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Seagulls in Randfontein?! by Maree  Clarkson

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Watercolour study in my Moleskine 200gsm ‘Nature Journal’ as the Seagulls (Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus) were hanging around Uncle Harry’s Roadhouse in Randfontein (South Africa)

“Why is it,” Jonathan puzzled, “that the hardest thing in the world is to convince a bird that he is free, and that he can prove it for himself if he’d just spend a little time practicing? Why should that be so hard?”
- From Jonathan Livingstone Seagull

Not far from us, about 22km, lies the gold mining town of Randfontein, about 45 km west of Johannesburg (South Africa). With the Witwatersrand gold rush in full swing in 1889, mining financier J.B. Robinson bought the farm Randfontein and floated the Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company. The town was established in 1890 to serve the new mine and was administered by Krugersdorp until it became a municipality in 1929.

We visited Randfontein a couple of months ago, and what amazes me about this town is the fact that you can find flocks of Seagulls there, 600km from the coast!

After we got home from Uncle Harry’s Roadhouse, I made it my mission and tried to track the history of how these birds could have landed up there, as they often fly over my garden in Tarlton as well (about 22km from Randfontein). After a couple of weeks of research and not coming up with anything, I contacted the Randfontein Publicity Association, and they replied to my query with the following information :

“HI Maree,
I have spoken to a few people and they have said that seagulls are scavengers and will basically land and stay in a place where there is food. I was told by BirdLife SA that seagulls are not necessarily associated with the sea – it’s just their name that is.
The gulls that decided to stay in Randfontein were probably on their way somewhere when they discovered Uncle Harry’s Roadhouse. The owner, Jimmy Pappas, says there used to be hundreds of the birds at the roadhouse and they would always feed them left over hamburgers and chips. At one point the birds would only eat the chips with barbeque sauce!
Jimmy also says they got very fat and never wanted to leave. He noticed fewer birds last year and was worried they may have been poisoned by contaminated water the mines pump out, but he’s not sure. He says they normally come around towards and during winter, so we will have to wait and see.

Seems the mystery has been solved…

  1. 10th July 2010 – FEATURED in Impressionism Café
  2. 3rd March 2011 – FEATURED in Art at its Best
  3. 16th April 2012 – FEATURED in Inspired Art
  4. 12th November 2012 – FEATURED in Imae Writing


randfontein, birds, bird, painted birds, animals, krugersdorp, seagulls, maree clarkson, south africa, magaliesburg, gauteng, tarlton, watercolour, watercolor, moleskine, sketchbook, wildlife, nature, africa, roadhouse, kelp gull, seagulls in randfontein

I am a watercolorist living on my little piece of African soil in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa. The inspiration for my art is the wonderfully rich variety of Fauna and Flora to be found throughout this beautiful country.
“There is a fine line between dreams and reality; it’s up to you to draw it.”

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  • Ken Powers
    Ken Powersabout 4 years ago

    This one is just plain amazing Maree! Excellent contrast and I love your use of whitespace! Excellent work!

  • Thank you so much for your lovely comment Ken! I haven’t added this to groups yet, because my allocation is full! So you might see it popping up again!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Heidi Mooney-Hill
    Heidi Mooney-Hillabout 4 years ago

    Ken took the words right out of my mouth, I can’t say anymore
    Just beautiful

  • Thank you Heidi, much appreciated!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Maureen Grobler
    Maureen Groblerabout 4 years ago

    Stunning image & I loved reading about your seagulls Maree… :-) I still have to read Jonathan Livingstone Seagull…

  • You’re also a late-comer like me Maureen! Thank you so much for your comment!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Astrid Strahm
    Astrid Strahmabout 4 years ago

    Beautiful Work Maree :-)

  • Thanks a lot Astrid! Glad you like it!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Linda Jackson
    Linda Jacksonabout 4 years ago

    The United States has a history of this happening in the late 1800’s. Swarms of grasshoppers over took the northern praires, devouring crops, grasses, and anything else they could along the way. One day strange noises and screechings were heard, as the settlers looked out flocks of seagulls were flying in to eat the grasshoppers!
    Not sure of exact time line, but I know it is fairly well documented in American history.
    Love your sketch! take care, Linda

  • Thank you so much Linda, thrilled you like it! And thanks for that great story!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • MissingYou
    MissingYouabout 4 years ago

    oh this is so lovely:)

  • Thank you Robin! Glad you like it!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • sure2010
    sure2010about 4 years ago

    Hey Maree ! It’s magic:))

  • Thanks for that Sure2010!!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Sangeeta
    Sangeetaabout 4 years ago

    Beautiful capture of the gulls. Love the stark contrast here.

  • Thanks so much Sangeeta!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Paulina Kazarinov
    Paulina Kazarinovabout 4 years ago

    Brilliant work!

  • Thank you so much Paulina!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Susan van Zyl
    Susan van Zylabout 4 years ago

    We have a few seagulls here in Kempton Park, Gauteng too. ;-)
    Lovely artwork
    25 June 2010 ♫.•°°African Art At heART°°•.♫

  • My word, they’re taking over Gauteng Susan! Thank you for your lovely comment!

    – Maree Clarkson

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