Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Eye on Life

Broad interest online magazine

Random musings

Wildlife in the garden

The thing that makes Cape Town’s weather so bearable is the way it can change overnight from galeforce winds, rain and snow, to calm, blue sky days. We are currently experiencing the windless winter days so beloved by hikers, school holidayers and people who just love to sit in a sunny corner with a good book. The rain over the weekend has brought out the breviceps ( Rain Frog) from their hiding places and a chorus of croaks now pervades the air. It’s been a few years since they were observably active. These little frogs, who have very round bodies and short legs (unable to hop) spend most of the time in burrows under sandy soil, emerging after heavy rains. They have a distinctly grumpy look, no doubt due to the lifestyle, and I often wonder if we tread on them in the garden without being aware of it. They live up to 15 years – quite remarkable – and the tadpoles develop in the egg to hatch as a frog.

Another visitor to the garden is a mongoose, seen twice now. This is quite unwelcome, as we have just acquired a hen and chicks and have had to put three layers of chicken wire around the chicken run, dig the fencing in to a depth of 20cm and put a layer of bricks around it. The mongoose has not been seen since all that activity and hopefully has gone back to where it lived before. Gaps in the wooden fencing have been filled to keep out snakes, but we have no means of halting the caracal that roams here at night. Hopefully the chickens will be safe. We were supposed to get 4 laying hens, but somewhere along the line it all went skew and we now have one hen and 8 tiny chicks. So no eggs for at least 5 months. And they may turn out to be roosters. Time will tell. In the meantime, the dogs are very interested and are the main focus of restraint at present. At least the chicks are adorable and interesting to observe.

The sugarbirds and sunbirds have been sipping nectar from the profusion of aloes currently flowering in the garden, a sign that a sugar feeder does not spoil them for natural sources when not available. Bees have been buzzing at the feeder for the last few weeks and the only way to prevent them from drowning is to not put it out. We will try again when they have moved on so that we may once more enjoy the prolific birdlife on our deck – current number of species seen here 50. With much hacking back of the prolific growth due to a very wet winter, the Southern Boubou and Cape Robin-Chat have followed closely behind me, snatching up tasty morsels unearthed with roots and digging. They are described as ‘shy’ but not in this garden. Literally at our feet when there is food to be had!

I sometimes think I will retire to a small lock up and go flat one day, but the pleasures of a garden may be too difficult to give up!

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