When I left you yesterday we were still expecting some more water. It never came. In fact, by sunset the river was well on its way to being back where it’s supposed to be.
Actually, the river’s drainage is quite effective and the moment new water stops coming in from upstream it quickly reverts to its normal level. The exception was in 1988 when some trees got caught underneath the bridge by the weir and formed a dam. That time the river rose until it covered the surface of the bridge visible in the background on this photo.
Speaking of the weir, yesterday morning it looked like this:
Around midday today it looked like this:
In the muddy mess left behind we’ve been playing host to some new visitors:
Naturally there’s plenty of bird life in the riparian zone (the fancy name for the area between land and a river, aka the riverbank – have I mentioned yet that I also taught Geography?), so much so that I can bird-watch from my desk overlooking the river, but the river’s quite deep where it flows through town and there’s plenty of human traffic, so we don’t see wading birds all that often (though I do occasionally spot a heron flying overhead). Honestly, I was just trying to photograph the egrets – I only saw the heron when I downloaded the photos to my computer. I wish I could offer you a better photo, but this was taken on my camera’s maximum zoom.
I also managed to add a rarer find to my birdwatching list:
This fellow is called a Hamerkop (translates as Hammerhead), due to the resemblance of its head to my favourite household tool. (Lightbulb! I think I just found this site’s new mascot.) Some people also refer to it as the Hammerhead Stork, but that’s a misnomer as it’s not really a stork. In fact, the Hamerkop is so unique it’s in a class of its own. Literally. Taxonomically it has it’s very own family and genus because it doesn’t really fit into any other. (Okay, so not “class” of it’s own. You get what I was trying to say, don’t you?)
It is also a bird that appears regularly in African legend, but I think I’ll leave it to someone much more able than me to tell you about those, so click on the link to find out why the Hamerkop is also called the Lightning Bird. I’ve never seen one in the wild before and it quite made my day.
On my way home I came across these two gentlemen from the Department of Water Affairs taking readings in the river. They told me they’ve been driving all across the province this week as rivers were flooding everywhere. This is exceptionally good news, as we were well into the second year of a drought. Hopefully there will be enough water now that the dams will be full by the time winter arrives and hopefully it’s early enough to save the current season’s crops. In any event, they’re predicting February will be a wet month, so the river may have a few more surprises in store for us.
Things are quickly returning to normal after the excitement of the flood and all that is left to show that there has been one is a muddy road…
…a flattened fence…
…and a lonely river crab wondering where the heck all the water went.
I’m sure there’s some deep philosophical truth to be inferred here, but I got nothing.