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

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Mai, the Mynah

This is Mai after her bath, a young Mynah I was very privileged to have in my life for almost 6 months. Here she enjoys a bit of sun before following me back to my studio.

I found her on the pavement in town, where she had probably fallen out of the nest, and she was just a little bundle of quills, no feathers yet, and after looking around if I could see the nest and not finding it, I took her home with me.

The intelligence and loving spirit of these amazing birds is beyond description - she was not caged and had free range of the house and garden, and one of her favourite past-times was her early-morning bath in the bird bath in the garden, after which she would fly into my studio, roosting on top of the computer screen, preening herself until she was all sparkling and shiny.

(The Common Myna or Indian Myna (Acridotheres tristis) also sometimes spelled Mynah, is a member of the starling family. It is a species of bird native to Asia with its initial home range spanning from Iran, Pakistan, India and Kazakhstan to Malaysia and China. An omnivorous open woodland bird with a strong territorial instinct, the Myna has adapted extremely well to urban environments.

The Myna has been introduced in many other parts of the world and its distribution range is on the increase to an extent that, in 2000, the IUCN Species Survival Commission (IUCN) declared it among the World's 100 worst invasive species. The Myna is one of only three birds in this list of invasive species. It is a serious threat to the ecosystems of Australia and South Africa.)

Camera : FujiFinepix 2800Zoom Digital - normal settings


Mai taking off to dry off after sharing my bath with me.

Mai, roosting on my PC speaker, enjoying some music

The beauty of an adult Mynah
Pic from Wikipedia

Adult Mynah

Monday, 12 July 2010

Hummingbird Migration

This was sent to me by e-mail and I thought it so beautiful and decided to share it!

"Abigail Alfano of Pine, Louisiana lives in a Hummingbird fly zone. As they migrated, about 20 of them were in her garden. She took the little red dish, filled it with sugar water and this is the result.

She has been studying them daily and then one morning put the cup from the feeder (with water in it) into her hand. After they got used to her standing by the feeder they eventually came over to her hand.

She says they are as light as a feather. Abagail says if she had known her husband was taking pictures she would have put on makeup!

It NEVER fails to amaze me how trusting these little birds are!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Life at my pond

"Little froglet in the water,
don’tcha think you really aughta
save that croaking for tonight
when you’re safely outta sight?

Though I love your creaky chorus
pulsing through the springtime forest,
how I hope a hovering hawk
will not end your earnest grok!

Soon, I hope, a loving mate will
come to join you. I can’t wait till
all your fertile eggs are spread,
safely in their waterbed."
- Irene Brady, Nature Works

Well, Winter is in full swing here in South Africa now, and the songs of the frogs have been quietened by the chill and the frost. But I know they're still there, some buried deep under-ground, ready to fill the night with song once again as they sense the first Spring rains. I can virtually set my clock by their song, knowing that Spring and rain is in the air as soon as I hear their chorus.

In the meantime, life carries on at the pond. This water scorpion was sunning itself on the rocks on the end of the pond, and soon after he returned to the water, I was lucky enough to see him dragging an insect under-water for a quick feast.

These fascinating insects are commonly called water scorpions for their superficial resemblance to a scorpion, which is due to the raptorial forelegs and the presence of a long slender process at the posterior end of the abdomen, simulating a tail, which is actually a breathing tube - the tip of the tube is thrust above the surface of the water and air is conducted to the tracheae at the apex of the abdomen

They feed primarily on invertebrates, but occasionally take small fish or tadpoles.

The water scorpion emerging from the pond

The Water scorpion dragging an insect into his 'lair' under-water

The dragonflies are also still around, and I managed to get a shot of this fella sunning himself on the rocks.

A scarlet Dragonfly resting on a rock at the pond

A very welcome visitor to my garden is Molly, the Mole snake. She manages very nicely to keep the rat population at bay (they come for all the corn and sunflower seeds which I put out for the ducks and chickens) and, at 1.7m, she makes a formidable sight when upset. Mole snakes are completely harmless and non-venomous, but are fairly aggressive when threatened, even rearing up slightly, ready to strike if necessary. Here she surfaced from her hiding place one morning to see what all the raucous was about - we were busy cleaning out the pond and the workers were making quite a racket, chatting and clanging buckets as they emptied the water.

Molly, my resident Mole Snake, taking a peek at all the activity when we were cleaning out the pond.
(Click to enlarge for a better view of Molly)

Another welcome visitor to my garden is the Brown House Snake, also non-venomous and totally harmless and very soft-natured, trying to do a quick get-away when discovered, and also a great deterrent to rodents.

A not-so-welcome visitor is the Rinkhals (Spitting Cobra), who's venom is neurotoxic and partially cytotoxic. It is one of a group of cobras that has developed the ability to spit venom as a defense mechanism. It generally aims its venom at the face and if the venom enters the eyes, it causes great pain. Their average length is 90 - 110cm.

"Rinkhals" - watercolour on Moleskine 200gsm watercolour paper - Maree©

Nothing is ever killed or harmed in my garden, I don't even use insecticides (aphids on the roses are normally sprayed with a mean mixture of dishwashing liquid and tobacco, which seems to do the job, although I do make sure there are no lady bugs in the vicinity first). So, upon encountering this visitor, I normally don my glasses, race for a bucket and my snake hook and the unwelcome offender is duly captured, put in the bucket and then taken to an isolated dam some kilometers from us where he'll be safe against the threat of humans.

Roll on Spring, you make your own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer!


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