Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill. The flying Banana…

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas)

This omnivorous bird has been made famous by the movie “The Lion King”, where it is used as a character named Zazu.

A Hornbill found in Southern Africa. It is a medium sized bird, with a length between 48 to 60 cm, characterized by a long yellow beak. (The banana).

Females lay 3 to 4 white eggs in their nest cavities and incubate them for about 25 days. Juveniles take about 45 days to mature.

Their breeding behaviour is also very interesting. Yellow-billed hornbills are monogamous and will live in breeding pairs or small family groups. When they begin their courtship the male will feed the female for up to a month by bringing her small bits of food in his mouth. Once they have mated, the pair will seek out a hole in a tree, usually facing north east, and will use an array of leaf litter and bark as their nesting material. When the nest is ready the female will enter the hole and close the opening with her faeces, leaving a small slit in the entrance for her devoted partner to feed her while she incubates her eggs.

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Scarlet-chested Sunbird.. a real beauty to capture.

Scarlet-chested Sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis)

This bird is fairly wide spread and can be found in southern Mauritania and Guinea to Ethiopia and south to northern Namibia and north-eastern South Africa.

These birds are 13-15 cm long and have a wingspan of 25-30 cm. They weigh 10-14 g.

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(Photo courtesy of Victor Lourens, my Grandson who would never be able to stop me showing his photos,,, he’s still learning..)

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(These are my photos… only the top one is his)

They feed on the nectar of various flowers, but show some preference for large red blooms. They also eat spiders and insects such as grubs, ants, termite alate, caterpillars, crickets, leafhoppers, beetles and flies.

They breed all year round, they are monogamous solitary nesters and the female builds the nest alone. (Male Chauvinistic Pig) The nest is a suspended oval or pear-shaped structure, made of grasses, dead leaves, plant down and spider webs, decorated with seeds, leaves, strings, feathers and even pieces of paper. It is suspended from the tip of a branch, 2-10 m above the ground. There the female lays 1-3 cream, greenish or pinkish eggs with darker markings, which she incubates alone for 13-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 15-20 days after hatching.

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Impala Lily.. a lowveld beauty with a bite.

The Impala Lily (Adenium multiflorum)

If there is one reason to visit the Kruger National Park in winter, it is for the Impala Lily.. A most showy plant, resembling a miniature Baobab tree in a way, but the flowers in Winter are just too beautiful to describe….

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(photo courtesy of Victor Lourens… but then he’s my Grandson so I just use it without his permission)

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This plant contains a watery latex which is highly toxic. Domestic animals have been known to die after consuming it, but amazingly there have been no noted deaths in wild animals that feed on the Impala Lily. The latex is extracted from the bark and trunk and is prepared as a poison for the tips of hunting arrows and also as a poison to stun fish. The latex is also made into a "magical potion" used by many different African cultures both in South Africa and Mozambique.

The poisons within the Impala Lily latex are known to contain over 30 types of chemicals that can affect the heart. This is not necessarily all negative, as, when given in the correct dosage and mixed in with the right medicinal ingredients, it could possibly be used in the treatment of cardiac arrest.

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When the plant is finished flowering it makes long seed pods and then, and only then, do the new leaves begin to show…

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They are such beautiful shows of colour in an otherwise drab winter coloured grass that one can’t help but spot them from far…

Hello.!! I’m Back..

Having just walked in after a long trip, I was more than surprised to see I’d had so many visits and comments whilst away.. But you haven’t only been busy commenting on my posts, but I see, whilst I’ve been in an area that when you ask if there’s internet connection, they ask “what’s the internet?” you’ve all been busy posting yourselves… Now I’m going to have to play catch up..

Was our trip successful? Beyond all expectations. To sit with Managers and Course Superintendents that only see the benefit of “terratry” was a great experience.

To sit with some of the top Superintendents in the country, that rave about and order the product, is just the cheery on top of the cake. For my baby that took far longer than we expected to reach maturity, I have now grown to be a proud parent, and for our company this means just so much.

I had very little time out with my camera, but spent 6 hours in my favourite place, The Kruger National Park where I did get some great captures to share with you all… so here is just one to whet your appetite…

“Hello” the Bulldog is back….

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Okay I lied three to whet your appetite..