Crinum macowanii

Crinum macowanii

The name Crinum originates from the Greek Krinon, which means white lily. As most species have white or whitish flowers the name seems especially appropriate.

 

Crinum are herbaceous plants with large, tunicated bulbs which produce a neck or a pseudostem made up of the sheathing bases of the old leaves. The leaves are linear to sword-shaped, sheathing at the base, arranged in a rosette or rarely in two opposite rows, often dying back in winter, usually with the previous season’s leaves growing out again in spring with a few new leaves in the middle.

 

The inflorescences arise laterally on a long, solid peduncle (main or inflorescence stalk) and are umbellate (flower stalks radiate from one central point), with two spathe valves (bracts) and one to many flowers. The flowers have short or long stalks with a long perianth tube and linear to broadly lanceolate segments that are spreading or held together in a trumpet shape. The stamens are either curved, ascending or angled downwards. The ovary appears as a swelling between the flower stalk and the tube.

Aloe fosteri

Aloe fosteri

Dark green with variation from grey to bluish; the leaves tend to become red in the dry winter with the tips dry; in summer they grow fuller to a 1 m wide rosette; teeth occur only on the edges; spots on the upper surface are H-shaped and may be accompanied by lines from the base to the apex; the lines also occur on the lower surface, but no spots and the colour here is light green.

Aloe cooperi

Aloe cooperi

Aloe cooperi is a South African grassland aloe. It was discovered by Burchell in his early travels in South Africa and was rediscovered by Thomas Cooper, after whom it was named. It occurs in moist habitats and in dry rocky areas, mainly in Natal, Swaziland and Mpumalanga. Aloe cooperi grows singly or in small groups from offshoots at ground level. Plants may be stemless or short stemmed up to 15cm high. The leaves are often yellowish green with the upper surface usually unspotted, though occasionally they have a few white spots lower down. The inflorescence is simple and bold. The flowers of Aloe cooperi vary in colour from greenish-cream to apricot and salmon pink.

Hornbill

Hornbill

The African Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus) is a hornbill. Hornbills are a family of tropical near-passerine birds found in the Old World.
The African Grey Hornbill is a widespread and common resident breeder in much of sub-Saharan Africa and into Arabia.
This is a bird mainly of open woodland and savannah. The female lays two to four white eggs in a tree hollow, which is blocked off during incubation with a cement made of mud, droppings and fruit pulp. There is only one narrow aperture, just big enough for the male to transfer food to the mother and the chicks.
When the chicks and female outgrow the nest, the mother breaks out and rebuilds the wall, after which both parents feed the chicks.

hornbill

This species is a large bird, at 45 cm in length, but is one of the smaller hornbills. It has mainly grey plumage, with the head, flight feathers and long tail being a darker shade. There is a white line down each side of the head and one on the back which is visible only in flight. The long curved bill is black and has a small casque and a creamy horizontal stripe.
The male has a black bill, whereas the female has red on the mandibles. The plumage of the male and female is similar. Immature birds are more uniformly grey. The flight is undulating. The similarly sized Red-billed Hornbill has uniformly grey plumage.
The African Grey Hornbill is omnivorous, taking insects, fruit and reptiles. It feeds mainly in trees.
This conspicuous bird advertises its presence with its incongruous piping pee-o pee-o pee-o call.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

The Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a cosmopolitan species of heron (family Ardeidae) found in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate zones. It is the only member of the monotypic genus Bubulcus, although some authorities regard its two subspecies as full species, the Western Cattle Egret and the Eastern Cattle Egret. Despite the similarities in plumage to the egrets of the genus Egretta, it is more closely related to the herons of Ardea. Originally native to parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, it has undergone a rapid expansion in its distribution and successfully colonised much of the rest of the world.
It is a white bird adorned with buff plumes in the breeding season. It nests in colonies, usually near bodies of water and often with other wading birds. The nest is a platform of sticks in trees or shrubs. Cattle Egrets exploit drier and open habitats more than other heron species. Their feeding habitats include seasonally inundated grasslands, pastures, farmlands, wetlands and rice paddies. They often accompany cattle or other large mammals, catching insect and small vertebrate prey disturbed by these animals. Some populations of the Cattle Egret are migratory and others show post-breeding dispersal.
The adult Cattle Egret has few predators, but birds or mammals may raid its nests, and chicks may be lost to starvation, calcium deficiency or disturbance from other large birds. This species maintains a special relationship with cattle, which extends to other large grazing mammals. The cattle egret removes ticks and flies from cattle and consumes them. This benefits both species, but it has been implicated in the spread of tick-borne animal diseases.cattle egret

Crimson Breasted Shrike

Crimson Breasted Shrike

Rooibors Laksman

The last time I saw this little beauty was in Mookgapong on a visit to a friend’s game farm. How surprising to find one beneath my fig trees.

The Crimson-breasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus) or the Crimson-breasted Gonolek, (‘gonolek’ – supposedly imitative of its call), is a southern African bird occurring in a broad swathe from southern Angola to the Free State province in South Africa. This species was first collected by William John Burchell in 1811 near the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers.

He named it atrococcineus meaning ‘black/red’, finding the striking colour combination quite remarkable. The generic name Laniarius was coined by the French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot and was meant to call attention to the butcher-like habits of the group. In South West Africa its colours reminded Germans of their homeland flag and it therefore became the Reichsvogel (“Empire bird”). This species is closely related to two other bushshrikes, the Yellow-crowned Gonolek (Laniarius barbarus) and the Black-headed Gonolek (Laniarius erythrogaster) of East Africa.rooibors laksman

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