WALKING PAST THE URBAN HERD

We had barely set off for a walk when, only a short distance from our home, we met this cow eating grass on a neighbour’s verge. As with most of these cattle that wander at will through the suburbs, this one looks in good condition. We found her calf lying down in the grass not far away. Apart from grass, they also eat aloes, succulents and browse on the branches of low-hanging trees.

Here is part of the rest of the herd grazing in the park between the street and the main road into town. The park hasn’t been mown for the best part of the year, so one cannot blame the cattle for being attracted to the green pasture – luscious compared to the dried out winter grass covering the rest of the veld.

These members of this Urban Herd had already started wandering up towards the industrial area on the edge of town. This lies at the end of the path and through the green bushes on the horizon. The mowing here has been done by the resident at the end of the road – not the municipality!

Many years ago this grassy area was a well-manicured lawn. No more: this cow is taking advantage of the municipality’s neglect to have a good munch before joining the rest of the herd going up the hill.

FRIENDLY FISCAL

The Common Fiscal gets a bad rap from many gardeners and tend to be ignored by the average person who sees one in passing. A pair of Common Fiscals were our first visitors once we had settled in at the Mountain Zebra National Park. We had no sooner put together a picnic lunch when the first one perched on a twig above us. While it observed our fare, it was joined by another. Without being bothersome, both were quick to pick up anything that messed on the table – such as a crumb of cheese. Both arrived, one after the other, at every outside meal we enjoyed. The way they behaved gave the clear impression of them being a pair.

Two Common Fiscals visit our garden. The ringed one has been observed here for several years and  has often featured in my blog. I have been aware of an un-ringed visitor for a year or two, but haven’t taken much notice of either of them until the restrictions of the pandemic encouraged me to observe our avian visitors more closely. The ringed one tends to fly straight in, grab what is edible, and fly off – especially now as there appear to be youngsters to be fed. While it isn’t unduly aggressive, it is ‘business-like’ and expects to have its way on the feeding table. Both fiscals are adept at varying their route back to their respective nests.

I say ‘respective nests’ without having seen either. This is because they do not give the impression of being a pair: the ringed one has been seen dive-bombing the un-ringed one off the feeding tray, and they have had some loud slanging matches in the branches – ending with both flying off in different directions.

The un-ringed Common Fiscal is less aggressive. It perches on a high branch and observes the birds feeding below and waits for an opportune moment to pick up what it needs. I call it the Friendly Fiscal for, over the past few months, it has becoming bolder in its approach: perching just above where we are having tea and even dropping down for a titbit. Ever bolder, it began perching on the edge of a flower pot right next to my chair while I breakfasted outdoors.

On more than one occasion it has perched on the edge of my plate (on a stool next to me) to peck at whatever was there. Once, it inspected a plate of lunch left on a chair while my husband went indoors to collect his hat.

It now often sits on the edge of the table with an expectant look in its eye.

On a particularly chilly morning this Friendly Fiscal perched on the end of my shoe and looked up at me. I had no titbit to offer it, so it began tugging at my sock as if to say “What about me?” I collected a tiny piece of meat which it took gently from my hand. It now often takes food from my hand!

Yesterday – our first beautifully warm day for a while – I was having tea in the garden when the Friendly Fiscal perched on my toe!

As you can tell, I am becoming very fond of this fiscal – Common or not!

UNINTENTIONAL SIGNS OF THE TIMES

The COVID-19 pandemic is still coursing through the veins of countries around the world, changing our lifestyles and altering our perceptions. Taking advantage of this, KFC’s famous slogan finger lickin’ good was made fun of by their local rival, Nando’s, who suggested that consumers should wash their hands instead in light of the coronavirus. Recently I read that KFC is putting a pause on its famous slogan – for now. It is probably not seen as being a good thing to promote during this pandemic, when we are all called upon to regularly wash / sanitize our hands.

While waiting for the doors of the local supermarket to open this morning, I had time to peruse the slogans on the handles of their basket trolleys – they were well intentioned once, yet under these circumstances are open to a quite different interpretation:

This is not meant as a slur; merely as an example of a new thread of thought that wouldn’t have come to mind had the virus not embarked on a world tour!

https://www.businessinsider.co.za/finger-licking-nandos-asks-kfc-to-rather-reach-for-soap-amid-coronavirus-2020-3

https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/s-mag/2020-08-25-kfc-no-longer-finger-lickin-good-as-they-drop-famous-slogan/