergency. Continue reading “Camdeboo National Park: Resilience amidst desolation in the Karoo”

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