Category Archives: Hunter

Fiscal Shrike

Fiscal Shrike 1

I was hanging out the washing when I heard some birds giving an alarm call in the neighbour’s tree. There was quite a raucous going on, so I knew the birds were trying to defend their nests or chicks from a predator.

Perched right on the top of the tree was a bird that was causing all the trouble. However, squint as I might, it was too far away for me to make out properly. I thought maybe it was a bird that I haven’t seen around our garden for a very long time.

I went back to the house to fetch my trusty Canon camera and took a few shots on maximum zoom, hoping that when I enlarged the photos later on my laptop I’d be able to make out what the bird was.

Fiscal Shrike 2

And there you have it. It was a Fiscal Shrike, also known as the Butcher Bird here.

He was a little tricky to identify from underneath, as you can only see the white chest and a little of the black back and head. The adults have a lovely white stripe in their wing feathers when seen sideways on, or a white V shape from above.

We used to have a resident mating pair in our garden. The young chick would be seen begging for food, sitting on the fence, or the pole of the rabbit enclosure.

Fiscal Shrike 3

The photo above shows what I was working with and why the images are blurred. Yes, the Fiscal Shrike is sitting right on top of that tree!

I know they get a bad rap, as they eat other birds’ eggs and chicks, but they are beautiful and I have missed them.

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You can listen to a short clip of the Fiscal Shrike singing here.

 

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Black Eagle

Black Eagle 1

Haiku 94

Heard long before seen

Scanning blue skies for a glimpse

As you scan for food

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I was out walking in the Green Belt with my daughter one morning, when we heard the unmistakable cry of a large bird of prey.

Craning our necks back we searched the skies, finally catching a brief glimpse of a tiny speck high up in a wisp of cloud.

Black Eagle 2

I took four photos; three of which I found out later were just plain sky!

The fourth is the photo above, enlarged many times to blurriness, but still showing the classic shape and colouring of a Black Eagle.

Magic!

 

post script: The Black Eagle of Southern Africa is also known as Verreaux’s Eagle, Aquila Verreauxii.

 

Vixen

Vixen 1

Look what I spotted when out and about in Nature yesterday. What a treat to see this female fox.

I just caught a glimpse of her as she walked away.

Vixen 2

Notice the little black feet and bushy tail. Even though it was early morning, it is still unusual to see them during the day.

Vixen 3 – LM

Of course, it could just be our very own Little Monkey, after she’s been paddling in a muddy stream!

Did I trick you? Did I?

It’s been a while since I’ve tried as it’s getting harder to fool you guys; you’re too sharp!

 

post script: Here in Cape Town we don’t get the large Red Fox that is typically found in the Northern Hemisphere and Australia, but we do have our very own Cape Fox. This is silver in colour, about 30 cm tall and weighs up to 5 kg. So it’s quite a bit smaller than LM who weighs in at nearly 23 kg. 

 

Arachnid

Baboon Spider 1

You know you’re a Blogger when, on seeing a Baboon Spider on the kitchen wall, you stop your husband from putting it outside until you’ve grabbed your camera and taken a photo of it for your Blog!

Baboon Spider 2

I got my husband to hold a ruler near it so you can see the size. Note: This is a small one!

He couldn’t hold the ruler any closer or it would have run away. Also, out of deference to my more arachnid-challenged readers, I have made my photos small. Hopefully you do not spill your coffee this morning when you open my post!

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Baboon Spiders are harmless to us – unless of course you have a heart attack on seeing one! As I said, this one is a small guy and yes he most likely is a guy, as the females tend to stay in their nests while the guys roam around looking for mates. They normally live outside in my vines (not the grape vines – the other ones) where the female can build a large egg sac of folded over leaves, wound round and sealed with silken thread, keeping her babies safe inside.

Still, they do give me a bit of a fright when I come across one when trimming the vines. They are just so big!

Even so, I have seen a wasp kill one and drag the heavy body up the side of the house to stuff it in a crack in between the bricks, where it will lay an egg on it. The wasp was pretty big too and had those dangly stingers which really hurt if they just touch you.

OK my post is over; you can open your eyes now!

 

Lookout Cheetah

Cheetah

This marvellous sculpture, entitled “Surveying Cheetah” stands in the middle of the steps going down into the Botanical Gardens at Kirstenbosch, Cape Town.

Everyone stops to admire it or pose by it for a mini photo shoot. I had to wait quite a while to capture the cheetah standing alone. However, I didn’t mind, because one of the admirers was a toddler, who caressed the bronze statue and then climbed up onto the plinth to get a better look!

You may remember an old post of mine called Fluidity, that shows another statue, with a cheetah trying to catch a buck leaping in the air.

 

The accomplished artist is Dylan Lewis, who has a sculpture garden in Stellenbosch.

 

post script: For those of you who like word play, the title can be read as either, “Lookout! There’s a cheetah!” or, “Here’s a cheetah, looking out over the savannah.” Your choice!

 

Walk in the Wilds

In The Wilds 1

There’s nothing an animal likes more than exploring the wilds of Nature.

In The Wilds 2

Even a domesticated animal like Little Monkey. (Yes, she is in the photo above; right in the middle.)

In The Wilds 8

Most people walk down the centre of the path. Not so Little Monkey, who used it merely to cross from one side of exciting wilderness to the other.

In The Wilds 9

While others enjoyed a walk in nature with their dogs, I walked alone (with my friend and her dogs), while LM enthusiastically explored all around her. She was rarely within sight, but always knew exactly where I was. If I felt she’d strayed too far or been gone too long, one whistle brought her straight back to me.

In The Wilds 3

Funny that a dog who doesn’t like taking a bath, has no problem sploshing around in a river!

In The Wilds 4

Here she happily trotted along the river bed, bound on exploring all the new scents and sights. Notice the tree marked X.

In The Wilds 5

While I watched LM busy following scents, what neither of us noticed, however, was the wolf keenly watching her! 

In The Wilds 6

The tree marked “X” gives you a bearing in the two photos of LM in the river and where the wolf suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

In The Wilds 7

While I was preoccupied in capturing this little scene as it played out before me, I was unaware that now I was the one being watched!

Eeeep!

 

Carnivore!

Carnivore 1

Carnivore 1

Wolf!

Occasionally I’ll give my dogs a nice big bone. This is the thigh bone of an ostrich.

At first it looked as though Little Monkey didn’t know quite what to do with it!

Carnivore 2

Carnivore 2

“It smells great, but what do I do with it?”

Note the paw in the air (anxiety) and the tongue (Yum!).

Carnivore 3

Carnivore 3

However, she soon got the hang of it; using her paw to claim her food and keep it from running away!

Carnivore 4

Carnivore 4

Eventually she realised it wasn’t going anywhere and, surprisingly, no-one else wanted any!

Carnivore 5

Carnivore 5

So she settled down to gnaw to her heart’s content.