Category Archives: Behaviour

Rare Visitors!

Swee Waxbill 1 – Male

Haiku 197

Spot a flash of red

Tiny pretty feathered thing

Rustling in the bush

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Every morning I do my heavy chores then reward myself with a cappuccino, sitting quietly outside in the garden, armed only with my trusty Canon camera.

I listen to the many different birds chirping and calling to each other in the surrounding trees. I can identify them by their particular song, so I knew the Sunbirds were back again, long before I caught a glimpse of one.

Swee Waxbill 2 – Male

However, the other day as I sat there quietly sipping my coffee, enjoying the cool air, wispy streaks of clouds in a blue sky and the sun beginning to warm up the day, I saw a little bird fly to the honeysuckle and rustle around in the branches. It looked as though he was trying to gather some sticks or grasses for nest building.

Grabbing my camera I took a few shots. I could clearly see the branches moving, but could not get a clear view of the bird. It looked more like a little Mossie (Cape Sparrow) than a Sunbird, or perhaps a Cape White Eye.

Swee Waxbill 3 – Female

Then a bird flew to the lavender and obligingly sat there for a moment, while I quickly took a photo. It’s amazing how light birds are, as this one was resting on the merest stalk of lavender.

This bird was similar to the one I’d just seen, but did not have the black head. Now I could see that the beak was short, thick and triangular; typical of finches. I had once spotted a Common Waxbill by my pool a long time ago, so wondered if it was this again.

Swee Waxbill 4 – Female

Then the bird flew off to a solar lamp, where she paused for a second. I snapped an action shot as she took off again, and you can see her lovely red colouring.

Afterwards, on enlarging my photos of the tiny birds, I identified them from my book, Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa. They were a pair of male and female Swee Waxbills.  Click on the link for excellent photos. The male has the distinctive black face while the female is greyer, but both have the red back and triangular bill.

What a treat! I have never seen them anywhere before.

It just goes to show, that if you sit quietly and patiently, eventually you’ll spot a new (to you) species of bird, even in your own back garden.

 

post script: I apologise for the blurred photos. The birds were tiny and far away from me. It’s the best that my little camera and I could do!

And as I have discovered before, the best advice Google can give me for sharpening up a blurred image, is to take another photo – in focus!!

 

Masked Bandit!

Masked Bandit

Haiku 196

Covid Chronicles

The Masked Bandit Rides Again!

Or just leaves the house!

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This was in the early days, when we went from Level 5 Lockdown – not allowed out to exercise, to Level 4 – allowed to go out between 6 am and 9 am. As it is still dark in Cape Town till 7.30 am and very damp in winter, this is not the best time to be out walking!

Still, my makeshift face mask, a silk scarf, worked very well; both in adhering to the regulations and in keeping some of the damp air out of my asthmatic lungs!

I have since made my own face masks, out of a linen tea-towel, which are very comfy and allow me to breathe. It is mandatory to wear a cloth mask any time you leave your house and to keep a distance of 2 metres from anyone else. Your hands will be sprayed with hand sanitizer at every single shop you enter and trolleys and baskets wiped down. Cashiers sit behind perspex screens or wear protective visors or masks. Counter tops are sanitized regularly.

We’re now at Level 3 Lockdown, so can exercise outside any time. More businesses have opened; alcohol is on sale from Monday to Thursday, but still no cigarettes.  Kids are beginning to return to school, starting with only the 13 and 18 year olds.

So of course, with increased movement, the stats are rapidly rising. It is now definitely winter; a massive storm has just swept through the Cape, bringing so much rain there have been floods. Flu season is upon us, but maybe with all the masks, sanitizing and social distancing, the flu won’t be too bad this year!

As of going to press, South Africa has 58,568 confirmed cases of Corona, of which 33,252 have recovered and 1,284 died, in a population of about 59 million.

 

I Am Six

Six Year WP Anniversary

Six Year WP Anniversary

It is six years since I first started this blog. And I’m still here!

Thank you to everyone who has joined me along the way and shared in my little blog of everyday life. Without you there would be no Mad Cap Dog!

Thank you for your support, words of wisdom and sarcastic comments. I appreciate them all! You know people are your friends when they start being sarcastic!

Thank you to everyone who has popped by my blog and liked or commented on a post. I thoroughly enjoy visiting your blogs, reading your interesting posts and marvelling at your awesome photography. I really appreciate the interaction and have found the WP community to be friendly and caring.

I have come to know many of you well, even though we have never met, being separated in many instances by vast oceans, and I count you as my virtual friends.

Here’s to many more years of Blogging.

Cheers SciFi

 

Freedom Day

Rose

Haiku 190

Freedom Day Lockdown

Let your mind and spirit roam

Because your feet can’t!

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It is Freedom Day here in South Africa and Lockdown Day 32. It does not compute!

As you probably know, we are under a strict Lockdown, which is now designated Level 5. We are only allowed out for essentials such as meds or food. The white-haired woman queuing in front of me outside the shop last week had been stopped by police on the way there, demanding to know where she was going.

So how’s my Lockdown so far? Here’s a run-down for you.

Lockdown Day 32

Chocolate

Emergency Chocolate supply

I have no idea how this happened, but I guess every week I went shopping I thought I’d better stock up on chocolate – just in case. When I finally looked through my supplies I was (pleasantly) surprised to find so much!

Books

Books Read

I am scouring our bookshelves for anything I haven’t read too recently.

Kitchen Shelves Cleaned Out

Three drawers cleaned and re-lined and one large shelf.

Uninvited Guests

Oh Thousands!

An army of teeny sugar ants has decided to brighten up our Lockdown by invading the kitchen. No sooner do we spray everywhere and block them off, than they find another way in.

And one small Golden Mole in the garden, who has made it his life’s work to dig as many soil mounds as possible, in the shortest amount of time.

Knitted Squares and Wool

Knitted Squares

I knit simple squares while watching movies (see below). Then I sew the squares up into blankets and donate to charity. I was actually elated to find wool was still on sale at our local shops, as I doubt it is essential. I found a small supply hidden away by a checkout counter and asked a passing shop assistant if I could buy it. I was really happy when she said Yes!

Netflix Watched

Far more than is good for me! This can be seen by the large amounts of knitted squares – see above!

Jigsaw

Jigsaws Completed

One.

It only takes a few hours and I don’t have many that I haven’t done recently, so I have to pace myself!

Garden Circuits

Since we are not allowed to walk outside, I walk round and round my garden most days.

Number of circuits round the garden during Lockdown: 277
Kilometres walked: 42

I am wearing a path in the grass. By the end of Lockdown I shall be walking in a trench a metre deep!

LM Vodka Day 1

Vodka Drunk

About half a bottle. I was incredibly lucky that I had just restocked my vodka supply before Corona came to SA. Alcohol is not on sale during Level 5 Lockdown.

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SA Corona Stats

As of today, SA has 4546 confirmed cases of Corona, 1473 recoveries and 87 deaths.

This is considerably less than most countries. Who knows exactly why, but the severe Lockdown must be helping. (Other possible reasons: the warmer weather; the comprehensive TB vaccinations of all SA school kids.)

However, on Friday 1st May we are downgrading to Level 4. Hooray! It is uncertain yet exactly what this will entail. A few more businesses will be allowed to open; cigarettes will be on sale, but alcohol sales or walks may still not be allowed.

So how’s your Lockdown going?

 

Mousebirds

Mousebirds 1

Haiku 187

What could be more fun

Than hanging out together

Solidarity!

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These chaps were happy hanging out on the edge of the old concrete bird bath, even staying put when other birds came to use the actual bird bath!

Mousebirds 2

I’ve been trying to capture a good shot of these White-backed Mousebirds for a long while. I hear them chirping in the trees and often see them fly overhead, when their magnificent long tails are clearly visible, but they are far too swift for me to take a photo.

I’ve snapped shots of them in the syringa tree. I know they are there as I can hear them and see the leaves moving, but they are hardly visible when I look at my photos later on my laptop, even when enlarged. This is because they tend to roost almost vertically against an upright branch and so blend in very well, their long tails in line with the branch.

So I was pleased to see them hanging out here for a while, even if they are still blurred because I can’t zoom any closer!

 

Such is the pressure of English Grammar that I am sorely tempted to call these two Mouse Birds, Mice Birds!

 

Lockdown!

Muizenberg Beach 1

Haiku 185

Countrywide Lockdown

Enforced social distancing

Corona power

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Lockdown

So, from midnight tonight, South Africa is in total Lockdown. You are not allowed to leave your house for three weeks.

Knowing this was coming I went for one last walk along the beach at Muizenberg.

Muizenberg Beach 2

However, the beach was also in Lockdown! I couldn’t understand the reasoning behind this. Surely walking along the sands with fresh Corona-free sea breezes, able to keep a good 20 metres distance from other people, poses no hazard, but rather promotes health and well-being.

Apparently not.

Muizenberg Beach 3

As I walked along the paving near the beach I came upon the police, who were wrapping tape around the whole area. The guy in charge politely informed me that I wasn’t allowed to walk there. The beach and train station were closed, as well as the whole path I was walking on. He then said he’d have to wrap me in tape!

As I turned to leave he called, “Keep safe.”

Seagull – Muizenberg Beach 4

Only the Seagull was still free to walk along the sands.

 

post script: The observant among you will have noticed the clues in the second photo. The wine is WolfTrap, the dvd is Escape Plan and the book ‘The Martian’ is about one guy stuck alone on a whole planet for 564 days (549 Sols) with only a few potatoes to eat. Lockdown indeed.

At the time of my publishing this post, SA has 709 confirmed cases of Corona, of which 12 have recovered and 0 died, in a population of about 59 million.

As my policeman friend said, Keep Safe!

 

Look Out!

Cape Bulbul 1

Haiku 184

Find a look out point

Just eight inches off the ground

Better than nothing!

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Cape Bulbul 2

Here is a Cape Bulbul in my garden, keeping a look out from the top of a solar lamp. He didn’t like the fact that I was sitting outside having a cuppa, in his garden. So he flew closer for inspection.

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While the Coronavirus pandemic has hardly begun in South Africa as yet, it is rampant in other parts of the world.

I hope that all my Readers and their families keep safe and healthy during these trying times.

Look after yourselves, my friends.

 

Exquisite

Orange Honeysuckle 1

Haiku 181

No Sunbirds answer

However exquisitely

You call out to them

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Orange Honeysuckle 2

My honeysuckle is starting to burst forth in beautiful blooms one bush after another.

Very sadly, I haven’t seen a single Sunbird lately, though there were two breeding pairs in my garden for most of the summer.

Even if I hadn’t seen a Sunbird, I would know that they had visited my honeysuckle, because I would find many flowers on the grass under the plants, knocked off by the eager little birds as they drank the nectar.

All my honeysuckle plants are still intact and there are no flowers on the ground.

Orange Honeysuckle 3

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I sorely miss you my little friends.

Still, I keep on watching – and live in hope.

 

Languages

Duolingo 1000

Duolingo 1000.

I have just completed 1000 consecutive days learning languages on Duolingo. Hooray!

It’s amazing how it all adds up when you spend a few minutes a day on a task and make it a habit.

So far I have completed the language trees in French, Italian, Spanish and German. I’ve recently started Portuguese, Latin and Navajo, for fun!

Not that I can speak any of these properly, but I do understand a lot more than I did, especially in languages I had never learnt before, obviously.

Now, I have the even harder task of making myself miss a day to re-set the counter back to zero.

Why?

Well, I don’t want to feel that I have to study each day. I do it for fun after all. And to keep the little grey cells going!

Also, despite all this learning, I still only speak two languages fluently: English and Dog!