Category Archives: Behaviour

Not Yet Departed


Haiku 53

Not yet departed

Borne aloft on southern winds

Spirited away



Once again I saw many European Swallows flying over my garden. They were milling round overhead, massing together rather than catching insects on the wing.

I dashed inside for my trusty Canon, but when I got back outside they were no longer flocking.

I caught one last glimpse of them over the rooftops, as they headed off – South?

Yep. They were definitely headed South, so I don’t think they’re ready to go back up North just yet!

Also, it was strange to see them flying in a skein formation like this. They’re not geese after all!



Taking a Shower

Skink 1

What’s the matter? Haven’t you seem someone take a shower before?

Skink 2

I was sitting under the trees trying to keep cool when I noticed something dark move at the far end of the pool.

At first I thought it was a leaf, but it seemed to move with more purpose than just drifting with the flow, so I went to investigate.

Skink 3

I found little Spunky the Skink, clinging onto the spare hose, with his body under the trickle of water entering the pool.
I could see he had his nose out of the water so could breathe, but it seemed very odd behaviour for a cold blooded reptile to want to be in the freezing cold pool water!

Skink 4

I got my husband to come and have a look and he ‘rescued’ the little skink with the pool net. I’m pretty sure he’s a Cape Skink, trachylepis capensis, endemic to Southern Africa.

Skink 5

We left him on the stoep to dry out in the sun

Skink 6

He stayed very still for a while then suddenly disappeared.

I’m still not entirely sure he wanted to be rescued. He looked very happy taking his shower!


post script: If you’re wondering what all that mess is with the pipes in the pool: the water level is so low (we are not allowed to fill up our pools with the ongoing drought) that the inlet pipe that the skink was ‘bathing’ under and the outlet pipe that takes water out of the pool to be filtered before returning to the pool, are both way above the level of the water. To prevent the pump sucking air and to keep the filtration system working, my husband rigged up a makeshift solution with an extra pipe and lagging, and a plank to help keep the pipe in place.

There’s a lovely Afrikaans expression: ‘N Boer maak ‘n plan; which literally means a farmer makes a plan. ie you have to be resourceful and fix things up yourself.


You Are Old

Little Monkey

A letter to Little Monkey

Well, I guess it was inevitable, even though I thought you’d never age.

I thought you’d make 15 easy. You aren’t even 13 yet!

But something’s not right.

After we’ve been out walking for a while, I give you the option as we pass the end of our road, to turn for home, but you choose to carry on and walk round the block.

Then with quarter of a kilometre still to go, you suddenly start walking as slowly as Mr Spaghetti Legs used to. And believe me, that was s-l-o-w!!

I’ve had you thoroughly checked out.

My amazing old Vet listened very carefully to your heart and said it was fine.

Your arthritis is minimal for a dog your age; just a slight stiffness in your right elbow and shoulder. (I got you young enough to take very good care of that, with good food, regular exercise and supplements for arthritis of omega 3 oils and chondroitin and glucosamine.)

But I have noticed with every other dog I’ve ever had, that you don’t age linearly; you age in leaps.

And there is a sudden leap around 10 years of age when you move into the Old category.

You didn’t do that leap when you were 10, or 11 or even 12; electing to carry on as Mad Cap as ever. You are my Domain Name after all!

Instead you waited till you were 12 and a half.

So there we are, my dear.

You are suddenly old.

And I must adjust my mindset accordingly.

But you’ll still chase a cat like there’s no tomorrow!

And no age limit!



Find effective pain management medication that works for your dog. Try a few meds and see which suits your dog best. PetCam is the most effective for LM, with the least side effects.

Take your dog on shorter walks more often throughout the day, instead of one long walk. It is important still to go on these outings, as dogs love to get out of the property. It is LM’s favourite thing to do, followed by food. 

Give your dog nice soft bedding. LM has always slept on comfy sponge mattresses.

Give your dog gentle massages round those aching joints. I’ve always done this rather than just stroking the dog. LM loves it.

Watch their weight. With painful arthritis dogs will tend to move less and the weight can start building up. You might have to adjust the amount you feed them, without letting them feel hungry. Just a few less kibbles in their bowl will make a difference. LM’s weight crept up from 23 kg to 24.7 kg.

Do carry on with most activities you used to do; but be aware that your dog may tire more quickly. LM still hares round the garden like a mad thing, of her own volition, but is not quite as fast as she used to be and doesn’t run for as long. The important thing is that she still does it.

So Little Monkey is old; Now what?

I expect she’ll carry on like this till near the end. She could still make 15!

After all, Mr Spaghetti Legs did.

Mr SL is all ears


post script: Many of you will be thinking of Lewis Carroll’s awesome poem, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865, so here’s the link – You are old, Father William.



Little Monkey

Little Monkey contemplates the small amount of rain water that collected in our homemade rain gauge last week.

“Seriously? Is that all the rain we got?”


I love how intent her gaze is. I was so interested in taking photos of the cut-off plastic bottle, I guess she thought it must be worth further investigation.

It didn’t look like food, but who knows?


If you can’t see the line in the gauge, it’s below the 20 mark. We got about 1.5 mm.


Robin Redbreast

Cape Robin – photo credit M

This little guy might not be quite what you were expecting from the title. Maybe you are more familiar with the tiny European Robin, frequently depicted on Christmas cards?

Well, this is a Robin, albeit a Cape Robin. He does all the usual Robin activities, such as flying straight down to investigate any patch of earth you have just dug over in your garden and singing a lovely tuneful song.

Here you see him sitting on a branch of my giant Eugenia tree above a hanging basket (the purple handle.) He’s a frequent visitor to my garden and I much prefer him to the pushy Olive Thrush. Somehow the Robin just seems more sophisticated and has more manners!



You Lookin’ at Me?

Talk about tolerance. Here is Little Monkey sharing her garden with a large wild bird; the hadeda.

LM and Hadeda

The birds are often on our lawn, sometimes in pairs, digging away with their beaks and removing unwanted bugs from the grass.

Two Hadeda

Mostly LM ignores them and lets them get on with it. But every now and then she will make a play-charge at them, barking and bouncing. They always keep one eye on her.

You ARE Lookin’at Me!

They take one look at LM lolloping towards them, then resignedly flap their large square wings, taking off easily from a standing start.

Often they only go as far as the other side of the pool!

Little Monkey and the hadeda play a game of ‘dog and bird’ like ‘cat and mouse’, but mostly they seem to think that this garden is big enough for the both of them.


post script: Of course all tolerance flies out of the window if there’s a cat in the garden!




When the whole Festive Season gets a little too much for you, take a tip from Sparky the squirrel; chill out and relax.

Talk about taking a chill pill, I think Sparky must have swallowed the whole packet!

I saw this little chap hop up onto the top of my fence. He tried out a position on the first gate post. Not finding this to his liking, he sauntered along the top of the gate, pausing to have a scratch at the next pole. Then he stretched himself out to catch a little sun.

Although it is summer here and temperatures are often in the mid to high thirties, (I quickly specify Centigrade here for my American friends!) there has been a strong wind most days (up to 12 m/s – 27 mph) which (fortunately) cools it down.

Obviously it was a little too cool for Sparky, hence the sunbathing chillax session.

I have to add, that it really doesn’t look all that comfortable!


post script: I like that he feels safe enough to stretch out here on my fence and take a short nap. He’d be safer in a tree, but he wouldn’t catch the rays then.

Photo taken through my window.