It is spring in South Africa (September to November), and the Greater Striped Swallows (Cecropis cucullata) are returned from north Africa for the breeding season. A week ago, I photographed one of their many mud-pellet nests in the entrails of a bridge where I often stop to admire them as they frolic in the air.
It is my custom on Sundays to venture out among the hills just before daylight. Twice now I have spotted on one of the hillsides an antelope browsing.
Though on both occasions it was too distant for an accurate identification, I believe it to be a female Steenbok1 (Raphicerus campestris)2.
I base this solely upon the general shape and colour of the creature—and the name of the nearby mountain, Steenboksberg3 (Steenbok’s Mountain)!
- Afrikaans for “stone-buck”, pronounced [steeyin-bok].
- Steenbok (Wikipedia)
- Afrikaans, pronounced [steeyin-boks-behRCH] with a trilled [RRR] and the [CH] in “loch” (not [ck] but the guttural [kccch]).
This morning, I filmed Cape Clapper Larks (of the sub-species Mirafra apiata marjoriae) in display flight. They were at a distance, so one must look closely at the footage, but this was my first (spontaneous) attempt at recording their performance. Unlike Mirafra apiata apiata (the subspecies I first identified), M. a. marjoriae has two descending whistles: “Tseeoo, tseeuuuu!”
Incidentally, the loud “Kraaaank, kraaaank!” calls you hear throughout the video are those of the glorious—nay, divine—Paradise Crane1 (also known as the Blue Crane, Anthropoides paradiseus, the subject of another poem, “A Crane at Eventide”); the cackling at the 01:36 mark (and elsewhere) is the ubiquitous (and pesky) Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris).
- See the “I watched a crane leaping in the wind” heading in “This January” for a brief account of a memorable sighting earlier this year.
A delightful fact I neglect to mention is that my beloved Gladiolus liliaceus, commonly known as the Large Brown Afrikaner and Aandpypie1 (“little evening pipe”2), has yet another common Afrikaans name: the Ribbokblom3, that is, the “rhebok flower”!
Whence the name, I can only speculate—perhaps because the rhebok itself is as rare, or that both are found on hillsides and are brownish-grey? Nonetheless, what are the odds that two of my favourite things—an antelope and a lily—should be thus connected!
- After the flower that opens at night.
- [Ribbok-blom] with a trilled “R” and a short [awh] version of the “o” in “or”.