DECEMBER IN THE GARDEN

Strolling around the garden the Helmeted guinea fowls make their presence known.  When something or other is rattling their sense of security one will stand on the roof of the house and begin whistling a warning to the others below.  Stand quietly, listen and watch.   Nothing, the adults have, quietly, disappeared into the under growth.

Experience, over a period of some years, has taught us understanding.  At this time of the year December, eggs have been laid and when hatched some of the adult birds will –   this is our interpretation – bring the chicks for us to see.  We firmly believe that we know the birds who were born and have lived in our garden.  They are comfortable around us. Sit out on the patio and they will stretch out on the lawn or come closer perhaps in the hope of sharing whatever is being eaten.  Two weeks back “our” first group of chicks this season made an appearance.  Such tiny, delicate small creatures.  Some still shaky on their little legs, falling over as they tried to keep either from being stepped  upon by an older bird or trying to make sure they watched and tried to do as Mommy bird indicated.  “See there child scratch in the grass or sand, see what I do with my beak and you do the same.”  Sadly due to the many, many predators only one of the sixteen chicks has survived.  However, further hatchlings will soon make another appearance.

By the way these birds, during the early days at the Cape, were shot by soldiers as a kind of sport.  Some of the men had probably been used to taking part in the British “shoot” on farms in the villages of their home counties and were trying to reconstruct a similar style, here.  Today they are sometimes still caught by the very poor.