Wednesday 13 April 2011

It's a jungle out there

This may look like suburbia, but nature's red in tooth and claw out there in the back garden. Keeping an ear out anyway for the so-far-still-dry black and white biscuit-thief, I was alerted by Bossy squawking out in the henrun. Hens have a language, you know: loud, big-headed "I've laid an EGG, everybody!"; low-pitched throaty rattle for "Hawk overhead" (never confused with a seagull); impatient cackling for "It's MORNING and we want to GET OUT and have our BREAKFAST!"; excited gurgle "Ooo, ooo, tasty titbit!" and urgent, commanding "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!" In the happy absence here in New Zealand of snakes, cougars and crocodiles, that means cats, and when I dashed out at Bossy's warning, so it was: the very pied pilferer I've been trying to catch.

He was instantly off through the bushes, of course, but the hens didn't settle, and when I ventured into the run in my bare feet it was to find yet another strange cat, a very forward young black one who came up to complain vociferously about the other. I like black cats, but I didn't want to encourage him, and since Alice was up on the deck observing the commotion from a safe distance, I fetched her so she could establish her territorial rights. Unfortunately this process involved her climbing up my chest by hooking all her claws into my tshirt, to hiss and growl from my shoulder.

The newcomer got the message though, and slunk away, hopefully not to return (though I may well find at a later date that I'm feeding him too). The ring-necked dove still digesting its morning feed of hens' wheat in the manuka tree above went back to sleep, the tui that had come to see what was going on swooped and dipped away, and I've come back inside with mud between my toes to try and regather my thoughts for a Great Barrier Island story about, fancy that, nature: specifically the Glenfern Sanctuary where a 2km pest-proof fence has been built across a small peninsula to protect the birds from, amongst other predators, cats.

And since I've posted enough pictures of my chickens which are eminently practical but not especially attractive Brown Shavers, here are the delightfully punk guinea fowl from Stonebarn, WA and some unexpectedly exotic chickens spotted outside a very humble cottage (not to say shack) along the Inca Trail in Peru.


the queen said...

You should carry a super-soaker with you when you go outside, that's what you should do.

TravelSkite said...

I like that idea, it appeals to my inner Rambo.


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