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

Friday, 24 February 2012

If you listen...

... Not to the pages or preachers
But to the smallest bird
Singing on a branch
In your heart,
You will hear a great song
Moving across a wide ocean
Whose water is the music
Connecting all the islands
Of the universe together,
And touching all
You will feel it
Touching you
Around you
Embracing you
With light.
— John Squadra


A Weaver in my garden, eyeing out the mincemeat on the bird feeder - another favourite is Suet, which they can't seem to get enough of...


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Caught in the act!



The hedgehog is welcomed by the gardener, but not by the gamekeeper; it is viewed as vermin, accused of eating the eggs and nestlings of ground-nesting birds. Some gamekeepers feel it necessary to control hedgehog numbers on their estates, sometimes killing hundreds of animals in a single year. In the 18th century, some parishes paid a bounty for each hedgehog killed.

The hedgehog only occasionally takes nestlings or eggs from the nests of pheasants and partridges. Research has shown that the major mammalian predator of game birds' nests is the fox, while domestic cats and dogs and farm machinery are just as serious culprits as the poor old hedgehog.
Info from "Everything You Want To Know about Hedgehogs - Dilys Breese"


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Return to me....

“To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is,” he said, ”you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived…”
- From Jonathan Livingstone Seagull


Watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour sketch-book - 8" x 5"


I've just returned from a short visit to the North Coast in KwaZulu Natal (South Africa), and one of my favourite past-times is watching and feeding the seagulls. Something I didn't know, is that Seagulls are most closely related to the terns (family Sternidae) and only distantly related to auks, skimmers, and more distantly to the waders. But whoever they are related to, I personally would categorise them with Crows, one of my favourite, most intelligent birds!

The same as crows, most gulls will take live food or scavenge opportunistically. And their love for man-made "junk food" defies belief! They will go to ANY length for some tasty hot potato chips with tomato sauce, and are VERY diligent in their pursuit of these tasty snacks. This chap managed to grab my bag of potato crisps right out of my hand, flying off to settle on some rocks not far from me to enjoy his prize. But it was short-lived, he was soon flocked by all the other seagulls, relinquishing his prize to return to me for an easier snack!


Saturday, 11 February 2012


I wanted to know the name of every stone and flower and insect and bird and beast. I wanted to know where it got its colour, where it got its life - but there was no one to tell me.
- George Washington Carver

Leucocelis rubra - or Amethyst fruit chafer (Identification kindly supplied by Joh - see comments below - thank you Joh!)


We don't have the same problem today as what Carver had, if we want to know something, we just Google it. But no amount of Googling got me to identify this beetle. At first glance I would've thought it's a Christmas beetle, but the tapered body at the back and iridescent colour leads me to believe that it's a fruit beetle of sorts (besides the fact that it's obviously enjoying this orange I put out on one of my bird feeders!)

We all know the big, yellow and black fruit beetle often found on our fruit trees and this little chap is about half their size.

African fruit beetle - Pachnoda sinuata (Pic from Wikipedia)


Fruit beetles are strong fliers and can cause fruit and flower mayhem during the course of their day's foraging. At night, they repair to special 'sleeping trees' or else bury themselves in the soil at the foot of the very plants they have been ravaging.

The larvae of fruit beetles feed on decaying vegetable debris and on plant roots. The female of Pachnoda sinuata takes a trick from the dung beetle: she makes several little balls of dung (or compost) and then lays an egg in each of them. The tiny larvae that hatch feed on the contents of these balls, before transforming themselves into pupae. You may find up to a dozen of these little dung balls attached to one another within the warm, moist intimacy of an aromatic manure heap or pile of compost, or in a well-fertilised flowerbed.


Monday, 6 February 2012


... I need only to stand wherever I am . to be blessed.


Every morning I get woken by the chatter of my Greater Striped Swallows as the parents and their two off-spring sit on my bathroom wall in the early morning sun. They have gotten quite tame and will now allow me to get fairly close.

Sunrise and my swallow glides above, keeping an eye on me

Home-made security on top of my bathroom court yard wall


Sunday, 5 February 2012

February gifts - Light


As a citizen of sunny Earth, it's hard not to take light for granted. Light is at once both obvious and mysterious. We are bathed in yellow warmth every day and stave off the darkness with incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.

However, I often sit on my patio at night, switching off the garden lights and lighting my old paraffin lamp, sipping a hot cup of coffee by its soft glow, revelling in the insects and night creatures that appear after dark - huge Emperor moths, weird, unmentionable creepy crawlies, excitement as an Hedgehog snuffles around and, if I'm lucky, the joy of hearing one of my resident Eagle Owls settling on the roof.

I salute you, light, for a lightless world would be a gloomy place indeed!


Picture taken in my garden in Tarlton (Gauteng, South Africa) - Camera Kodak EasyShare C195 - Back-ground texture by Kim Klassen


Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Midnight Hour


The hedgehog is well protected from predators by its spiny coat, so there seems to be no reason why it should be active only at night. But, biologically speaking, nocturnal activity has always been the norm for mammals.

The main reason for the hedgehog's night-time roamings is that its food is mostly nocturnal too. The creatures it eats are small invertebrates that are active at night to avoid other predators, or must keep out of the heat of the sun to avoid water loss.
Info from "Everything You Want To Know about Hedgehogs - Dilys Breese"


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Larder

“Even the most resourceful housewife cannot create miracles from a rice-less pantry.”
- Chinese proverb


My resident Fiscal Shrike often makes use of the barbed wire fence and the palisade fencing to store her snacks, but a couple of weeks ago I discovered a new larder in my Celtis africana (White Stinkwood) tree - this time a whole baby Laughing dove - I watched over the span of a few days as she fed her family, often returning to pluck some juicy piece for a hungry little mouth. She successfully reared two lovely youngsters and all four of them are spending time in the garden, but not for long - soon the parents will lead them away to find their own territory.
Camera : Kodak EasyShare C195


“I sometimes think that the act of bringing food is one of the basic roots of all relationships.”
~Dali Lama



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