Tag Archives: an experience of nature

Stony Point Penguin Colony, Betty’s Bay, South Africa

An African penguin population at Betty’s Bay provides opportunities for the public to observe them in their natural habitat.  The African penguin is experiencing a catastrophic decline in its global population.   As a result it is classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List.  Stony Point is the only mainland colony of African Penguins that is known to be expanding.

The penguin colony at Stony Point started in 1982 and has subsequently grown to about 150 pairs.  African penguins breed with one partner for their entire life. Each breeding pair will return to the same breeding colony and same nesting site each year.   The age at first reproduction ranges between four and six years and life expectancy is up to 27 years in the wild.

African penguins are flightless aquatic birds with reduced wings that are modified to form efficient flippers for swimming.  They have heavy bones to enable them to dive.  The feathers in adults are specialized to form a thick coat of overlapping layers that assists with waterproofing, wind resistance and insulation.  The penguin has a black bill and shortened tail. Each African penguin has a unique and distinct pattern of black spots on the white chest that can be used to distinguish individuals from one another.

The distinct pink patch of skin found above the bird’s eye helps the bird to cope with changing temperature.  As the external temperature around the African penguin increases, the bird’s body sends more blood to the glands found at these pink patches of skin, causing the pink patches to change color and turn a darker shade of pink. This in turn causes the glands to be cooled down by the air surrounding it.

The African penguin’s black and white belly coloration is an important form of camouflage at sea. The white belly deters predation from underwater predators looking upwards and the black deters detection from predators swimming above the bird whilst looking down onto the dark depths of the water.

African penguins is a charismatic species that is known for its loud donkey-like braying noises (hence the nickname Jackass Penguin), distinctive black and white plumage and large breeding colonies. They are very clumsy on land, waddling upright with flippers held away from the body as if they are drunk.

Written by Van As Jordaan, uploaded by Jacques Jordaan.

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The Wild Horses of the Marshland

Ever heard of the herd of horses roaming freely on the marshland near the coastal town of Kleimond? Many call them The Wild Ones but where did they come from and how do they fit into their habitat?

Discover the answers to these questions and more in the mini documentary about these Wild Ones.

I hope you’ve learnt something and you’ve been motivated to go and encounter this unique herd for youself.

Table Mountain

On a clear, cool winters morning what’s better to do than be in the mountains? Where a better place to be than on Table Mountain, one of the new seven natural wonders of the world.

This is the first time I’ve hiked up Table Mountain. I realized why it’s one of the natural wonders of our world. We went up with Platteklip Gorge and down via the India Venster route.

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Three of us on top of Platteklip Gorge.

In retrospect we were actually surprised of how fun the trails in the mountain really are. I’ll recommend hiking up Table Mountain to everyone and not taking the cable car!

Kogelberg rehiked with a new twist.

The average student needs some time off every now and again. After a week of studying for a chemistry test, we thought it’s time to treat ourselves. Consequently we let ourselves loose on the Kogelberg 24km trail!

As seen in the video it was a clear and hot day. By the time we arrived at the beach our feet were aching and we were in desperate need of some refreshment before the last push home. Jumping into the cool mountain water after the long hike was a feeling I’ll never forget.

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Another special sighting we made was of the Red Cluster Disa (Disa ferruginea) hidden between the fynbos adjacent to the trail. Being a big fan of orchids, I considered myself very lucky to see this scarce and special flower.

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I hope you enjoy the video and the photos. Feel free to comment, like and subscribe. 

A Teenage Adventure!

Young, searching for identity and enjoying the world. That’s what we did. Behold the three teenagers’ big night out:

Not so many years ago two good friend and I went on a night out in the wild. We gained permission from a farmer to go camp on his uncultivated lands.

Treading our own path, picking our own campsite and spending the night under the starry sky by firelight was an experience to remember. The next morning we hiked towards the nearest road and caught a lift back home.

I hope you also enjoy watching our memorable experience!

Eventful Bike Ride

Racing on a single track bike trail with wind streaming through your hair and shrubs blurring past. This is freedom.

SUDDENLY a bright pink mouth with fangs deadly strikes from underneath causing a surge of adrenaline. The dreaded, yet intricately beautiful puff adder.

^Check out our morning ride on the 2 min video.^

In the video you’ll notice many shrubs, succulents and thorn trees. The floral region is known as the Robertson Karoo.

The climate is semi-arid due to the region lying in the rainshadow of large mountain ranges. Summers are dry with temperatures reaching maximum of 40 ‘C ( 104 F) while winters are cool and moist with minimum of  -1’C (30 F). It has a average monthly precipitation of 7,7 mm in winter months (Apr – Oct).

Consequently the biome is a succulent shrubland. The plants are adapted to prevent water loss in the dry season.

Small-leaved Guarri
Small-leaved guarri with wrinkled leaves so that the leaves are rarely fully exposed to sunlight.
Aloe microstigma
Aloe microstigma has thick and fleshy leaves, which are enlarged to accommodate aqueous tissue inside. The leaves are also covered by a thin wax layer preventing water loss.
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The juvenile puff adder that crossed our path.

Interesting fact about puff adders:Puff adders hunt by ambushing their prey, and can lie motionless for weeks at a single location waiting for prey to pass. This behavior makes them vulnerable to predation.

A recent study at University of Witwatersrand found that (except for its visual camouflage) it has a chemical camouflage. They observed that dogs and the tame mongooses used in the study walked directly over motionless puff adders with both predators appearing to be completely unaware of the motionless snakes.

One can experience this amazing landscape at the Vroljikheid Nature Reserve near Robertson or at the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden near Worcester.

Disas of Leopard’s Kloof revisited

Happy 2016 to all readers! May it be filled with lots of wonderful experiences!

Grandpa, my sister and I went on our annual expedition up Leopard’s Kloof to view the Red Disas in flower. See my previous post on Leopard’s Kloof to find out more about this stimulating route.

The Red Disas grow in the moist moss which covers the rocks surrounding the Leopard’s Kloof waterfall. We spotted one in bloom close to the base of the fall. This is considered lucky because in the past there were many more Disas at lower levels of the fall which have now gone because of environmentally harmful activities like the picking or total removal of these flowers.

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Orchids (like this one) are some of the most beautiful creations on Earth. Seeing the Red Disas again was an amazing experience. A good kick off  to 2016!

African Helmeted Turtle

Behold the African Helmeted Turtle (Pelomedusa subrufa), a.k.a. Crocodile Turtle, Marsh Terrapin or African Side-necked Turtle:

I found this turtle in out garden and was intrigued by its sideways retracting neck and golden, reptilian stare. It was had a flat body,  flipper-like claws and a highly situated nose. I assumed it was adapted to water and decided to take it to a nearby dam.

Afterwords, I did some research: It’s a fairly common freshwater turtle which prefers stagnant habitats like marshes, pools and lakes. They occur throughout Africa and has a conservation status of “least concern”. Man made dams and reservoirs helped them expand their roam and increase in numbers. They are also omnivorous eating from plant, tadpoles, small fish up to small birds coming to drink water.

These semi-aquatic turtles can easily be identified by their flat bodies, sharp claws, sideways retracting necks and the two tentacles underneath their chin.

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Apparently these turtles leave their homes in search of new habitats, especially after rain. We have our sprinklers on in the summer – which was probably what had attracted this fellow.

I went berserk with fascination upon seeing this turtle and had a royal time photographing it! What a pleasant surprise! 

My recent cover photo.

I took this photograph along the coast near Kogel Bay, South Africa. I originally saw a similar photograph taken my a professional and decided to have a go at it myself. It took many attempts to get the right spot at the right time.

Later this year, I entered my photo in a regional eisteddfod and to my delight received a gold award!

I admire photographs which captures a certain experience of nature.

Overnight on the beach!

I kicked off my summer holiday with my grandfather and a dear friend. We hiked along the coast near the southern most tip of Africa and spent a night along the beach. It was such a relief to get in the outdoors, breathe the ocean breeze and not have to go to school!

Spescial things I encountered was an out-wash of sea urchins, seeing Jupiter and Venus (we only realized that afterwards) and watching the full moon set in the ocean at 04:00 in the morning.

Sea urchin heaven
Sea urchin heaven
A big dune
A big dune

We also walked past the house (seen in the background of the featured image) where the late British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan wrote his speech: “The Wind of Change” which he represented to the South African Parliament in the time of Apartheid.

Beautiful sunset
Beautiful sunset

Hope you enjoyed the short video and photos!