Tag Archives: animals

Sparky Shakes a . . . Tail!

Sparky 1

Sparky 1

You’ve heard the expression “shake a leg“? Sparky shakes a tail!

Sparky the squirrel suddenly appeared out of the bushes and posed for a moment on the fence.

Sparky 2

Sparky 2

For once, when I reached for my trusty camera, it was there! (Not attached to my laptop in the process of transferring photos, as has happened in the past.)

Sparky 3

Sparky 3

He shook his tail about for a moment or two, and I quickly snapped a few photos from way back inside the lounge.

Sparky 4

Sparky 4

Then, with one final flip of the tail, Sparky was gone.

Luckily for him, my dogs Little Monkey and Mr Spaghetti Legs never even knew he was there!

 

Protection

Scifihammy and TJ

Scifihammy and TJ

This incident happened a while back when I had the three dogs, Madam, TJ and Little Monkey.

The old dogs, especially TJ, were only able to manage short walks, and I often took them on their own slow walk then returned and took LM out on a faster long walk.

However, I took all three now and then, as it is good for the ‘pack’ to walk together. We were walking slowly along, down a curving road, when three young men approached on the same side of the road. I always assess people and decide whether to say hello or not. This was definitely a “Not” situation, so I started to pass them by without a word and with no eye contact. My dogs took their cue from me and were also ignoring the men; no problem.

Just as we passed, the closest man raised his right arm with a sudden movement. TJ instantly sprang into action and challenged the man, lunging for him and barking. Madam quickly joined him, so now I had two dogs between me and the ‘attacker’ as they saw him.

I said, “Ah-ha!’, reeled them in and carried on walking.

The man pretended he was raising his arm in greeting, by continuing the action and muttering a belated, “Hi.” But we all knew he was testing my dogs, which he perceived to be old, to see how they would respond. He sure found out.

So now they knew these particular dogs would protect their owner and property.

I have certainly never trained my dogs to protect me. It is something they will automatically do, when the ‘pack’ is stable. My dogs are definitely not aggressive. And even if they had been off the lead, all they would have done was challenge the man and bark at him, placing themselves between me and the ‘attacker’. But he didn’t know that.

TJ always hobbled. He came to me with a gammy leg, which I later found out had been very badly broken and never set, and so had healed crookedly. (see Portrait of a Dog #2 and #8) The poor old boy could hardly walk, but he protected me. The same for Madam, (See Portrait of a Dog #4 and #7)  who was very old by now. I really felt part of the pack, and oh so protected.

And what was Little Monkey doing during this incident? She didn’t really know what to do, so just sort of hovered. She has since really come into her own, and will certainly protect me at home. On the walks, she is more busy looking for other dogs to freak out at, or squirrels and cats to hunt!

post script: As you can clearly see from the photo, TJ was very friendly, and loved people. None of my dogs have ever been aggressive, just, on occasion, protective.

 

Sparky the Squirrel Crosses Over to the Dark Side

Sparky

Sparky – Grey

You’ve heard of grey squirrels and the more elusive red squirrel, but have you ever heard of a black squirrel?

Sparky the squirrel is out in force again, scurrying up and down trees and dashing hell-for-leather across the road right in front of cars. (Definitely chancing his luck, as most drivers are busy rushing to their next appointment, driving far too fast, not stopping at stop signs, and certainly not noticing a small dark thing playing chicken with their tyres!)

A few weeks ago I saw a new little Sparky in my garden. He was a youngster; smaller and thinner than his elders, with a thin scratty tail.

However, his most arresting feature was none of the above, but his colour! He was the darkest squirrel I’ve ever seen. Such a dark grey that he was almost black.

I thought perhaps he was just a bit of a freak, or maybe he was so young that this was a sort of ‘baby’ coat and he would change to a paler grey when he grew up. But I have since seen squirrels all over the place and several of these have also had very dark grey coats.

As you can imagine, all this Sparky activity on our walks is very exciting for Little Monkey and Mr Spaghetti Legs. Maybe you’d think that a darker squirrel might have some kind of camouflage advantage? Not so, since it is the movement that the dogs pick up on and surprisingly, they see the dark squirrel scampering around just as easily as the paler grey ones: especially, I have to say, LM, who is a supreme hunter with the best eyesight of any dog I’ve ever met.

So why has Sparky developed a dark coat? What advantage is it to him?

My first thought was along the lines of those moths (no idea where) that were whitish in colour. Entomologists thought they’d discovered a new species when they found similar moths, but black in colour. Further study revealed that they were the same species! The trees in the area that the moths habitually ‘sat’ on used have pale bark, and the pale moths blended in perfectly. With heavy pollution the tree trunks had turned black. A white moth was now easily visible and picked off the bark by birds etc. Any moth slightly darker had better survival odds. They made more dark moths and in no time you had a ‘new species’ of black moth.

However, I doubt that the squirrels have changed their coats in a season so that they can blend in on dark tree trunks! Perhaps there was one unusually dark-coated individual, who just happened to be successful and prolific and made lots of dark little kits? I have no idea.

I just know that Sparky crossing over to the Dark Side makes for a very pretty squirrel.

post script: At the time of going to press I have no available pictures of the elusive Dark Sparky! I very rarely take my camera on our dog walks, as I need both hands for managing LM! But I will try to take a photo of him one of these days.

post post script: A male squirrel is called a buck, a female is a doe, babies are kits or pups and their nest is a drey.

Portrait of a Dog #9

Little Monkey

Little Monkey

I Love you Mum!

Little Monkey after her bath – eagerly expectant of a treat!

post script: Disclaimer! For all those (one) of you who notice that the choke chain is on incorrectly:- It was placed round her neck correctly, but she leapt in the air and jumped around like an Idiot, till it had moved to the other side. I only ever use this old choke chain for her bath, while her usual soft collar is washed and drying on the line with her lead. She has a lovely red material collar which you will notice in all her photos.

 

On the Rocks

On the Rocks - Cormorant 1

On the Rocks – Cormorant 1

A lone cormorant dries its outstretched wings on a rock in the sea at Muizenberg.

Can’t see it?

Cormorant 2

Cormorant 2

The Cape cormorant, Phalacrocorax capensis, is a large fish-eating, black bird. It dives from the surface and propels itself under water with its feet. Some cormorant species have reached depths of 45 metres.

After diving it holds its wings out to dry, as the feathers are not entirely waterproof.

 

Cormorant 3

Cormorant 3 Preening

My trip to the beach is never complete without seeing a cormorant on the rocks.

 

Pit Pat Paddle Pat

Baby Geese

Baby Geese

Baby Geese paddling in a puddle, in the Gardens, Cape Town.

Mum and Dad on Guard

Mum and Dad on Guard

Mum and Dad guard their chicks from annoying humans, who selfishly wanted to walk on this main pathway!

Behind the Egyptian Geese is a large ornamental pond where they had all been swimming. For some reason they got out and stood by this tiny rivulet and the babies immediately started splashing around in the puddle. All except one forlorn baby who seemed unable to climb out of the steep-sided pond and squeaked loudly and continually while his siblings played.

When we came back later, the whole family was once more reunited in the pond. Phew!

 

I am Not a Fitness Fanatic!

grey squirrel - little friend

grey squirrel – little friend

So there I am, peddling away on the exercise bike, in an attempt simply to maintain my weight – Double Apple Gene – remember?

No amount of happy, upbeat music can detract from the sheer boredom of the exercise – (pun intended!)

But Lo! What light through yonder window breaks? It is a little Cape Robin! It flits around the dogs’ water bowls on the stoep, then perches up on the grape vine, where it fluffs out its feathers, for a moment providing me with a welcome respite.

The robin has no sooner flown away, than a little grey squirrel appears, fidgeting around the lawn, looking for buried treasures, twitching its tail like it is dancing to its own music.

And before you know it, exercise time is up! Cappuccino – here I come!

I’d like to thank my little friends for helping me through my ordeal.

Haiku

My dog, the hunter

Loves chasing squirrels up trees

Rhinos are too big

 

Post Script: Everyone seems to be writing a haiku these days; so here’s mine, in the traditional 5-7-5 form. According to wiki, a haiku uses a few words to tell a story, and a good haiku reveals about 70% of its subject. So here, the scene is set in the first two lines, but what are rhinos too big for? – Being chased by the dog, climbing trees, or fitting in a taxi? You decide. Happy Friday!