Thursday, 1 February 2018

Now You See Them, Now You Don't!

This is the first blog of 2018 and although we are now at the end of the first month and are therefore one twelfth of the way through the year, I do hope that this year is a really good one. Rob worked out that there are only 327 days left until Christmas!!

Here we are hoping and praying for rain. Not that we are due any until at least the end of May, but we are in a crisis situation here in the Cape. Cape Town has water until the middle of April (although that date keeps changing as the amount of water the Capetonians use fluctuates weekly, but at the time of writing this, daily usage was 580 000 000 litres... yes, DAILY) so we had all better get used to queuing for our allocated 25 litres per day..........

Wonderful people up-country where the rain is plenty and the dams are full, are collecting water by the truckload (literally), and removal companies are bringing thousands of litres of water down to the Cape for use in animal shelters.

Anyway, life goes on (but not for my garden which is dry, dusty and for the most part, dead!) and we have cut our water usage drastically. The words 'If it's yellow let it mellow' are heard everywhere, our showers are fast and trickly, my washing machine is programmed to cut out a rinse and we catch all that water for garden use.

But, by far the most water usage goes..... to the birds!

We have five bird baths, one outside for general consumption, and four inside for the birds, our cats and probably the bokkie who still comes nightly for his/her apple and mealies.

Keeping them full is Rob's responsibility and he does it diligently!!
We have rain tanks that we use for this purpose and usually he can keep up with demand.
But for the last few months we have had the Pied Starlings here. In droves. By the hundred. And they like to crowd in the manatoka trees and eat the berries when they are ripe. So we have had days of squabbling, squawking, chirping and flapping as hundreds of them crowd into the trees and then descend onto the birdbaths!

Sadly I cannot get photos to upload anymore for some obscure reason, so you have to picture the splashing, shoving, flapping and swimming that goes on. We have counted over twenty starlings at a time trying to get to the water. I even made a little rhyme, to the tune of 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' and it goes like this.....

Sing a song of ten rand, a pocket full of chaff,
Four and twenty starlings crowding in the bath.
When the bath was empty the birds they did complain,
So out went Rob with water and it all began again.

Did you sing it? I bet you did!

Rob filled every bath at least five times every day. The baths were empty of water but full of mud and the seeds from the manatoka trees! Mud from the dust from the birds, and the seeds are what they spit out or regurgitate once they have eaten the fleshy part of the fruit. A bit like us with litchis!! And the seeds are tiny and sticky, so they stick to shoes and get transferred to the floors inside. And boy, do they hurt when they are trodden on with bare feet!

But, I digress.

This water-carrying has happened daily for the last three months. And suddenly yesterday I noticed that there was not one Pied Starling in the garden or the trees or the baths! Not one.

And today I have seen one in the rhus tree and Rob has seen one on the bath rim.
And that is it!

Gone, moved on, no goodbye, no thank you!

Here's the question..... can we blame Social Media for this??

Are they all on Twitter... and did they get a 'tweet'?

Makes you think doesn't it?