About Me

My photo
Dreaming of Africa
I am married, a lifelong musician, somewhat competent photographer, and world traveler. Having been around for over 60 years, I have lots of "stuff" floating around inside my head that is screaming to get out.


All photos and text on this blog are copyright 2008-2010 Norman Arnett, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted. All content not owned is used with permission and is also protected by copyright.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring has sprung

Spring is here, though by the weather you might not guess that winter is gone. We have a heavy frost this morning, and yesterday we had a tremendous windstorm with driving rain that blew through. Our heavy snows are gone

and some of the early Rhododendrons and bulbs are starting to bloom.

Each spring Tricia and I look forward to the explosion of color that will replace our winter garden browns. Our yard is a year round sanctuary for birds, squirrel, raccoon, and other wildlife. As spring continues into summer our yard becomes a quiet sanctuary for Tricia and me too.

This past week, I started a new job after three months of being unemployed. It feels good to be back into a work routine, though I was starting to like sleeping in.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

African Birds are amazing!

While in South Africa we were able to see over 100 species of birds that were new to us. So many people go on Safari looking for the Big 5, and large animals, but we found that the birds and smaller critters were truly amazing.

From the tiny African Firefinch to Pied Kingfisher, to the Goliath Heron (The Largest Heron in the world at Five Feet!) birds were everywhere and so colorful.

We were fortunate because we booked an extra two days, so wegot our ranger all to ourselves for an entire day of birding on the preserve, Something we wouldn't have been able to do with the entire group.
Brown Hooded Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Monday, March 9, 2009

Torti Cats

If you are wondering, yes we have a conclave of cats. six tortishells and one Torbi and white. If you think , yeow that's a lot of cats, let me qualify this with the fact that my wife is a Veterinarian, who is a feline spcialist. Having lots of pets seems to be a hazard of the job.
Our girls are quite special, and get along great. Now this many cats is not recommended for everyone, as disasterous results can occur. Our cats are mostly indoor types, though our backyard has Purrfect Fence cat fencing, which keeps our girls in and safe from other cats and predators. The fencing also keeps the birds that visit our yard safe from the mighty hunters on the inside of the fence. You can see their product at http://www.purrfectfence.com/. Our cats love being able to go outside, and we love the security it offers our girls.

Baby animals

On our African Safari we were fortunate to have timed it just right. Our arrival in September allowed us to see a few babies in the wild. This little Giraffe girl was less than three weeks old. Her umbilical cord was still hanging from her belly, these generally fall off at around three weeks old.
She was so cute, Tricia just fell in love with the Giraffes. Her fur looked like a Gund Teddy Bear fur. The first time we saw her, she was close by her mother. Our Ranger said that unless they are right with the mother, you generally can't find them as they are well camouflaged and will stay perfectly still to evade predators.

The Giraffe we saw are the Masai Giraffe. One of the interesting features of these Giraffe is that the older they get, the darker the coloring becomes. Compare these pictures with George from my last post. He is much darker than these Giraffe. Females have tufts of hair covering their horns, while the males quickly lose theirs by rubbing them on trees and bushes, and using them for fighting, being the macho boys that they are.

We also really decided that baby Rhino's are adorable. This little boy was only four or five weeks old when we were there. He stuck pretty close to mom, and eyed us with suspicion when we were around. His little button horn was cute, and he just was not too sure of our intentions as we watched him from about 30 feet away. Mom couldn't have cared less about our presence and just kept browsing.
During our time in South Africa, we had an amazing time. Animals all around everywhere. Tricia and I were in awe of everything we saw. We also found that not all of the people on Safari were as excited about seeing animals as we were. More than one of the people in our group and another group complained that they were tired of looking at animals all of the time. Hello, isn't that what you came here for? We saw so much, and yet all it did was whet our appetite for more. That is why we decided while we were there that we would return in September, 2009.
This time we are renting a four wheel drive at the airport in Johannesburg, and driving to the SanWild preserve near Kruger National Park for a week long wildlife rehabilitation course. When we are finished, we plan to drive to Kruger and spend at least one night in the Park, then drive south back to Kwazulu Natal province and spend three or four days at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park. Where we saw Lions on our first trip.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Our first day on Safari

After an early breakfast, we met our Ranger Werner. We were one of three couples at the Tented camp, (amazingly, all of us were from the Seattle area) the other two couples in our group were staying at the main lodge, so we had a short drive to pick up the rest of our group. Soon after entering the Game Reserve we spotted Curious George. George is a fourteen year old Giraffe. He was once the dominant Bull of the herd, but was recently deposed by a younger male. George only has one horn, the result of his fight with the other male. Now an outcast, George lives by himself. Much to our delight, we saw him daily. For the most part, the South Africans don't name wild animals, George got his name from an American film crew while filming the movie "I Dreamed of Africa". George was always hanging around checking out what was going on so they named him Curious George.

The rest of the morning we were treated to Rhino, Hippo, lots of Impala and Nyala, and many different bird species. We searched for elephants without luck all morning, so headed back in for lunch.

After a couple of hours to relax, it was back into Bessie, our Safari vehicle for more exploring. Late in the evening Werner decided to try the water hole before quiting for the night. We found the elephants nearby. We actually heard them in the bush before we saw them.
As the sun started to set, Werner drove to a ridgetop where we saw an amazing sunset.
Our first day was amazing, leaving both of us in total wonder, and excited at the prospects of each coming day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

There's a first time for everyone

Well, here I go. At 55 I am wondering what should be included on my blog. I guess I'll start with some photos of our trip to Africa this past fall. The background photo for this page is the view from our safari tent on our first night on safari.

Tricia and I traveled to South Africa for a photo safari during September, 2008. Our adventure started out on in chaos, as our flight from Seattle was delayed, which would have caused us to miss a connecting flight to London. We had planned to spend a day and a half in London to help us adjust to the time change, but now London was off the table. Luckily we were assisted by an amazing employee at United airlines who was able to re-route us to San Francisco and then on to Frankfurt, Germany, after a five hour layover, we hopped a flight to Johannesburg, arriving a day earlier than planned, and completely drained from a total of 28 hours in the air, not to mention the layovers. Once we passed through customs, we found a nearby hotel and crashed, pretty much sleeping until the next day. We returned to the airport and caught our connecting flight to the east coast of South Africa, and our final destination in Kwazulu Natal province.

By the time we arrived, it was late afternoon, and we weren't able to see much. The photo is the inside of our Safari "Tent"!
Our second day was another story.