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

After almost thirty years of living here on Sitamani, almost half of my life time, we are closing this chapter of our lives and moving on to a new one. I have been able immerse myself in the rhythms of nature, observing the cycle of the seasons and learning about the incredible diversity of natural life on this beautiful hillside. We have enjoyed the stunning views of the Southern Drakensberg to the west and in the east the valleys leading to Pietermaritzburg. A part of my heart will always remain in this space that we’ve been privileged to be custodians of for so many years.

Including this post Part 3, Flora, I’ll round off the Sitamani Country Diary with my favourite photographs taken over the last six years, in three parts. Part 1, Sense of place, Landscape; Part 2, Fauna and finally Part 3, Flora. Although I have recorded what I’ve seen for much longer than six years, I only started this diary on Word Press in July 2016.

Part 3

Flora

In no particular order, these are the treasured memories I’ll carry forward with me into the next chapter of my life, with gratitude. We have affectionately referred to this hillside as our Wildflower Nature Reserve, it kindled my passion for indigenous wildflowers, was my natural classroom for learning about them. This is a selection of my favourite photos, unlabelled, for sheer pleasure in their beauty.

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

After almost thirty years of living here on Sitamani, almost half of my life time, we are closing this chapter of our lives and moving on to a new one. I have been able immerse myself in the rhythms of nature, observing the cycle of the seasons and learning about the incredible diversity of natural life on this beautiful hillside. We have enjoyed the stunning views of the Southern Drakensberg to the west and in the east the valleys leading to Pietermaritzburg. A part of my heart will always remain in this space that we’ve been privileged to be custodians of for so many years.

Including this post Part 2, Fauna, I’ll round off the Sitamani Country Diary with my favourite photographs taken over the last six years, in three parts. Part 1, Sense of place, Landscape; Part 2, Fauna and finally Part 3, Flora. Although I have recorded what I’ve seen for much longer than six years, I only started this diary on Word Press in July 2016.

Part 2, Fauna

In no particular order, these are the treasured memories I’ll carry forward with me into the next chapter of my life, with gratitude. They are not all the animals, birds, snakes, lizards or insects I have seen, but are a selection of my favourites.

I haven’t labelled them, this is a pictorial remembering, and be warned there are many photos!

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

After almost thirty years of living here on Sitamani, almost half of my life time, we are closing this chapter of our lives and moving on to a new one. These years have been the best of times, we built our home here, raised our son, (he returned many times after he’d flown our ‘nest’, and on a very special occasion, to marry his wife on this hillside), and were in the fortunate position to embrace new and wonderful opportunities. Not least I have been able immerse myself in the rhythms of nature, observing the cycle of the seasons and learning about the incredible diversity of natural life on this beautiful hillside. We have enjoyed the stunning views of the Southern Drakensberg to the west and in the east the valleys leading to Pietermaritzburg. A part of my heart will always remain in this space that we’ve been privileged to be custodians of for so many years.

Including this post, I’ll round off the Sitamani Country Diary with my favourite photographs taken over the last six years, in three parts. Part 1, Sense of place, Landscape; Part 2, Fauna and finally Part 3, Flora. Although I have recorded what I’ve seen for much longer than six years, I only started this diary on Word Press in July 2016.

This June has been characteristically cool with mainly winter sunshine days. In contrast to the previous months with relatively high rainfall, only 8mm were recorded this month. The coldest night time temperature was 1 degree Celsius, the lowest day time temperature was 4 degrees and the warmest was 19 degrees Celsius.

Part 1

Sense of Place, Landscape

In no particular order, these are the treasured memories I’ll carry forward with me into the next chapter of my life, with gratitude.

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

The rainy days have eased off into more settled weather in May. The exception being when a cut-off low brought 102mm between the 20th and 22nd, bringing the total rainfall for May to 110mm.

Once the clouds cleared a snowy Drakensberg was revealed on the 23rd May

The temperature dipped to 4 degrees overnight on the 30th ,  the coolest day at 11 degrees on the 30th and warmest day 22 degrees Celsius on the 25th. Mainly cool sunny early winter weather, a lovely time of year.

Sunday 1

Still predawn morning in the valley

Thursday 5

Glorious clear sky twilight evening

Friday 6

Wintery high cloud after the sun had set

Saturday 7

A dramatic, fiery clouds in the dawn sky

Sunday 8

window to my world

mellow mist brightened

by sun stored in yellowing leaves

Tuesday 10

Predawn fire glow

Wednesday 11

Pink beauty on the hillside under high cirrus prefrontal clouds

Watsonia confusa

Lobelia erinus

Thursday 12

In the quiet twilight a Common Duiker comes to graze

Friday 13

Cool, bleached shades of early winter on my hillside walk

Helichrysum aureonitens

Monocymbium ceresiiforme, Boat Grass

Jewel rich colour of Ledebouria ovatifolia leaves

Wailing Cisticola basking in afternoon sun

Seed heads of Printzia pyrifolia

Otholobium stachyerum

A stand of Leonotis leonurus in a sheltered place

Faded gold Helichrysum cooperi catching the light

Plump leaves of Aloe maculata, Common Soap Aloe

Saturday 14

A Common Duiker strolling past the house in early light

The male Black-backed Puffback defending his territory against his reflected image

Sunday 15

Vibrant glowing red sunset sky

Monday 16

Clear skies during the early hours meant I could watch the Total Lunar Eclipse

Magical mystical moon

in the south

flung like a scorpion up ended

the Southern Cross poised

in flight from

the full moon gradually receding

beneath a red-brown veil

dulled globe glowing

red-gold sky cast

grows in the east

rising as the sun greets the faded moon

Later in the evening
 
And she’s back…
Yellow moon on the rise

Tuesday 17

Morning moon drifting down

Monday 23

A thick mantle of white snow covering the Drakensberg once the clouds had parted

Thursday 26

Dawn on a cool morning, crescent moon rising

Later I spotted what I think is a female Allocnemis leucosticta, Goldtail, a South African endemic damselfly.

Monday 30

The Halleria lucida, Tree Fucshias are laden with flowers, a magnet for birds and insects.

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