A [collective noun] of eagles in Durban’s western suburbs are thought to be to blame for the death of a Maltese poodle and the disappearance of several kittens in the area. This is obviously very sad for the owner of Buttercup (for it was she what was killed), but is great news for birds everywhere. Not only because it proves that the Crowned Eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) is successfully adapting its diet despite human intrusion into its territory, but also because it is adapting its diet (in that area) away from the Hadeda Ibis. And that’s obviously good news for Hadedas.
Those of you who are aware of the size of a Hadeda (they stand up to 85cm tall) will now understand that the Crowned Eagle is a bit of a monster.
It’s not South Africa’s biggest eagle, either. Both the Martial Eagle and the Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle (seen here) are bigger, but anything that has Hadedas as its first diet item of choice is to be applauded. Feared. Is to be feared. Yes.
There are no Crowned Eagles in Malta, which is probably why the Maltese poodle is so very prolific there. Incidentally, I guess that there are loads of Hadedas as well. I don’t know. I’ve never been, but I suppose that they must be everywhere. Malta is basically a hot lump of rock populated by nasty, yappy, hair-shedding little shits and annoying, honking, drably-plumaged birds. I’m so glad I don’t live there.
Fortunately, there are no Crowned Eagles in Cape Town either, and that means that our beagle is safe in our back garden. From eagles, at least. The hadedas remain an ongoing issue.
A really nice piece in Mahala this month about the car guards at Durban’s beachfront – and the extra services that they offer (careful now):
The car guards that ply their trade along the Golden Mile are known to go beyond the call of duty, thanks to the trust that has been built over time between them and their “clients”. The modern surfer has one major issue when it comes to parking their new age vehicle and jumping into the ocean. The remote key: an electronic device that is not water friendly! But this is not a problem at the major surfing beaches. Every day, numerous beach goers hand over their car keys to the guards in full confidence that their belongings are in good hands. An amazing interaction if you consider the approach most of us take towards crime prevention in this country.
I enjoyed reading this – a quick dip into another world – a world that as the writers suggest, conjures up all sorts of negative connotations. But the entrepreneurship demonstrated by these guys and the obvious trust that has built up between them and the surfers are fantastic.
Cape Town Cosatu march, Wednesday 7th March 2012 from 10:30am.
The route for the Cape Town march against labour broking and urban toll roads on 7 March 2012. Cosatu expects up to 30,000 people. Traffic disruption will start during late morning rush-hour, but the crowd should be dispersed by mid-afternoon.
The march will begin in Keizergracht, head across Buitenkant, past the City Hall on Darling Street, left into Adderley Street, left into Longmarket Street and then right into Plein Street and to Parliament and will obviously cause disruption across most of the CBD.
Durban greeted me like a well worn sock: warm, grey, slightly moist and rather grubby. There was also an overpowering smell of cheese. Possibly anyway.
I’m out here doing some training for staff at one of the local government hospitals. And I’ve decided that I quite like Durban. The rolling hills and general unkempt state of the place remind me of South Yorkshire, while the stereotypical banana trees and fields of sugar cane are stereotypically stereotypical. Don’t you love it when that happens? Like a seeing a fat, topless Geordie bloke wandering drunk around Newcastle or a Mafia boss smoking a cigar on the streets of Palermo. If I get some crippling humidity tomorrow, I win a small prize. Oh, and the people here are friendly (although I haven’t met them all) (yet) and the birds are mental – splendid starlings everywhere – and the roads around the University are crazy steep like in Sheffield. I even caught a glimpse of the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which was actually less awe-inspiring than I thought it would be but still inspired a certain amount of awe, albeit not as much as I had kept aside for the occasion. I now have some spare awe which I will hold onto for a sight or event that requires surplus awe.
But the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital has been the biggest surprise of my visit thus far. I’ve worked in and around a lot of government hospitals in my time, both in the UK and in SA. And I was blown away by the facilities, the labs, the cleanliness and the general upkeep of the place. It would rival any major hospital in the UK and puts the ones in Cape Town to shame. And now I can’t quite understand why there isn’t a moderate level of decency across the country rather than apparent excellence over here and utter disgrace back home.
The only drawback of being here, aside from missing my wife and two small kidlets, is that I had to get up at stupid o’clock to be here. Although even that did make for a stunning flight over the snow-capped peaks of the Western Cape, the barren Karoo and the KZN mountains at sunrise. Thus, once I’ve been out for dinner at Chatsworth – which is most probably something like the stately home in north Derbyshire of the same name – there is no plan to stay up late this evening, especially with the requirement to detect and diagnose a shedload more TB tomorrow at that sparkly hospital.