Monday, October 6, 2008
A tranquil suburban oasis
I can be a bit slow on the uptake sometimes…
For the past few years I’ve heard about a little suburban oasis known as Die Oog (The Eye, in English). I’ve long wanted to go there but have just never got round to it. It’s not like it’s far away - only about five minutes from where I live. Yesterday I finally got my butt into gear and armed with my camera made my way there.
What a treat. Amidst middle-class suburbia, tucked between the houses, lies a small dam fed by winter rainfalls. In its midst is a little island which was built about a hundred years ago. The place is a mini bird sanctuary and nature reserve with its own integrated biodiversity and it is a delight. See for yourself!
And for me, the stars of the show - particularly at this time of year - weavers all a-nest building, all a-twitter and on display...
Weavers have nestbuilding wired in - it's not something they're taught. And the males, in their bright yellow finery do the building. The females, fairly drab, olive coloured birds simply have to inspect and choose. Competition is rife. He builds...
...and then he displays. Shrieking and fluttering his wings - hotly competing with the surrounding males - even attacking their nests.
She comes along and inspects. He twitters and chirrups and flutters some more - "look at me, look at me!"
The best nest builder gets the girl. It's about as intense and as simple as that!
And there there were the family of Yellowbilled ducks...
Now here's where the trouble startted... Mother Duck was shooed away by an aggressive male. The babies, happily dabbling didn't notice that mum had disappeared and only realised when she was nowhere in sight. Much furious amd plaintive peeping ensued.
"Mummeeeeee, where are you..." Finally the one in front plunged into the water, the other following hotly on his tail feathers. They set sail across the dam, peeping as they went - looking for all the world as though they had set sail for South America. Just as I was thinking I would have to become a surrogate Mother Duck, the mother appeared on the side of dam, paddling furiously, gliding at speed across the water, in pursuit of her babies.
And here, at last, a happy reunion. At which point, my nerves worn thin by bird antics, I decided to head home.