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Harold Porter Botanic Garden Birding--South Africa

Sunday, January 10, 2016

After our windbeaten and odiferous visit to the cormorant/penguin colony at Betty's Bay, we were delighted to take a stroll in the Harold Porter Botanic Garden on our way back to De Noordhoek Hotel. It's September 19, 2015, and we're still on our flower and bird safari in the Cape region of South Africa!

These looked really familiar--pretty sure I grow the blue daisies back in Ohio. I didn't know they were from the Cape though!

I love how their periwinkle plays with the cerulean sky.

A southern double-collared sunbird feeds at a tubular heath.

Harold Porter is a gem of a garden, with rugged mountains towering above. I wanted to go scale them to see what was growing on their slopes. Always prefer my flowers on the hoof and wild, but it sure is fun to read the labels in a garden. And the birding here was easy and good. 

This looked like it might be related to our bee balm, or Monarda. Anyway, it was a mint, with that square stem and balled head of tubular flowers. 

Still trying to get the perfect sunbird shot. It will always elude me.

A Cape batis sat quietly in the shade. I love these weird little birds, with their dapper coloration and staring eyes. South Africa has so many delightful birds you've never heard of. Batis? Whazzat? This.

Find the Cape white-eye in this minty confection. These hyperactive little nectar-lovers are ubiquitous. I had just about learned their call by the time we left South Africa. It's good for a birder who relies on her ears and can be somewhat cocky about it to be immersed in a new world where every call is foreign. It reminds you how you started.

In the grass, swee waxbills plucked tiny seeds.

The Mr. and the Missus. She doesn't have the bee beard.

Still shooting sunbirds...

aaand he turns around!

Rotten picture, but oh those bands of flourescent scarlet-orange and electric blue!

On the way to the hotel, Leon spotted a seasonal specialty: sour figs! They're actually a juicy dried fruit of a sprawling wild ice plant (Aizoaceae) with 2" flowers. Leon loves them. He bought a bag and handed them around, with instructions to bite the stem end off, squeeze the sticky jelly-like innards (with figlike tiny seeds) into our mouths, and throw the rest out the window.

Of the group, only Rootie and I dug 'em, and we figured out over the next few days how many we could get away with eating before there were...consequences. Rootie even bought a jar of the jam to put in our yogurt in the morning. That turned out to be quite consequential. Yum, though! So delicious, unexpectedly savory and salty-sweet. This year we'll buy more!

I adore eating wild foods, and wild food, heretofore undreamt of, from South Africa, so much the better. 

If by now this is starting to sound like a trip you'd like to take with me, know that I'm going again in 2016!  Trip dates: Aug. 24-Sept. 9, 2016. Details and link coming soon.

Think about it!


OOO--you are going back. Of course you are. I know that once Africa is in your blood, well, it never leaves. But then, that's where we ALL started.
As for native fruits, heh heh hehe.

Might be leonotis or wild dagga the batis is sitting on. Next time, try hitting up Kwazulu Natal too. The Drakensburg is spectacular and Durban has loeries.

I just love these birds that feed on nectar! Thank you for the beautiful photos. I'm wondering - do you ever bring your sketch pad with you?

Posted by Ruth Bergstrom January 11, 2016 at 4:05 PM
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