Category Archives: Hunter

Orcas of the Sky

Pied Crows 1

Haiku 232

Orcas of the sky

Black and white killing machines

And noisy to boot!



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!



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.


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


Black Eagle

Black Eagle 1

Haiku 94

Heard long before seen

Scanning blue skies for a glimpse

As you scan for food



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.



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



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. 



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!


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


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!




Carnivore 1

Carnivore 1


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.



Scary Visitor

Jumping Spider 1

Jumping Spider 1

That moment when there’s a spider on you and you suddenly turn into a black belt karate master.

– Anon


When I opened my daughter’s bedroom curtains the other morning this little jumping spider fell out onto the duvet cover. It stayed absolutely still, so I had time to fetch my camera and take a few photos. You can even see its little eyes!

Jumping Spider 2

Jumping Spider 2

To see how small it is, compare it to the paper clip on the right of the photo. (The bendy white thing, shaped like this to hold up the solar lights on the pelmet.)

Jumping Spider 3

Jumping Spider 3

I think she is holding onto her skin or exoskeleton (the stuff underneath her on the right of the photo). Maybe she was moulting and in the process of shedding it? Spiders do this so that they can grow bigger.


Who is she?

She’s definitely a jumping spider. I think, specifically, a female Grey Wall Jumper, Menemerus bivittatus.

If you’re into spiders, here’s the gallery I was looking through last night in order to identify the little spider. Yes, it did take me a while to get to sleep after that!

Jumping spiders (salticids) actively hunt their prey then pounce on it.  They don’t spin webs, but do make little silken shelters under leaves. Isn’t that cute?

Jumping spiders do produce venom, but are not considered medically threatening. However, let me tell you from past experience, if they do happen to bite you when you’re sleeping, you will wake up to a very swollen, painful face!

And though she is a little scary, I think she’s also a little cute . . . As long as she’s not on me!


I Believe I Can Fly!

LM Flying

LM 1 Flying

This is Little Monkey flying!

So how did this come about?

It was a public holiday, which I’d forgotten about, so people were playing tennis on the courts, bowls on the greens and a soccer match here on the fields that are normally deserted. It meant I had to keep LM on the lead for longer than usual, before I let her off, but it would not have made any difference to the outcome.

LM Flying 2

LM 2 Flying

Little Monkey is very well behaved on our walks, walking behind me down the path . . .  until she hears or sees a squirrel; then all training flies out of her ears, and she has to chase it.

That’s what happened here. I’d let her off the lead; done the whole sit, stay thing and walked a few metres with her happily trotting behind me. Then she heard the faint scratch of tiny claws and Poof! She was gone in an instant: chasing squirrels.

LM Flying 3

LM 3 Squirrel hunting

Here she is looking and listening for more squirrels to chase.

How to chase a squirrel, by Little Monkey.

Run madly straight at it. Yip loudly as it rapidly disappears, straight up a massive tree. Leap after it with all four feet off the ground and push off the trunk. Run round the trunk yapping frustratedly, while the squirrel sits safely 30 feet above you.

This is the surest way to get the squirrel to come back down again!

LM Flying 4

LM 4 Squirrel hunting

And you can see from these action shots, just how young and strong LM is. Yes, she’s only eleven next month!



post script: And because you’re all singing it anyway, here is R. Kelley: ‘I believe I can fly’.