🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Hadeda Ibis - Bostrychia hagedash

The Hadeda is famous for being South Africa’s natural alarm clock. I'm sure everybody will agree with that. When we lived in Gauteng on our smallholding, we rarely saw any Hadedas, so the excitement was great when they did appear. Here in Ballito, KwaZulu Natal, it's a totally different story - their numbers seem to be on a par (to me at least) to that of the Indian Mynah and the Red-winged Starling. 

And I am utterly thrilled to be seeing them in such abundance! And I just absolutely LOVE their call, but must admit that I prefer to be woken up by the Burchell's Cuckoo soothing call and not the hart-stopping call of the Hadeda at 4am in the morning!

Usually at 4.30am !!

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Pest, charming oddity or just background noise, the Hadeda ibis is a feathered phenomenon in suburban South Africa. Its feathers are a drab gray or brown, so it's not on a bird lover bucket list. But the bird now has a small niche in popular culture. Somelodges and restaurants carry its name, a website offers a ringtone download of its cry and a pair of South African musicians produced a song called: "Harry the hungry Hadeda." Some call it a "flying vuvuzela," recalling the din of the plastic horn used by stadium fans during the World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa in 2010.

The Hadeda or Hadeda Ibis,is an ibis found in Sub-Saharan Africa. . It is named for its loud three to four note calls uttered in flight especially in the mornings and evenings when they fly out or return to their roost trees. While Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash) is not a conservation listed species, it is protected under provincial regs. Hadeda Ibis is protected in all but one province, namely KZN. The species is threatened, though, by extended droughts which reduce food availability by causing damp soil to harden, making it more difficult to probe for insects. The population in South Africa also declined markedly at the turn of the century due to hunting during the colonial expansion.

The Hadeda Ibis is monogamous and breeds in solitary pairs, unlike other ibis species. They breed from July to January in South Africa. They lay 1 to 5 eggs which are incubated by both parents. Incubation lasts up to 28 days. Young are independent at about 40 days.
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Males display before choosing a mate. The pair then engages in mutual bowing and display preening.  

The Hadeda Ibis is a social bird usually seen in pairs or in small groups of between 5 and 30 birds, and seldom as a single individual. Occasionally it can form flocks of some 50-200 individuals. They feeds on insects, millipedes and earthworms, using their long scimitar-like bill to probe soft soil. It also eats larger insects, such as the Parktown prawn, as well as spiders and small lizards. Sometimes it swipes dog food meant for pets, splatters parked cars and driveways with droppings and yanks residents from sleep with jarring squawks at first light.


Some ornithologists credit the Hadeda's dietary preferences with curbing the population of the "Parktown Prawn," a king cricket (Libanasidus vittatus) named after a Johannesburg suburb that can creep or leap into homes at night, horrifying residents. The Hadeda, in turn, has few natural predators in cities, facing instead the lesser peril of flying into windows or getting hit by a car.  Although totally harmless, the insects can jump actively and often eject offensive black fecal liquids when threatened. Accordingly, they frighten nervous persons and they may chew carpets and fabrics. 

You may love 'em or hate 'em, but this striking African bird is surrounded by many ancient legends and myths. One myth tells of how the northern bald ibis, Geronticus eremita, a symbol of fertility in some regions of Turkey, was one of the first birds that Noah released from the Ark.

As a lexophile (logophile?), I was pleased to learn that the plural of ibis is not "ibises" as most people would guess it to be, but instead, the plural is either ibes or even more interesting; ibides. 

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Adieu, Not Goodbye



People may enter our lives through many different doors -
Some stay forever, while others only pause.
Did they happen here by chance? Or was it really fate?
Their impact is not always known until a later date.

Some accept the loss, while others continue to feel pain -
We need to reflect on the positive, in order to see the gain.
Our children leave eventually and go their separate way;
After having explored a bit they might come back some day.

 Often we will connect with that special love or friend -
It could last forever or have an unjust end.
A sudden departure may signal a change has just occurred;
It may trigger sadness and leave our vision blurred.

Understand that sometimes separations might be for the best -
True love and friendship can endure emotion's greatest test.
Just say Adieu for today, there is no need for blame -
special people will remember more than just your name ...

Should they not return, understand they still may care -
Remember, life is always changing, not everything is fair.
                       
~ Robert Beau

::

Saying goodbye to the old year is actually saying hello to the new year. And in this year ahead of us, we will meet new people, we will experience triumph and failure and we will love and hate. But most of all, we will live our daily lives as before, maybe better, if we can remember to tread softly on this earth, respect all living creatures and most of all, teach our children to respect all living creatures.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Happy New Year 2019


You may have had some really good memories about the past one, but you never know what’s the new one is bringing for you. Its time to be hopeful, have new dreams and connect with each other and make new year wishes. Its time to move on and embrace what’s new.

New year means a lot of new dreams and new achievements. People throughout the world anticipate eagerly for this time of year to celebrate the memories they made in the past year and to welcome the new one. Hope you are excited about the new year that’s soon to be taking place, and here's wishing you JOY, LOVE and INSPIRATION for 2019!

Monday, 24 December 2018

Christmas in Africa 2018


A bit of festive fun with one of my sketches - The CAPE GLOSSY STARLING (Lamprotornis nitens) having a wonderful festive season with his friend Tweetie in my garden!

Starling to Tweetie : Have you heard Tweetie? Maree has already bought all our presents! Suet, peanuts, minced meat, mealworms, wild birdseed, mixed birdseed, apples, bananas, paw paw and peanut butter!
  • A Merry African Christmas and a stunning 2018 to all my blogging friends!

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Listen to the whispers of the wind this Christmas


Listen to the whispers of the wind this Christmas. They carry a message of love, peace, hope and happiness for you.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Spotted in my garden

A few things spotted in my garden in the months preceding the sale of our smallholding.

 AfricanSkink

Black Headed Heron 

Black Headed Heron taking flight

Red Toad (Schismaderma carens) at my wildlife pond (Rooiskurwepadda)

Speckled Pigeon (RockDove)

White Browed Sparrow Weaver

A fitting farewell to my Gauteng garden, which I am sorely missing, but new explorations are beckoning here in KwaZulu Natal (South Africa).

Saturday, 8 December 2018

My Kiepersol died!


My Kiepersol (Cabbage tree - Cussonia paniculata) is dead. Yea, dead.


The first signs were leaves drying out and then all the leaves dropping to the ground every day - and large gouges in the trunk of the tree. Like some animal has been eating the bark. But there are no large animals in my garden. So that was not the problem.

Then, a couple of weeks later, I discovered that I had a Ground Squirrel living in my garden.

(I did not manage to get a photo of him, this one is from Google)

Ground squirrels are primarily herbivorous, and their diet changes with the season. After emerging from hibernation, they feed almost exclusively on green grasses and herbaceous plants. When annual plants begin to dry and produce seed, squirrels switch to seeds, grains, nuts and roots, and begin to store food. They are a bit bigger than a large rat with a fluffy tail and are regarded as troublesome rodent pests for many home gardeners.
Although ground squirrels look similar to tree squirrels and can climb trees, when frightened they generally will retreat to their burrow, and I did find his burrow under all the ferns surrounding my Kiepersol.

So I concluded that he was the culprit causing the early demise of my lovely Cabbage Tree...

My Kiepersol in better days...

A beautiful, large Kiepersol which I photographed at the Randfontein Private Hospital (Gauteng, South Africa) in 2017.

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