Category Archives: Behaviour

Orcas of the Sky

Pied Crows 1

Haiku 232

Orcas of the sky

Black and white killing machines

And noisy to boot!

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No matter how bad a day you’re having, there’s always someone having a worse day.

I was in the kitchen boiling the kettle to make a cup of tea one afternoon, when I heard a lot of noise coming from outside.

Looking through the window I saw several Pied Crows flying around, cawing loudly. There were two, then three birds, flying from one tree to another nearby.

Pied Crow 2

They kept returning to the top of the large tree in my neighbour’s front garden. It looked like they were trying to perch there, but it was extremely windy with strong gusts, so they just kept hovering over the uppermost branches. They had to work hard to maintain their position, with wing and tail feathers splayed, as shown in the first photo.

Then I heard the most plaintive loud chirping coming from somewhere inside the foliage at the top of that tree.

I assumed these sharks of the sky were trying to kill a baby chick.

The peeping was pitiful. This prompted my thoughts above – No matter how bad a day you’re having, there’s always someone having a worse day.

I felt very sorry for whichever little bird was being harried incessantly.

Pied Crow 3

I could still hear the cawing and plaintive cheeping when sitting outside with my tea. So, I walked round the side of the house with my camera to see if I could find out what was going on.

I took a few shots of the large birds battling the strong wind currents. The photo above captures one crow flying with its beak open, cawing loudly!

The three crows kept coming back in turn to this one tree, where the peeping was coming from.

Finally, a big grey bird shot out of the tree, chirping loudly as it flew. The adults immediately followed it.

It was their own large youngster that they had been trying to encourage to move out of the top of the tree!

The family flew off together into the distance and the plaintive peeping stopped.

I was very happy to have been mistaken in thinking that they were trying to kill another bird’s chick.

They were simply protecting their own.

 

I am very lucky to have a garden with lots going on to entertain me (and provide Blog content) during our endless Lockdown. Otherwise by now I would have had to resort to showing you my collection of teaspoons!

 

The Squirrel and the Loquat

Squirrel and Loquat 1

One morning as I was sitting under the apple tree having my cuppa, Sparky the squirrel came scampering by.

Having eaten all the seed I’d put out for her, she came looking for more food.

Squirrel 2

Hopping across the lawn she ventured ever closer to me, sitting up on her hind legs to double check I really was the Food Lady.

Yes, of course I speak back to her!

“You’ve eaten it all. That was it for today. Don’t be greedy!”

Squirrel 3

Realising nothing more was forthcoming, she scooted behind me and climbed up the ancient loquat tree. Here she looks rather rat-like, as she pauses in the lower branches, planning her route to the top.

Squirrel and Loquat 4

Our loquat tree may be over 50 years old. It’s certainly been in better health; many of the branches died so I had to cut them off. It seems to be a fungus that rings the bark, so the bark falls off and the branch dies. There were hardly any loquats this year.

Squirrel and Loquat 5

Still, right at the very top of one surviving limb, a small bunch of loquats bask in the sunshine.

Here, Sparky can eat the delicious ripe fruit to her heart’s content, thinking, “Mine, all mine!”

 

Red, Red Robin

Cape Robin 1

When the Red, Red Robin

Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’

Along!

Cape Robin 2

I rarely see a Cape Robin in my garden, so when he does pop by I am honoured.

Cape Robin 3

This little chap flew down onto the lawn near the stoep, hopped onto a solar lamp and looked at me.

Cape Robin 4

There are four solar lamps in a row on my lawn. He started on the one farthest away, then he hopped onto the next lamp closer, and stared again, then onto the third lamp.

Cape Robin 5

Finally, he came as close as he dared, on the last solar lamp, had a good long hard look at me, sitting in the garden chair with my cuppa and camera.

Cape Robin 6

Curiosity assuaged, he flew off.

How lovely to see him though.

Cape Robin 7

The catchy song “When the Red, Red Robin” was written in 1926 by Harry Woods. Here’s Doris Day singing, When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along.  

 

Next Generation

Baby White Eye 1

Haiku 228

Little fluffy balls

Peeping away constantly

Next generation

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Baby White Eye 2

Baby Cape White Eye, Mum and Dad are worn to a frazzle feeding you; keeping up with your demands!

But you are so very cute.

Baby White Eye 3

A spherical blob of downy feathers; tail and wings half grown; your flight a flurry of frantic flapping that carries you to the nearest branch. Mum and Dad are ever vigilant; concerned for your welfare.

Three Baby Chicks 4

The baby White Eye joined up with a couple of baby Cape Sparrows, locally known as Mossies.

Three Baby Chicks 5

It’s a little chick creche. I guess safety in numbers!

Three Baby Chicks 6

Either way, it’s cuteness overload!

 

Unusually, it was an overcast grey morning with what little sunlight there was, shining from behind the birds. My Canon camera does not do well in low light, so some of these photos are grainy and blurry.

 

Sunbird Defender

Male Sunbird 1

Haiku 227

Valiant Sunbird

Defender of the tiny

Mighty nonetheless

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Female and Male Sunbird 2

The female Sunbird has dull grey plumage and is difficult to spot. Above, she is feeding from the yellow honeysuckle in the bottom left of the photo, while the male flies off, in the top right.

Male Sunbird 3 – Dark

The male Lesser Double-Collared Sunbird perches above the female on the newly-awakened grape vines, keeping a lookout while she is feeding. He appears dark grey in this photo, as it is only the bright sunlight reflecting off his feathers that makes them iridesce, and the angle is wrong here.

Male Sunbird 4 – Hidden

They are tiny birds, with a very high pitched twitter. I constantly hear the male defending his territory, and his female, from other males.

The male can also be hard to spot, especially when he hides behind the leaves as above!

Male Sunbird 5

But how magnificent he is when perched in full sunlight!

 

No Laughing Matter

Laughing Doves 1

Haiku 226

Not much to laugh at

Family, friends, birthdays missed

This Corona year

.

Still, watching these Laughing Doves eat their seed cheers me up.

Laughing Doves 2

Laughing Doves are smaller than their cousins, the Cape Turtle Doves, who chase them off their food.

But the biggest bully of all is Sparky the squirrel, who chases everyone away and eats at his leisure.

Now I put seed down in a few places, so if Sparky has chased the doves away from one place, and the Turtle Doves have chased the Laughing Doves away from the next, there is still a place for the Laughing Doves to eat in peace!

Laughing Doves 3

And for me to find a little peace watching them.

 

Clouds!

Cotton Wool Clouds 1

Haiku 222

As empty as clouds

Cotton wool brain, stuck inside

Corona effect

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Cotton Wool Clouds 2

I was watching these fluffy cotton wool balls drift by one morning, as I sat outside having my cuppa. Though these particular clouds would not bring rain, we’re doing all right in Cape Town this year.

The dam levels are at 99.7%! Can you believe it?

These water reserves have to last us over the coming hottest summer months, until the next rains fall, a good six months away.

Three years ago in 2017, after lower than average rainfall several years in a row, the dams were at 37.6%. The levels dropped as low as 19% before we got rain.

Back then the whole world was pointing fingers at Cape Town and saying we would be the first major city to run out of water, on Day Zero.

Cotton Wool Clouds 3

I am very happy that we did not run out of water. By drastically rationing and re-using water, we averted disaster. The people of CT still do this, which is why the dams have filled up again so quickly; it’s not as if there have been really good rains recently. In fact, 2019 was quite dry; but by collectively altering our behaviour, we have triumphed.

So I could watch these fluffy clouds serenely, knowing that though they will not produce rain, the dams are already full!

 

Still Looking for Mr Right!

Toffee 1

Chapter Four

I went looking for a rescue dog in March this year, to no avail, just before our Level 5 Lockdown. As most of you know, we have had a very severe Lockdown here in South Africa.

My plan was to have volunteered at the rescue organisation, spending time with the dogs and getting to know them. Maybe I would spot my Mr Right when he arrived, but our Lockdown just went on and on and on.

Toffee 2

As we have just downgraded to Level 1 Lockdown, I went looking again last week. Even on Level 1, there are still many restrictions and no volunteers at the shelter. I had to book an appointment and when I arrived I was stopped at the entrance to check I was on their list. My contact details and temperature were taken before I was allowed in, with a bright red sticker attached to my T-Shirt, saying, Screened! Everyone wore a mask and social distanced, and I sanitised my hands repeatedly.

I look on the shelter’s website beforehand and choose a few likely candidates, but you have to actually go and see the dogs in person to find if they are a good fit for you.

The dog above, Toffee, was estimated to be about 4 years old and described as having low energy levels; (2 out of 5); the kind of dog you take for a slow amble and then he sleeps at your feet all day.

Toffee 3

Well, he came out of his kennel full of bounce, kept jumping up on me, pulled hard on the lead and was very young and strong! Much too boisterous for me these days and with a great deal of training required. I worked very hard to get these calm-looking sits you see in the photos!

I really thought, on paper at least, that Toffee would be the right dog for me.

Smart Boy 1

I also wanted to look at Smart Boy, age about 7 years, even though I suspected he might be too big. Sadly, at 26 kg he was far too big and strong for me to manage; these days! Little Monkey weighed 23kgs and I need to go smaller.

Smart Boy 2

Apart from the size, he is just the kind of dog I like. Street savvy and very mixed breed; just like my old Jack. We liked each other at once and he was more responsive to training, sitting nicely for a treat.

But I cannot adopt a dog that is capable of dragging me down the street, if he so chooses!

Smart Boy 3

It’s not obvious from the photo above, but I am scratching his rump, which dogs like, not trying to get him to sit.

I walked round the rest of the kennels and came across Fluffy, who I thought had been adopted. I asked if I could see her too. She was estimated to be 8 years old and calm.

Fluffy 1

Now, she appeared to be fine, but I have been fooled before, by my collie cross Madam, so I was understandably a little hesitant. Madam was the most likely out of all my dogs, to bite!

Fluffy 2

I ask the kennel guy showing me around to take photos, so I can kook afterwards and see things I might not have picked up on at the time. Studying the photos afterwards, I could clearly see visions of Madam! My goodness!

So sadly, not this one either!

Fluffy 3

All the dogs I looked at coped well with people covering their faces with masks. I also wore sunglasses and a cap, so was even more disguised, but they dealt with it.

So no luck this time, but I’ll just keep looking.

TJ

My perfect guy, Mr Right, is out there – somewhere!

 

Bottoms Up!

Sparky the Squirrel – Bottoms Up 1

Haiku 221

What has Sparky found?

Some things are worth digging for

Bottoms up my friend!

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I was watching Sparky the squirrel rooting around my garden, while I sat under the tree with my afternoon cuppa. Apparently he had eaten all the food I had put out for him and was looking for more.

Sparky the Squirrel – Bottoms Up 2

Suddenly he became very intent on digging something up. So much so that he turned his back on me with a “Bottoms up!”

Whatever he was after was buried deep down. Look at that little bum!

Sparky the Squirrel – Bottoms Up 3

Success! Eventually he found something good to eat and returned to his usual Sparky position. Looking at the hole he’d dug, I now understand the state of my garden!

 

post script: “Bottoms up” is an expression used to encourage someone to drink up. In raising their glass and drinking, the bottom of the glass can be seen.

Looks like another Daft Friday! Have a good one!