Wednesday, 5 August 2015

All good things...

...must come to an end...eventually!

Another successful day in the lowveld as we enjoy a 'game drive selfie'!
Our 2015 part-time Nature Enthusiast Course is drawing to a close with the assessment weekend coming up in two days' time. This is always the toughest challenge but, as we reflect back on what has been an incredible year, we are grateful for the things we've learned and the lifelong friendships that have been made!

Each year at graduation we have students who tell us that they wish they could capture and 'bottle' the essence of the course so that they can somehow explain to and share with others how wonderful and how life-changing this course has been for them.

Perhaps you are one of our graduANTs, nodding in agreement as you read this!

The best we can do, for those who are yet to experience the magic, is to take you on a visual stroll through time as we present our 'Nature Enthusiast Course class of 2015' in pictures - enjoy!

The ANT Blog

The year starts off in our lecture venue - Henley Business School - with an orientation
evening - here Nicky is talking about why and what we recycle

Andre shows Mariana what to look for when examining a leaf at our introductory tree practical

Chris and Sara look closely at features like the leaf margin and venation

Arlene makes expert use of her loupe to see if there are any secretory cavities

Even the smallest students are treated with care - here Lorraine shows them a special leaf

Annie shows Dave an infloresence - the key to identifying grasses

Salim uses his loupe to great effect as he admires the Red Grass spikelet

Dave and Jenny make use of the outdoor classroom to teach a few grass id basics

Meet some of our mentors - Carla is the rose between the thorns here
- sorry Stephan and Dave junior!

Camping is completely new to some of our students, but they soon grow to love it!

The pool is an attractive feature during summer...but this year has been
an unusually rainy one, so it's been somewhat under-utilised!

The most effective way to learn how to identify grasses is by using display samples

One of the field work groups has a practical session with our resident expert, Lorraine

Rod oversees Deepak as he works out which grass is which

Andrew Hankey - the tree expert -  is one of our favourite lecturers who liberally
shares his knowledge with us on weekend practicals

Deepak holds his leaf up to the light to see if there are any bacterial nodules

Chris enjoys putting his newfound skills to use
What bushveld experience is complete without a good old South African braai?!

Welcome to our piece of paradise in the lowveld - your home-away-from-home ...
...Nkombe Camp! We trust that your week here will leave you with many happy memories!

Our friendly photographer, Justin van Doorene,
goes to great lengths to capture that perfect image!

...and here you have a bird's eye view of our social centre

Rowan gave Justin a run for his money whilst trying to capture
a dragonfly in flight over this pond

One of our favourite drainage line crossings onto an open area

During summer, we have the added challenge of water crossings!

One of the groups after their bush interpretation weekend

It's such a treat to walk in the bush! Here Freddy discusses the finer points of tracking

The first group were fortunate enough to have seen Wild Dogs on foot - what a triumph!

One of our favourite parts of the day involves reading the 'bushveld newspaper'

Chanyn explains to Lee and Mariana how you can tell which direction the elephant is going

Everyone cranes their necks to see the three rhinos
that are just on the other side of that bush...exciting!

Before each walk, the students get a chance to give the pre-trail brief

Our trails guides explain the rapid digestion of elephants

Conrad watches Keegan and Lee as they dig in a dry riverbed for water

After just having watched a crash of rhinos coming down to drink at the waterhole,
we had an opportunity to look at their tracks and signs

This occasion was very special - we heard a female kudu making regular, loud, alarm calls and we noticed the group all staring in the same direction...but as much as we looked, we could not see what she was warning them about...until a yellow blur dashed across the road in front of us and into the riverbed - it was a leopard - what an amazing sighting and all the more special to see the textbook come alive!

The following animal pictures have been captured by one of our students - Mariana Arnoldi - thank you very much for sharing them with us all - enjoy!

Is this a male or female warthog...and how can you tell?

Knowing the scarcity of these animals makes it
even more of a thrill to see them!

Not much water around, yet this Green-backed Heron!

Fork-tailed Drongo - look out for that wine-red eye!

Female buffalo just chewing the cud

We thought this was a funny place for the oxpecker to sit!

This hornbill waited for our crumbs to drop at the coffee stop
This guy's stomach was so distended we think he may well have eaten an entire buffalo by himself!

We end off with a cute shot of this mother and baby Waterbuck - what an amazing experience!

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