A Knysna Turaco on Dempsey’s Deck!

A Knysna Turaco on Dempsey’s Deck!

We often spot these beautiful Knysna Turacos flitting from branch to branch, tree to tree in the distance, seldom near and seldom stopping long enough for us to really see them clearly, let alone to capture them on camera. They tend to be shy and skittish. Recently we heard a strange sounding thud on our deck; to our amazement it was a Knysna Turaco that had made a crash landing on our deck and was gingerly negotiating its steps on the coffee table. We observed in disbelief. It stayed a long while and then moved to the top of the couch, a few seconds later it moved into a tree very close by where it stayed for an unusually long time. We managed to take a few photographs of this unusual visitor to our deck. When the bird is in flight, the flash of crimson under those wings will take your breath away. Oh to be in the right place at the right time to capture that sight on camera.

knysna turaco on coffee table

Knysna Turaco on coffee table

Pretty painted eye of the Knysna Turaco

Pretty painted eye of the Knysna Turaco

turaco settles at a safer distance

Turaco settles at a safer distance

Lloyd Road lodgers allow photo shoot near Dempsey’s, PE.

Lloyd Road lodgers allow photo shoot near Dempsey’s, PE.

These Lloyd Road Lodgers nonchalantly allowed a photo shoot one hot summer’s day this year, all I had to do was approach slowly and calmly and the scene was mine for the taking. Close up they are distinctly beautiful. They used to be called the ‘Dikkop’ bird, an Afrikaans word meaning ‘thick head’. Their name has been changed to “Thick Knee” bird.

Here’s a post from “Neseier”, a great young blogger living in the Karoo. ‘Neseier’ is Afrikaans for ‘nest egg’. Here she shares her experience of the Thick Knee:- https://greatgardenbirds.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/three-thick-knees/

From Wikipedia:- “The spotted thick-knee, which can reach up to 45.5 cm (17.9 in) in height, has long legs and brown-and-white speckled plumage which provides camouflage making it difficult to spot the bird in the grasslands and savannas where it roams. Its head is large and round with a prominent yellow eye and a short, stout beak. When in flight or standing in a characteristic position with its wings raised, it shows a striking contrasting pattern. Its legs are long and yellow and the tibiotarsal joint is expanded giving it the name “thick-knee”.

The spotted thick-knee is nocturnal and squats on the ground during the daytime making it difficult to spot. It hunts exclusively on the ground, feeding on insects, small mammals and lizards. It also nests on the ground, lining a scrape with grasses, feathers, pebbles and twigs. The female typically lays two eggs, and males and females rear the offspring together, with both bringing food back to the nest. The birds will defend the nest and adopt a defensive pose with wings spread and tail cocked and will even peck an intruder. Sometimes they will fake injuries to lead predators away from the nest.

The spotted thick-knee is native to the grasslands and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa. Its range extends from Senegal, Mali and Mauritania in the west to Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa in the east and south.”

quite tame yet cautious thick knee birds

Quite tame yet cautious Thick Knee birds



inquisitive yet guarded

Inquisitive yet guarded


exposed watch of the thick knee bird

Exposed watch of the Thick Knee bird


The Bottlenose dolphin reigns in Algoa Bay.

The Bottlenose dolphin reigns in Algoa Bay.


Last week we attended Raggy Charters’ launch of Algoa Bay being the Bottlenose dolphin capital of the world. The venue was The Algoa Bay Yacht Club, always providing great views of the yacht basin and harbour, superb ambience and good food from The Chartroom Restaurant. Raggy Charters runs whale and dolphin-watching tours. Owner Lloyd Edwards, who is also Chairperson of the Baywatch Marine Conservation confirmed that our special Algoa Bay hosts the largest schools of Bottlenose dolphins in the world. For almost 20 years Lloyd has been monitoring the location of these dolphins along with the size of their pods. Since the Raggy tours started in 1997, dolphins have been sighted on 90% of their tours, they have been spotted on the past 28 cruises in a row. Marine biologists at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University have recently completed their study confirming that approximately 30 000 bottlenose dolphins use Algoa Bay. We look forward to the launch of a Dolphin Festival hopefully to coincide with Marine Month in October.

Dr. Lorien Pichegru, Algoa Bay Hope Spot chairperson and leading marine life researcher in SA said Algoa Bay is home to more than half of the world’s African penguin population. She said that sustainable econmic growth in Nelson Mandela Bay, could be promoted by blending blue economy and tourism through initiatives such as this one.

On the subject of the African penguin, SAMREC is Port Elizabeth’s marine bird rehabilitation and education centre situated in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve; their main aim is to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured seabirds, particularly the critically endangered African Penguin.


Take a look at our post on the new ‘3 in 1’ tour on offer by Raggy Charters:- http://dempseys.co.za/three-in-one-new-tour-from-raggy-charters-port-elizabeth/

Also our share of Lloyd Edwards in the SA Country Life mag:- http://dempseys.co.za/port-elizabeth-features-again-in-sa-country-life-mag/

And this magnificent book on SA coasts; Lloyd and Lorien are contributors:- http://dempseys.co.za/magnificent-book-of-our-south-african-coasts/


The Chartroom Restaurant is open to all ABYC members, the general public and also for corporate bookings and evening functions. Open for lunch and dinner from Tuesdays to Sundays.

Phone 041 585 2893 or 072 462 2676.  Large groups, small conferences and all other celebrations are also catered for.

The Chartroom has an interesting and varied menu, ranging from kiddies meals to pub lunches to steaks and seafood, fresh from the ocean.

The Chartroom also caters to a host of birthday parties and weddings.

Members get to use the facility at no charge. Non Members are encouraged to support the ABYC Community Sailing Program.


Sources: PE Herald and Port Elizabeth Express newspapers, Algoa Bay Hope Spot, SAMREC, Baywatch Marine Conservation.

raggy charters poster displayed in our office at dempsey's gh

Raggy Charters poster displayed in our office at Dempsey’s GH

algoa bay: bottlenose dolphin capital of the world

Algoa Bay: Bottlenose dolphin capital of the world



Unusual sighting of the Sacred Ibis at the beach, Port Elizabeth.

Unusual sighting of the Sacred Ibis at the beach, Port Elizabeth.

photo of sacred ibis by: steve garvie, dunfermline, fife, scotland

Photo of Sacred Ibis by: Steve Garvie, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland

These are very poor photos ( below) taken with a cell phone camera and from a distance but we needed to capture this strange sighting. It was quite bizarre to spot about twelve Sacred Ibis birds clambering along the rocks at Millers Beach last week. All were fishing alongside the regular seagulls for delicacies amongst the rocks. We were under the impression that the sacred ibis wouldn’t be found near the coast but after looking up the information we have learned that indeed they can be found at the coast. “The African sacred ibis thrives in large colonies near waterways throughout Africa. It inhabits wetlands such as marshes, swamps, riverbanks, flood plains and mud flats both coastal and inland. It is also known to visit pastures, ploughed land and rubbish dumps.” That doesn’t exactly say AT the beach, wading through little waves lapping up against the rocks at low tide!

sacred ibis, port elizabeth beachfront

Sacred Ibis, Port Elizabeth beachfront

sacred ibis with seagulls, millers beach, pe

Sacred Ibis with seagulls, Millers Beach, PE

Update on our frangipani seed pod seedlings.

Update on our frangipani seed pod seedlings.

In early 2015, we shared our exciting discovery of the frangipani pod in our garden. http://dempseys.co.za/fascinating-frangipani-pod-in-dempseys-garden/ We’ve been slack in reporting on the growth progress but we have these recent photos to show you that the four ‘seed survivors’ are thriving. We managed to save approximately 18 seeds, we planted them and once they were ‘shooting’, we gave a few away as gifts. This was around May last year. Later a snail gang wiped out a further few seedlings and we were left with only four plants, these we have nurtured. We look forward to the day when the plants flower as there is a strong chance that the colour of the flowers will differ from the yellow of the original tree flower:)

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SAMREC’s full moon beach walk.

SAMREC’s full moon beach walk.

What a delight to be part of the SAMREC full moon beach walk on Sunday 24th January. It was their first full moon beach walk event and they intend making it a monthly event. The participation fee per person supports the excellent rehabilitation efforts of SAMREC. It was a breezy and misty evening which caused havoc with the photography but it was still a most enjoyable beach walk.

SAMREC is a Marine Rehabilitation and Educational Centre situated at Cape Recife, Port Elizabeth, about 15kms from us at Dempsey’s. Their main aim is to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured seabirds, particularly the critically endangered African Penguin.  Tour the centre and explore the displays in their Discovery Room, you won’t be disappointed.


Find SAMREC on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samrecpe

the start of the full moon beach walk

The start of the full moon beach walk

beautiful stretch of beach within the cape recife reserve.

Beautiful stretch of beach within the Cape Recife Reserve.

breathing space

Breathing space

shaky shot of chokka boats under the shine of the full moon

Shaky shot of chokka boats under the shine of the full moon


brief appearance of the full moon

Brief appearance of the full moon

hanging full moon, about to disappear

Hanging full moon, about to disappear


Ziplining chameleon at Dempsey’s!

Ziplining chameleon at Dempsey’s!

No words needed for this escapade along the power line in our garden!

from a distance

From a distance

couldn't believe our eyes!

Couldn’t believe our eyes!

brave or mental?

Brave or mental?

Miles from any tree or branch!

Miles from any tree or branch!

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:)


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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