Let me tell you about the animals in my neighbourhood. I recently moved back home to Cape Town and live in an area called Woodbridge Island – not the most ‘happening’ place in the city and it rather resembles Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives, but, due to its situation between a lagoon and a beach, it has an impressive variety of wildlife.
Our front balcony overlooks the lagoon and is an excellent spot for bird-watching – especially in the morning whilst having a bowl of muesli. (No more fry ups – all the women in Cape Town are toned and tanned and I’m feeling inadequate with my pale, bandy legs – so I’ve implemented a regime of yoga, walks on the beach and ‘health food’). Breakfast time is often shared with the local ornithological community. So far I have spotted: a flock of Seagulls, a few Cormorants, a pair of Egyptian geese, a couple of Kingfishers and some small white birds with yellow beaks and legs I think may be Egrets. The lagoon is also full of silvery fish of various sizes that dart about in the shallows and are often gulped up by the birds. I think I might take up fishing. I could catch a delicious bass every Friday for dinner. My favourite discovery, however, has been the pair of otters that come to feed almost every night. More accurately, they come to visit us almost every night. They appear between 10 and 11pm and we’re alerted of their arrival by the loud snorting sound they make. They have sleek brown bodies, with a white throat and belly and long whiskers. Wikipedia tells me these are Cape Clawless Otters, so named because instead of having claws like sea otters, they have partly webbed paws which are very good at holding onto fish and grabbing unsuspecting crabs. And that’s just in the front of our house.
Out back we have a small courtyard surrounded by palm trees and with a large hibiscus bush in it. Here I find little White Eyes who peck at the hibiscus flowers. There are also a couple of doves I often find pecking at the paving stones. Do they survive on sand and dirt alone? Then there are the geckos that cling to the walls and occasionally some butterflies wobble past. Finally, our neighbour has a belligerent parrot that spends most of its time in the backyard making noises like a car alarm.
I must also mention the local human inhabitants who I like to include in my inventory of indigenous fauna. I have identified two main species so far: 1 – greying, retired men, who have too much time and money and trundle around, either in their Range Rovers, or their golf carts which they park in their very large, triple garages. 2 – radical surfer dudes, who have silly hair styles and only wear boardies and flip-flops, and say things such as “Hundreds my bru”.
And since I started writing this, we also appear to have adopted a small praying mantis called Clive.