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Ken Borland

Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve 0

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Ken


Nestled between the rampant development of Umhlanga Rocks is a little 26 ha sanctuary of coastal bush, a refuge for birds and small mammals amidst all the hotels and holiday homes that are mushrooming along the coast north of Durban.

The Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, with its coastal dune forest, reed beds, ponds and the Ohlange River’s lagoon and mouth, provides an ideal getaway for the public to spend a few hours reconnecting with nature, and there are plenty of interesting birds waiting to be discovered.

The Eastern Olive Sunbird is largely restricted to these coastal forests and it disappears readily into the thick foliage, it’s dark olive plumage lacking any of the metallic shininess of the other sunbirds.

But it makes up for this unobtrusive behaviour by being amongst the most vocal of all sunbirds, and, in a couple of hours spent in the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, I managed to find four different individuals singing little “whit-peep” songs from inside the trees.

As charming as the reserve is though, one cannot help but be dismayed by the pace of development squeezing it from all sides; the difference between my January 2014 visit and my previous foray to Umhlanga in 2003 was stark.

A Purplecrested Lourie flew into a bare tree above the forest and seemed to look around anxiously, seemingly perplexed by all the development going on around the oasis of green.

Nevertheless, three species of Weaver can be found in the reserve, including nesting Yellow Weavers, and there were fleeting glimpses of Tawnyflanked Prinia, as well as a Slender Mongoose scampering away into the reedbeds, just proving the wide range of habitats these carnivores can inhabit.

Common Sandpiper and Pied Kingfisher are prominent along the lagoon, while there always seems to be a Goliath Heron around.

Thickbilled Weaver can either be found nesting in the reeds or foraging on the way back through the forest.

Sightings list

Cape Wagtail

Spottedbacked Weaver

Blackeyed Bulbul

Yellow Weaver

Tawnyflanked Prinia

Purplecrested Lourie

Eastern Olive Sunbird

Cape White-Eye

Sombre Bulbul

Southern Red Bishop

Slender Mongoose

Common Sandpiper

Pied Kingfisher

Blackheaded Heron

Goliath Heron

Hadeda Ibis

Bronze Mannikin

Thickbilled Weaver


Young Bulls gain huge belief as they edge great rivals 0

Posted on May 23, 2016 by Ken


The great provincial rivalry between the north and south was firmly in evidence as the Vodacom Bulls edged out the DHL Stormers 17-13 in their Vodacom SuperRugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

In a hard-fought encounter that was an epic for its sheer brutality on the gain-line, it was the Bulls who showed the most steel and this win – against a side that has had the wood over them for the last few years – will no doubt be a massive boost in the growth of the young team coach Nollis Marais is building.

The Bulls had control of the scrums and had the Stormers under constant pressure in the lineouts so, even though the visitors had much more possession, it was the Bulls who were in charge, especially since they refused to yield an inch on the gain-line.

The Stormers looked after the ball better from the opening whistle and they were able to put the first points on the board through a Jean-Luc du Plessis penalty in the second minute.

But the Bulls exerted their dominance in the scrums from the outset and loosehead Oli Kebble went down in the first scrum, giving Francois Brummer the chance to level the scores for the Bulls.

The power-sharing continued for the rest of the first half, as the Stormers built the phases and pressure and the Bulls struggled to exit from their 22, allowing Du Plessis to slot another penalty, while missing another three minutes before halftime.

The Stormers were conceding penalties at the scrum though and losing lineout ball, while Lappies Labuschagne was superb at the breakdown, earning Brummer another penalty, while the Bulls flyhalf also missed an attempt on the half-hour.

The Bulls broke the 6-6 deadlock seven minutes after halftime with an impressive try by scrumhalf Piet van Zyl.

As much as Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe deserves respect for his brilliant attacking skills and courage in defence, he is vulnerable when he is isolated and caught with the ball, as happened when the Bulls launched an up-and-under from a free kick straight on to him. Wing Travis Ismaiel chased superbly and monstered Kolbe in the tackle, with eighthman Arno Botha in support to strip the ball off the fullback. Hooker Adriaan Strauss was then on hand to spread the turnover ball wide, centre Jan Serfontein putting in a chip over the scrambling defence that was gathered by fullback SP Marais, who sent Van Zyl racing over for the opening try.

Brummer missed the easy conversion – which in such a tight tiff between arch-rivals could have been crucial – but the Stormers’ breakdown woes did allow the flyhalf to kick a penalty five minutes later to put the Bulls 14-6 ahead.

Du Plessis pulled a penalty wide after the Stormers caused problems with a driving maul, but the visitors came strongly back into the contest with 12 minutes remaining with a try by centre Damian de Allende.

A little shoulder charge by prop Marcel van der Merwe on Schalk Burger – who was never far from the action – led to the penalty that gave the Stormers territory, and they bashed away on the Bulls line until the otherwise superb defence gave De Allende just enough leeway to storm over.

Du Plessis’ conversion made it a one-point game (13-14), but this time there would be no late try from the Stormers to break Bulls’ hearts.

The Bulls went back to the driving maul, made considerable progress, and Tian Schoeman, brought on for Brummer just a few minutes earlier, sent the perfect drop goal flying between the posts.

This meant the Bulls were out of penalty range (17-13) but they dominated the last five minutes in any case. Referee Ben O’Keeffe, who had had a good game until then, then took centre stage as he penalised the dominant Bulls scrum five metres from the Stormers line, missed the duffed quick-tap but then levelled matters by blowing the Stormers up for foot-up at the next scrum.

This win not only breaks a four-match losing streak against the Stormers, but it could also be a watershed moment for a young side that should now have enormous belief.


Vodacom BullsTry: Piet van Zyl. Penalties: Francois Brummer (3). Drop goal: Tian Schoeman.

DHL StormersTry: Damian de Allende. Conversion: Jean-Luc du Plessis. Penalties: Du Plessis (2).

Tuks send their English hosts packing 0

Posted on July 28, 2014 by Ken

Assupol Tuks sent their hosts from the north of England, Leeds Bradford MCCU, packing on the second day of the Red Bull Campus Cricket Finals in London yesterday.

Tuks beat Leeds Bradford by seven wickets with 22 balls remaining to ensure their place in Saturday’s semi-finals of the T20 Varsity World Cup.

It was a second successive convincing victory for the University of Pretoria students after the Theunis de Bruyn-inspired thrashing of Bangladesh’s University of the Liberal Arts on the first day.

The hero yesterday was pace bowler Corbin Bosch, who took four for 27 in his four overs to restrict Leeds Bradford to just 109 for eight after they had elected to bat first.

Bosch, one of the stars of the SA U19 team that won the ICC Junior World Cup earlier this year, has not yet played first-class cricket, but he is almost certain to appear for Northerns later this year.

The son of former Test fast bowler Tertius, Bosch struck with the new ball in the second and fourth overs to immediately undermine the opposition innings, but he is also wonderfully skilful at the death and he claimed further wickets in the 18th and 20th overs.

Off-spinner Ruben Claassen was the other class act for Tuks, taking two for 13 in four overs and showing as much talent as any of the other spinners from the east.

The runs have kept flowing for SA U19 captain Aiden Markram since that Junior World Cup where he was the man of the tournament, and he anchored a straightforward Tuks chase with a run-a-ball 42.

With Gerry Pike and De Bruyn both addings 20s, the target was reached in the 17th over.

The Pretoria students complete their round-robin campaign against the Jamaica Inter-Collegiate Sports Association today, and the West Indians will qualify for the semi-finals alongside Tuks if they win.

If the South Africans make it a clean sweep of three from three in Group 2 then they will be joined by whoever has the better run-rate between the Jamaicans and the winner of the other clash between the Bangladeshis and English.


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