Hunkering down

Our current lockdown regulations are being made so much easier by the winter weather that has at last descended upon the Cape. Who wants to go out anyway when a steady rain falls for hours on end, the roads are a dangerous place to be, and a pot of soup bubbles gently on the stove? As a bonus, we have two weeks of Wimbledon to watch (despite the absence of Nadal, who has been the joy of my tennis watching for many years). This is the only time I watch TV during the day, unless it is a golf Major, and I am eternally grateful for the ability to work from home for much of my life, which allows me to be flexible in all things.

As dear friends all around me seem to be falling foul of Covid, home does seem to be the best place to be. Here in Kommetjie we are blessed to have access to all necessities for the pantry and fridge without having to travel to the local mall – in fact we could probably manage our monthly shop without going further than 300m. Of course all this convenience, combined with an almost total lack of exercise, is not ideal for the waistline, and more calories are consumed in winter as comfort food holds sway over salad. The scale is showing an alarming lack of accuracy as the figures soar daily – it cannot be correct.

The baboon troop has returned to our village and have declined to make the evening climb back up onto the mountain to sleep, preferring proximity to an early breakfast. They stroll through my garden at 8am, casually grazing on a beetroot or a granadilla, or even the last remaining onion bulb, and soon there will be nothing left as I finally give up enjoying growing my own fresh vegetables in a very small way. I have to be wary of putting out a suet ball too early for the myriad birds that flock to my deck every day, or even half an apple for the fruit eaters.

There are literally flocks of Cape Sparrows, House Sparrows, Grey-headed Sparrows, Cape Weavers, Red-winged Starlings (easily chased with a wave of the hand as they gobble a suet ball in no time) and Cape White-eyes. A trio of Southern Boubous hop around, unafraid of our presence, particularly the young one which allows close proximity, and a Common Fiscal has availed himself of an easy meal as he appears to have rid the garden of most worms. and the other birds quickly disperse when he arrives. A welcome pair are the Cape Sugarbirds with their elegant tail feathers waving in the wind as they sip at the sugar water. The garden is full of aloes but no proteas, and I think they prefer to feed from the top rather than below. They are skittish and easily disturbed, mostly by the boisterous Cape Bulbuls that arrive en masse to break up the parties. The tiny Southern Double-collared Sunbirds make their appearance at the end of the day, when other birds have had their fill, and will sometimes be sipping after sunset.

Overhead, the pigeons scatter wildly as a Peregrine Falcon swoops in at speed. No luck, but he’ll be back. The Black Sparrowhawks are never far away, and I am sure the flock we feed keeps their larder well stocked. Such a privilege to observe these hunters in action.

Looking forward to rambling a little further from home soon!

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