Saturday, August 21, 2010

Walking in Virginia Bush (Upper)

Wren being carried "like the zulus do it."
This afternoon we went for a walk in Virginia Bush.  Dad and Frost cycled to the park while Wren and I took the car and brought the binoculars and a towel.  Dad thought that Wren might need a backpack carrier but we couldn't find one at home so Florence (one of the house help) suggested we carry him like the Zulus.   She demonstrated.

When Florence demonstrated how to tie Wren on it seemed very tight and snug.  Wren did not look convinced but at least he was secure.  When I tried it at the bush Wren started reassuring me that "I am not tired any more.  I want to talk."   I think it was because he did not like the sensation of sliding inexorably downwards.  At least it acted as an incentive to walk.

Virginia bush is very dry this time of year.  All the underbrush is reduced to twigs and many trees are bare stemmed.   There is a thick layer of dried leaves underfoot and the dry pods and leaves on the strelizia scrape like cardboard in the breeze.   The earth is dry red dust and you can see ant lion hollows and little piles of buck droppings along the path.  

Courtesy of
Shortly after arriving in the park I was excited to see a purple crested lourie (left).  It is a large and rather splendid bird which makes a loud call from the treetops.  I saw it well high in a tree and also saw it fly, displaying distinctive red wing feathers.

Other good sightings were some white eared barbet (which are new to the area since I was a child) and a pair of duiker (tiny forest deer which are ver timid and seldom seen when you go gallumphing along with two noisy kids whose mission is to whack everything they see with their Whacking Sticks.)

Towards the end of our walk Frost started to spot birds and became more engaged by the process of wandering through bush, stopping and peering through binoculars at things you can't see.   He told me that he could make his eyes "see things that are moving" and then notice them.  Doing so, he spotted a number of Natal Robins and some hadedahs moving skulkilly through the trees.

"Come and see!  There is a platypus in a pond
and some chickadees and a ROBIN, real real in this world... !"
After a while Wren became excited by the game of spotting and announced that he had seen "a platypus in a pond and some chickadees."   Later, after fierce interrogation by Frost (who alarmed me by wondering if Wren was telling the truth or not!) Wren admitted we were all "playing this pretending to see birds!"   I suppose it seems like that to him, since all we saw were glimmers and glimpses of things at some distance.

My "Name this Flower" competition
Both boys liked the flowers which were highly visible.  I forget their name but someone should know from this photograph of one of many splendid blossoms rising straight up out of the dust and forest debris.   Frost was also excited by a weavers nest we found and by some mysterious holes which Frost thought were snakes.  Wren added that they were probably in the hole because "snakes are very sneaky!"

This evening we went out to Spigadoro Italian restaurant in Florida Road and I had butternut agnolotti.  In the pause between the pasta course and the Chocolate Volcano deserts, the boys played iPad and the mini scrabble game I brought for the airplane.  Tomorrow, we hope to make another ride through the cane although I also hope to go to the beach on the next sunny day.  The winds have kept us away to this point and despite Ingrid's advice and dire predictions about wind by 10am, we have never managed to make it to the beach by 8am.

Note the roadworks.  The teams have been making a lot of progress
improving the road.
Finally, I can't resist putting in this picture of Frost and Grandad arriving at Virginia Bush on their bicycles.

1 comment:

nautilus said...

The plant is a snake lily. dies down in early winter and then flowers in spring without leaves before the leaves appear . Latin name, Haemanthus puniceus of the amaryllidaceae family.