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

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Guide to bees


Most of us have been there, sitting in a park or on our porch, enjoying the beautiful summer day and a refreshing cold drink, when suddenly an unidentified flying bugger approaches. Is it a bee? Is it a wasp? We’re just not sure!

So here's that long-awaited comprehensive guide to all those yellow stripey things!

P.S.: Please note, the Honey Bee can only sting once, after which it dies. So please be careful and try not to get stung, you will be saving someone's life! 


Saturday, 22 June 2019

Peace and love...

Photo by Joe Neely 

Did you know that bees sleep between five and eight hours a day, sometimes in flowers? Also, they like to sleep with other bees and hold each other’s feet.  😍


Wednesday, 19 June 2019

She taught me to yodel! 🎢🎡🎡🎢🎢🎡🎡


This is the effect my singing had on Snoodles, my pet hen! I was softly crooning to her (or so I thought!) and her response was opening her mouth wide and letting out the most ear-piercing, awful squawk! Luckily I had my camera at the ready but I’ve decided I’ll keep my singing to the shower!

Aaaaah, how I miss my Snoodles…

Monday, 17 June 2019

What a wonderful find! - Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Hawk moth caterpillar in a pot of Arum Lilies, now stripped of their leaves - Pic taken in my daughter's garden in Ballito, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

This is the caterpillar of the Hawk moth, (family Sphingidae), also called sphinx moth or hummingbird moth, sitting on the left-over stalk of an Arum Lily. Butterflies and moths, as innocent as they appear, have a definite sting in the tail. To enjoy their intricate colours, their delicate dips and swings across the sun-kissed garden and their evening hovering among scented blooms, we have to live with their myriad off-spring which chomp, chew and generally deface our carefully tended plants, shrubs and trees.

Silver-striped Hawk moth (pic from "Butterfly conservation")

One of the most voracious of these is the caterpillar of the Hawk Moth, which can strip a plant of all its leaves in a matter of days. The Arum lily is one of the host plants for Hippotion celerio, commonly known as the Silver-striped Hawk Moth or Grape Vine Hawk Moth. This is an exceptionally handsome, neat looking moth with a wingspan of 76 mm and longitudinal pale brown and olive-brown stripes along the body and wings. The Arum lily is one of the host plants for this moth. These moths are widespread and abundant in Africa, breeding along the North and East coast and subsequently colonising southern Europe.

Hawk moth caterpillar in a pot of Arum Lilies, now stripped of their leaves - Pic taken in my daughter's garden in Ballito, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

This resident moth flashes reddish-brown patches on under-wings if disturbed. The wings can sometimes have a pinkish/purplish tinge. Adult, with a wingspan of 6.5 - 9cm, can be seen flying between May and early August.

Hawk Moth caterpillars are medium to large in size, with stout bodies and five pairs of legs. Usually the hawk moth caterpillars’ bodies lack any hairs (he/she was beautifully smooth to the touch!, and most species have a ‘horn’ at the posterior end (seen in the top photograph). Many are greens and browns, and have counter-shading patterns that help to conceal them. 

Female hawk moths lay translucent greenish, flattened, smooth eggs about the size of a tomato pip. These are usually laid singly on host plants and take between 3 to 21 days to develop. Most species are capable of producing several generations each year if weather conditions suitable.

The eggs hatch out into pale green caterpillars about a centimeter long. They hide under the leaves during the day but eat ravenously and grow at an alarming rate at night. As they grow their colour darkens darkens slightly and they lie along the upper stem of the arum where they blend perfectly.

A week or so later the teeny, cute little green caterpillar will be  staunch 7 or 8 centimeters long, turn brown and descend to the base of the plant where once again it will blend perfectly with its surroundings. Here it may spend the day in hiding, creeping up during the night to continue its depredations.

Next morning - Hawk moth caterpillar resting on the edge of the plant pot


The damage to the arum lilies was the loss of their leaves which admittedly hindered their growth but they recover. To save your Arums, visit them regularly and check for eaten leaves and along the stems, where you will find the culprits.
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Before you go on the rampage, consider the results of your actions.

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So now it's up to you. You may decide to pick off and destroy both the eggs and the caterpillars, but bear the results of this action in mind: birds will find less food in your garden and may leave to find food elsewhere, night blooming flowers will not be pollinated and bats will be deprived of a protein packed 'snack on the wing'.


Although appearing delicate, the eggs are surprisingly strong and difficult to crush.
Pic from Kumbulu Nursery


Saturday, 11 May 2019

I'm missing my Nature Journal...


I'm really missing "my" Nature ... I'm missing my old garden and "my" birds and all the little mammals and insects I used to interact with. I miss my wildlife pond, I miss my potting shed and I miss digging and getting my hands dirty in the soil. I miss my early-morning walks in "my" bluegum bush and I miss identifying the various weeds I used to see coming up among the rolling fields of Eragrostis (Weeping love grass). I miss Mollie ("my" resident Mole Snake in my garden) and I miss the flocks of Guinea fowl and unexpectedly coming upon Hedgehogs and tortoises passing through our property.


I miss my various "useless" collections like feathers, terracotta pots, my succulent and cactus collection, twigs and leaves, seeds, fallen birds' nests, various droppings from little buck passing by (yes, I used to collect their droppings!), stones, pebbles and rocks, small rodent and reptile skeletons I used to find on my walks and I dearly miss my Chooks - Snoodles, Kiep, Chi-Chi, Kentucky, Micky, Missy and Mr. Brown. The only chickens I have seen in 18 months are those when we had coffee at Burnedale Farm and Restaurant here in Ballito when we went there for breakfast.




And I hear you you asking, so why don't you collect and dig in the soil and discover new things on your early-morning walks? The answer is simple - I have not had a garden for the past 18 months (luckily that is soon to change) and I've spent my time exploring vistas like the ones above and below.



I'm slowly starting to identify with the trees and plants of the coast, like the beautiful Fever Trees (Vallechia xanthaphloe, above, one of the beloved thorn Trees I never managed to get growing in my previous garden because it was too cold, this is decidedly a coastal and hot climate tree.



I have also managed to establish a new little succulent collection and some of them will find a home in the ground in our new place we are moving to. And in the pipeline is a whole new collection of terracotta pots!

::

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!

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