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

Monday, 30 April 2012

I had a Dove ...

A Laughing Dove in my old Peach tree last winter - a tribute to Flutterby, my little pet Laughing Dove that I was blessed enough to have in my life for 6 months before she found her mate and started a family of her own. 


I had a dove, and the sweet dove died; 
And I have thought it died of grieving: 
Oh, what could it grieve for? 
its feet were tied With a silken thread of my own hands’ weaving. 
Sweet little red feet! Why should you die– 
Why would you leave me, sweet bird! why? 
You lived alone in the forest tree; 
Why, pretty thing! would you not live with me? 
I kiss’d you oft and gave you white peas; 
Why not live sweetly, as in the green trees? 
- John Keats. 


Ink sketch and Watercolour wash on Visual 200gsm 


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Hedgehogs and fires

Just before Winter in March 2008, Golden Girl and Sethlong had 6 babies, first pink and wrinkly with soft little spines, but soon perfect little replicas of their parents.

Unfortunately, soon after they were weaned, their mother, Golden Girl, died. I found her dead early one morning under some grass and all the babies wandering aimlessly around. I couldn't find any cause of why she had died, no apparent injuries, and up until that time she had seemed perfectly healthy.

Sethlong exploring the new area

I gathered all the babies and Sethlong, the father, and moved them to a new enclosure in my bathroom court yard so that I can keep a closer eye on them. An amazing thing happened, quite contrary to Hedgehog behaviour - Sethlong seemed to take over the care of the youngsters. They would follow him all around the garden and at night I would find all 7 of them huddled together in the same box.

One of the new nesting boxes - the photos were taken at night, so I'm sorry about the quality....

It was quite a business, having to put out 7 food bowls every night, and never being sure whether Sethlong was eating the bulk of the food and whether the babies were getting enough or not.

One evening, I found Sethlong kicking out all the grass out of one of the nest boxes - couldn't figure out a reason, unless he wanted to make a new place for himself...

Sethlong threw most of the grass out of one of the nest boxes ... wonder why?

When the babies were about 12 weeks old, I took them all to our local game reserve (Krugersdorp Game Reserve), where they have a huge 4ha aviary and where I felt they would have enough space to ramble to their hearts content and also be safe from predators and the raging veld fires we experience here in South Africa every Winter.

These fires, besides being necessary for the natural evolution of things, cause massive loss of life amongst small mammals, reptiles and birds every year. Many tortoises, hedgehogs and ground nesting birds fall victim to this phenomena. But on a good note, after the fires have either been extinguished or burnt themselves out, you will see big flocks of egrets, herons and storks foraging around for crispy insects.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

I'm serious, stay away!

We were feeding the Ostriches on a recent visit to 'Rustig', a resort with various wild animals and hiking trails up the mountain, not far from Magaliesburg in Skeerpoort (Gauteng, South Africa) and this male put up a spectacular show of protecting his females, ignoring our offerings and charging the fence from time-to-time, a real force to be reckoned with! 

Every now and then he would nonchalantly pretend to be pecking at something on the ground, a ruse that worked a few times, but when the unsuspecting victim got closer, his attitude changed completely! In one instance, an elderly gentleman almost got his ear pecked off! 

This is one of his beautiful ladies he was protecting, a gentle gal with gorgeous long eyelashes who was delighted with the offerings of corn and seeds.

Camera : Fuji FinePix 2800Zoom 


Monday, 23 April 2012

Just wondering...

  1. What you did this weekend...? 
  2. What you had for breakfast this morning? 
  3. What's your favourite colour...? 
  4. What do you have planned for the week ahead...? 
I'd love to hear from you! 

Me, myself, had a very quiet weekend, some rain and a beautiful veggie platter for lunch at the Magalies Hotel on Sunday, topped off with a lovely HOT Irish coffee (it was cool outside as we sat under the thatch, with a cold Autumn breeze, so that's my excuse!) 

I don't eat breakfast, so can't tell you anything there! 

 My favourite colour depends on my mood - mostly it's blue, but currently orange is ruling, even surfacing in most of my paintings and the decor in my house. 

 My week ahead looks pretty quiet, the way I like it. No rushing around here, just spending some time in the garden, checking on the Laughing Dove's new babies (they built their nest in the lower branches of the trees, so with a ladder I can just have a quick peek inside), painting, making a couple of items of jewelry and, oh yes, I have to prepare more nest boxes for my chickens, I have eight hens squabbling over four next boxes! 

 Hope you have a great week ahead of you! 



African Leopard {Panthera pardus}

Black Pilot FineLiner ink sketch and W&N watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm   

An African Leopard sunning himself on some rocks. Powerful, graceful and arguably one of the most beautiful of all the large cats, the elusive leopard is a master of stealth and survival. I myself have only seen a Leopard twice in my life, once in the Kruger National Park and once on a private game reserve and in both instances he would have gone unnoticed if not pointed out by the guide.   

In the Cape Province south of the Orange River (South Africa), they have been largely eradicated by stock farmers except in rugged mountainous areas. The Cape Leopard that lives in the Cape mountain range is much smaller than its big cousins in the Limpopo region. Their diet is probably the contributing factor, consisting mostly of dassies and much smaller prey. 


The leopard lingered in the sun 
Almost at close of day, 
With all its hours almost done 
And fast to ebb away... 
The leopard let his memories 
Remind him now and then, 
Because he knew each day must cease 
When moonlight shone again.   

This day had seen new life, new death, 
That's how time passes by... 
We understand while we draw breath 
Until our final sigh... 

The leopard knew his time was near, 
Just like the sun above, 
Yet leopards are not prone to fear, 
That's why they still share love...   
His cubs were waiting down below, 
As he watched like a king... 
To see time like a river flow 
To outlive everything... 

Some day his cubs would watch in turn, 
As their cubs played a while... 
With each new day something to learn... 
Some joy to raise a smile... 
(The poem is based on the magnificent painting by Stephen Gayford called 'Leopard Sunset'.) 



Monday, 16 April 2012

Cactus flower close-up (Echinopsis)

'Tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes! ~William Wordsworth, "Lines Written in Early Spring," Lyrical Ballads, 1798 



My Cacti put up the most spectacular show of flowers last Winter and I'm hoping to get some beautiful shots again this year. They are an absolute delight to the insects, with sweet nectar accumulating at the base of the flower, luring ants, bees, flies, and even a few wasps. 

 Camera : FujiFinepix 2800Zoom - Macro enabled 



Sunday, 8 April 2012

I'll wait for your return...

Picture from Warwick Tarboton 

 For the past week or so my Greater Striped Swallows have been getting increasingly more restless until, finally, this morning they were gone - mother, father and two babies. Nobody to greet me on the bathroom wall, no twittering and chattering coming from the TV satellite dish, no more watching them throwing their little heads back and uttering their little gurgling song... I DO wish them a safe journey to their summer destination and I will expectantly be waiting for their return in September.... 

The Greater Striped Swallow (Hirundo cucullata syn. Cecropis cucullata) is a large swallow. It breeds in Southern Africa, arriving from its central African non-breeding grounds around July-August in the Limpopo Province, Western and Eastern Cape. It reaches Swaziland, Botswana, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal during September-October, eventually leaving the region around April-May. 


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The last Cosmos of the Season

The show of Cosmos next to the roads in our area hasn't been that great this year and now, as the flowers start to wane, the insects are making the most of the last pollen and the Autumn sunshine. Soon all that will be left is the yellowing leaves and dry stalks. 



But I've been lucky - the birds carried a Cosmos seed into my garden and I've got this one, very tall plant that, even though it fell over because it is so tall, has blessed me with a couple of beautiful flowers. 


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

April gifts

Birds are a miracle because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain.  
~ Doug Coupland 

 W&N watercolour


It's April already and it feels like just the other day that we heralded in this new year of 2012. I can already feel the change in the season and I watch as my Swallows get ready to leave again. They have successfully reared two lovely babies again this season and I've watched them grow into two beautiful teenagers, often sitting on the wall surrounding my bathroom, chattering and twittering away and not even budging when I go out to fill the bird feeder. This trusting behaviour they certainly learnt from their parents, who have no fear of me at all. 



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