End Game & a Bird

 

Wood Pile 3

As some of the readers may remember I have just managed to acquire a fair amount of free wood. The reason why I am chuffed with myself is primarily that these (Alien) trees were destined for a land fill. Not to mention with a medium amount of effort as well as a low cost to myself I managed to get it home.

The real challenge started last week when I had to start chopping it all up into usable pieces. This is when the story became a bit more interesting.

Its the middle of winter here and the last week has been a bit rainy so I have chopping as the weather allows. Funny thing is when your alone chopping away taking short breaks I started to notice little animals coming to investigate the goings on. One in particular was this little bird. I am not really a “bird guy” and to be honest I have no idea what type of bird this is.(Sorry)

Bird 1

This guy was very shy at first, keeping a safe distance at all times. When I would take a break move away from the chopping stump he would fly in and scratch through the chips looking for wood worms that live in the bark and soft outer layer of the Stone Pine. Each day I chopped he would appear and it very quickly became a bit of a game. ( It was a great distraction for the task at hand) I would chop a bit till I found a worm then stop and stand back, He would fly in grab the worm then fly back to his perch and wait. (This bird has now manipulated me into smashing great chunks of wood apart looking for  worms while he sits and waits). Its official I have been duped.

Early Sunday morning I was woken up buy a weird fluttering and chirping at my window. Don’t get me wrong I don’t wake up grumpy but I am defiantly more of a night person so needless to say I was not super excited to see what all the ruckus was about. I assumed it was some kind of altercation in the bird bath outside (Don’t ask, that’s for another time). I was shocked to find this little feathered tyrant standing outside my door giving me the stink eye. ( At this stage I am horrified to admit it, I have started talking…Hmmmm maybe even more like ranting at this bird)

If you cant picture the scene, I am standing at my door in my shorts first thing in the morning negotiating my work schedule with a 15gram bird. Something to the effect of( Its Sunday morn, its just rained, I will chop a bit later. Be patient… your like a slave driver. Aaaagghh) No good will come from this, it feels like I have lost my mind. I am half asleep, barefoot, shouting a  bird at sunrise on a Sunday morn.

A few hours past whilst enjoying a great snooze so I decided to go down and see my parents and have a coffee. Climbing in my truck and preparing to start I look through my windscreen to see… You guessed it. This bad mannered flying dictator has landed on my bonnet and is staring at me. His black beady eyes unflinching, unforgiving, refusing me any quarter. Its like a stand off from some old Hitchcock movie. Its official.. I am being stalked… I am being stalked by a angry bird. Even when I started the engine he stood fast. Only when I reversed did he fly off.

Long story short after a hour or so racked with guilt, I returned and started chopping all the while under avian supervision. He became so brazen landing on my chopping stump whilst I was still busy, forcing me to wait till he was done.

Bird 5Bird 4

I was starting to wonder if he would be able to even fly after all he ate. Through the coarse of the week this bird has eaten well. He has morphed from a sweet nimble slim bird into a fat flying mafia boss.

Bird 2

Again with the evil staring, So full but never happy.

Now that the job at hand is virtually finished best I go and find some more wood to chop, or I will probably be in Big Trouble.

Wood Pile 4

Thanks for reading.

Dan

 

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Thankful …

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Have you ever found that one amazing person whom you are able to love exponentially  & unconditionally experience life’s adventures together, share secrets, be outdoors together,  cry together, laugh together, fall together, be quiet together & continue to embrace all life’s challenges together. A person who is quietly as tough as nails but who is always willing to extend a gentle hand to anyone who needs it.

A dictionary doesn’t contain a word that would describe the type of  person who I share all the above & so much more with.

I am so grateful to have a person who doesn’t see everything the same way I do, doesn’t always think the same way I do and teaches me about different points of views, while continuing to remain open to learn from me too.

I have a strong minded person who isn’t afraid of their emotions, but isn’t as emotional as I am, so that we act as each others balance. Acting as my voice of reason that saves me from drowning in my own seas, and I hope to believe that I am the gentle rain that saves him from his own fires.

Somehow we have the amazing ability to communicate without speaking at times & how silence can also bring a sense of comfort and contentment.

I have someone in my life who knows what its like to build a life from the ground up starting from scratch, to loosing it all and then finding the strength to build it up again. An enduring strength that I am unable to find in anyone else.  A person who appreciates the great moments even in the bad ones!  Our relationship hasn’t always been rainbows & butterflies but I certainly have grown along the journey and  from all the experiences we have shared together.

I love this ambitious soul of a person. Sure, we challenge each other and butt heads at times because of it – but as long as we have the same kind of heart, we’ll fight through the hard times and survive them all.

A “soul mate” relationship doesn’t necessarily mean both partners always share the same views, but that our overall goals and ambitions match. I think this is the most fabulous part & I am so happy to have found a soulmate in Dan!

Love, laughter & a positive attitude  is key to a happy healthy life. Well this is my opinion anyway for what it is worth. Through everything in life, Dan & I continue to strive towards living a happy loving and positive lifestyle with everything we do.

We continue to be our own identity yet we conquer life as one team!

Now days it is so seldom that you find a person that is so willing to take a back seat so that others may succeed,  for these reasons I decided to post this blog and say, Thank You.

Here’s to many more great & unforgettable adventures that lie ahead!

Fiona

Game Time

 

The Game… How much free wood can one person load in 1 hour and drop off at home (Excluding Cutting)

This much….

I hour Load

After the 5th load my enthusiasm for this game started to waiver. When my legs started to resemble boiled spaghetti and I could no longer make a fist I called it a day.

Now for part two of the challenge… How much wood can I split in a hour. ( This is Stone Pine with twisted grain so all bets are off………… Well only one way to find out.

Dan

 

Creating Disinformation …

Photo Supplied by The City of Cape Town

Photo Credit: City of Cape Town, Simonstown 8 July 2016

This article is the continuation & conclusion of our article titled Help!

South Africa has an extremely diverse amount of fauna & flora that needs to be conserved in such a careful manner so as to not disturb the natural course of species. With an ever increasing rate of population growth & urbanisation, species are struggling to make ends meet in terms of food resources & securing a safe  reliable habitat.

Recently within the Western Cape the local conservation & environmental management organisations have been putting pressure on species that have come down to urbanised areas in search of food due to their original food sources being affected by recent fires & droughts. Animals would not risk their own lives by crossing highways, dodging buses & trucks, let alone potentially coming into contact with the biggest threat of all, humans if they were not desperate.

After hearing about organisations wanting to remove the Leopard from Betty’s Bay due to it predating on penguins at Stony Point, I started questioning myself as to why they would want to remove such a rare & majestic animal from its natural habitat just because it is attacking penguins in an effort to attain food & whether what was taking place was right or wrong. However not living near Betty’s Bay, it wasn’t entirely close to home & as they say out of sight out of mind & so all I could do was aid in spreading the word & creating a greater sense of awareness about the situation, send in my objection through to Cape Nature & move on.

A couple of weeks later right on my door step I hear of news that a Caracal (Caracal caracal) that is needing to be trapped due to it “swooping” down onto Boulder’s Beach & killing 20 penguins over 2 weeks. While the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is an endangered animal, it is not a natural food source for caracal so that immediately indicated to me that this animal was clearly desperate & struggling to find food on the mountainside which has severely been affected by fires leaving the mountain barren and scarred with no visible life only charred Protea bushes.

After many “experts”in large sponsored vehicles hanging around the potential trapping area & a week later, the caracal had managed to out-smart the traps & dodge all the bait that had been placed out for it, continuing to kill penguins around the traps. Their declining patience resulted in officials (people in uniform who think they are higher than anyone around them) deciding to live bait the cages, on Friday evening, with penguins forcing the caracal with no option but to attack the tempting penguins thus becoming trapped.

Not only is this an extremely cruel way of doing things. I honestly think that it is so ironic that the experts with “environmental knowledge” take a declining endangered animal from its protected sanctuary & use it as a sacrificial item to lure an animal into a trap purely because it is struggling to find food. It wouldn’t be hunting the penguins in the first place,  if there was sufficient food on the mountainside. It would probably resume to terrestrial animals once the land had recovered from the fires & move away from hunting penguins as it is far too risky for a meal.

Sadly on Friday 8 July 2016,  they successfully trapped a female adult caracal. Using about 3-4 cages each with live penguins in, forcing the caracal into attacking the cage & trapping itself. It was then fitted with a GPS collar & removed from the area & released somewhere else in the Table Mountain National Park, the location not mentioned to the public.

It is amazing the effort that goes into trapping an animal that is posing a threat to an endangered species that brings in such a high revenue from being a tourist attraction (Boulders Beach). It reminded me of a military troop going on lock down.Preparing for war. Penguins are well protected because of holding such a high value to the tourist industry this & many species have suffered because they do not hold such a high commodity as the penguins do. The predation by the caracal is only natural & temporary, it wasn’t even entering the reserve! It was killing penguins that had escaped the sanctuary & were living outside the boundaries of Boulders Beach. As far as I am concerned those penguins has escaped & were not being monitored & could have easily been run over by passing cars never mind being killed by a caracal. In fact penguins still continue to be mowed down by passing cars, yet that does not seem to be an issue & something that never gets addressed.

I called an official on Saturday morning to inquire whether the cat had been captured & wanted more information & answers as I felt this capture was a rather extreme process of doing things. I quote from the paper I found on site attached to a tree near the traps  “In case of emergency, or for any animal welfare concerns or requests for more information about this project contact project leader Dr. xxx xxx on +27 71 xx xxx who is available 24/7 to answer questions” and so with this friendly message I duly contacted the project leader, who was a very abrupt when I asked some to the point questions, a lady who was not wanting to comment on anything that I had seen including the baiting of live penguins & whether she thought that this was an ethically correct way of doings things or not. She was more concerned at how I got her personal number, why I was wanting to find out more & whether or not I was going to take this information to the newspapers. Instantly I knew something was amiss & not right. I could feel & hear in her voice along with her continuous uhm’s & aaah’s that she was covering up her actions & not wanting anything to let slip, if only she knew that I was on scene quietly in the background the Friday evening when they were setting the traps. But what could I do? I am just one member of the public who is concerned & not wanting to tolerate what was happening, while most of the residents within Simonstown were not even aware of what was going on, let alone care as to what was being done & how it was being conducted.

According to a press release on Monday 11 July 2016, “The cat, which was fitted with a tracking collar, was transported back to her original roaming territory in the Table Mountain National Park and released. It has been confirmed that the cat has settled down and its future movements will now be monitored. ”
I am not sure how they could determine where her original roaming ground was, given she was never tracked prior to Friday 8 July 2016. I would suspect that the caracal didn’t pack her suitcase from up country & come down to Simonstown for the weekend to view & taste test the local penguins. Is this just a case of environmental organisations making society feel better that she will be in safer territory & away from penguins? What exactly is the point of this statement?

I simply do not understand it. This entire week the Froggy Pond area has had a sad yet very tense air about it. As though humans have felt that they have succeeded & won. Yet sadly  I think they are only thinking in monetary terms & not in conservation/biodiversity which is supposedly their main goal.

My final question is, how much good is trapping & collaring an animal doing or is it humans thinking they are making a change & improving the situation just because they have taken part in an event. After all these beautiful cats have lived perfectly sustaining their population numbers without collars. So why are collars needed to be fitted in order to “improve” their survival & safety.

All I know is that while I may not have been able to make a major difference or prevent the animal from being trapped & collared, I have certainly learnt so much in this week about the whole situation, more than I ever could have learnt through a textbook. I am so much wiser about government environmental organisations, projects protecting particular species & sanctuaries conserving endangered animals. Whilst in amongst all of these organisations there are genuine people who love & protect animals because its in their nature / personality with a pure love for animals. There are also the types of people that claim to “protect & conserve animals” meanwhile it is for personal or monetary gain.

Fiona

No Place Like Home

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An old friend of Fiona’s popped in for a weekend visit.  As the water is very dirty at the moment,  we skipped the usual swim and decided to go on a hike instead.  She took this very cheeky picture of me having a rest at the top of the mountain.  I have often toyed with the idea of leaving this place.  Funny thing is, when she snapped this shot I was thinking, There is really no place like home.  South Africa is not just a place, its a state of mind, its a way of life.  We must make this work, we will find a way.

Dan