Have you ever seen a Sociable Weaver nest in Namibia?

One would ask why the name “Sociable Weaver” for a bird. It’s because they have a character that is compassionate and social.

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They are self-made engineers, building the biggest bird nests that house various birds for years.These nests are a form of legacy, as they become a home for many generations.

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They rarely breed before the age of two, hence the young birds are able to take care of their siblings as well as other chicks within their apartment block. Simultaneously, they maintain the interior and exterior of the nests. This allows for more eyes on predators that prey on chicks and eggs, while older birds leave at sunrise in search for food, and only return at sunset.

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Surely we can learn how to be great people and neighbours from these birds. They teach one the essence of living in community, despite differences.

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Sociable Weavers or Philetairus socius, live in the savannah, arid dry woodland and mopane woodland. They are dull brown in colour, pale under parts and cheeks, faces with black masks, blue/grey bill, legs and feet. Weighing 26-30 grams and 14 centimetres in size. Constantly in motion, chirping and skittering along the ground for food such as insects, seeds and extract water from their food. Breeding takes place anytime of the year and lay two to six eggs that are incubated for 14 days.

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Large sticks (placed at an angle and pointing downwards) and grass (placed into the structure until firm), are used to build the nests. The sharp grass is used in such a way to protect from predators. Underneath the tree, grass is removed to improve safety from predators and fires. They can be built on electrical posts, telephone poles, quiver trees and acacia trees that are strong enough to hold them. It can have close to a 100 entrances and is used throughout the year.

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Electrical and telephone companies have struggled with the nests’ weight, because they become heavier when soaked during the rainy seasons and weigh the poles down.

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Some trees die as nests can cover it entirely. Smooth barks, posts and poles are used to avoid predators from making their way into the nests. Predators vary from rats, cape cobras, genets, black mambas and other predatory birds. Thus, it is important to be attentive when standing close to one.

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It has a similar look to a haystack and can weigh up to a ton and provides housing for at least 500 birds. The inside is lined with soft material such as feathers, fluff, wool and hair.

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Other birds such as pygmy falcons, barbets, finches, chats, tits and lovebirds, roost within the nests.The larger birds such as owls, vultures and eagles use the nest as a stand and build their own nests on top.

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Imagine an apartment block in the City Centre of Windhoek where neighbours know and lookout for one another. This is how the birds live in the Sociable Weaver apartment block.

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On the way to and within Gondwana Canyon Park, you will notice the nests, adding a quirky character to the natural surroundings in Namibia.

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Have you seen a Sociable Weaver nest? Let us know by sharing your story in the comment section below.

Author –  I’m Nela, from Windhoek Namibia but born in a small village called Omatunda in northern Namibia. I am passionate about writing, research and photography, as it helps me gain knowledge about people and my country.

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Have you been to Chobe River Camp in Namibia?

As I enjoyed my morning coffee on the Chobe River Camp’s deck, distantly I could see the Chobe National Park with its open field and herds of zebras and cows roaming freely in search of their daily nourishment.

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Mornings here were my favourite, cool, quiet, sounds of birds, wildlife and wind blowing against the trees. I call it my lovely infusion of flora and fauna, and this surely made waking up early more interesting and fun.

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Afternoons were pretty hot, I always say here in Namibia the weather transitions from winter to summer, whilst avoiding spring. We booked a boat cruise on the river one afternoon, which I almost arrived late for and fortunately our skipper/guide (Beaven) was not on board yet, so I made it just in time.

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Initially when the cruise was underway all we could see was the birdlife, zebras and cows, therefore we did not anticipate seeing other wildlife.

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After seeing the variety of birdlife my favourite and most intriguing bird was the African Jacana also referred to as the Jesus bird because of its ability to walk on water.

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Our guide navigated the boat further north alongside the river,where we were able to see a wider variety of wildlife, namely; waterbucks, elephants, buffalos, giraffes, a leopard and impalas. Furthermore, one of my colleagues was amazing at spotting the wildlife.

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Upon arrival at the Chobe River Camp I had only known about the Chobe River and no knowledge of the area across the river.

Hence, the boat cruise went from the camp, following the river with Namibia on the left side of the river and Botswana on the right when facing to the north. I would therefore like to believe I was in Botswana for a few minutes, as per my cell phone reception.

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This was one of my favourite learning experiences, so go and enjoy a stay at the Chobe River Camp and be sure to book yourself for the boat cruise.

If you have more travel stories at Chobe River Camp, we invite you to share them in the comment section below.

Author –  I’m Nela, from Windhoek Namibia but born in a small village called Omatunda in northern Namibia. I am passionate about writing, research and photography, as it helps me gain knowledge about people and my country.

 

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Do you know the origin of the Cape Cross in Namibia?

To most, the name Cape Cross relates to the Fur Seal Reserve along the Namibian Skeleton Coast. However, its origins are rather interesting. During the Great Exploration, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to land on Namibian soil. Namely, Diogo Cão in 1486. Before shipping out, he erected a stone cross in honour of the king of Portugal.

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The crosses served varied purposes. Some symbolized religion, proclamation of ownership of the land and of course landmarks for passing ships. Centuries later the cross was taken down and sent to a museum in Berlin. And replaced with another cross, constructed by German settlers in the 1800’s.

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Eventually the German colonials invested further research into Cape Cross and found the  massive Cape Fur Seal colony. The Englishman who was doing the exploring also found a great reserve of guano (i.e. bird poo). Yes, most of us would not find this discovery all too interesting. However, there was a great need for the product in England to be used as fertilizer.

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Just like that, a concession was granted by the German Colonial power for the English to establish The Damaraland Guano Company. Eventually, the general focus shifted from guano to seal skins. The shift included a change in authority as well. Coming to an end in 1903.

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Finally in 2001 all that remained was demolished to make way for the Cape Cross Lodge and the Reserve was founded. Today, the location serves as an attraction to visitors. It is strange to think how much happened at the site and how things have shifted over time.

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This is a great place to visit while staying at The Delight Hotel in Swakopmund.

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If you have any information on the history of Cape Cross, we invite you to share it with us in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

 

 

 

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