Tag Archives: garden

My new favorite place

When we were back in the U.K. in the summer we invested in a couple of hammocks. Costing just £11.99  from Amazon these have been amazing. Made of parachute material and complete with two carabiners and two pieces of rope they have been really easy to set up. 

We have strung one from the rafters of our veranda. 

It’s a great place to relax after work or at the weekend. For me it provides a new perspective on the garden.

This is very much my new favorite place.

Beautiful Bougainvillea

The rains are imminent – in fact three storms have come and gone – nothing on the scale that is to come, but a sign things are changing.

Even so the ground remains parched and yellow, dusty and dry – the exception being the Bougainvillea which is in bloom at this time and throughout the dryest time of the year and provides a welcome splash of colour to the garden.


Snake Alive

You probably have one of two reactions on seeing the title of this post – in fact I’m pretty certain some won’t even have got beyond the title and the featured image. Others will read this nervously, hopefully others will be genuinely interested without prejudice.

In the almost two years I have been here I have not yet seen a live snake in the wild. Indeed until this past month not even a dead one though sadly I have more recently.

At 7:30 am yesterday that all changed returning to the compound after an early morning drop off We found the guards agitated. They had found a poisonous snake in the watch mans shed – it had just digested a rat.

They were convinced it was poisonous and deadly and wanted to kill it.  We were less convinced and wanting proof of it’s supposed deadliness I posters picture on the Facebook Group -East African Snakes and other Reptiles. I had a response within 10 minutes. It’s turns out not to be a black mamba, not venomous at all, harmless (unless you’re a rat) brown house snake.

This animal is a constrictor and very good pest controller. Even posting this faction Facebook did not assuage my snake fearing friends – “kill it”, “ew gross”, “yuk” and the like. I for one am glad that we forced the guards to let it slither away to keep the rat population down.

Giving the Garden a Short Back and Sides

It’s been getting a bit dark in the house. Our compound  garden has a number of trees, great for shade and bird life. However of late the foliage has overgrown in the El Niño rains and now block out so much light even in the day. So time for drastic action. Our ‘Askari’ guards were dispatched this morning to cut some branches and trim the bushes back.

Just hope the birds don’t mind too much.


Weekly Photo Challenge: (Garden)Abstract

A response to this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Abstract

Wind Chime Broken BrickworkHibiscus Flower

My current view! (On a lazy Saturday Afternoon)

Lying on a blanket in the shade of the trees in our garden. It’s a hot afternoon and there’s no where better to be as I listen the multiple bird sounds and the gentle breeze blowing though the branches. 


Red Garden

The first of a series on the colours of our garden.

The most prominent accent colour in garden is red. Whether it is in the flowers or in the birds (Black Headed Gonolek, Red Billed Firefinch or Red Chested Sunbird).

One Hour in the Garden

I have often shared the wide variety of bird and animal life here on the Compound in Mwanza but I thought I’d give a flavor of what can be seen in about an hour on the verandah. All the birds below were seen.

  • Red-chested Sunbird
  • Variable Sunbird
  • Black-headed Gonolek
  • White-browed Robin-chat
  • African Firefinch
  • Green-winged Pytilia
  • Purple Grenadier
  • Speckled Mousebird
  • Grey-backed Cameroptera
  • Common Bulbul
  • African Paradise Flycatcher
  • Spectacled Weaver
  • Yellow-billed Black Kite

A number of the photos here were taken between 6pm and 7pm this evening, others are for reference purposes.

Not forgetting

  • Slender Mongoose



Weekly Photo Challenge: Change (of perspective)

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Change.”

So often when I take photographs in my Tanzanian garden I do so from one position on the front porch/veranda. There is a comfortable bench and the viewpoint is a good one.


But today I moved a chair and sat in a different place – a change of perspective on a familiar place.

Black Kites and African Paradise Flycatchers were the highlight as I sat beneath the tree

Butterflies and Bougainvillea

Since our return to Mwanza there seem to be a lot more Butterflies around of various types flitting about amongst the rejuvenated Bougainvillea plants. These thorny bushes not only deter unwelcome visitors but they look attractive with their brightly coloured leaves surrounding the true flowers of this vine.

Weekly Phto Challenge: Sun Bird Muse

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Muse.” Outside our bedroom window is an Abutilon Bush and throughout the day we see Sun Birds of different varieties feeding off of it. They are fascinating, fast flying and iridescent. We have seen three varieties  feeding namely Red-chested, Marico and Vayiable Sun Birds. They have become on of my garden muses.

Maricor Sunbird

Red- Chested Sunbird


Variable Sunbird

Variable Sunbird

Variable Sunbird


Variable Sunbird in flight

Variable Sunbird in flight



Marico Sun Bird

Marico Sun Bird

Variable Sunbird

Variable Sunbird

Garden Visitors

Here on our Mwanza compound we get a very different selection of birds visiting our garden.

In fact the only recognisable visitor is the ubiquitous House Sparrow – introduced to Africa in Kenya in 1950, these birds have spread throughout East Africa and there are now more in Tanzania than in the whole of the UK apparently

A pair of House Sparrows

A pair of House Sparrows

Our other regulars are much more exotic and I thought I’d post a few pictures of the latest batch of garden visitors.

Playing Cat and Mousebirds.

Pepper (our cat) likes to chase birds and likes to climb trees. The mousebirds are understandably perturbed by this but it’s a fruitless hunt for the cat who gives up on her prey.

Potted Avocado

The Avocado is potted and the sapling is growing fast. Another stone has sprouted – after months of nothing we’re getting somewhere.IMG_1491

It’s In The Trees!

We have Bats in our Mango tree – I say our, it’s just outside our garden but on the compound where  we live. I was taking photos for my previous post (Broken Branches) when I noticed them. I was able to snap some clear photos of them roosting and some fuzzier ones of them in flight. They are very fast and silent flyers so I will need to be patient and get some more focused ones in the future.

Incidentally, the phrase “It’s in the trees” comes from a Kate Bush song “Hounds of Love”.  It’s a bit of a catch-phrase in the family – it’s usually followed incorrectly by “When I was child”, The origin is over twenty years old from a time in Milton Keynes when a group of us (twenty somethings) gathered for a weekly Friday video night – it was probably coined by a guy called Richard, who knows why? Over time it was used by my brother (an occasional visitor to the video night) and I and later my kids. No rhyme or reason! I have wanted to use it in a blog post – so here it is. “It’s In The Trees!”

A Long Wait for a Long Root

It’s taken three months and three different avocado stones but finally finally we have roots on our Avocado. It’s been a long wait for a very long root. Whilst pineapples have come and gone (we have rooted and planted five in the same time period) the avocado has remained stubbornly inert. I was on the point of throwing out yet two more stones whence returned from Uganda, until  I noticed the root.    Here are the newly planted Pineapples.   …and their older cousins. I have also tried planting orange seeds – it’s early days but we’re getting something.   


Eastern Grey Plantain-eaters are big birds. They are a species of Turaco, all of which are renowned for eating bananas. I’ve never seen them eat a plantain or a banana for that matter but they do eat a lot of other things. They are regular visitors to our garden and have a strange call which consists of loud nasal sounds which culminate in a manic laughing sound.

Back to Nature

Realising that I haven’t posted any pictures from the garden I thought I’d share a few of the more recent pictures. Whether it’s the imminent start of the rainy season or the fruiting mango tree but recently we have started to find monkeys on the compound. These have driven the local birds into a frenzy along with the guard dog who has had something other than mongooses to chase.

Other than this we have had a few new birds including an Spotted Thrush of some kind and another Thrush-like bird (identity unknown).

Saturday Morning Ritual


Most Saturday mornings I like to sit out on the Verandah and watch the garden. The weather is always warm – usually sunny and the bird life is amazing. Everyone else is asleep so it’s my time away from the hustle and bustle of weekly life. It’s become a routine and a great way to start the day. A cafetière of fresh ground coffee or hibiscus tea have become the drinks of choice. The camera is there just in case I see something. I have tried to capture the garden visitors along the way from Cape Robin Chat to Sunbirds to African Paradise Fly-catcher and everything in between.

Cape Robin Chat

Cape Robin Chat



African Paradise Flycatcher

African Paradise Flycatcher

Sometimes I have the laptop and use the time to catch up with news both personal and international.It’s a great start to the weekend!



However you start your Saturday have a great day!

A Spot of Gardening

Our garden is looking a bit bare in places. So we thought it about time we spruced it up a bit. Just like on a Sunday in Britain we paid a visit to the Garden Centre.
Unlike the UK these are plots of land along the Airport Road and adjacent to the lake. Here people grow and sell plants of various sorts. Thankfully unlike Frosts, Dobbies or Wyevale there is none of the other paraphernalia – not even a coffee shop 🙂

We wandered through the neat rows of potted plants selecting from a variety of flowering and foliage plants. Eventually we selected 4 plants we liked including two Hibiscus. It turned out one plant belonged to a different gardener. No problems it seems because they simply paid one another out of the reasonable fee we were charged (20000TzS). They then both threw in a free plant each as a gift. Not something I have experienced at Frosts et al.

They were going to be a trouble to carry back to the compound and so our gardening friends hired a taxi and off we shot home.
Borrowing a shovel and assisted by Steve one of the Askaris we planted the various Flora and borrowed a hose to water in.

Here’s hoping for a brighter future garden.