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Ken Borland



Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve 0

Posted on August 12, 2017 by Ken

 

The Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve, in the southern Durban suburb of Yellowwood Park, is a five-star birding venue which provides a fine selection of more than 200 KwaZulu-Natal species.

Visiting on a partly cloudy, warm spring morning in October 2016, the place was alive with bird song and I knew I was in for a treat.

Because the 253 hectare reserve is mostly coastal evergreen forest and grassland, a Greyheaded Bush Shrike was not what I was expecting to see, especially since the Birds in Reserves atlasing project had it recorded on just five of 404 cards submitted through the year at Stainbank Nature Reserve.

But there the handsome Greyheaded, the largest bush shrike in Southern Africa, was, calling loudly as the morning warmed up, its trademark mournful hoot coming from a tree along a stream.

Nearby, Purplecrested Lourie, by contrast a typical bird of this area, was also calling loudly, along with Blackheaded Orioles from the tops of trees.

Searching the tops of the trees, which included many impressive Yellowwoods, proved to be fruitful in general, as well as throwing up one or two surprises. A Bronze Mannikin was all on its own on top of one tree and, deep in the forest, there was even a Kurrichane Thrush, which usually favours drier woodland, on top of a tree!

Even a dead tree was a good place for birds, with three White-eared Barbet, inevitably, on top of one. These subtropical lowlands specials are often seen perched prominently on bare branches.

There are various trails to walk along in Stainbank Nature Reserve, as well as bush tracks one can drive along, and Tambourine Dove went whizzing along one of these, while Gymnogene was also spotted soaring over the forest.

The forest is best explored on foot and a quiet stroll can lead to some lucky glimpses. I surprised a pair of Hadeda Ibis along a shady path so the hiking boots were obviously in good stealth mode!

A Southern Black Flycatcher swooped away with a caterpillar and a couple of Olive Sunbird were quite confiding as they flew out from below the leaves of the Large-Leaved Dragon Tree, a typical denizen of coastal dunes.

A Forest Weaver was moving down a tree trunk and a pair of Southern Black Tit were also quite low down in the foliage.

Sometimes just sitting quietly and waiting for the birds to come to you is also effective and a Natal Robin came to investigate while I was eating an orange.

Never mind the birds and trees, there is also a nice sprinkling of game in the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve and a young Bushbuck was close to a herd of zebra, all feeding contentedly, to sum up a decidedly refreshing, tranquil morning.

 

Where is Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve?

 

Sightings list

Vervet Monkey

Yellowbilled Kite

Tambourine Dove

Plains Zebra

Blackheaded Oriole

Yellowbellied Bulbul

Bronze Mannikin

Hadeda Ibis

Gymnogene

Purplecrested Lourie

Greyheaded Bush Shrike

Forktailed Drongo

Blackcollared Barbet

Red Duiker

Southern Black Flycatcher

Impala

Olive Sunbird

Forest Weaver

Kurrichane Thrush

Little Swift

Speckled Mousebird

Cape White-Eye

Yellow Weaver

Tawnyflanked Prinia

Southern Black Tit

White-Eared Barbet

Natal Robin

Blackheaded Heron

Bushbuck

 

Between AB & Atta, all we need is just a little patience 0

Posted on September 06, 2016 by Ken

 

Between them, Adriaan Strauss and AB de Villiers have generated numerous headlines and many words of copy over the last couple of days, but whatever one thinks of their sporting achievements, what is more important is that they are both fine men who enjoy enormous respect from everyone who works with them.
Unfortunately, South African sports fans being what they are, both have also had to face enormous vitriol and unfair denigration on social media, especially Strauss in the last couple of weeks.

Of course we are all disappointed with how the Springboks have been performing lately and Strauss’s own form has not exactly been inspirational, but so much of the criticism is uninformed and ignores the core roles he performs in the scrums and lineouts. As for his leadership, the players go out of their way to say what a good captain he is.

With so many veteran Springboks departing the scene in between the Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee eras, this is a new-look team that is going to take time to settle, especially since they are trying to forge a new game plan. The side that started in Salta had only six players with more than 40 caps in the 23.

Even the Lions took three years to settle into their new style of play, so the most important thing the Springboks need right now is patience. They are in a transitional period, which is perhaps why Coetzee chose someone like Strauss to be the captain for the first year, seeing as though he knew at the time of the appointment that the hooker would be retiring from Test rugby at the end of 2016.

By the end of this year, Warren Whiteley could have made himself a definite starter at eighthman plus Pat Lambie could well have returned.

I know patience is not something South African sports fans are particularly known for, but there are very few successful teams who don’t go through bad patches. Before they won the 1995 World Cup, the Springboks were no great shakes either and Jake White nearly lost his job in 2006, a year before lifting the biggest prize in rugby.

Removing Coetzee from his post anytime soon will serve absolutely no purpose and should not even be considered.

Such bad patches also happen on an individual level as De Villiers, now considered by many to be the best batsman in the world, himself described at the launch of his autobiography this week. Between 2005 and 2008, he played 17 Tests without scoring a century and made just six half-centuries.

“I’m always very scared of failing before I go out to bat and there used to be ducks at international level and I’d be in tears in the shower. One of the low points came in 2006 at SuperSport Park, my home ground, when coach Mickey Arthur told me I was running out of chances after another soft dismissal, and in 2007 I was just surviving, I probably should have been dropped.

“I’d had a taste of the dream and I was going to throw it away. But then came a huge moment in 2007 when Jacques Kallis approached me and told me that to earn his respect I have to find some consistency. He was willing to work with me, especially on my defence,” De Villiers said.

Even the most naturally gifted, world-conquering sports stars have their dips in form. The Proteas have seen their patience with De Villiers rewarded many, many times over, never mind how many spectators he has thrilled beyond measure in that time.

Similarly, Allister Coetzee and the Springboks need to be allowed time to find their groove together. Hysteria and short-term thinking will do their cause no good at all.

Do Sanzaar & TMOs act with fairness? 0

Posted on April 14, 2016 by Ken

 

Sanzaar’s decision to slap Sharks coach Gary Gold with a fine of A$13 500 – which is more than R150 000 – has once again raised the infuriating issue of whether southern hemisphere rugby’s governing body acts with fairness in disciplinary matters concerning South African teams.

Gold was fined for having a less-than-polite chat during the game against the Crusaders with TMO Johan Greeff. The Sharks – and many other teams – have history with this woefully incompetent official as it was his abysmal decision to award a try that saw them lose to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last year.

While I have no problem with Gold being fined – even he admitted that what he did was wrong – what raised my ire was the severity of the punishment handed down by Kiwi judicial officer Nigel Hampton.

Especially when one considers that the selfsame Hampton only fined then-Waratahs coach Michael Cheika A$6000 in April 2014 for abusing a cameraman in Durban, also with foul language. And Cheika was a repeat offender, as Hampton himself pointed out in his judgement – “I do not regard Mr Cheika to be a first-time offender and it would be farcical to disregard other matters over the past nine years, including proven misconduct allegations from his time as a professional coach in Europe and a warning from Sanzar during the 2013 SuperRugby season,” he said.

“This matter bears a number of striking similarities with past instances, particularly the use of foul and abusive language towards those charged with running a match and the propensity of Mr Cheika to behave in this manner is disturbing. Given his previous record and the factual findings of the investigation, I regard this as a serious offence and do not see it as a result of any provocation, nor is there any excuse for it.

“Mr Cheika’s admission of guilt and contrition during the hearing is balanced by inappropriate accusations made on his behalf that witnesses fabricated evidence; a notion they rightly recoiled at.”

Cheika was also found guilty, last year, of approaching a referee at halftime and, guess what? Sanzar let him off with a warning!

What is equally infuriating is that Sanzaar continue to come down hard on the symptom of the problem and not the cause – which is incompetent TMOs.

While I have great sympathy for referees, who have to make split-second rulings based on a bewildering variety of laws, especially at ruck time, TMOs really should not be making the mistakes they do. Knowing the laws is one thing, but not being able to see or interpret several replays properly is another; I’d be willing to wager that you could drag someone out of the crowd in their denim jeans and they could do a better job than some of the TMOs Sanzaar have inflicted on the game.

Greeff’s failure to properly review two occurrences in the game against the Crusaders had an obvious impact on the result of the match.

The first was Willie le Roux’s disallowed try in the 66th minute that would have given the Sharks a 19-12 lead. Greeff made a rapid decision that the fullback was in front of the kicker but he made use of just one replay, and the camera angle wasn’t even in line with play.

Then, in the 72nd minute, when Kieran Read scored to give the Crusaders a 19-14 victory, Greeff declined to look at a replay after there had been a suggestion of a knock-on in the 15-phase build-up to the try.

Much of the rugby public is already feeling confused and disenchanted with SuperRugby and its new format; when the officials are seemingly watching an entirely different game to them on TV, despite having the benefit of several replays, then the usual reaction is one of anger and frustration and no brand should want the customers to go through that.

 

Impressive pacemen see Titans to thrilling win 0

Posted on June 23, 2015 by Ken

An impressive performance by the Unlimited Titans pacemen saw them to a thrilling 12-run win on the Duckworth/Lewis Method over the bizhub Highveld Lions in their Momentum One-Day Cup match at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Sunday.

The Titans, having been sent in to bat, posted a challenging 255 for nine in their 50 overs thanks to an inspired late blast from Qaasim Adams, but a three-hour delay caused by wet patches after a 20-minute rain shower, left the Lions with an adjusted target of 149 in 20 overs, which should have been an easy task given that they had all 10 wickets in hand when they resumed on 10 without loss after 1.5 overs.

But an aggressive approach from JP de Villiers, Ethy Mbhalati and Junior Dala, bowling just outside off stump and often getting steep bounce, blew away the Lions top-order as they crashed to 46 for four.

The Lions were grateful to Alviro Petersen for a counterpunching 48 off 36 balls otherwise they wouldn’t have had any chance of victory.

Petersen was dismissed, however, in the 15th over, after taking 16 runs off slow bowler Graeme van Buuren’s over and then promptly hitting a full toss to De Villiers running in from long-on.

De Villiers bowled out his four overs up front, finishing with excellent figures of two for 20, and Mbhalati (4-0-25-1) and Dala (4-0-19-1) were left to handle the closing overs. They weren’t scared to bowl short and extracted tremendous bounce from the grey-coloured pitch, making it very difficult for bowlers Matt McGillivray and Hardus Viljoen (16*) to score the 48 runs they needed off the last five overs.

Grant Thomson then sealed victory for the Titans in the glorious late afternoon sunshine, dismissing McGillivray (16) and Bjorn Fortuin (0) in the final over as the Lions closed on 136 for eight.

Adams showed what a fine batsman he is as his late hitting carried the Titans to a daunting 255 for nine.

The Willowmoore Park pitch provided the bowlers with assistance – especially in terms of steep bounce – and Adams provided a crucial late boost to the Titans innings with his 59 off 56 balls.

Veteran Jacques Rudolph showed that he is still on top of his game as he made a solid 77 off 105 balls at the top of the order.

Adams came to the crease with the Titans struggling on 146 for five, which soon became 181 for seven, but he played in measured fashion to make sure he was still in when the closing overs arrived. He then took a liking to Pumelela Matshikwe and McGillivray, finishing with four fours and two sixes as the Titans scored 52 runs in the last six overs.

The Titans had been sent in to bat and there was little sign of the troubles ahead when they reached 104 for one after 23 overs.

Henry Davids had been dismissed for 18 in the 15th over when he tried to sweep left-arm spinner Fortuin and was caught at backward square-leg, but Rudolph and Heino Kuhn then added a run-a-ball 52.

That promising partnership ended though when Kuhn swiped wrist-spinner Eddie Leie to long-off to be dismissed for 23.

Van Buuren came in and struck a couple of boundaries but was then trapped lbw on the back foot when he should have been forward, for 11, by McGillivray.

Thomson was then bowled for 10 as he tried to sweep Fortuin but missed, and the Titans had crashed to 146 for five when Mangaliso Mosehle (1) was bowled by the 20-year-old.

Rudolph soldiered on though, stroking seven fours and a six, but he was caught behind when McGillivray found the perfect length, as well as some extra bounce and nip away.

When Albie Morkel was bounced out for 2 by Viljoen, the Titans were in danger of being bowled out for less than 200, but Adams took charge and received stout assistance from De Villiers, who scored 26 off 18 balls.

There was something of a pall around the Lions camp after their dismal display against the Knights on Friday night, but they produced a better bowling display on Sunday.

McGillivray was able to make life hard for the batsmen as he bowled a super length, finishing with three for 49 with Adams carting him for two fours and a six in the penultimate over to tarnish his figures.

The young seamer had the last laugh though when he had Adams caught at long-off, Temba Bavuma taking a superb leaping catch.

Fortuin took three for 47, while Viljoen bowled well at the death to finish with two for 52, 13 runs coming off his first over courtesy of four wides, two of which went to the boundary.

http://citizen.co.za/318795/titans-thrill-crowd-beat-lions/

 

 



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