Superb drongo entertainment!

Superb drongo entertainment!

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Recently we were treated to superb entertainment right on our private deck area at Dempsey’s Guest House. The crazed entertainment was provided by a whacky Fork-tailed drongo who was born to perform. Bursting with confidence and attitude, this drongo had us pleasantly amused for a long time; the more we chatted and cheered, the more flamboyant the performance became! Ah the wonder of nature.

 

 

 

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Baby olive woodpecker:)…maybe not!

Baby olive woodpecker:)…maybe not!

Yesssss, we were able to get close to the nest and capture the baby woodpecker:)

http://dempseys.co.za/olive-woodpecker-nesting-in-our-tree/

Oops, we have erred and think that these photos are of the mum and not of the babe as we’d initially thought! Ah well, back to the wait.

 

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Olive woodpecker nesting in our tree.

Olive woodpecker nesting in our tree.

Spring is in the air and our garden is alive with activity, especially after the good rains we’ve had. Nesting in one of the ancient syringa trees is a woodpecker family. The photos show a parent keeping vigil. Today we saw a fluffy, baby, grey head pop out of the hole. Sweetness! If we are allowed closer, photos of the baby will follow.

The Olive Woodpecker has two isolated subspecies in Africa – one is in Central Africa, and the other is endemic to South Africa, living in evergreen forests. It forages in the upper canopies of trees, probing pecking branches and licking with its barbed tongue. Both sexes excavate the nest, which is usually a oval-shaped hole in the trunk of a tree. Egg-laying season is from August-November, peaking from September-October.It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for roughly 15-16 days. The chicks are cared for by both parents, leaving the nest at about 24-26 days old. The juveniles return to the nest to roost for about 3 months, after which they become fully independent. Several adaptations combine to protect the woodpecker’s brain from the substantial pounding that the pecking behaviour causes: it has a relatively thick skull with relatively spongy bone to cushion the brain; there is very little cerebrospinal fluid in its small subarachnoid space; the bird contracts mandibular muscles just before impact, thus transmitting the impact past the brain and allowing its whole body to help absorb the shock; its relatively small brain is less prone to concussion than other animals.

Source: Wikipedia

 

 

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Magnificent book of our South African Coasts.

Magnificent book of our South African Coasts.

This magnificent book “South African Coasts – A celebration of our seas and shores” can be bought online on www.sst.org.za or at SAMREC. The proceeds of the book go to educating our children about the sea. It includes information on Hope Spots. This info taken from Raggy Charters’ website. www.raggycharters.co.za

What are Hope Spots?

Mission Blue defines Hope Spots as special conservation areas that are critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart. Some of these Hope Spots are already formally protected, while others still need protection. About 12 % of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks, world heritage sites, monuments, etc.), while less than three percent of the ocean is protected in any way. Mission Blue is committed to changing this. Networks of Hope Spots maintain biodiversity, provide a carbon sink, generate life-giving oxygen, preserve critical habitat and allow low-impact activities like ecotourism to thrive. They are good for the ocean, which means they are good for us. By engaging governments, businesses, schools, research organizations, universities, civil society and the media, Mission Blue hopes to effect significant changes so that future generations can thrive on a healthy planet, with a healthy ocean.

Port Elizabeth’s Algoa Bay is a Hope Spot. http://www.nmbt.co.za/algoa_bay_hope_spot.html

 

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Three-in-one new tour from Raggy Charters, Port Elizabeth.

Three-in-one new tour from Raggy Charters, Port Elizabeth.

0090080007006010Here’s a nice new tour combo on offer from “Raggy Charters”:

Head off on an exhilarating boat cruise to St. Croix Island in Algoa Bay to see the largest breeding colony of African penguins in the world. After that it’s off to SAMREC, Port Elizabeth’s marine bird and rehabilitation centre in Summerstrand. Finish the day off with a visit to The Bayworld Museum, Snake Park and Oceanarium in Humewood.

For more information on The Penguin Patrol and to book, visit: http://www.raggycharters.co.za/page/penguin_patrol

About Raggy Charters, in their own words, from their website: http://www.raggycharters.co.za

“As far as we are aware we are the oldest marine eco tour company combined with a conservation project in Africa – since 1992. We are owner run and managed and use the volunteer system to assist in our tours and projects. We specialise in taking tourists, photographers, corporate office party groups, TV crews and marine wildlife enthusiasts on ocean safaris to watch the whales, dolphins, penguins and other natural wonders of Algoa Bay. Our wildlife and whale watching boat cruises possibly cover the longest distance of any ocean safari along the South African coast, lasting for 3-4 hours and covering 50km. This provides guests with a better chance of seeing the full array of marine wildlife Algoa Bay has to offer. Port Elizabeth is a hidden gem in South Africa for whale watching, and other wildlife viewing. With seasonal visits from Southern right whales, humpback whales, and indo-pacific humpback dolphins. We have the largest breeding colony of African penguins in the world right on our doorstep. As well as our other resident species including bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, bryde’s whales, Cape gannets and more. All year round we at Raggy Charters can offer guests some great wildlife viewing experiences in our secret and undisturbed bay.”

Lloyd’s wife Dr Lorien Pichegru has been studying the breeding success of African Penguins in Algoa Bay for the past six years, to determine whether competition with purse-seine fisheries has caused the decline in African penguin numbers. Lorien gained her PhD at the University of Strasbourg, France, in 2008 and is currently a research associate at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology (click here for a list of her publications). Part of the study involves closing a 20km radius around St Croix Island to fishing by purse seiners who target one of the penguins prey items, the sardine. It has been found that even this small Marine Protected Area around the colony helps dramatically. Click here for more information about the research being conducted on the African penguin.

Dr Pichegru says: “My research focuses on seabirds foraging ecology and life history traits in relation to prey availability and local competition with industrial fisheries, using animal-borne miniaturized recorders, such as GPS recorders combined with pressure sensors, cameras, etc. taped on adults breeding small chicks to determine the at-sea behaviour of several species of seabirds breeding in South Africa, endemic to the region and threatened with extinction.”

See Dempsey’s Blog on Raggy Charters’ feature in the SA Country Life magazine: http://dempseys.co.za/port-elizabeth-features-again-in-sa-country-life-mag

Claire Fulton highlighting Port Elizabeth’s country spots. June 2015

Claire Fulton highlighting Port Elizabeth’s country spots. June 2015

In case you had not noticed, yes we are fans of the SA Country Life magazine. Take a peek at the June 2015 issue where Claire Fulton writes about ‘Pastoral PE.’ And oh yes, you need to know that she is from Port Elizabeth. Keep us in the spotlight please Claire.

http://www.countrylife.co.za/pastoral-pe/

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One Fine Day in March 2015.

One Fine Day in March 2015.

It’s been a long and cold winter in Port Elizabeth but the days are longer and we are seeing more light now, we are dreaming of that ‘One Fine Day’ in the March 2015 issue of SA Country Life magazine by Port Elizabeth’s Claire Fulton. Remember us please when next you plan your visit to Port Elizabeth.

 

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Port Elizabeth in the SA Country Life spotlight, issue Dec 2014.

Port Elizabeth in the SA Country Life spotlight, issue Dec 2014.

Yes we are VERY late with this, it was buried in some desk dust but we still want to share it.

We love it when SA Country Life Mag talks about our special city:)

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Port Elizabeth’s Alan Fogarty wins first prize.

Port Elizabeth’s Alan Fogarty wins first prize.

So nice to open the latest issue of SA Country Life and read of Alan Fogarty’s first prize that he won in the Image Club photographic competition. We know that guy! Alan runs his business here in Port Elizabeth called Alan Tours

The following piece on Alan is taken from his website http://www.alantours.co.za/

Always a free spirit, Alan has embarked on his own enterprise and offers tourists the wealth of his accumulated knowledge and know-how spanning more than 30 years in the wilds of Southern Africa. He is a qualified level three F.G.A.S.A. (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) Tour Guide and a Specialist African wildlife nature guide with further qualifications having been obtained in Zambia and Mozambique. His interests are wide and varied, birds, botany and bushman paintings.; mammal, reptiles and more recently our cultural heritage, inspired by the myriad of ruins in the Limpopo river valley as well as the recent colonial history of the Eastern Cape with special emphasis on the tribal Xhosa and their leadership during a difficult era.

photographer: alan fogarty's first prize competition 'image club' sa country life aug 2015

Photographer: Alan Fogarty’s First prize in competition ‘Image Club’ SA Country Life Aug 2015

 

 

 

 

Cormorant conference on Bird Rock, Port Elizabeth.

Cormorant conference on Bird Rock, Port Elizabeth.

On any day, at any time you are sure to find a cormorant conference in full swing, doing a balancing act on Bird Rock along the beachfront, Port Elizabeth. Why do cormorants often stand in the sun with their wings spread out to dry? They have less preen oil than other birds so their feathers can get soaked rather than shedding water like a duck’s; wet feathers probably make it easier for cormorants to hunt underwater with agility and speed. We find them rather comical to observe, they seem to be packed with ‘attitude.’ The white-breasted cormorant in particular seems to look wrecked and jagged!

The Cape cormorant is a bird endemic to the southwestern coasts of Africa. It breeds from Namibia south to the southern Cape Province. In the nonbreeding season, it may be found as far north as the mouth of the Congo, and also extends up the east coast of South Africa as far as Mozambique. In the 1970s the breeding population was estimated as over 1 million in Namibia alone. However, the IUCN now classifies it as “Endangered” due to a very rapid decline in the population over the last three generations. The Cape cormorant is an almost entirely glossy black bird, though in breeding condition it has a purplish tinge and a few white plumes on the head, neck, and cloacal areas. Its gular skin ( throat skin) is a deep orangey yellow; unusually for a cormorant, its lores are feathered. ( the lore is the region between the eyes and nostrils of birds, reptiles, and amphibians) The bird’s wing is about 240–280 mm in extent, and it weighs 800-1,600 grams, with little sexual dimorphism. They commonly forage in flocks, taking schooling fish from mid-water, such as pilchards, anchovies, and sand eels. Its prey are typically much smaller than those of the sympatric bank cormorant. Their major predators are black-backed jackals, which take the occasional adult while it is roosting, and nest-site predators such as great cormorants, eastern great white pelicans, and kelp gulls.

Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_cormorant

 

bird rock, port elizabeth

Bird Rock, Port Elizabeth

Always a seagull around

Always a seagull around

keeping busy doing nothing

Keeping busy doing nothing

cormorant conference on bird rock, port elizabeth

Cormorant Conference on Bird Rock, Port Elizabeth

getting up close and personal with the cormorants

Getting up close and personal with the cormorants

Not quite a board meeting

Not quite a board meeting

fishing break

Fishing break