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Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: April 2022 Sitamani Country Diary

There were only 8 days without rain in April. The coolest day in April was 10 degrees on the 8th and the warmest 23 degrees Celsius on the 29th , the coolest night time temperature 6,5 degrees Celsius on the 25th. Only slightly less rainfall was recorded, 183mm in April, than in March 196mm. We recorded 62mm on the 11th on the weekend when the KZN coastal areas were so badly affected by flooding and landslides, there in some places over 300mm was recorded in a single day. Autumn cool days are definitely here.

Friday 1

On a afternoon short walk I spotted a

Gaudy Commodore (winter form), Precis octavia sesamus

And a long proboscid fly, Philoliche sp.

Wednesday 12

Finally the sky started to clear after days of rain, the moody sunset glowed over the distant mountains.

My thoughts were with all those who had been affected by the devastation of the past few days on the KwaZulu-Natal coast.

Thursday 13

View to the cloudy mountains, sunlit slopes below

Friday 14

Sulfur Tuft, Hypholoma fasciculare

Evidence of a Bushpig burrowing

Monday 18

Wild Dagga, Leonotis leonurus

Berkheya setifera

A gorgeous striped caterpillar

Striga bilabiata

A Pachycarpus natalensis seedpod opening

Yellowing leaves of Pachycarpus natalensis

Beautiful autumn hues in the Clutia cordata leaves

Tuesday 19

this morning I finally saw the moon

a glowing orb of white light

veiled in light mists

encircled by a translucent rainbow

Morning sparkles

Sunday 24

The Pin oak avenue is ablaze with colour

dressed in her finest

falling shimmering cascades

gilded leaves dancing

On a walk over the hillside I discovered

Printzia pyrifolia

Sutera floribunda

Bush Tick-berry, Chrysanthemoides monilifera flower

and distinctive Bush Tick-berry, Chrysanthemoides monilifera berries

A lovely delicate shrub, would be grateful if anyone knew the name!

Then spent serene, timeless moments watching a Common Duiker foraging on the hillside

Common Duiker

and saw where it had slept

Wednesday 27

low above the eastern horizon

through a light veil of morning mist

a static comet with a crescent moon offset

planets in alignment

Jupiter Venus Mars Saturn

Friday 29

Crescent moon above the dawn

Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: March 2022 Sitamani Country Diary

A misty, mild, damp March. The hottest day in March was 27 degrees Celsius, the coolest temperature was experienced on three nights, 11 degrees Celsius. More rainfall was recorded in March than in February, 196mm, February being 153mm. 60mm of rain was recorded on 4 March. Grasses have responded well to this season’s weather conditions, but many other plants have not grown to full potential.

Friday 4

Dawn was ethereally beautiful, an orange glow with the rising sun in the east
Blue and orange with a light shower in the west, creating a rainbow!
Very quickly the sky clouded over with occasional showers during the morning

Thursday 10

Near the kitchen door I spotted a False Earth Star, Astraeus sp.

And on the step a delightful very small caterpillar

Sunday 13

Crested Coral Fungus, Clavulina cristata

Bracket fungi

Bush or Forest Beauty, Paralethe dendrophilus

White Bramble, Rubus rigidus berries glowing red

Wednesday 16

pink wisps rise

golden autumning

glistening droplets

Friday 18

early this morning she eluded me

soft clouds veiled her

bright glowing in front of her full face

Sunday 20

Autumn Equinox treats in mild sunshine

Leonotis intermedia

Hesperantha baurii

Bright yellow Berkheya rhapontica

A loud hiss alerted me to the nearby presence of a Common or Rhombic night adder

Habenaria lithophila an autumn flowering ground orchid

Helichrysum cooperi

I know autumn has arrived when the Sutera floribunda flower

Stachys aethiopica

Plectranthus calycina

This 2017 photo highlights the difference of how this season’s weather has affected plant growth and flowering of Plectranthus calycina

Ants are finding something very appealing to eat on the stems of Plectranthus calycina

Rainforest Brown, Cassionympha cassius

Wednesday 23

soft hues brighten at dawn

under a waning Autumn moon

Summer drawing to a close

time for reflection as the season changes

Thursday 24

A glorious tonal evening sky

Wednesday 30

Soft gold in the landscape

Thursday 31

Mottled Veld Antlion, Papares caffer

Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: February 2022 Sitamani Country Diary

There were two days in February that reached 29 degrees Celsius, the 1st  and 10th, the lowest temperature recorded was the 9th at 12 C. Again, though only half of what was recorded in January, we experienced many rainy days, recording 153mm. It has been very interesting to observe the effect on the plants of so many damp days without sun. Many plants have grown and flowered at different times to ‘normal’ growth, most not reaching their full potential, many flowering earlier than usual years.

Towards the end of February there was already an autumnal feel in the landscape

Thursday 10

Persistent rain

Wednesday 16

an apricot moon

balancing on banked clouds

slips slowly down

reflected silver fine-line

topping grey masses

an echo of the passage

Beautiful dusk light during the thunderstorms

Saturday 20

A rainbow after the afternoon storm

Wednesday 23

A short walk revealed these treasures

Crassula vaginata

Helichrysum aureonitens, impepho, burned to communicate with the ancestors

Berkheya rhapontica

Some Silver Bramble, Rubus ludwigii leaves are already turning colour

The silvery underside of the Silver Bramble, Rubus ludwigii leaves displayed by the wind

Thursday 24

After a damp night

A beautiful dewdrop decorated spiderweb revealed in the branches

High cloud through a light morning mist

Although on some plants the leaves are already turning, on others there is a bounty of berries on the Silver Bramble, Rubus ludwigii

Amanita rubescens

Early flowering Leonotis leonurus

Schizoglossum bidens sp.

Habenaria pseudociliosa a grassland orchid

Tiny flowers of the Habenaria pseudociliosa

This beauty, a Blue Pansy butterfly, Junonia oenone oenone, paused to brighten my day!

Zornia capensis

Kniphofia laxiflora

Bush tick-berry, Chrysanthemoides monilifera

Watsonia densilflora

A creamy coloured Crassula vaginata

Searsia (=Rhus) discolor have fruited prolifically

Alepidea natalensis

Many small ants on the move

Commelina africana

A very attractive grass, Dallis Grass, Paspallum dilatatum

Larger ants excavating a nest

A wild cucumber, Coccina sp. with attendant pollinator, probably a small wasp

Alectra sessiliflora, parasitic on grass

Shades of Autumn, seedheads including Berkheya setifera

Moody skies ended the day

Saturday 26

quiet moments of reverie on the hillside

light winds dance through yellowing grasses

their gentle song companionable

basking on a nearby rock a dragonfly

wings spread in repose

a female Two-striped Skimmer, Orthetrum caffrum

Sunday 27

Soft morning

Bluegum Woodcap, Lentinus stuppeus

Bracket fungi

Russula sororia

A Twig Wilter, Holopterna sp.

A golden sunset

Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: January 2022 Sitamani Country Diary

I recorded an unbelievable 341,5mm of rain in January, definitely the wettest it’s been for many years. Many afternoon thunderstorms, days of light rain and mist. The lowest nighttime temperature recorded was 10,5 degrees Celsius on 22 Jan, the highest daytime temperature 27 degrees Celsius on the 30 Jan.

A glorious summer afternoon overlooking the valley below

Saturday 1

The dawn
sunset of the first day of the New Year

I discovered a new bee hive in a burnt, hollowed tree

Sunday 2

A now familiar sight, a misty hillside!

Monday 3

It was very exciting to find a new species on Sitamani, perhaps because of the fire in July last year, in an area that hadn’t been burnt off for at least 25 years, Schizoglossum hamatum

Thursday 6

the space between is what sustains me

observing leaves dance and skip across the grass

a dragonfly skimming over the still pool of my mind

the intricate, delicate beauty of the flower within

clouds breathing tracery over the sky

the call of birds in companionship

my spirit calms, drifts, focuses on the present

sustenance of life

Monday 10

A wander over the hillside with our son and his friend revealed some

Killickia pilosa = Satureja pilosa, I call the leaves Bushmen sweets as they have a delightful, fresh minty burst of flavour!

Agapanthus campanulatus

Watsonia lepida

A Wailing Cisticola

Eulophia ovalis var. ovalis

and an absolute delight for me, we saw two Pamphagidae Transvaaliana, a curious insect which vaguely resembles a very fat grasshopper. I was told many years ago that they are quite rare and the last time I saw one here was in December 2014

Friday 14

My absolute favourite flowering plants on Sitamani started opening, Brunsvigia undulata

A Wooly Bear, Tri-coloured Tiger, Rhodogastria amasis, moth caterpillar

As I was walking, I spotted a Spider hunting wasp (Pompilidae), digging a hole to bury a paralyzed prey, food for the lava once the eggs deposited in it hatch

Saturday 15

Seen on brief fossick

Kniphofia laxiflora

Schizoglossum bidens

A delicate, minute legume flower, possibly a Tephrosia species

Senecio subrubriflorus

Eulophia hians var. hians

Crassula pellucida

Very exciting to find several Disa patula var. patula in flower

Kniphofia buchananii

Sunday 16

Greater Striped Swallow

Very smelly, but strikingly vibrant Star Stinkhorn, Aseroe rubra

Sulfur Tuft, Hypholoma fasciculare

Hibiscus trionum

Satyrium parviflorum

Spotted-leaved Arum, Zantedeschia albomaculata

Blushing Bride orchid, Satyrium longicauda

A real treat, a Common Slug Eater snake, that didn’t wait long before slithering into the grass

Satyrium cristatum var. longilabiatum

Then in the evening, sudden movement revealed very camouflaged Dad and juvenile Southern Boubou in dead branches. A few days earlier the juvenile had inadvertently been locked in the workshop overnight. A fluttering from inside the window and repeated calling from the female outside alerted me and soon they were reunited!

Monday 17

Eulophia ovalis var. ovalis

Asparagus ramosissimus

Wednesday 26

A new dawn, a new day, new beginnings

This beautiful predawn colour in the sky was probably a result of:
“A plume of volcanic aerosols and sulphur dioxide ejected into the stratosphere by the eruption of the Hunga volcanoe near Tonga on 14/15 January, has reached the east coast of Africa… Similar displays may be seen at dawn and dusk for another 2-3 days as the plume passes.”

Thursday 27

And it did…

Endless possibilities in another atmospheric predawn sky

Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: December 2021 Sitamani Country Diary

Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: December 2021 Sitamani Country Diary

This December has been the wettest for many years, we recorded 222,5mm of rain, many afternoon thunderstorms, days of light rain and mist. The last day in December literally went out with a bang, thunder rolled around the whole day. The lowest night time temperature recorded was 8 degrees and on the same day, the 18th, the lowest daytime temperature 13 degrees Celsius and the highest daytime temperature 28.5 degrees Celsius on the 2nd, one degree lower than the highest recorded in November. The veggie garden is suffering from a lack of sunshine….

Our hillside in Summer glory!

Thursday 02

A vibrant glowing sunrise through the clouds

Friday 03

The following morning a cooler moody sky

 Sunday 05

A fossicking wander over the hillside was filled with summery life

False Earth-star, Astraeus sp.

Amanita rubescens

Giant Forest Cicada, Pyncna semiclara, dry nymphal skin

Chafer beetle

Rubus ludwigii with attendant bee

Aspidonepsis flava

Alepidea natalensis

A gorgeously patterned hairy caterpillar, sadly the bright red ‘capsule’ on it’s back means it has had an egg laid in it, probably by a parasitic wasp

Trachyandra asperata

A Levaillant’s Cisticola kept a safe distance away as I walked

Grass colour is turning as it seeds, but still many flowering forbes within it

Pelargonium luridum

Hibiscus aethiopicus

A delightful small beetle on a Hypoxis flower

A brightly patterned Crab Spider, Thomisus sp.

Papaver aculeatum

Commelina Africana

Sprawled over a large area this Coccina sp. was covered in flowers

Convolvulus natalensis

Watsonia socium still covering the hillside

This iridescent little beetle is probably a Colasposoma sp.

Haemanthus humilis

Asclepias albens

Xysmalobium involucratum

A dramatically stunning Hawkmoth caterpillar Basiothia schenki or maybe charis

Lilioceris sp. of leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) possibly cheni on Cyanotis speciosa

Zornia capensis

Zantedeschia albomaculata

Searsia discolor

Strigia bilabiata

Monday 06

A very moody, atmospheric dawn sky

Tuesday 07

Silene bellidoides

Wednesday 08

After a stormy afternoon, sunlight streamed under the clouds, a complete double rainbow in the east

The sunset later was beautiful

Thursday 09

The following morning a rainbow to the west

Friday 10

zebra stripes and ochre

fan above a beady eye

an African Hoopoe

Saturday 11

Trametes sanguinius

Lentinus stuppeus, Bluegum Woodcap

Tuesday 21

The Summer Solstice here in the Southern Hemisphere, the clouds parted for a glowing dawn

Scabiosa columbaria

A Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui on Berkheya setifera

Zaluzianskya elongata

Adjuga ophrydis

Silene burchellii

A male Pin-tailed Whydah perched up high, it’s been years since we’ve had a pair in residence

I spotted this delicately flowering shrublet, possibly a Clutia sp.

Helichrysum rugulosum

Pill Millepede

Thursday 23

A Wooly Bear, Tri-coloured Tiger, Rhodogastria amasis, moth caterpillar

Saturday 25

An ephemeral rainbow graced the early morning sky

Gladiolus sericeovillosus

A Lunate Blister Beetle, Decapotoma lunata

Agapanthus campanulatus are starting to bloom

Orthochilus foliosus, the only orchid in flower this month, very unusual, even in the driest Decembers there are several varieties flowering

Moraea brevistyla

Although I didn’t manage to take a photograph, I saw a pair of Southern Black Tits foraging, a first sighting here for me.

Wednesday 29

Guess who fell asleep in the bath plug hole?

A Woodland Dormouse must have found a tasty treat in the bath and couldn’t get out again… I had a suspicion that a pair had a nest in a kitchen drawer. So have safely relocated them both far away from the house. They are adorable, but very destructive, the large hole in our carpet is one example of where they had found a source of excellent nesting material. I hope they find a new safe spot to rebuild their nest, I did leave them with their gathered materials!

Thursday 30

I love clouds

shape shifters

dream makers

mysterious

puffs floating

skeins tossed

graceful gauze

towering ramparts

gilded rippling scales

draped softly

forever changing

Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: November 2021 Sitamani Country Diary

During November we have recorded 124mm of rain, many days of light rain and mist and two heavy rainfalls recorded, 25mm on the 11th and 56.5mm between the 20th and 27th. The lowest night time temperature recorded was 7 degrees Celsius and the highest daytime temperature 29.5 degrees Celsius. The grassland and flowering plants have grown quickly and grasses already seeding.

Most mornings and evenings were clouded over, but on the 17th we had a stunning sunset.

Monday 1

I spotted this large fungi in the grass, it was about 10cm in diameter

Thursday 4

A brief walk near the house yielded these delights

Cyphia tysonii

Cyphia elata

An abundance of flowers in the grasses

Dierama latifolium

Dipcadi viride brown variation

Wednesday 10

Calm summer evening

Saturday 13

dark eyes wondering

soft morning light enfolds

snacking before rest

Grey duiker

Tuesday 16

The moment is now, live in the moment

Feel the zephyr of air gently caressing the skin

Watch the light move across the sky

A fossick over the hillside a bit later in the morning revealed these beauties

Pelargonium luridum bud

Ficinia cinammomea

Cyanotis speciosa

Watsonia socium

Vernonia hirsuta

Monday 29

At first light I heard a Common Reedbuck whistle, and there he stood on the hill above the house, long horns gilded, watching me below. This is the first time in several months that I have seen or heard Reedbuck.

Heliophia rigidiuscula with attendant bee

A bee enveloped in Dandelion pollen

Amanita rubescens

An unusual fungi, resembling a velvet, deflated ball

Masses of Oxalis semiloba

Ornithogalum graminifolium

Grasses seeding bring a ruby tinge to the landscape

Pelargonium luridum

Vernonia natalensis

Watsonia socium covering the hillside

Schizocarphus nervosa

A bagworm and spotted beetle feasting on Albuca setosa

Albuca setosa

A vibrant clump of glowing Senecio latifolius

A well camouflaged Guttural Toad, Bufo gutturalis in the grass, gold rimmed eyes watchful

Pentanisia prunelloides

A discarded Fork-tailed Drongo egg

Tuesday 30

Aristea woodii

Lotononis corymbosa

Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: October 2021 Sitamani Country Diary

Many days in October were cloudy, with light rain, a total of 93,5mm. When there were sunny days you could almost see the plants growing. Generally the daytime temperatures were much warmer, the highest recorded on the 14th, 31 Celsius and the lowest night time temperature 5 Celsius on the 3rd October.

Sunday 3

One of my favourite flowers was nodding in the breeze, however by the time the rain had cleared I couldn’t find one to photograph, so my watercolour painting from last year

Tritonia lineata

Tuesday 5

This is the last photo I managed to take of the Common Fiscal sitting on the nest before they abandoned it. I’m not sure of the reason, but perhaps the eggs were stolen.

Wednesday 6

Every year I wait for the Gladiolus longicauda to flower! As they are night flowering I have to take a photo early in the morning before they close for the day. They are pollinated by Hawk moths. There has been a prolific blooming this year, nodding pale heads in the evening and early mornings.

A patch of mulch became food for this delicate mould.

Although the light was poor, it is the first time I’ve been able to capture these delightful tiny, busy Swee Waxbills.

Saturday 9

cheerful notes sing out
Piet-my-vrou home for summer
warmer days ahead

A very interesting spotted winged fly settled on the table

Sunday 10

A dew laden sunrise

Later a Cape Turtle Dove sunned on a rock in the evening.

Monday 11

A softly old gold sunset

Tuesday 12

A few days of sunshine had flowers popping up in multitudes over our hillside.

Graderia scabra

Hypoxis sp.

Ledebouria sp.

Stachys aethiopica

Kniphofia bracystachya

Tulbaghia ludwigiana

Aster bakeriannus

Pentanisia prunelloides

Hebenstretia dura

Harpochloa falx, Caterpillar Grass

Nemesia caerulea

Gebera ambigua

Helichrysum sp.

Ledebouria sp.

Anemone fanninii

An Anemone fanninii with insect foragers

Dierama igneum

A discarded spider skin after moulting

Wednesday 20

an apricot moon
slips behind mauve silhouette
hills in early light

Almost full moon…

An absolute delight, where fire had cleansed, for the first time I spotted a Pygmy Sand Apple, amongst the dolerite rocks. The scent of the tiny flowers is heavenly!
 
There has been a reclassification;  Bridsonia chamaedendrum var. chamaedendrum (=Pygmaeothamnus chamaedendrum var. chamaedendrum) Pygmy Sand Apple

Pink and purple painted sunset

Thursday 21

Beauty before dawn

Friday 22

Cool blue sunset

To the east

To the west

Wednesday 27

Red-collared Widowbirds, the males still changing into their breeding colours, are pairing off.

Another walk over the hillside revealed a host of newly flowering plants

Monopsis decipiens

Eulophia hians var. hians, the only orchid seen this month

Cherry Spot caterpillar, Diaphone eumela

some younger ones that have reduced a Scilla to a network of veins…

Indigofera hilaris

Convolvulus natalensis

Eriosema kraussianum

A sedge, Ficinia cinammomea

Raphionacme hirsuta

Vernonia sp.

Wahlenbergia krebsii

Berkheya macrocephala

Aspidonepsis diplogossa

One very happy little insect on a pollen collecting trip amongst a field of florets!

Argyrolobium marginatum

Sisyranthus trichostomus, Hairy Grass Flower

Sisyranthus trichostomus, Hairy Grass Flower, a magnet for insects including this tiny wasp

Pelargonium alchemoides

Thursday 28

Helichrysum aureonitens

Moraea graminicola

Helichrysum inornatum

Miraglossum pilosum

Psammotropha mucronata

Eriosema salignum

Monochrome sunset

Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: September 2021 Sitamani Country Diary

Very varied weather this September, snow on the Drakensberg on the 7th, our lowest temperature 5C and lowest ‘high’ temperature 7C recorded on the same day. On two days 18th and 19th our highest daytime temperature 28C was recorded. Many misty damp days, with a total rainfall of 79mm for the month.

Wednesday 8

A snowy Drakensberg revealed in the morning

Cool landscape under a wintery sun

Spring leaves appearing

Regular flights into the Halleria lucida near the living room window by a Common Fiscal revealed a nest taking shape, using soft Helichrysum stems for the frame work. It is well concealed in the foliage, so difficult to take good photos, but will be exciting to observe.

Friday 10

Further diligent work has place on the Common Fiscal nest.

Monday 13

We’d been away so the verandah birdbath had dried out, a large flock of Cape White-eyes quickly came to enjoy the water once we filled it.

Wednesday 15

The Common Fiscal nest looks as if it is nearing completion.

Friday 17

A walk on a sunshine morning was a joy of Spring flowers and new growth appearing.

Oxalis smithiana

Ledebouria sp.

Dimorphotheca jucunda

Graderia scabra

Hypoxis sp.

Pellaea calomelanos

Pentanisia prunelloides

This gorgeous Mooi River Opal, Chrysoritis lycegenes, flitted over warm stones.

Monopsis decipiens

Tulbaghia ludwigiana

Tulbaghia ludwigiana

Tuesday 21

On the evening of Full Moon there was a sea of clouds to the east, but a lovely sunset to the west.

Wednesday 22

Marked the day of our Spring Equinox, now the days will gradually lengthen and warm.

Monday 27

In a patch of watery sunshine a Four-striped Grass Mouse basked, keeping a careful watch for predators.

Tuesday 28

A misty morning walk to see if some of the usual September flowers were flowering. Orchids haven’t enjoyed the July fire, extreme cold of August and now very damp September.

Nemesia caerulea

Anemone fanninii

Anemone fanninii

Raphionacme hirsuta

Tulbaghia leucantha, Wild Garlic

A stunning display of Tulbaghia leucantha between the dolerite rocks

Cyrtanthus tuckii, Green-tipped Fire Lily

Common Fiscal is now sitting on the nest, hopefully in time there will be young ones! (Please excuse the poor photo.)

Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: August 2021 Sitamani Country Diary

Two snowfalls on the Drakensberg during August, and the first time in many years it fell and settled here at Sitamani.

August has been generally mild, although two cold fronts passed over, one between the 12-15 August and then 27-29 August. Sadly I wasn’t here for the second one, so haven’t been able to record the very cold temperatures experienced that burst some water pipes in the early hours of the morning on the 29 August.

Total Rainfall, including the snowfall,  42,5mm

Wednesday 4

This is the best photograph I managed to take of an African Hoopoe foraging on the hillside

Saturday 7

misty morning sensual greeting

damp ash sharp blue-grey metal tang

warm brown coffee aroma

Monday 9

Stunning glow of colour in the predawn sky

Tuesday 10

The juvenile Grey Duiker having a midday snack in the garden

Wednesday 11

silver crescent hangs
suspended beneath a star
in days after glow

Apodolirion buchananii, Natal Crocus

Gazania krebsiana

Hirpicium armeriodes, Mountain Gerbera

Urginea capitata buds

Watsonia sp. leaves emerging

Bright splashes of colour in the greening slopes

Halleria lucida, Tree Fuchsia, fruit amongst the flowers

New season growth of Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum

A bee laden with pollen on a Gazania krebsiana

Flowers on Leucosidea sericea, Ouhout that escaped the fire

Friday 13

light drip and drizzle
filled the rain tanks overnight
blessings of winter chill

Sunday 15

Clouds finally lifted enough to reveal a watery sun and winter snow

This Vlei Rat, Otomys irroratus, has taken up residence in our compost bin, a constant source of food when the surrounding grassland has been burnt off, hopefully she will relocate once the new season growth returns!

Thursday 26

A vibrant sunset

Friday 27

Cyrtanthus tuckii, Green-tipped Fire Lily

New leaves appearing including Gerbera ambigua

Ursinia tenuiloba

Eulophia hians var. inaequalis

Eulophia hian var. hians

Aloe maculata, Common Soap Aloe

Ledebouria ovatifolia

Sunday 29

While I was away Philip awoke to a winter wonderland, these are his photos! Thank you for allowing me to share them Philip.

Photos: Philip Grant

Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: July 2021 Sitamani Country Diary

Smokey days after the fire

In this July we have experienced fire and ice. Two cold fronts swept through with cold temperatures, but only 0,5mm of rain for the whole month, very dry conditions. On the 12 July looting and arson were widespread in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces of South Africa. Our property was engulfed in flames in the early evening, fortunately our home and outbuildings were saved and the resilience of nature is already being seen in new grass emerging, despite the dry conditions.

The maximum temperature 23 C on 8 July

The minimum temperature -2 C on 23 July

Rainfall 0.5mm

Sunday 4

Glowing mist rolled in during the early evening

Tuesday 6

brown leaves run like
small animals over the grass
before the chill wind

Wednesday 7

a lone golden leaf
tapping a mournful rhythm
releases to fall

In the evening this elegantly beautiful wasp settled near my bedside lamp, a parasitoid wasp, Ichneumondia, Netelia sp. (Tryphoninae)

Sunday 11

A fleeting, magical encounter with this delightful male Common Duiker, just before dawn.

Monday 12

By evening our property was engulfed in fire set by arsonists in the adjacent Mondi pine plantation. Fortunately, with the assistance of local farmers, our home and outbuildings were spared, apart from the outdoor ‘longdrop’ toilet. These are photos Philip took while we were containing the fire.

Tuesday 13

These photographs were taken during the very smokey day following the fire.

A small section on the rocky hillside escaped the flames, one bright Aloe maculata and an opportunistic Common Fiscal surveying the burnt landscape for a snack.

Wednesday 14

There is always light even in the darkest of times,
It shines with hope.
One breath at a time,
One day at a time.

Friday 16

The fire had swept through the indigenous Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea and Buddleja salvifolia shrubbery behind our house.

Monday 19

The glory of a new day unfolding

Ending with a cerise sun setting through the smoke laden atmosphere

Wednesday 21

A beautiful pair of Cape Glossy Starlings foraging in the ashes in the late afternoon

Followed by a spectacular sunset in the west

Thursday 22

bare bones of landscape
exposed by cathartic fire
waits rain revival

Friday 23

Winter Moon in Pink and Cyan, almost full, rising in the east in the evening

Saturday 24

A brilliant sun-kissed full moon setting in the early morning

Monday 26

A mother and juvenile Common Duiker foraged around the house in unburnt areas at sunrise.

Tuesday 27

The Cape Robin-Chat enjoying a few private moments in the verandah bird bath, before the gang of Cape White-Eyes invade the peace!

Wednesday 28

The glory of a winter tree in dawn robes

Tones of sepia soften the landscape

Friday 30

A walk over the hillside revealed new grass appearing, despite the dry conditions, a gradual renewal

Gossamer soft, this Spotted Eagle-Owl feather adorns a burnt grass stalk

Common Duiker droppings amongst the ash

A Fork-Tailed Drongo on the lookout for insect movement below

Bare rocks stripped of the bushy cover

Amazingly some Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea flowers have opened from buds that escaped the heat of the flames

High above the ground Buddleja salvifolia have blossomed

a bulbul preens

on bared branches displaying

his “butter-bottom”