For interesting information on flowers, trees and plants please click on this link:

For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.
Videos: YouTube

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Petrified Forest Tour - Port Edward

Even if you miss everything else, a tour with Benny on the beach at Wild Coast Sun to see, learn about and enjoy the fossils are an absolute must!!

Below: you can judge the size of the ammonite below by the R5 coin which we places on the top left of it. (About the same size as a $1 coin)
 The sedimentary rock is rich in fossil remains which can be explored at low tide and ancient remains of huge claims can be seen in the walls of the caves made by wave action dug in the towering cliffs.
 Petrified Forest: Trees become petrified (turned to stone) by having the organic material replaced by minerals (mostly silica and quartz) while retaining the original structure of the tree. The process occurs while the tree is buried under sediment and begins because of the lack of oxygen. It takes at least 100 years for it to completely petrify.
 The most wonderful sample is a trunk in the middle of a huge bolder and on one side the age rings of the tree can be seen.
 Ammonites: These are related to squid and the ones here are estimated to be at least 85 million years old but have now become extinct. Their preference was for warm, shallow water. Females grew to be much larger than the males and they estimate that the nautilus shells comprising of individual chambers, grew in size as the creature developed. The chambers were secreted at a rate of about 12 per year and ammonites lives for approximately 2 years.
 Sharks teeth: Embedded in many of the rocks are sharks teeth which can be seen.
 A highlight for me was seeing this petrified turtle perfectly preserved in the cliff wall.
 Benny is not only very informative and knowledgeable about the fossils but has an outstanding knowledge of the vegetation, fish and birds etc. of the area which he passes on so everyone can benefit and learn a lot on his guided tour.
 He can be contacted directly on +2779 1985 975 or through the Wild Coast Sun Hotel. His tours leave at 9am every morning (Tuesday to Saturday) from the hotel and if fossils have never peaked your interest before, it sure will be after being with him.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Crocodile Centre, St. Lucia, South Africa

Since my first visit to St. Lucia in the early 1980’s, the one highlight has always been a walk through the crocodile centre they have there. Crocodiles can be so scary to us as they seems very large and dangerous but it is interesting to find out more about them. They also have other reptiles and species of crocodile besides the Nile Croc. Featured as well are wonderful, informative exhibitions on the Lake St. Lucia system of sea, beach, dune forests and grasslands.
 They are open every day of the year except Christmas and New Year’s day. Crocodile feeding for public demonstration takes place on Saturday afternoons at 15h00 (weather permitting) as well as on Wednesday evenings at 18h30. The evening feeding is only during the summer months.
 Crocodiles have been on earth since the era of the dinosaurs. In captivity they can live to be 100 years old but in the wild, are estimated to achieve half that age. In reality, only about 2% of those hatched live to become adults through predation of the eggs by mongoose and monitor lizards while the hatchlings are eaten by storks, eagles and even adult crocodiles. Their only natural enemy as adults are humans.
 The male crocodile will set up and defend an area against other males while the females are free to enter. When looking for a mate, the male will go through a curious courtship “dance” during which he bites the water and blows bubbles through his nose.
 They can only mate in the water and when ready to lay her eggs, the female will dig a trench about 45cm deep with her back legs and lay between 20-70 eggs. Incubation of them is 90 days and when they hatch, she picks them up in her mouth using a pouch under the chin in order to carry them down to the water. She then protects them for a further 90 days.
 Determination of the sex in the embryo is influenced by outside temperature when incubating. Warmer weather is conducive to more female than male young being hatched.

Body temperature is controlled through a membrane in the mouth. If they are seen laying with their mouths open, they are cooling themselves  by allowing mucus fluids to evaporate.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

St. Lucia South Africa - Travelogue

For many years our coastal destination of choice was the small town of St. Lucia situated in the northern regions of our east coast as it was only a five hour drive from where we lived in Pretoria. When we first started coming here, the “town” consisted of a supermarket where one could buy almost anything, a fuel station and a tiny bank plus various kinds of accommodation. Besides fishing in both the sea and estuary, there was not much else to do so it remained a place which was peaceful and one could relax and enjoy yourself in the surrounding nature reserve.
The area is run and preserved by the Kwazulu Natal Park Board (KZN Wildlife) and the camping areas are neat, clean and only a few steps from the estuary and beach.  
 Lake St. Lucia which it is situated on, is the largest estuary in South Africa. In 1984 Cyclone Demoina closed the estuary mouth and this has led to a greater wetlands area. For the nature lover, large amounts of crocodiles and hippo which have adapted to the salty water, can be seen. There are over 500 bird species to be found including Purplecrested Lourie, Paradise Flycatcher and breeding Pelican not to mention the stunning Fish Eagle who’s call is synonymous of Africa.
 4x4 Vehicles and motorcycles have been banned on the beaches since 2001 in order to preserve the breeding ground for the Giant Leatherback and Loggerhead Turtles. Small Red Duiker, Bushbuck and Banded Mongoose are often seen but since the inclusion of the area in the Maputo Corridor which was established many years ago, it would not be unusual to see an elephant or two as well.
 Amongst others, it boasts of the following:

8 interlinking ecosystems
3 major lake systems
350 kms of water surface
220 kms of coastline and beaches
190 kms of marine reserve
100 species of coral
1 200 species of fish
25 000 year old coastal dunes
36 snake species
80 dragonfly species
110 butterfly species
 Sunset cruises on the estuary are available as well as kayaking, deep sea diving/fishing and whale watching tours. Small boats are allowed on the estuary from which fishing can be done but a permit is required and can be bought at the KZN office in town. Certain fish are limited to the amount you may catch per day and the size. Beautiful hiking trails are available where one can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature at its best including miles of beach where one can find spectacular shells washed up on the shore.
 Although St. Lucia was first discovered as far back as 1554 by Portuguese explorers and called Rio de Areias de Ouro, it was renamed in 1575. It was declared a Nature Reserve in 1897 and proclaimed a World Heritage Site in December 1999. The area was renamed iSimangaliso Wetlands Park in 2007. Because of its current status, new businesses bloomed. Now there are many different kinds of restaurants and shops available but it still remains a small town and many tourist buses use it as part of their itinerary. Vendors selling a variety of African curious and crafts line the street and many beautiful articles can be bought from them.
 The beaches have no protective shark nets so swimming is not allowed within 100m of the estuary mouth.
This is a malaria area and precautions should be taken especial pregnant woman and older people.
For more information about accommodation and activities, please go to: